(10/22/20) BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana 4-H Hall of Fame inducted 12 individuals, and the National 4-H Hall of Fame inducted 16 people, including Denver Loupe, of Louisiana, who was inducted posthumously.
The 4-H halls of fame annually recognize honorees for their outstanding service and dedication to youth in 4-H. Both inductions were held virtually.
Loupe, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and extension director emeritus, spent his life supporting 4-H personally and professionally. Under his leadership, Louisiana 4-H worked closely with public school boards to incorporate 4-H into schools as a cocurricular opportunity, a partnership that remains strong today.
He also helped establish the Louisiana 4-H Foundation and secured funding for at least two 4-H agents in each Louisiana parish. He served as a trustee of the National 4-H Council and the Louisiana 4-H Foundation.
Toby Lepley, LSU AgCenter associate vice president and program leader for 4-H youth development, described Loupe as a legendary champion for Louisiana 4-H through his vision of incorporating 4-H into school systems as well as the establishment of the Louisiana 4-H Foundation.
“Because of his leadership, not just with the 4-H program but with extension as a whole, the Louisiana 4-H program was able to have a strong foundation for continued support and outreach throughout the state,” Lepley said.
The 2020 Louisiana Hall of Fame inductees are listed below. Individual photos of the 2020 Louisiana 4-H Hall of Fame inductees in available online at this url: http://bit.ly/20204-HHoF
- John Broussard, of Natchitoches Parish, is a 4-H alumnus and a dedicated 4-H volunteer and supporter of more than 67 years. Beyond his efforts to pioneer a 4-H auction and banquet that provided vital funds for the Natchitoches Parish 4-H program, including camp scholarships, transportation and educational scholarships, he is also the lone pioneer in establishing a community garden that is maintained and harvested by him and a group of trustees.
- Linda Coates, of Livingston Parish, has been a part of the 4-H system for more than 60 years. She has been a parent volunteer, club leader for 25 years, project leader, Master Gardener and mentor, 4-H Advisory Board member and Junior Club leader advisor, among other roles. Her focus on citizenship and leadership skills encouraged her members to participate in lobbying for issues such as flood control and 4-H program funding.
- Melissa Echols, of Lincoln Parish, is a former 4-H member and has been a 4-H volunteer since 2006. She serves as a shooting sports Instructor and has held numerous roles with 4-H, including a Union Parish Junior Leader, 4-H camp counselor, parent volunteer, photography project advisor, archery parent volunteer, scholarship and records training leader, scholarship judge, parish 4-H Foundation treasurer and 4-H Advisory Council member.
- Cathy Falcon, of Lafayette Parish, began her service to 4-H as a leader at St. Genevieve Catholic School in 1991 and continued in that role until she retired in 2018. She also served several terms as a member on the Lafayette 4-H Volunteer Leadership Development Task Force Subcommittee, the Lafayette 4-H Youth Development Advisory Council and the state Volunteer Leader Association board. Falcon has held countless workshops for her 4-H members, including parish sewing classes, numerous record book workshops, cookie contests and annual field trips such as swamp tours.
- Norris Grabert Jr., of Iberia Parish, was a 4-H member in the 1950s and served as a county and 4-H agent in West Baton Rouge, St. James and Iberia parishes. He was instrumental in starting the Iberia 4-H Foundation. In his retirement, Grabert continues to be an active supporter of 4-H and assists many 4-H families with their lamb projects. His most visible role is in the livestock project area and the Sugarcane Festival 4-H Livestock Show and Sale support.
- Denise Hymel, of St. James Parish, has been an active 4-H volunteer for more than 53 years. She has also served as St. James Parish 4-H Advisory Committee member, St. James Parish 4-H Foundation Board member and state 4-H Foundation Board member as well as an American Farm Bureau Women’s committee representative on for the Southeast Region and chair of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Women’s Committee. Her most significant contribution to 4-H is creating The Fast Food Farm, a nonprofit she developed that offers work with and educates 4‑H’ers.
- Michelle Puissegur, of Acadia Parish, has served Louisiana 4-H for more than 49 years as a club leader, chaperone, state and parish judge, Cloverbud club leader, Acadia 4-H Foundation member, and volunteer at 4-H Camp, 4-H University and Challenge Camp as well as many other roles. Puissegur is known as the record book expert for more than 20 years and has trained many state record book winners.
- Patti Rodrigue, of St. John Parish, served as a 4-H club leader for 35 years. She is a member of the St. John Parish 4-H Foundation Board and the Parish Advisory Committee, and serves as a judge for all parish contests. She made significant contributions to 4-H in St. John Parish through community service projects, field trips and coordination of regional and state events.
- Traci Simon, of Vermilion Parish, has served in many roles throughout her 17 years as a 4-H volunteer, including school club leader, judge, camp leader and Junior Leader chaperone for many field trips and camps. She was actively involved in organizing record book and demonstration workshops, community service projects and fundraising activities for her school club.
- Camelia Soprano, of St. Mary Parish, has been a 4-H volunteer for more than 20 years. She worked with parish, district and state livestock shows. Soprano also served as a Louisiana 4‐H Shooting Sports volunteer and started the St. Mary Parish 4‐H Shooting Sports program in 2008.
- Brian Spillman, of West Feliciana Parish, has served the Louisiana 4-H community for more than 45 years in multiple volunteer roles, including camp volunteer leader and chaperone, and as a regular supporter of the livestock show. Spillman, the sheriff of West Feliciana Parish, regularly donates his time and resources to help youth participate in 4-H camp.
- Jerry Whatley, of Calcasieu Parish, served as the Southwest District Livestock Show manager for more than 20 years and is an active 4-H volunteer dedicated to making 4-H experiences accessible to all youth. Whatley served as the county agent in Calcasieu Parish, and his relationship with local governing agencies ensured their support for 4-H in the parish. He has done everything from cooking for agent meetings to judging record books to meeting 4‐H Clubs. Whatley has worked with school gardens in the parish, supporting them every week.
Lepley said each of these inductees left a lasting and positive impact on 4-H in Louisiana.
“At all levels of the Louisiana 4-H program, these individuals have contributed thousands of hours in volunteering, teaching and leading our youth into become strong leaders for our communities and state,” he said.