Mrs. Betty Hicks, 2009 recipient of the Florida 4-H Longest Serving Volunteer award, has been an active supporter of 4-H not only on the community level but on the state and national level as well. She served many years on the 4-H and overall Advisory Committees and represented 4-H and Extension on several occasions at county commission meetings. She worked with the Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce to develop and implement the annual “Christmas on the Square” program. She has served as the chairman for the Relay for Life Cancer Walk. Over the years her community works are too numerous to mention. Some of these activities include: making annual “cheer baskets” for the elderly and shut-ins, Salvation Army bell ringer, collecting drink tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, adopting a Soldier, collecting food, clothes and money for hurricane victims, sponsoring the annual community recognition supper for 4-H supporters, served as a judge for fair booths, talent shows, record books, county events, district events and helped with 4-H radio spots at the local radio station, just to name a few. She has served as a state 4-H record book judge and attended many state activities. She has served as a chaperone for the Florida 4-H Delegation to the National Junior Horticulture Association in Tulsa, Oklahoma and attended the Rock Eagle Volunteer Leadership Conference in Georgia.
Mrs. Betty Hicks has served Suwannee County as a 4-H volunteer for 46 years. She has served 39 of those years as the leader of the Leona 4-H Club, holding a club membership of over 690 youth during this time span. In 2009 at the Florida 4-H Centennial Gala, Betty Hicks was honored as the Florida 4-H Longest Serving Volunteer. In 1965, Mrs. Hicks started helping her sister with the Busy Bees 4-H Club and continued her volunteer work by helping Mrs. Willie Haas with the McAlpin 4-H Club from 1966-72. All three of Mrs. Hicks’ children were members of the McAlpin 4-H Club throughout their 4-H careers. Mrs. Hicks took over the Leona 4-H club as the leader in 1972 and has led this club ever since.
Some of her club members have become an attorney, pharmacist, corrections officer, servicemen, police officer, truck driver, nurse, teacher, butcher, missionary, farmer, and a minister. Mrs. Betty is proud to say that lots of the young people she has impacted still come back to see her and her husband Avon. She has always maintained the vision that every child has the capability to excel. Her passion and genuine concern for her 4-Her’s is contagious and has allowed her to communicate her vision in terms that cause others to buy into it. She is an “action leader,” meaning that she is deliberate in her actions and with the members of her club to always be a positive influence in helping her club move forward. This attitude inspires others to do the same. She is an extremely dedicated leader who leads by example, doing whatever it takes to complete the next step toward the goal. She believes in giving credit where credit is due and will spread the fame as well as take the blame for failures. She leads her club with openness and fairness.
Betty Hicks has been a lifelong homemaker. Mrs. Hicks feels that any child that has been under her charge has been a blessing to her. She has a sense of accomplishment every time one of her students succeeds. Her success as a mentor and role model is exemplified in those that she has touched throughout her career as a 4-H volunteer. With each goal reached and each task accomplished, she has the satisfaction of knowing that she played a small part in it.
One of her favorite memories is to see kids progress and grow through 4-H. seeing kids gain confidence in themselves is a major motivator for Mrs. Hicks. She also takes pride in the clean atmosphere that 4-H provides. Since she took over as club leader, the Leona 4-H club has always met in the living room of the Hicks’ home.
Mrs. Hicks is a woman of high character. During the 46 years of 4-H volunteer work, she has gained the respect of those in the community and the county that she serves. She takes her responsibility as a role model to young people very serious. She has always been very conscientious of her leadership role as she feels that working with young people is her calling. Her diligence and loyalty to the 4-H program is unparalleled.
Mrs. Hicks is married to Mr. Avon Hicks who has been very instrumental in her work with 4-H through the years. Together they have raised three children who were active in 4-H growing up. She has six grandchildren, five of which she has served as their 4-H club leader.
In addition to Mrs. Hicks’ 4-H activities, she has been a member of the Pleasant Hill Home and Community Education (HCE) Club for 45 years. During this time she has served many times as the Club President. She has also served as the HCE County Council President and the District President. She has attended the State Family Community Leadership Program Training several times. She has been part of the Florida Delegation attending twenty-five (25) Family and Community Educators (FCE) National Conferences and one (1) International Conference.
Mrs. Hicks was the sole leader of the Suwannee County 4-H Exchange club for three years, where Suwannee County youth visited 4-H youth in other states and vice versa. The club did exchanges with 4-H youth from Michigan and Colorado.