Alachua County 4-Her Reginald Brown had no idea as a young 4-H club member that his experiences would impact him for the rest of his life.
“4-H was a big eye-opener for me,” said Brown. “It helped me realize the awareness of greater opportunities beyond my local community. Up until that point, my community was all that I had known.”
Brown was a member of his 4-H club for eight years. He received numerous awards as a poultry exhibitor through the Sears & Roebuck Poultry Program.
Over the years, he completed 64 different 4-H projects and served on several judging teams. He attended 4-H camp, the National 4-H Congress and the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C.
He was a member of the Florida State 4-H Council and worked part-time as a student assistant during his college years with the 4-H program. Brown said he learned things during that experience that remain with him today.
“My involvement as a student employee in college with the Annual Florida 4-H Congress under the guidance of Bill Allen (B.J.) and his constant direction of “check and recheck” has followed me constantly,” said Brown. “B.J.’s voice is programmed into my head.”
Brown never moved too far from his 4-H roots. After graduating from college he began work as a multi-county agent with Cooperative Extension Service in central Florida. Then he became County Extension Director in Collier County where he was active in supporting the 4-H program. While in these positions, Brown provided industry support in excess of $58,000 to support the Florida 4-H Foundation.
“4-H provided a great experience to meet and work with others with different expectations and experiences,” said Brown. “It gave me the opportunity to develop a lot of leadership skills. It’s been a pleasure to give back to them.”
Brown now works as Executive Vice President of the Florida Tomato Exchange, and is a founding member of the Florida Agriculture Conferences and Tradeshow. He is a graduate and member of the Board of Directors for the Florida Agriculture and Natural Resources Leadership program and is past president and founding board member of the University of Florida Agriculture Alumni and Friends. He is the former president of the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame.
While the 4-H program has evolved over time, Brown says it still remains a very important program for youth today, regardless of where they live.“The 4-H program was so valuable to me personally early on in my life, and it’s important to today’s youth as well,” said Brown. “It provides a positive awareness to nurture and grow productive members of society and leaders for tomorrow. It expands horizons and self-confidence and helps make the best better.”