COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Chancellor Brady J. Deaton said his membership in an eastern Kentucky 4-H club during his youth instilled values that shaped his 30-plus-year career in higher education. Deaton made his remarks Friday, Oct. 12, at the old MU Alumni Center during a National 4-H Week reception to honor approximately 500 faculty, staff and 4-H partners who help the 4-H Center for Youth Development connect kids to campus.
“The only reason I am in front of you today is because of 4-H,” said Deaton, who is the 21st chief executive officer of MU. The second of nine children of a farm family, Deaton developed a love of the land and agriculture through participation in 4-H and a two-year tour as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. He holds a doctorate in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin, and was appointed chairman of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development by President Obama in 2011.
Deaton recited the 4-H pledge and said that pledge to clear thinking, greater loyalty, larger service and health for the good of community, country and world still applies in the real world. “I am one of your biggest salespeople,” he told extension professionals.
MU Vice Provost for Extension Michael D. Ouart said that a study by psychologist Richard Lerner at Tufts University shows that 4-H members who visit campus are twice as likely to attend college as their non-4-H peers. Compared to non 4-H youth, 4-H members are 76 percent more likely to make better grades, 70 percent more likely to go on to college and 300 percent less likely to engage in problem behaviors. Additionally, they are three times more likely to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways and more likely to pursue courses in science, engineering and technology.
Dustin Oehl, president of the 4-H State Council, became a Clover Kid at age 5 and is now a freshman at the university. “Four-H is a tremendous opportunity,” he said. He noted that 8,500 4-H members visit the MU campus annually and this opportunity increases the likelihood that they will attend college here.
Four-H is a community of 6 million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. National 4-H Council is the private-sector, nonprofit partner of 4-H National Headquarters, located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture within USDA. The 111 land-grant colleges and universities and the Cooperative Extension System through 3,100 local extension offices implement 4-H programs across the country.