Those who knew Wilma Tindell are quick to point out her affection for young people and desire to help them reach their full potential.
Tindell became involved with 4-H in the 1950’s and remained actively involved for more than 39 years.
“Wilma Tindell was a dynamic donor and sponsor of 4-H during the days when 4-H clubs were school-based,” said Ernest Stephens of Duval County. “She encouraged youth to never say “I can’t”.
In the mid-1960s Tindell formed “The Mandarin Girls 4-H Club” which was one of the first community 4-H clubs formed in Duval County. In this club, 4-H’ers researched and developed a history of the Mandarin Chinese community. The project was completed through a Community Pride grant Tindell was instrumental in acquiring from Chevron USA. The Community Pride grant program impacted 4-H clubs throughout Florida and around the country.
She was well-known for her hands-on approach to youth development, and she helped many 4-H members build self-confidence. “I have seen Mrs. Tindell take a young, shy child into her club and work with this youngster through the years,” said Stephens. “She would help them develop into an outgoing person with the confidence to know the he or she can do anything in life that they set out to do--it’s what made her so successful in her 4-H work.”
Tindell was also a huge supporter of the 4-H International Farm Youth Exchange program, which encouraged exchange students to visit the United States and learn its culture and customs, and also sent U.S. students abroad.
Tindell and her Mandarin Club members did a lot of work within their community, including assisting the Mandarin Athletic Association and the Loretto Elementary School. They also undertook projects far beyond Duval County, and even raised funds to help with the restoration of the Statue of Liberty in New York.
Tindell was one of the guiding forces in the organization of the County 4-H Advisory Committee. As an advisory member, Tindell coordinated the Duval County Fashion Revue, which was held at the local mall for several years, and her club members were well known for their excellent clothing projects.
Tindell was well known for her keen insight and her love of history. Before her death she started writing a history of 4-H in Duval County, and was spearheading efforts to collect pictures and valuable historical documents for this project.
Tindell retired as a cafeteria director with Loretto Elementary School, and was employed by the Duval County School Board. In addition to her work with 4-H, she was involved with other organizations such as the Rotary, Homemakers, Toastmasters, Kiwanis and Garden Clubs. Her ultimate love however, was working with youth.