“Devoted to 4-H kids” is one of the phrases that comes to mind when thinking about Lester C. “Terry” Floyd Jr. His unwavering commitment to 4-H youth was the hallmark of his 29-year career with the Orange County Cooperative Extension Service as a 4-H agent.
Terry grew up on a farm in Jacksonville and joined a local 4-H club, where he learned to raise and show cattle and pigs. He started going to 4-H summer camp at the age of 10 and simply never stopped going, according to his wife, Marsha Floyd. “He loved camping with kids,” said Marsha.
Throughout his entire life, Terry retained the magic of childhood by working at his dream job – being a 4-H agent! His wife, Marsha, said, “He simply never outgrew camp. Instead, he found himself a job where he could keep going. And in forty-two years he only missed going to camp twice!”
Keeping track of kids at 4-H camps was sometimes difficult, so Terry used to take his dog along. “When we were in our cabin and the kids would try to sneak out, our dog would go find them,” she said. However, the more resourceful kids soon figured out that if they petted and played with the dog, it would simply tag along with them on their evening adventures.
Floyd trained volunteers, mentored teens, and conducted thousands of hours of educational programs. He developed teaching materials used statewide, and his “Design the Future” youth conference set a precedent for multigenerational problem solving programs. Through “I Can We Can” weekends, he fostered teambuilding and trust among young leaders.
He was also an innovator in telling others about 4-H. Under his guidance a 4-H member won the National Race Car Circuit and the “4-H Chevy Love Truck” was featured twice a week on the nationwide “Truckin’ USA” television program.
Floyd created an Orange County 4-H ambassadors program and founded the statewide Florida 4-H Ambassador program in 1999. The 4-H Ambassador program trained young people to represent 4-H to the public and taught them valuable communication skills.
The 4-H club program flourished under Floyd’s leadership. “He had a way of talking to every young person and making him or her feel special,” remembered Kathie Ivey. “He developed Orange County’s 4-H program into a family oriented program where members learned, grew, graduated, and returned… to volunteer and raise their own children within 4-H.”
He coordinated 4-H educational programs and exhibits at the Central Florida Fair, and placed a strong value on 4-H members learning presentation skills. Orange County 4-H had more than 250 state demonstration, record book and scholarship winners during his career, in addition to 15 national winners.
“He recognized early in his career the ability of youth to accomplish great tasks,” said Ivey. “He appreciated the limitless scope of youth and he enjoyed brainstorming their ideas.”
He wrote in his Report of Accomplishment in 2000, “Leadership skills are developed in youth through their involvement and participation in activities that require the utilization of skills and knowledge in decision-making situations that relate to real life. These leadership skills must be developed and honed through practice. By building self-esteem and confidence through the development of these skills, youth can reach their potential. Extension programs encourage youth to continue learning and involvement in order to be effective members of families, communities, and society.”
He also valued 4-H leaders and worked to foster their development. He was a long-time support of the Southern Region Volunteer Leaders Forum.
Dedicated to advancing the 4-H movement professionally, Terry served as the national meeting chair for the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) when the annual conference was held in Orlando in 1981. He served on the 4-H program development committee and the Florida 4-H Congress steering committee, which impacted 4-H programs throughout Florida. His influence impacted thousands of young people involved with 4-H programs.
Terry Floyd is also responsible for bringing Hippology back to the popularity it enjoys today within 4-H. Floyd spent years collecting countless horse related items and making ID charts to be used in the stations phase.
His innovative volunteer techniques were recognized with three Walt Disney World Community Service Awards. He was recognized with a twenty-five year program excellence award by the Florida Association of Extension 4-H Agents and the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.
His memory is honored annually through the Terry Floyd Memorial Scholarship, which was created by 4-H members and alumni to honor his contributions to 4-H youth development programs. The fund provides $500 scholarships for college expenses to young people involved with 4-H youth development programs in Orange County and in Florida. Candidates are individuals who personify the 4-H motto, “to make the best better.”
His presence and leadership is missed not only by Orange County 4-H, but by 4-H members and faculty across the state. His legacy lives on in his sons Kevin and Matthew, and through his family members.