4-H honors state award recipients
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
Oklahoma 4-H has announced its 2023 Outstanding Alumni and State Partner Award winners. The following recipients were recognized at the 2023 State 4-H Roundup in Stillwater.
Larry E. Adair
Larry E. Adair has been selected as a 2023 Oklahoma 4-H Outstanding Alumnus. A native of the Adair County 4-H Club, Adair began his 4-H career as young as 9 years old. Throughout grade school and high school, Adair participated in public speaking contests and leadership events, attended Oklahoma 4-H Roundup and traveled on many 4-H trips.
Adair taught English and Speech and was later the high school principal for Stilwell Public Schools. He then served as the high school principal and superintendent for Watts Public Schools. In 1982, he was elected a state representative for House District 86. He spent 22 years in the Oklahoma Legislature in many different roles and capacities. From 2001 to 2004, he led the House of Representatives as speaker of the house during the 48th and 49th legislative sessions. During his distinguished tenure in the legislature, Adair advocated and championed Extension and 4-H in the state of Oklahoma.
Though he has many 4-H memories, his favorite is a trip to Kansas City, Missouri, to attend the American Royal in 1963 with a group of fellow club members. During this trip, Adair met President Harry S. Truman, who was the keynote speaker at a banquet dinner in downtown Kansas City during the American Royal.
Adair said he would encourage any young person to experience 4-H. It is an opportunity to learn and know how to make decisions. He has continued to support 4-H with financial and personal contributions during his legislative career and everyday life.
Jered and Lindsey Davidson
Husband and wife Jered and Lindsey Davidson have been selected as 2023 Outstanding 4-H Alumni Award recipients.
Jered, a Caddo County alum, focused on natural resource conservation as his main project area but also had a passion for leadership and public speaking. He was a state project award winner in the conservation of natural resources and advanced achievement categories. He served as State 4-H President and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.
Jered graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in agricultural economics, where he was named the Outstanding Senior for Ferguson College of Agriculture. He graduated with honors from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He practices public finance law in Oklahoma City, specializing in healthcare and economic development financings for Oklahoma Communities.
Lindsey (Long) Davidson, grew up in Osage County, participating in livestock projects, food science, public speaking and leadership. She was a state project award winner in the food science project and advanced achievement categories. Lindsey attended both undergrad and graduate school at OSU studying agricultural leadership.
Jered is currently wrapping up his term as the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation past president. The Davidsons continue to support and advocate for Oklahoma 4-H. Jered and Lindsey live in Edmond with their son, Duke.
Dr. Judith James has been selected to receive the 2023 Oklahoma 4-H Outstanding Alumni Award. She is no stranger to the 4-H community. A state project winner, she served as a delegate at the National 4-H Congress in Chicago, attended Citizenship Washington Focus and traveled on an exchange trip to Mexico. She was chosen as an outstanding 4-H member at Pond Creek in Grant County from 1976 to 1985.
Currently, James is chair of arthritis and clinical immunology at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and serves as associate vice provost for clinical and translational science at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She said the public speaking and leadership skills she honed as a 4-H member have greatly contributed to her success as a physician, scientist and leader.
During her 4-H membership, James enjoyed putting together 4-H record books.
“I loved doing record books, setting goals, cataloging progress and reporting results,” she said.
James is a recipient of the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Medical Service from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. She is also the first woman from an Oklahoma institution elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
James represents what it means to be a servant leader of her community. At the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, she leads the Oklahoma Clinical and Translational Science Institute, which unites 29 research entities to improve the health of all Oklahomans. Her contributions to medicine and Oklahoma will continue to improve health care for many generations.
Debra Rankin has received the Outstanding 4-H Alumni Award. A Waynoka 4-H Club leader, she has dedicated her time to making an impact at local, county and state 4-H events. She served on the State 4-H Volunteer Board from 2010 to 2013 and was the Oklahoma delegate to the Southern Region Volunteer Conference in 2011.
Rankin received her bachelor’s degree in education from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and is known for her achievements as a teacher at Waynoka Public Schools. Throughout her career, she has received recognition as Freedom Public Schools Teacher of the Year, Masonic Teacher of Today and Waynoka Public School Teacher of the Year.
In 2015, Rankin was asked to help facilitate Waynoka’s Sunshiner Dinner as a service-learning project for the Waynoka 4-H Club. The long-standing community event is an annual Thanksgiving dinner prepared for local elderly and low-income citizens. The dinner has fed more than 200 people in person and delivered over 150 meals in the area with the help of local 4-H members that help cook, clean and prepare Thanksgiving dishes.
At the Tri-County 4-H Summer Camp, she serves as camp cook. Her creative meal themes, matching decorations and great food provide a positive environment for campers. Rankin is known for always having a camera at Woods County 4-H events and activities. These photos are shared among Extension staff, parents and social media.
Merl E. Miller
For his generous support and lifetime dedication to Oklahoma State University Extension and 4-H, Merl E. Miller has received the 2023 State Partner in 4-H Award.
Miller joined Garvin County 4-H as soon as he turned 10 so he could show his hogs at the county fair. Since then, he has been a driving force in the leadership of 4-H across Oklahoma and the U.S.
Miller participated in swine, gardening, poultry and dairy projects during his time as a 4-H member. In 2013, he was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame.
He earned a bachelor's degree in animal science and is an active member of the OSU Animal Science Alumni Association. After graduating from OSU, Miller worked in several different 4-H leadership positions for 30 years – 17 in Oklahoma and 13 in Maryland. After retirement, he moved back to Stillwater to be closer to his three daughters.
As a 4-H educator, one of Miller’s favorite memories is watching his students give a speech during a county 4-H meeting. He said it felt good to see the students so proud of themselves.
In 2022, Miller established the Merl Miller 4-H Staff Executive Training Endowment Fund in the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation. He wanted to provide 4-H educators with executive development experience they typically did not receive in college. This was inspired by one of his experiences in Maryland when he worked closely with the National 4-H Council and U.S. Department of Agriculture. They received approval for an executive development institute, and over half of the class went on to become department heads or influential leaders in their states.
Miller said the purpose of his scholarship is to encourage individuals to keep trying, and he believes the fund is a powerful way to invest money.