For their lifelong service and steadfast commitment to 4-H youth, Bob Meadows and John Dooley were inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame during recent celebrations in Washington, D.C.

In 2002, the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals, National 4-H Council, and 4-H National Headquarters partnered to create the National 4-H Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was established to recognize 4-H volunteers, Cooperative Extension professionals, staff employees, and others who made a significant impact on 4-H.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to both Bob and John,” Jeremy Johnson, the Virginia State 4-H leader, said at a luncheon honoring the pair on Oct. 13. “With their support, Virginia’s 4-Hers have been able to grow into independent, confident, resilient, and well-rounded civic-minded individuals, ready to conquer any task put before them. Bob and John, we thank you and celebrate everything you’ve done for 4-H.”

In a ceremony delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Meadows, state 4-H director emeritus and associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the 15 other Hall of Fame laureates celebrated the country’s 4-H youth – some who are now educational and corporate leader, governors, and other elected officials.

Meadows was a school teacher in West Virginia when he first heard about 4-H. After volunteering at the Diana Busy Bees 4-H Community Club in West Virginia, he heard about a job opening as the local 4-H agent. Meadows didn’t think he’d get the job with no prior 4-H experience but decided to apply anyway.

To his surprise, he got an interview and, subsequently, the job, starting him down the 4-H career path. Eventually, he came to Virginia and became the first 4-H program director at Airfield 4-H Educational Center, a 4-H Extension specialist, and eventually the associate director and state 4-H leader until 2007.

For his impactful work, Meadows entered the 2020 National 4-H Hall of Fame.

“This is an honor that I cherish in recognition for my work in Cooperative Extension and 4-H,” Meadows said. “I was blessed to have a career that allowed me to touch the lives of thousands of youths and adults. In reality, working with 4-H enhanced my learning and I benefited as much as those I served.”

At a special luncheon honoring both Hall of Fame laureates, Bob Meadows shared some of his special memories of 4-H. Photo by Max Esterhuizen for Virginia Tech.

Virginia 4-H stalwarts Bob Meadows and John Dooley receive prestigious National 4-H honor
At a special luncheon honoring both Hall of Fame laureates, Bob Meadows shared some of his special memories of 4-H. Photo by Max Esterhuizen for Virginia Tech.

Dooley, who was inducted to the 2021 Hall of Fame, also had a lifetime of making the best better.

Dooley got his first taste of the 4-H experience in 1965 when he attended a 4-H science camp in West Virginia as a youth. He’s been involved with 4-H in some capacity ever since.

He volunteered for 4-H as a teenager and young adult, and in 1982, he became the director of the brand-new Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center.

In Dooley’s nearly nine years as the center’s director, he had the opportunity to build the facilities from the ground up and was charged with raising funds to expand the facility and build an auditorium.

But one of his proudest accomplishments was his partnership with Camp Fantastic.

Dooley still remembers the impact of helping youth through 4-H has had on him over the years. Though Dooley has had a plethora of roles at Virginia Tech – including being the CEO of the Virginia Tech Foundation, a role from which he recently stepped down— he said his experiences in 4-H shaped who he is both as a leader and a person.

“4-H has contributed so much to who I am today,” Dooley said. “I would not have had the life that I have without 4-H.”

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