photo of hall of fame member

    Sarasota County

  • Sarasota County 4-H Foundation Board of Directors
  • Sarasota County Science and Environmental Council, Entre Nous, Suncoast Women to Work,G. WIZ
  • President, Member, Volunteer
  • Inducted 2011
Elva Farrell inducted into the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame. Shown with.

Elva Farrell

Dr. Farrell exemplifies the qualities of leadership, and has devoted her skills to benefit 4-H and other organizations.

Dr. Farrell has demonstrated a keen sense of citizenship and concern for the welfare of others throughout her life. As a teenager she was selected state winner in the 4-H Citizenship project. As an adult she has served the Sarasota County 4-H Foundation Board of Directors as president (2006-2007), Vice president (2007-2008) and was recently elected co-President for the 2008-2009 program year. Dr. Farrell was a founding member and served for four years on the Board of Directors and as Treasurer of the Sarasota County Science and Environmental Council. Other organizations have benefited from Dr. Farrell’s devoted service. She is a life member of Epsilon Sigma Phi, the honorary Extension Workers’ organization, and Entre Nous, a Manatee County civic organization. Dr. Farrell also supported Suncoast Women to Work as one of the project’s first mentors, and was selected to join other community leaders to develop activities to promote awareness of the challenges faced by handicapped persons.

Dr. Farrell also exemplifies the qualities of leadership, and has devoted her skills to benefit 4-H and other organizations. She served two terms as President of FAE4-HA and two years member of the NAE4-HA Camping Committee. A member of the Sarasota County 4-H Foundation for 22 years, Dr. Farrell was elected President and has chaired several Foundation fund raising committees. She has prepared grant proposals which have increased the Foundation tens of thousands of dollars. She wrote the Foundation’s first strategic plan and conducted numerous workshops with members to give direction to the organization. In 2007, Dr. Farrell consulted with the newly formed Board of Directors of the Lake County 4-H Foundation. She led a retreat for members which led to the development of a strategic plan for their organization. In addition, Dr. Farrell met with the 4-H Foundations of several other counties in a similar leadership capacity. Most recently Dr. Farrell was asked to join another Sarasota County Foundation member and a university faculty member to present a state level workshop for professionals and county foundation members. Her leadership skills benefited the community outside of 4-H as well. Dr. Farrell was a founding director of G. WIZ (Gulfcoast Work and Immigration Zone), Sarasota’s hands-on science center. She served as the museum board’s first Treasurer and was later selected its first Executive Director. On national level, Dr. Farrell added her expertise to review teams for grant proposals for the United States Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation.

Career Accomplishments
Dr. Farrell’s career accomplishments are noteworthy and exemplify success in her chosen fields. She began her career as Extension Agent in manatee County (1960-1964) and was promoted from Rank I to Rank IV over an 18 year period as Extension Agent in Sarasota County (1976-1995). During this time, Dr. Farrell oversaw a staff of three, 75 volunteer leaders and 750 members in 25 clubs. In addition to coordinating the 4-H program, Dr. Farrell developed curriculum for and introduced a Radish Growing Contest that involved several thousand students yearly. This program received an award from the National Association of County Commissioners for program excellence. She also developed curriculum for an elementary level embryology project. In 1988 Dr. Farrell was selected sole agent nationwide for a 6 month IPA position with USDA in Washington, DC during which time she was charged with developing youth water quality programming. Following this assignment she served on a national Water Quality committee which developed curriculum materials used nationwide. Dr. Farrell also served on the state Environmental Committee helping to develop environmental curriculum which received state awards for curriculum excellence. During her Extension career Dr. Farrell was invited to conduct workshops at Rock Eagle Regional Leader’s Forum, at national meetings of all three professional associations (NAE4-HA, NAEHEA and NAA) and received grant funding from USDA to conduct a national level workshop. In her evaluation of the workshop the USDA professional who attended reported the workshop as the “best bang for their bucks” she had participated in. After her successful career leading Sarasota’s 4-H program, Dr. Farrell again directed her talents to benefit the community by helping create G.WIZ, Sarasota’s hands-on science museum-one of the first Florida museums to incorporate 4-H projects as part of its programming. She served as Executive Director from 1995-2002. While Executive Director, she took the organization from a 1,000 square foot facility with 10 exhibits to a state-of-the-art 33,000 square foot facility. This involved campaigning for the bay-front facility in Sarasota’s cultural district, directing $5.5 million capital campaign including donors and grant proposals and securing exhibits.

Dr. Farrell’s character, as evidenced by her 4-H involvement is indisputable. 4-H has been a part of her life since an early age. She became a 4-H member as soon as she was old enough (at the time, age 10). She was an active member throughout her school years winning trips to National 4-H Congress and the Danforth Award with a trip to Camp Minewanca in Michigan. She remained an active 4-H member in the collegiate 40H Club at FSU. Her 4-H experience directly influenced her career choice and upon graduation she secured her first Extension position (at age 20) as Assistant Home Demonstration Agent in Manatee County. She held this position until she married and chose to stay home with her family while her children were young. When family plans necessitated a move to Sarasota County and her children were all in school, she heard the 4-H position was open in Sarasota County. With 35 applicants, Dr. Farrell’s record with Extension won her that position. She recalls the influence of her 4-H agents Lucy K. Miller and Marian Valentine and hoped she could have similar influence on 4-Hers under her direction. Many former 4-H members do credit Dr. Farrell’s influence on their successful careers. One, Casey Welch, a current Florida 4-H Foundation member recalls a trip to Citizenship Washington Focus with Dr. Farrell. That experience convinced Casey that he wanted to return to Washington as an adult. He has accomplished that goal; upon graduation from FSU he became a lobbyist for Florida’s citrus industry. Dr. Farrell’s citizenship, leadership, career accomplishments and character have been recognized by numerous awards throughout her career. These include:

  • 2007: Friend of Sarasota County Extension Award-presented by Sarasota County Commission
  • 2005: Inducted into Hall of Fame-Sarasota County 4-H Program
  • 2002: Recognition plaque hung at entrance of G.Wiz honoring leadership in successful completion of building renovation project
  • 1995:Named Agent Emeritus-University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
  • 1988:Selected sole agent nationwide for Intergovernmental Personnel Agreement position-United States Department of Agriculture
  • Governor’s Award of Excellence (for Environmental Curriculum) Governor of Florida
  • Distinguished Service Award-National Association of Extension 4-H Agents
  • Distinguished Service Award-Florida Association of Extension 4-H Agents
  • Achievement Award for Program Excellence-National Association of County Commissioners