GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Joy Cantrell Jordan, University of Florida associate professor emerita, has been named to the National 4-H Hall of Fame. Jordan is considered a pioneer in 4-H curriculum, developing programs now used by educators across the county.
On Oct. 6, Jordan will be inducted with 15 other 4-H leaders at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Laureates are recognized for their significant contribution to 4-H, the nation’s premier youth development organization that serves over six million youth nationwide.
“It is quite an honor to be nominated by colleagues you know and work with, but even more so to be selected by others,” Jordan said. “I hope I made a difference in the lives of the youth, volunteers and faculty I served. I have always truly believed in the Cooperative Extension outreach mission of ‘helping people help themselves,’ and beginning that process with 4-H.”
Jordan grew up in Mississippi and was a 4-H in her youth. She began her 4-H career in Mississippi State University Cooperative Extension, where she is also an alumna. In 1988, she joined UF, where she was a member of the UF department of family, youth and community sciences, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
During her tenure, Jordan’s research focused on how 4-H can make the biggest difference in youths’ skill sets, career decisions and lifestyle choices. Her and her colleagues’ projects brought numerous high-profile grants to the university.
“Joy Jordan was instrument in several of UF’s National Science Foundation grants for over $2 million,” said Marilyn Norman, associate professor emerita and former Florida state 4-H program leader. “These grants supported our study of how citizenship programs affect youth and how to engage youth in citizen science,” she said.
Jordan mentorship impacted many youth development professionals over the course of her career, said Sarah Hensley, UF/IFAS Extension 4-H state specialized agent for youth curriculum and evaluation.
“Dr. Jordan is the definition of a mentor. As a UF grad student I worked for her, and she in turn supported me as a young Extension agent and saw potential in me that I did not know was there,” Hensley said. “Now I serve in the position she once held, and I am indebted to her. I am just one of many Extension professionals in 4-H youth development whom Joy invested in and whom attribute their success to her.”
Since retiring in 2011, Jordan continues to hold leadership roles related to youth development, and serves as an advocate for the 4-H program, reflecting her deep commitment to the next generation.
“The impacts 4-H makes today are the same it has been making for decades — helping kids gain skills in leadership, public speaking, personal confidence and decision-making,” Jordan said. “The most recent research shows us that 4-H provides youth a safe environment in which to grow, take some risks and learn from experiences. For today’s youth, that may be the most significant impact of 4-H.”
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