Aubrey "Luther" Harrell began his 45-year association with 4-H in 1930 as a youngster in Alachua County. As a farm boy, Harrell enjoyed agricultural projects and dreamed from an early age of becoming an agricultural extension agent.
“By means of a 4-H scholarship, Luther was able to attend college and achieve his dream of becoming an agent,” said Mike Sweat, county extension director with Baker County Cooperative Extension Service.
“He was able to share his love of 4-H with subsequent generations of children and families in the 4-H program. His leadership in 4-H was felt by the majority of families in our county,” said Sweat.
During his career, Harrell worked as an extension agent in Baker, Columbia and Union counties before becoming county extension director for Baker County. He also served on several steering committees that organized county and community improvement efforts.
Through his work with 4-H, Harrell was introduced to thousands of young people. Never a shy speaker, Harrell took every opportunity to invite everyone to support and become involved with 4-H programs.
Harrell said that being in 4-H allowed him the chance to go college, develop leadership skills, and as an adult, gave him the pleasure of sharing the benefits of being a member with many others.
“Without 4-H being an important factor in his life, Luther said he may not have achieved some of his goals,” said Sweat. He added that Harrell did not seek out recognition for his efforts. He was the recipient of a national youth leadership award because of his never-ceasing efforts to assist young people in the community.
Harrell was a true educator who had a positive influence on everyone he met. “During his career, 4-H programs grew and developed as a result of his tireless efforts to make a positive impact on our youth,” said Sweat.
In addition to 4-H, Harrell was very active in his community including various leadership roles in the Macclenny Lions Club. He served as Director and Coordinator of events for the Baker County Centennial celebration, and was instrumental in the development of the Baker County Federal Credit Union, where he served as its first President. He was an active member of First Methodist Church, where he was a trustee and worked in youth services. He was also a visitor and friend to cancer victims, even during his own battle with the disease.
Harrell was also an anonymous donor to underprivileged school children, providing funds to help them continue their educations. His example of service inspired others to follow in his footsteps.