For 32 years, Nathan Martin of Centralia has been a 4-H livestock leader. On August 17, he will be inducted into the Missouri 4-H Hall at the Missouri State Fair.
"It's not something I ever thought to strive for, it just happened and it is neat to have peers select you for something like that," Martin says. "I'm very honored and humbled by it and very thankful."
It was a natural progression for Martin to become a 4-H livestock project leader. His family was very involved in 4-H and livestock projects and he joined 4-H as an eight-year old and spent 10 years as a member.
"I was blessed with an understanding of the livestock industry and evaluating livestock and I wanted to impart that to other youngsters," Martin says. "I had an interest in kids and learning and teaching, and it just kind of fell into place when I was given the opportunity to lead some livestock projects."
Martin was a 4-H leader before he had children of his own and continues as a leader though his children have moved on to careers in agriculture and the livestock industry. He says having the opportunity to lead his children was very special.
"It's great anytime dad can work with sons or daughters and other 4-H members to impart some skills and interests I have and see it blossom in them," Martin says. "It's very rewarding to see them grow and develop those skills."
4-H is a family experience
Martin says that 4-H is really a family experience, which in today's age is so important; to continue developing skills and then share them with others. He says the experience of the entire family in the 4-H program is very positive.
Martin has helped trained countless kids on evaluating meat animals and has taken several teams to national livestock judging competitions. One team qualified to compete in Scotland and Martin says the exposure to agriculture outside of central Missouri the kids experienced will help them in their careers for the rest of their lives.
"The reward is seeing the development of the youngsters over time to be able to take basic skills and then apply them to their lives," Martin says. "We're teaching life skills of commitment, of dedication, of starting a project and carrying it through to its completion. Animals just happen to be the avenue that we are working with, but really we're developing kids who will be leaders tomorrow."
About Missouri 4-H Hall of Fame
The Missouri 4-H Hall of Fame was established by the Missouri 4-H Foundation in 2007 to honor the legacy of outstanding 4-H volunteers.
Volunteers must have at least 20 years of service to be nominated. This year's 47 inductees have logged 1,645 combined years of service, averaging 35 years, and representing 40 counties.
Missouri 4-H Foundation sponsors the Hall of Fame program in partnership with FCS Financial and the Missouri State Fair.
Source: MU Extension