When talking about 4-H in Hillsborough County, there are few names that everyone knows, but Sandra Blackadar is one that often comes to mind.
Blackadar became involved in 1958 when she moved from Massachusetts to Florida. Her family settled in Lithia and became owners of Maiden Hill Dairy. While she enjoyed being involved in the day-to-day activities of their dairy farm, Blackadar felt somewhat isolated and was anxious for her children to be involved in some sort of extracurricular activity.
“I heard about 4-H and I loved that both boys and girls could be involved. At that time it was pretty rural where we lived and the only activities were girl scouts or boy scouts, but I had both in my family,” said Blackadar. “My first friend in Florida was a 4-H Leader and that kind of gave me the impetus to start a 4-H club. My husband had been a 4-H’er in Massachusetts and had good experiences so I gave it a go.”
Blackadar established the Lithia Challengers 4-H club and membership rapidly grew to 35 boys and girls. She became chairman of the 4-H Leaders Organization and the Hillsborough County 4-H Foundation. For 15 years she organized and chaired the Dairy Bar, a popular ice cream concession, which became a fixture at the Florida State Fair and was a major fundraising effort for the county’s 4-H Foundation and local 4-H clubs.
Blackadar enjoyed the traveling she was able to do while chaperoning 4-H members. She went to Washington, D.C. for Citizenship Washington Focus and took the state-winning judging team to Ohio State University for the championships. She also went to Chicago for the National 4-H Congress, where she received an award for Outstanding Leader for the state of Florida.
“Through my travels with 4-H, we were exposed to so many things we wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise,” said Blackadar. “We saw so much in Washington, D.C., and I was so impressed with how grandly the kids at Congress in Chicago were treated. Those who won places were treated as royalty.”
Blackadar and her husband Vernon have hosted exchange students from foreign countries for many years and have entertained Japanese club members at their club meetings. They often give tours of their dairy farm to schools, civic groups and foreign visitors.
In addition to her work with 4-H, Blackadar has been involved with many different civic groups and projects including the Parent Teacher Association, the Junior Women’s Club, the Hillsborough County Cattlewomen, the Agribusiness Department of the Florida State Fair, and the Ag In the Classroom program.