James and Linda Parks have been true fans of the 4-H program for nearly 35 years. Linda Parks first became a 4-H supporter in the summer of 1974 as a project leader for her community 4-H club.
Soon the couple joined forces and established the first 4-H exchange program in their county. Club members learned a disciplined work ethic through the club’s fund-raising program for the project, and also learned to appreciate the diversity of people within their country’s borders and abroad while studying travel destinations.
James Parks began serving on the Manatee County Youth Livestock Advisory Committee in 1971, and has continued as a livestock resource leader to 4-H members speaking at club meetings and promoting workshops. Since 1992 he has directed his efforts toward the 4-H beef and swine projects, providing expertise to leaders and participants.
The Parks have served on many committees and held several offices as volunteers. They have shared their time and resources graciously in many parts of the 4-H program.
Work ethics and discipline are a way of life for the Parks, and they have strived to pass these on to 4-H members.
“4-H instills a sense of personal worth that can only be achieved through community service and the personal relationships developed along the way,” said James Parks. “After 30 plus years of being a 4-H leader, active supporter and financial contributor, I have realized that it is the satisfaction of knowing that you have in some way helped a 4-H’er along in life, that is a person’s most significant contribution.”
He has sponsored the 4-H spring gardening program since 1979, and established a permanently funded interest-bearing account to perpetuate the project.
“It’s absolutely about the kids,” adds Linda Parks. “It’s the joy you see in them and the joy you get from them. 4-H provides kids with a solid base, morals, a strong work ethic. These are things that are not found in just any organization. They can be hard to find today.”
The Parks are not only well-respected within 4-H, but outside the 4-H community as well. James is considered an innovative and receptive leader by associates in his industry. He is a member of many professional and community service organizations including the Florida State Beef Advisory Committee, the Manatee County Farm Bureau, the Manatee County Cattlemen’s Association and the Manatee River Fair Association.
Linda Parks is also a member of many organizations, including the Manatee County Cattlewomen Association and the Florida Cattlewomen Association.
Her involvement with 4-H is a daily passion and, whenever possible, she promotes 4-H within the community. She encourages families who are new to the community to call the county extension office to learn about 4-H and everything the program offers.
She is a model for 4-H youth and adults and her leadership skills have given rise to the establishment of many 4-H clubs, programs and activities. Linda is also the owner and general manager of “Come See Come Save Lawn and Garden Stores, which can be found throughout Manatee County, but 4-H remains her first love.
“My involvement with the 4-H program has brought a great sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction to my life,” said Linda Parks.