While working behind the scenes may be more Annette Conn’s style, the leader of the 4-H Thunderbirds Club in Cassia was thrust into the limelight recently when she was inducted into the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame.
“I was so surprised when I found out I had been chosen for the Hall of Fame,” said Conn. “There are so many people involved with 4-H who are equally or more deserving than myself, so it was a real surprise and a real honor.”
Conn did not participate in 4-H as a child, but when her own children joined the program she became a volunteer 4-H leader. Her story shows that 4-H continues to impact lives of many ages.
“Going through the 4-H program with my children was one of the best things I have ever done,” said Conn. “It enabled me to push myself beyond my own limits. It improved my self-confidence to excel beyond anything I thought I could do.”
Conn has been an active volunteer for more than 25 years. For 13 years, she led a 4-H club. Her passion for the 4-H program hasn’t waned, even though her youngest child graduated from the program more than 10 years ago. She remains active in 4-H activities today.
In an era when chaperones for youth outings are hard to find, Conn is a tireless advocate and support for educational programs. Even though she was a working mother with a challenging schedule, Conn often chaperoned Lake County 4-H members to summer camp and Junior Congress at 4-H Camp Ocala. She also chaperoned them to Florida 4-H Congress in Gainesville, State 4-H Legislature in Tallahassee, and Citizenship Washington Focus in Washington, DC.
“I’ve always been happy to support the kids of 4-H, whether that be directly or by supporting their leaders or even the Extension Agents,” said Conn.
The Lake County 4-H Volunteers say they chose to nominate Conn for the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame because of her dedication to young people, teaching skills and “organizational savvy.”
“Annette’s concern for our 4-H program and her dedication and willingness to step up and help is immeasurable,” said Nancy Jo Davidson, one of Lake County 4-H Volunteers who nominated Conn for the honor. “Our overall 4-H program is stronger for Annette’s support, and the 4-H experience of her fellow volunteers and members is made better through her dedicated service.”
“I feel like 4-H is more important today than ever,” said Conn. “Kids nowadays have so much bombarding them and pulling them away from what is right. 4-H keeps them busy in positive ways. It keeps them busy learning and helps them be responsible, good citizens.”
In addition to this award, Conn received the “Sage” Award from the Florida 4-H Volunteer Association in 2009 and was the recipient of the Lake County 4-H Veteran of the Year award.
She also received the Florida 4-H Volunteer of the Year Award in 1998 and is a founding member of the Florida 4-H Volunteer Association and the Lake County 4-H Foundation.
Conn is an active member of her family church where she works with the youth in its Sunday School and helps with its yearly Vacation Bible School.