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Former Ill. 4-H Director Honored

Published: Friday, September 10, 2021

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 on 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 youth, said 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 because her mother served as club leader of the Clever Clovers 4-H Club.

Four-H was an integral part of Seitz's life. She said 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 undergraduate and advanced degrees. She received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Bowling Green State University 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 from University of Illinois in leadership development, youth development and programming. From 1991-97, she served as professor and director of the leadership development graduate program in the College of Education at Illinois.

In 1997, Seitz 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 a character development project that 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," said 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 supporting grant funds for innovative projects.

Seitz has received several awards including: Illinois Master Teacher, Jaycees Outstanding Young Woman of the Year, Outstanding Faculty/Administrator from the National University Continuing Education Assn., Distinguished Service Award winner from the American Vocational Education Personnel Development Assn., University of Illinois Mother's Assn. 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 addition to Seitz, the 20-member hall of fame class includes: Robert Ritchie, Indiana; Sandra Clarkson Stuckman, Michigan; 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; Jan Scholl-Kennedy, Pennsylvania; Carol Schurman, NAE4-HYDP; 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," said Jeannette Rea Keywood, chair, National 4-H Hall of Fame.

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