Louis “Woody” Larson Jr. began his first 4-H project at the age of 12 with a brown Swiss heifer. His enthusiasm for the breed and his success at showing them popularized this breed among Florida dairymen. His leadership skills were recognized even though he was a young boy, and he competed in national dairy cattle events.
One event he recalls with fondness is a trip with his 4-H leader, Kent Price. “Kent was my 4-H leader, extension agent, and judging coach,” said Larson. “When I made the State Dairy Judging Team in 1966 he was asked to go along. We attended the last Dairy Cattle Congress in Waterloo, Iowa before the contest was moved to Columbus, Ohio. We had a wonderful trip with many judging stops on the way. Our return trip was punctuated by a special side trip to Arkansas to pick up a cow for K.D. Eatmon and a stop in Kent Price's home town of Reform, Alabama.”
Once established in his career as a dairy farmer and beef rancher, Larson became a volunteer 4-H leader, a coach for the dairy judging team and a judge for county 4-H dairy shows. With his help, the dairy project in Okeechobee County grew from a group of 12 4-H members, to an active club with more than 60 young people involved. His dairies have been the sites of many dairy judging events and seminars for local and state 4-H teams.
“Being involved with 4-H was a natural thing for me to do,” said Larson. “It taught me to be responsible, have a work ethic and integrity. I believe in the merits of the program and know it helps make better citizens and that helps secure the future.”
Larson has always valued the helping aspect of 4-H and he encourages 4-Hers to “pass that help along.” Throughout the years many 4-H members have begun their dairy projects with a trip to a Larson Dairy. He has been a valuable resource for health issues and breeding programs.
All three of his children are alumni of the Okeechobee County 4-H program. He continues his involvement with 4-H today through financial contributions to the 4-H program and says he is making an “investment in kids.”
Larson has mentored many youth and adults to success in the 4-H program. His insight and quiet wisdom have benefited the entire 4-H program. Okeechobee County 4-H members, leaders, parents and extension 4-H agents are in debt to Woody Larson for his unselfish and caring contributions to the 4-H program.