When John Loyd of Philippi, now 84, first stepped into the National 4-H Youth Conference Center near Washington D.C., it was as a West Virginia University Extension Service Barbour County 4-H agent dropping off West Virginia rhododendrons and azaleas for the building’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
On Oct. 7, more than 50 years later, Loyd was able to step into the same building, this time for something much different, much more sentimental.
The conference center hosted the 2016 National 4-H Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, where John joined the ranks of 15 other laureates across the country honored for their major contributions to 4-H at local, state and national levels.
“Feeling very humbled as I walked across the stage, I wondered how in the world I got here and how it would be possible to sum up my unforgettable experiences in West Virginia 4-H in a three-minute speech,” Loyd said.
From member to retiree, his devotion to youth development and service spans more than 70 years. Through those seven decades of service, Loyd has had the opportunity to witness some of his own 4-H’ers grow up to become police officers, doctors, lawyers and other types of professionals who focus on making a positive impact on the world.
This is, according to Loyd, the hallmark product of a childhood shaped by West Virginia 4-H; drive to succeed and a calling to make a difference.
Above all, he believe 4-H should be experienced by everyone.
“Any youth regardless of education, economic status or upbringing should have the opportunity to be a part of the 4-H family,” Loyd said. “This program helps participating youths to mature and develop, empowering them to become responsible citizens and leaders within their communities.”
He humbly turns attention away from himself when asked about his time as a 4-H agent, helping youths to grow and develop. .
“I really couldn’t have done it alone,” Loyd said. “All of these accomplishments, we accomplished together with the cooperation of so many 4-H leaders and volunteers.”
While Loyd’s character has a long list of strong suits, one that becomes quickly apparent is his obvious sense of humility, according to his colleagues and those in his family who are now also actively involved in West Virginia 4-H, three generations and growing, to be exact.
“John doesn’t have a gregarious or forceful style of leadership,” said Chad Proudfoot, WVU Extension Service 4-H Coordinator, who nominated Loyd for the award. “He has spent years quietly working to make a difference in his community and profession while never actively seeking recognition or credit.”
Bruce Loyd, John’s son, who also happens to be a WVU Extension Service Lewis County agriculture agent,echoes Proudfoot’s sentiment.
“He gave everything he could to create life-changing opportunities for young people,” Bruce Loyd said. “He was innovative and adaptive, willingly serving as a 4-H agent in two counties for 10 years.”
Naturally, John Loyd’s lifetime of service hasn’t ended with his induction into the National 4-H Hall of Fame. He’s still actively involved in planning the Barbour County Fair and helping expand the 4-H livestock projects in his county from exhibiting six animals to 66, which raised $140,000 for participating youths.
For more than a century, West Virginia 4-H has focused on agricultural science, electricity, mechanics, entrepreneurship and natural sciences. Today, 4-H out-of-school opportunities also exist in subjects like rocketry, robotics, biofuels, renewable energy and computer science.
To learn more about new opportunities in the 4-H program, visit www.ext.wvu.edu, or contact your local office of the WVU Extension Service.
CONTACT: Brittany Dick, Writer/Editor, WVU Extension Service
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