Award Year

Dr. Tony Frank, current president of Colorado State University, gives 4-H a great deal of credit for the life of public service he has lived.

“Some of my earliest memories are as a member of the Compton-Brooklyn Beavers 4-H club from Lee County, Illinois,” said Frank. “My father was a club leader and my two older brothers were active, so I couldn’t wait to show livestock, play softball, and be a part of the club.”

Frank said it was only later, after he had held every office in the club, that he learned the fairs and the fun were simply the steak sauce – the real meat was learning about service leadership.

“As secretary, I learned that the lowest ranked office usually has the hardest job,” he said. “As treasurer, I learned it’s a special responsibility to handle other people’s money. As vice president,” he continued, “I learned team work. As president, I learned that one person can do a little, but a team can do a lot.”

Those lessons have been instrumental in Frank’s career at Colorado State, where he began as a professor of pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He later became chair of that department, then moved on to a position as associate dean of research in the college. He became vice president for research and information technology in 2000, provost and senior vice president in 2004, and president of the university in 2009.

As president of the state’s land-grant university, Frank has been a staunch ambassador and advocate for 4-H in Colorado and its importance to state youth development. He frequently cites his 4-H experience as instrumental in his own development as a leader. He regularly interacts with 4-H members at events and fairs to recognize their achievements and commitment. He has emphasized the critical role that a strong 4-H program can play in STEM education as part of the university’s commitment to educating tomorrow’s leaders and innovators.

Frank has also taken an active role in civic leadership. He has served as president and long-time board member of the Food Bank of Larimer County; he is a member of Rotary International; he is on the board of community supporters for Larimer County Multiple Sclerosis Society Dinner of Champions; and he is a member of the Colorado Climate Action Panel.

“In so many ways,” Frank concluded, “4-H set the foundation for my career and my attitude toward public service.”