(10/15/19) BATON ROUGE, La. — A ruby is considered one of the most valuable gemstones in the world. Ruby Miller has been recognized nationally as one of the greatest treasures to Louisiana 4-H for her more than 30 years of extraordinarily innovative and impactful service to the organization.
Miller, a retired 4-H agent and current volunteer with the LSU AgCenter, was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on Oct. 11.
Gemstones, like the red-colored ruby, are judged by the four C’s: color, cut, clarity and carat weight. Successful 4-H members and leaders are sized up by how well they follow the 4-H pledge, which includes the four H’s: head, heart, hands and health.
Miller’s legacy indicates an exemplary faithfulness to the 4-H credo. She was a 4-H’er from the fourth grade through her graduation, and during those formative years, her head was dedicated “to clearer thinking” — an educational process that would inspire her toward a career dedicated to teaching youth.
Miller taught both elementary and high school students in Cameron Parish. In 1980, she began voluntarily helping
4-H’ers with projects such as livestock, cooking, entomology and photography.
As youth were gravitating to new technologies, Miller embraced the changes as well. She used these emerging tools to connect with her students, leading to successful results in the classroom and beyond.
“I love kids. I love to teach, and 4-H has allowed me to facilitate learning in the best way possible,” Miller said.
“4-H activities are designed to be hands-on and interactive — sometimes messy, always fun — but not confined to the four walls of a classroom.”
Hurricane Rita was a turning point for many people in Cameron Parish. It was no different for Miller, as her home was also damaged by the 2005 storm.
But the devastating disaster quickly became a high point for Miller as she used her “hands for greater service.” By rolling up her sleeves, she inspired 4-H’ers to lead the community in coming together and rebuilding through service projects such as community gardens and a “Keep Cameron Beautiful” campaign.
“I’ve watched hundreds of 4-H members grow into productive adults,” she said. “I have no doubt about the role Louisiana 4-H played in making a real connection to each of these individuals.”
Miller became the Cameron Parish 4-H agent in 2006 and continued to innovate, working with state 4-H leadership boards and serving as adviser for the Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Board. Under her leadership, Cameron Parish earned nearly $25,000 in annual 4-H grants, fundraising profits and in-kind support.
While youth have faced distractions and relentless competition for their attention, Miller helped Cameron Parish maintain one of the highest 4-H member retention rates in the state. She also built a successful 4-H shooting sports program that has served as a statewide model.
“Many in the community view Ruby Miller as the most effective 4-H professional who has ever served the youth of Cameron Parish,” said Paul Coreil, retired AgCenter vice chancellor and former Cameron Parish AgCenter agent.
Miller, now retired, is a member of the Louisiana 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees, where she makes appeals for financial support of 4-H programs.
“4-H has camps, trips, competitions, conferences and community service projects,” Miller said. “What other club offers all this to its members?”
She has developed a mentoring website and Facebook channel for the Louisiana 4-H Volunteer Leader Association.
As part of the volunteer organization, she also developed the food and fitness curriculum for 4-H summer camp. Even in retirement, Miller still helps secure healthy living grants and works with teen leaders, encouraging 4-H’ers to dedicate their “health to better living.”
“Ruby is an inspiration to 4-H youth, volunteers and agents,” said Lanette Hebert, AgCenter Southwest Region 4-H coordinator. “She is a servant leader and always focuses on making the best better.”
Miller plans on remaining an active volunteer for Louisiana 4-H. It’s just another way she continues to pledge her “heart to greater loyalty.”
And while Ruby’s name might mean “red,” her sparkling professional career can definitely be described as “green” —
4-H clover green.
“My wish is for all kids to be connected to 4-H in some way,” she said.
Ruby Miller, 4-H volunteer and retired Cameron Parish 4-H agent, was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Oct. 11. Photo from AgCenter archives
Ruby Miller, 4-H volunteer and retired Cameron Parish 4-H agent, coaches a 4-H’er by giving advice for a cooking contest at 4-H University.Miller was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Oct. 11. Photo from AgCenter archives