Major changes in the organizational structure supporting the 4-H program occurred in 1963 when E.T. York provided leadership for the establishment of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS).
School-Based Clubs Abandoned & 4-H Volunteers Recruited
Many changes were made rapidly at this time, including the alteration of the program’s primary school-based delivery method. To deal with the new federal regulations regarding integration and delivery of educational programs to all audiences, the school clubs were abandoned and replaced with volunteer-led community or project clubs. This changed the role of the 4-H agent in Florida dramatically and empowered the 4-H club leader to take on a more active and engaged mentoring and teaching role with young people. It also meant that 4-H clubs met in the local community environment and were led by volunteer 4-H club leaders. The state faculty spent much of the late 1960s training 4-H agents on volunteer management and it was a learning experience for everyone. Between 1964 and 1981, the number of 4-H volunteers grew to about 4,000 adults. The involvement of youth in teen leadership roles within the program was slow to develop in the Florida 4-H program.
Statewide Leadership Changes
Prior to 1963, 4-H programs in Florida were segregated and state-level leadership for the programs was headquartered at three separate educational institutions. Programs for white boys were headquartered at the University of Florida under the leadership of the Boys 4-H Club Agent. Programs for white girls were managed through Florida State University (then Florida State College for Women) under the leadership of the faculty there. Programs for African-American children were coordinated through Florida A&M University in Tallahassee under the leadership of district extension agents. Leadership for the 4-H program at a state level changed in 1963. The state 4-H agents from the University of Florida and Florida State University were brought together in a new academic unit named the Department of 4-H and Other Youth Programs. “Other Youth Programs,” according to Mr. Woodrow Brown, the first state 4-H leader in Florida of the combined programs, meant the International Farm Youth Exchange Program. It was believed that with these changes the 4-H program could begin participating in a host of 4-H international programs being offered through the National 4-H Foundation, and later, the National 4-H Council.
Integration of the 4-H Program in Florida
Programs for boys and girls, as well as for black and white youth, were brought together within a single program in the late-1960s. State and county faculty all had to work together during this turbulent period. 4-H clubs were integrated peacefully, although a marked decline occurs in the 4-H club enrollment numbers in 1963 when the school based clubs were left behind, and in the early 1970s when the community-based 4-H clubs were fully integrated. State 4-H programs were integrated in the late 1960s without any problems and state staff interviewed from that time remarked on the commitment to have an environment where every child could be accepted and successful.
State 4-H Council
The changes at the state-level in terms of program organization meant that change was needed for the State 4-H Council program too. No longer would there be three separate state 4-H council programs. The new State 4-H Council included both boys and girls, and was open to all children.
The Florida 4-H Foundation Founded in 1963
The Florida 4-H Foundation was also founded during this period to bring private resource development activities together from both universities, including support for the operations of the camp.
Changes in the Title of the State 4-H Leader
Following Mr. Brown’s tenure as State 4-H Leader, Dr. Jim Brasher was recruited in 1972 from LSU’s Dean of Students Office to serve in this program leadership role. The administrative position’s title was changed to Assistant Dean and Department Chair (meaning that Dr. Brasher served as Extension’s program leader for the statewide Florida 4-H Youth Development Program and as Chair of an academic department within IFAS). Faculty assigned to the department had primarily Extension 4-H assignments.