PALMYRA, Mo. – The University of Missouri Extension is recognizing Leon Perry of Marion County for having completed 40 years as a 4-H volunteer.

“Forty years have passed quickly! I’ve just enjoyed it,” Perry said.

Perry began his 4-H career as a member in the dairy project in the early 1950s when he was a student at Peddicord School west of Palmyra. As a volunteer, he also has served on the Marion County Junior Fair board, the Marion County Extension Council, the Mt. Zion Church board and currently serves on the board of the First Baptist Church of Palmyra. His family was named the Marion County State Fair Farm Family in 2007.

Perry began leading 4-H with the Mt. Zion 4-H Club and has served with that club ever since. He has led the 4-H trap-shooting project since he went through specialized leader training in the 1990s. He also has been a leader in beef and swine projects.

He and his wife, Judy, are happy that their children and grandchildren are or have been 4-H members. “Someday, hopefully, my great-grandchildren will too,” he says.

In Perry’s years as a 4-H leader, he seldom had occasion to utter a harsh word to a 4-H member. “Respect goes both ways,” he says. “Treat kids with respect and openness, and they respond.”

Youth haven’t changed much during his four decades of service, he says. They know different things, “but kids are still kids.”

“It is really gratifying to see young people that you’ve worked with grow up and become productive, valuable members of the community and then get to go on and work with their children too,” he says.

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