From the time E. Darwin Fuchs was five years old, he and his family spent their winter months in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The family returned to southern Indiana each spring to farm. While in Indiana, 4-H was an important part of his life and remained so until he moved full-time to Ft. Lauderdale when he was a senior in high school.
Fuchs attended and graduated from the University of Florida and then worked for nine years in the communications field. He then became reacquainted with 4-H when he became the general manager of what was then known as the Dade County Youth Fair in 1969.
“Not everyone knows this, but what is today the Miami-Dade County Fair was actually started in 1956 by 4-H’ers,” said Fuchs. “Several 4-H leaders started an annual gathering of youth exhibits and look what it is today.”
When he took the helm of the fair in 1969, Fuchs discovered he was guiding a primarily agriculturally based event, which annually turned the spotlight on farm products via the efforts of the community’s young people. The Dade County Fair and Exposition had to represent the magnitude of agriculture in the community and appeal to the public.
In addition to working with 4-H through the fair, Fuchs provided the organization with a float, which he usually drove, each year for the Junior Orange Bowl parade. He also started a program where a percentage of all cotton candy sales at the fair were donated to the Miami-Dade County 4-H Foundation.
He encouraged adults to volunteer year-round with 4-H, ensuring that 4-H members had valuable mentors and supporters alongside them to offer a helping hand. This also provided continuity for the fair program and the 4-H program.
Fuchs remained with the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition as President and Chief Executive Officer until his retirement in 2005.
He was a master fundraiser for 4-H, helping raise more than $500,000 for the Florida
4-H Foundation. Fuchs provided a member of his fair staff to serve on the Florida 4-H Foundation Board of Directors, and he himself served as President of the Foundation’s Board for several years. He also approved the $1,000 Walter B. Arnold Jr. Scholarship at the University of Florida.
A strong believer in giving back to the community, Fuchs also serves on numerous committees and advisory councils. Giving back to the community is one of the best things Fuchs feels 4-H offers young people.
“I think 4-H is more important than ever for youth today,” said Fuchs. “We need as many good all American youth programs for our kids, more so today than any other time. They need the wholesome family, ‘heart, health, and hands’ values. Kids need to acquire these good habits now,” said Fuchs.
Fuchs believes that as young people learn these values it will improve their lives and they will have more to give back to the community later in their lives.