Marie Nickels carried a life-long love of the 4-H program. For 43 years from 1956 to 1999, she shared her enthusiasm and dedication to the 4-H program with all who were interested.
“Marie Nickels was one-of-a-kind with her non-stop energy and support of the 4-H youth program for the state of Florida,” said Kay D. Brown, a former 4-H agent in Escambia County.
Nickels began her work with 4-H in Miami-Dade County where she developed one of the largest and most active 4-H clubs in the county. Her 4-H members participated and excelled at many 4-H events.
She also served as a board member for the Dade County Youth Fair and was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Board of Directors for the Florida State Fair in Tampa. She oversaw the County Exhibit Building at the state fairgrounds while serving on the board.
A move to Escambia County in Florida’s panhandle did not slow Nickels down. She remained very active in 4-H project work, fair participation, and community service. She started the Helping Hands 4-H Club.
Nickels was honored with the Florida 4-H Volunteer Award and the National 4-H Volunteer “Salute to Excellence” award and grant. The grant money she received was used to establish the 4-H Guide Dog Puppy Program for the state of Florida.
Her kind and gentle nature was well known, and everyone knew and loved “Grandma” Nickels. She faithfully attended 4-H camp, with stays at 4-H Camp Cloverleaf and 4-H Camp Timpoochee, where she always taught crafts. 4-H members and leader say her knowledge and enthusiam were boundless.
Her daughter, Mary McKeon, says 4-H was her mother’s life. She quotes her as saying, “Working with 4-Hers gave me such satisfaction. Watching the children grow and learn made each day a blessing.”