In recognition of the Pearson family’s many contributions to Virginia 4-H, Bernice Pearson and her son and daughter-in-law, J. and Renae Pearson, were presented with the Friend of 4-H award at the recent Evening with 4-H event. The award recognizes a citizen or organization for outstanding contributions to Virginia 4-H.

“Ever since I can remember, my mother has worked with 4-H, and it’s what helped her children benefit from 4-H’s mission of positive youth development,” J. Pearson said. “She spent countless hours helping other children attend the 4-H meetings and events. She would pick them up and take them home. This award recognizes her for many years of time and effort. It’s amazing and I can’t say enough about how much this means.”

Bernice Pearson’s involvement with Virginia 4-H and its mission of positive youth development spans more than 50 years and has impacted countless youth in her community.  

“We’re thankful for Bernice’s dedication and service to Virginia 4-H throughout her life and for J. and Renae’s work to honor Bernice’s lifelong commitment to youth,” said Jeremy Johnson, state 4-H program leader. “Bernice’s enthusiastic support of the 4-H mission helped countless youth in their quest to become the future leaders in their chosen careers.”

In 2022, J. Pearson wanted to do something to recognize his mother for everything that she did to raise him and his two sisters.

When John Dooley, former CEO of the Virginia Tech Foundation, floated the idea of naming the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center’s Performing Arts Complex for Bernice Pearson, J. Pearson was overwhelmed by the idea.

“It was just perfect. To give back and name it after Mom because of the performing arts she did all those years, it's just a dream come true,” Pearson has said. “I’m living proof of her work on positive youth development. There is no way I would be in the position to give back to Virginia 4-H today without the efforts of my parents when I was growing up.”

The gift from J. and Renae Pearson will fund a complete renovation and modernization of the performing arts complex and leave a lasting legacy of Bernice Pearson’s impact on the youth of Virginia.

“It’s because of people like Bernice, J., and Renae that 4-H can have such a meaningful impact on the lives of our youth, and this gift enables us to influence youth for years to come,” Johnson has said.

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