AMES, Iowa-- Former Assistant Iowa Extension Director and State Club Leader Paul Taff was inducted posthumously into the National 4-H Hall of Fame along with 19 other 2007 honorees in recent ceremonies at the National Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland. A reception in his honor is set for 2 p.m., Tues., Nov. 13 at the Green Hills Retirement Home in Ames.
“We are pleased to have Taff recognized for his contribution to 4-H,” said Chuck Morris, program director of Iowa State University (ISU) 4-H Youth Development. “He was an early 4-H pioneer whose work is a tribute to the Iowa program.”
Taff is the ninth Iowan to be inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame, which recognizes lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H. Taff began his 4-H affiliation as a member of “Uncle Henry Wallace’s Corn Club Boys” in Guthrie Center, Iowa in 1903. A career in 4-H and Extension eventually blossomed as Taff enrolled at Iowa State College, while also working for Extension earning his B.S. in 1913. He was then hired as an associate and extension professor of farm crops and soils, writing 4-H club circulars about growing crops while also being in charge of state junior corn shows. In 1915 he accompanied 43 Iowa corn club county winners to the Panama-Pacific Exposition.
He was appointed as Assistant Extension Director in 1917 and State Club Leader from 1919 to 1952. During his tenure, the Iowa 4-H Foundation was started and land was purchased for the Iowa 4-H Camping Center. Taff also joined the National 4-H Congress advisory committee in 1922 and served as the superintendent from 1923 to 1937. He also was involved with the National 4-H Club Camp and International Farm Youth Exchange for which he led 54 youth from 34 states in 1951 on a trip to Europe where he was granted an audience with Pope Pius XII and discussed 4-H work.
Taff was an avid historian as well and helped to research The 4-H Story (Reck, 1951), a history of 4-H club work. He also helped collect 4-H club records at the USDA, organized National 4-H Foundation records and prepared Iowa 4-H history records for the ISU library. Taff became Emeritus Professor of Agriculture upon his death in 1982.
Taff once said that, “Rural youth of today have all the common conveniences of their urban counterparts and are just as sophisticated. But their advantage is the open air, the sense of being part of nature and the routine of hard work that they enjoy on the farm.”
The 2007 laureates and the state 4-H programs or organizations that nominated them include: Nancy Ascue, Virginia; Tammara Beckham, Texas; Gary L. Davis, National 4-H Council; David C. Hardesty, Jr., National 4-H Council; Tommy Irvin, Georgia; Edward Garfield Jenkins, Maryland; Duane Johnson, Oregon; Myron Johnsrud, North Dakota; M.A. Lucas, CSREES; Joan McCrory, Louisiana; Ruth Ann Minner, Delaware; Juanita Reed-Boniface, Minnesota; Vi Rexford, Idaho; Rita Saathoff, New Jersey; Carl Smith, NAE4-HA; Paul Taff, Iowa; John Taylor, Montana; Fred Wagoner, North Carolina; Hobson Waits, Mississippi and M.L. Wilson, CSREES.
The National 4-H Hall of Fame was created in 2002 as a 4-H centennial project to recognize and celebrate those people who have made a significant impact on 4-H and its millions of members. Every state and U.S. territory as well as NAE4-HA, CSREES/USDA and National 4-H Council are invited to annually submit a nominee for consideration.
4-H in Iowa is a part of ISU Extension/4-H Youth Development and headquartered on the ISU campus in Ames.
Carol Ouverson , ISU Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-9640, firstname.lastname@example.org