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Springfield resident named National 4-H Hall of Fame honoree

Monday, August 30, 2021
Woman in a blue suit standing by a podium

URBANA, Ill. – Former Illinois 4-H Director Janice Seitz of Springfield has been selected as an elite inductee to the National 4-H Hall of Fame. The decorated educator will be honored during a special ceremony Tuesday, Oct. 12 in Washington, D.C.

Seitz held 4-H leadership roles across the country and is known for her passion, dedication, enthusiasm, and love of empowering with youth, says Lisa Diaz, University of Illinois Extension 4-H program leader.

Growing up on a small farm in a Mennonite community near Paulding, Ohio, Seitz attended her first 4-H club meeting from a bassinet; her mother served as club leader of the Clever Clovers 4-H Club.

4-H was an integral part of Jan's life. She says she learned life skills by giving talks and demonstrations, decorating booths at the county and state fairs, building 4-H floats, attending 4-H camp, and attending the Ohio State Teen Conference, where she performed as part of a quartet that won the regional talent competition.

Seitz was the first in her family, school, and community to receive an undergraduate and advanced degrees. She received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and a special education credential from San Francisco State University.

Following her 17-year career in public schools, she received both a master's degree and a doctorate in leadership development, youth development, and programming from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. From 1991 to 1997, she served as professor and director of the Leadership Development graduate program in the College of Education at Illinois.

In 1997, Jan began her role as the assistant dean and director of 4-H for Illinois Extension. Under her leadership, youth participation in 4-H increased from 209,000 to more than 412,000 youth and adult volunteers.

She created the 4-H Legislative Connection where youth engaged with Illinois lawmakers. She gained support for increased funding for 4-H Extension youth development staff, and an endowment with the Illinois 4-H Foundation focused on character development projects bears her name.

Seitz’s professional 4-H involvement extended beyond Illinois. She chaired a taskforce responsible for protecting the 4-H name and emblem, co-chaired the national committee which hosted the 4-H centennial festivities, and led the team which presented the National 4-H Centennial Report to the U.S. Speaker of the House, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and congressional members. She served two terms on the National 4-H Foundation Board of Directors and four years on the National 4-H Congress Board of Directors.

In 2003, Seitz served as the associate dean and director of Extension Outreach for the University of Delaware.

"Jan was a spirited and enthusiastic supporter of 4-H youth development, says Doug Crouse, Delaware 4-H program leader. “She has a tremendous ability to engage with people and advocate for all we do in youth development."

Seitz established two endowments at the University of Delaware for 4-H and Extension, one supporting Extension scholars and another support grant funds for innovative projects.

Seitz was honored with several awards: Illinois Master Teacher,  Jaycees Outstanding Young Woman of the Year, Outstanding Faculty/Administrator from the National University Continuing Education Association, Distinguished Service Award winner from the American Vocational Education Personnel Development Association, University of Illinois Mother's Association Bronze Medallion Award, University of Illinois College of Education Distinguished Alumni Award, and University of Illinois Award for Excellence in Extramural Teaching.

The Ohio native is also featured in Fred Dawson's book, Pearls: Women Who Radiate Success.

In total, 20 individuals are being inducted to the 2021 Hall of Fame class. In addition to Seitz, honorees include: Daryl Buchholz, Kansas; Stephen L. Censky, National 4-H Council; Bryan Chadd, Arizona; Louisa Bauer Cole, New Jersey; John E. Dooley, Virginia; Karen L. Hinton, Nevada; Nancy Kissel, Wisconsin; Mike Klumpp, Arkansas; Julie Best Landry, North Carolina; Jeffrey Orndorff, West Virginia; Rev. Clementa Carlos Pinckney; South Carolina; Katherine Rickart, National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals NAE4-HYDP; Robert Ritchie, Indiana; Jan Scholl-Kennedy, Pennsylvania; Carol Schurman, NAE4-HYDP; Sandra Clarkson Stuckman, Michigan; Darrel Thomas, NAE4-HYDP; Bette Jo Clinton Van Kavelaar, Delaware; and Harlene M. Welch, Kentucky.

“These individuals have touched the lives of many people, from 4-H staff and colleagues to thousands of 4-H volunteers and members throughout the nation," says Jeannette Rea Keywood, chair, National 4-H Hall of Fame. 

SOURCE: Tina Veal, Illinois Extension Alumni Engagement
WRITER: Judy Mae Bingman, Illinois Extension Communications and Marketing Manager

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.

About the National 4-H Hall of Fame: In 2002, the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA), National 4-H Council and National 4-H Headquarters at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA created the National 4-H Hall of Fame during 4-H’s centennial year. The National 4-H Hall of Fame was established to recognize 4-H volunteers, financial supporters, staff and pioneers who made major impacts within the 4-H movement at the local, state and national levels. Biographies and more information about inductees can be found on the National 4-H Hall of Fame website at http://www.4-h-hof.com/

About the 4-H Youth Development Program: 4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, serving more than 6 million young people across America annually with research-based programs in leadership, citizenship, communication and life skills. For over 100 years, 4-H has connected the science, engineering and technology innovations of land-grant universities to local youth and families. 4-H National Headquarters at NIFA, USDA provides programmatic leadership for the U.S. 4-H Youth Development program. 4-H programs are offered in every county in the United States.  For more information about 4-H, visit the national 4-H website at http://www.4-h.org