Ohio native enshrined in National 4-H Hall of Fame

CHEVY CHASE, Md. — Ohio native David Pyle has been inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame for his lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H. Pyle was Illinois’ longest-serving 4-H director and was nominated for the honor by his Extension colleagues in Illinois.

The beginning

Pyle was raised in Hillsboro, Ohio, where he was an 11-year 4-H member in Highland County. He was a national winner (beef category), which earned him a trip to the National 4-H Congress in 1959.

Pyle’s 34-year career began as a county 4-H agent and Extension Service-USDA-funded project director in Indiana (1963-75), followed by a six-month internship with the National 4-H Council.

He was a 4-H program specialist in Florida (1976-78), state 4-H program leader and department chair in South Carolina (1978-83), and assistant director and state 4-H program leader in Illinois (1983-96).

Top five in U.S.

During Pyle’s tenure as Illinois’s 4-H director, the program in Illinois became one of the top five in the nation.

The “Recognition of Excellence” program, now in its 25th year, is considered Pyle’s greatest legacy. This program shifted Illinois 4-H’s focus away from a competitive model and toward a more standards-based, individual achievement model that emphasized development of life skills. This approach to 4-H youth development has become the standard nationwide.

Under his leadership, Illinois was also the first state to implement a computerized 4-H enrollment and information management system. He oversaw a “$4 Million for 4-H” fundraising campaign, and more than 20 years later, the invested funds from that campaign continue to provide financial support for local grants and programs throughout the state.

Honors

Pyle was elected to serve as president of the Indiana 4-H Agents Association, and he has been honored by the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents with their Distinguished Service Award. He was also inducted into the Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame in 2006.

Retirement

Since his retirement, Pyle has served on The Ohio State University Leadership Center Advisory Board and conducted the North-Central Regional 4-H Leader Forum study. He continues to serve as a volunteer and advisor with a broad range of organizations and charities.

Today he lives in Daniels, W. Va., where he volunteers with the West Virginia New River Gorge Community Involvement Initiative.

Acknowledgment

After being named the national beef winner at Congress in 1959, Pyle received a handwritten letter of congratulations from A.B. Graham, the founder of 4-H. Graham concluded the letter by writing, “The sun never sets on 4-H club work. Be proud you are one of the many millions.”

“I am proud of the journey,” said Pyle, “and I’m honored to be inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame.”

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