Alice Storms started her 4-H career in Pasco County from 1937-1940 with projects in poultry, clothing and nutrition projects. Storms attended 4-H camp and did demonstrations at the Pasco County Fair.
She credits 4-H with helping her learn and grow. “4-H helped me to overcome my tendency to shrink into the background and help me to develop self-confidence, said Storms.“I had a poultry project and wanted to sell the eggs, but I discovered that I had to overcome my fear and get out there and search for customers. 4-H taught me the importance of persevering to fulfill the commitment or to finish the project, even when it is difficult to do so.”
Years later, following a move to Hillsborough County, Storms became a 4-H club leader and remained active as a leader, parent and speaker for many 4-H clubs for the next 26 years. Her club was called the Pumpernickle 4-H Club.
“We had so much fun and just tried to help the community learn about 4-H and the fun we had,” said Storms. “I remember a circus we had and we sold tickets to the community and the room was full. I had five kids at the time ranging in age from seven to 17 and they were all in it.”
Storms and her 4-Hers were involved in the Junior Agriculture Fair, the Strawberry Festival and the Florida State Fair. She led her club to be extremely involved in community service projects. They delivered books and magazines to the children’s floor at a hospital, spearheaded community recycling efforts, prepared stocking stuffers for sick children, and collected food items for holiday baskets for the needy. They were heavily involved in district events, county events, and 4-H Congress. Thirteen of her club’s members had earned trips to National 4-H Congress as state record book winners.
Where did Storms find the motivation to work with so many young people through 4-H? A clue can be found in what she has to say about her own 4-H experience as a young girl. “When I was a 4-H member, I was given many opportunities to see what I could do. Sometimes I was successful but other times I experienced failure,” said Storms. “My leader was always there encouraging me to pick myself up and start again. I wanted to be able to do that for others.”
She also encouraged her 4-H club members to inform the community about 4-H and came up with creative ways to inform the community about 4-H. Every year, she led her club to participate in National 4-H Week with demonstrations at a shopping center, store window displays, observing National 4-H week through houses of worship, placing copies of the national 4-H magazine in offices and public places, and news articles.
Storms is well known for her contributions to the community through 4-H and other civic groups. She impacted the lives of many young people by investing countless hours of her time. Many of her 4-H members have gone on to become significant contributors professionally to the world of education, politics, the arts, medicine, religion, and agriculture.
The impact 4-H has on young people is profound. Storms knows it well from the imprint 4-H made on her own life. “When I was a 4-H member I was given many opportunities to see what I could do,” said Storms. “Sometimes I was successful, but other times I experienced failure. 4-H taught me the importance of persevering to fulfill the commitment or to finish the project even when it is difficult to do so.”
In 1969 she received the 4-H Alumni Award from Hillsborough County 4-H. She was named the most outstanding leader of a 4-H club in Hillsborough County in 1972-1973 and again in 1976-1977. In 1980 she was again named an outstanding 4-H club leader in Hillsborough county, and was also recognized at the state-level for excellence in 4-H voluntarism. She went to National 4-H Congress that year in recognition of her work and effort on behalf of young people.
In addition to 4-H, Storms is involved in other community organizations. She is a charter member of the Junior Woman’s Club of Brandon, the Friends of Brandon Library, and the Women’s Service League of Brandon. She was also involved with the American Cancer Society of Hillsborough County, the Ground Observer Corps in Civil Defense, the Brandon July 4th Celebration, the Children’s Home Society in Hillsborough County, and educational programs with the Florida Baptist Convention.
Hillsborough County 4-H experienced tremendous growth in the 26 years Storms was a 4-H club leader. In 1961 she was the only 4H club leader and she had nine members in her 4-H club. By the time she retired from club leadership in 1985, she had 36 club members and had added five other 4-H club leaders to the 4-H program who were running their own clubs. Her impact can still be felt today in the people she touched.
Alice Storms is truly an inspiration for many youth and adults in Hillsborough County.