Gadsden County

County Extension Director, Extension Agent, Distinguished Service Award

Inducted 2013

 

 

accept his hall of fame medallion

 

 

Bobby Ray Durden

 

 

Seems as though Bobby Ray Durden has been in 4-H all his life. There is a worn black and white photo of Bobby as a baby, being held by Moma who is posing with the Concord Canning Club, a homemakers club of Gadsden County, Fl Cooperative Extension Service. That was in 1938.  By 1954 he was showing dairy heifers around the state and was named the Gadsden County 4-Her of the year and went to Kansas City to claim his first of many agricultural recognitions throughout his life.

Bobby grew up in the Gadsden Co. community of Concord (affectionately nicknamed, “Coonbottom”) where he fell in love with livestock, the dirt, fresh air, and baseball. After an illustrious training in leadership through his FFA work, he attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College on a baseball scholarship, immediately followed by a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree from University of Florida in 1960 and Master of Agriculture in 1974. In 1961 he began his professional career as a 4-H Extention Agent in Leon County. This is when he really got into 4-H work!

Bobby has been a 24/7 County Agent and community leader in North Florida for over 50 years. Whether training judging teams, teaching tractor driving, conducting showmanship clinics, organizing community clubs,  or attending summer camps , he saw to it that as many youth as possible got involved in a livestock project. He worked as the Extension Director in Wakulla County where he helped thousands of local kids find a productive place in 4-H. Several earned National 4-H record  book recognition and he was their chaperone to National Congress in Chicago.. Working within this community of like-minded people, they organized the Wakulla County Youth Swine Show, inviting youth from surrounding counties to “learn by doing.”. Wakulla County recognized his service as their “Outstanding Citizen” and the National County Agents Assn.”Distinguished Service Award” in 1977. The North Florida Fair Youth Swine Show, Lamb Show, Beef and Heifer Show were established and overseen  by  “Mr. Bobby” for 43 years. Here he impacted the lives of thousands throughout North Florida from Pensacola to Live Oak. The West Florida Livestock Assn., established to promote youth leadership through  work in the livestock industry has benefited greatly from his leadership and guidance. His membership  since 1960 continues even today..Bobby retired from his formal career in IFAS as County Extention Director in Gadsden County in 1995.

Outside his professional career, he brought up his own 4 children showing swine, lambs and steers and heifers throughout Florida and South Georgia through the 4-H project. Two of his grandchildren, so far, have shown an interest and benefited as livestock showmen. (He’s working on 4 more!). He continues his 4-H legacy by continually helping other youngsters  with their livestock project. Last year one of the local 4-Hers won Grand Champion Homegrown Steer at the local show from an animal born and raised from his herd.

Bobby Durden has lived his life in service to the development of youth. What better legacy can a man leave? His legacy continues.