For more than forty years, Jean Guidy has played an integral role in Escambia County’s 4-H program and she has reached more than 120,000 young people through her efforts.
Guidy became involved with 4-H in the late 1960s when her children joined the program. She continued to work as a volunteer even after her children grew up and moved beyond 4-H. Then her grandchildren joined the 4-H program! To this day Guidy continues to serve as a resource volunteer. She is eagerly looking forward to her first great-grandchild joining 4-H in 2012!
Following her husband’s heart attack, Guidy left her job as a civil service employee at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. She became a dedicated caregiver and community volunteer. As his health improved, 4-H youth development and voluntarism became her career in many ways.
Guidy has a soft spot for disadvantaged youth in Escambia County. She gave 83 disadvantaged 4-H’ers the opportunity to attend summer camp, Florida 4-H Congress and other special events. She organized a school enrichment project that reached 625 youth with
“Jean exhibits outstanding character and strives to reach all youth regardless of economic background,” said Kay D. Brown, Escambia County 4-H agent. “She has helped so many low-income youth achieve and experience 4-H through the years. Jean is an ‘angel in our midst’ for the 4-H program in Escambia County and the state of Florida!”
Although she has served in numerous areas within the Florida 4-H youth program, Guidy’s passion is in citizenship. Guidy initiated a citizenship special interest project that continues to thrive today.
To help young people learn about government, she helped the Escambia County 4-H Council set up a mock “County Commissioner” meeting. The youth delegates used the Escambia County Courthouse and learned a great deal through the experience.
She also developed training workshops for club and council officers that included parliamentary procedure and leadership development. Guidy was selected by the State 4-H office to assume leadership roles in State 4-H Legislature and Citizenship Washington Focus. She organized 42 community service projects for Escambia County, as well as community service activities during Florida 4-H Congress.
In addition to her work in citizenship, Guidy has also served as: 4-H Club Organizational Leader and 4-H Project Club Leader in Horse, Dairy Goat, and Meat Goat. She has also been the County 4-H Council Advisor, the County Livestock Judging Coach, the County Meats Judging Coach, the Escambia County Horse Show Coordinator and the Red Barn Coordinator for 32 years at the Pensacola Interstate Fair.
She is a founding member of the Escambia County 4-H Foundation. She also coached the state 4-H livestock and meat judging teams, taking them to a national competition to represent the Sunshine State.
Guidy attended 53 4-H camp programs – including horse camp, summer camp, and special day camps – to help build up and develop young people to “make the best better.” She shared her gifts for teaching and support generously, serving as a teacher, counselor, worker, and chaperone at these events.
“Jean is the ideal 4-H volunteer leader who provides structure for youth yet the means for them to explore and try new things in a safe environment,” said Brown. Guidy would often provide her personal farm property to help 4-H members who wanted to raise an animal for a 4-H project but did not have an adequate place to keep it.
Guidy has represented Escambia County and Florida 4-H on a number of occasions at events to educate other leaders and 4-H members. She attended and taught workshops at the Southeastern Regional Volunteer Leader Forum. She was also selected to represent Florida several times by chaperoning youth attending the National 4-H Congress and the National 4-H Conference.
“Jean Guidy has given selflessly of her time and talents for 4-H,” said Kenneth B. Bell, when asked to comment on her inclusion in the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame. He noted that Jean’s contributions to 4-H are “legendary” in Escambia County.
“Jean is recognized not only locally, but also at the state and national level for her volunteer and public service,” said Bell. “She has touched the lives of thousands of youth and adults through her 4-H service.”