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Two women holding a plaque and certificate.
Alicia Brents, left, was recognized as the Oklahoma 4-H Volunteer of the Year during the 2023 4-H Parent/Volunteer Leader Conference at Oklahoma State University. Presenting the award is Missy Quintero, president of the 4-H Volunteer Board. (Photo by Mitchell Alcala, OSU Agriculture)

Brents named 4-H Lifetime Volunteer of the Year

Friday, June 30, 2023

Media Contact: Trisha Gedon | Sr. Communications Specialist | 405-744-3625 |

An educator by trade, and at heart, Alicia Brents saw the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development program as a way to further her students’ education.

Not only did she teach in the classroom, but she volunteered in 1972 to become the Swink Public Schools 4-H volunteer leader. Fifty-one years later, she continues to serve the youth in Choctaw County as the leader of the Fort Towson 4-H Club.

Her dedication was honored at the 2023 4-H Parent/Volunteer Leader Conference at Oklahoma State University where she was named the Oklahoma 4-H Lifetime Volunteer of the Year. She was also recognized as the Southeast District and the Choctaw County Lifetime Volunteer of the Year. This award is presented to a volunteer leader with at least 10 years of service.

“Being a teacher and a 4-H leader go hand-in-hand, and I was looking for ways to further my students’ education by getting them involved in different 4-H projects,” Brents said. “4-H has so much to offer, and it all relates to classroom learning in some fashion.”

She involved her students in meat, horse, land and forestry judging as a way to enhance what they were already learning in the classroom, as well as to provide hands-on learning opportunities. Brents even became a land judging coach. The various judging teams learned their lessons well and have won county, district, state and national competitions over the years.

“I studied and learned along with my students and club members,” she said. “These experiences enhanced their school education and improved their public speaking skills. I enjoy getting a student who is timid or shy and seeing them excel at these contests.”

Brents also enjoys offering opportunities for her club members to travel. Participating in a judging contest isn’t just the contest itself. She makes the experience into an adventure and a time of discovery. When traveling, the group stops at different points of interest along the way.

“Some of my kids don’t get to travel a lot, so this is a chance for them to broaden their horizons,” Brents said.

Lucile Morehouse said she has learned so much under Brents’ direction.

“Mrs. Brents has taught me about compass and pacing, forest evaluation, tree identification, insects and diseases. Last year, I placed first high individual in the junior division forestry judging contest and I owe all of that to Mrs. Brents,” Morehouse said. “I know that each year with her I’ll learn more and more. She makes it fun and exciting.”

Marty Montague, OSU Extension 4-H educator in Choctaw County, said Brents has taught hundreds of young people how to learn and apply that knowledge, not only for themselves but while working together as a team.

“Her 4-H members have won thousands of dollars in scholarships because of the work and effort this fine lady put in to make sure they were successful,” he said. “To say Alicia Brents has been a mother to many of her 4-H’ers is an understatement. She has been more than that – sometimes being their father, banker, counselor and always their cheerleader. She’d go toe-to-toe with a grizzly bear to protect or defend a 4-H’er, no matter where they were from.”

Montague, who has been with OSU Extension for 34 years, said he often reflects on his service and wonders if he could’ve done more.

“I can’t say that about Alicia Brents’ career as a 4-H adult volunteer,” he said. “She never wavers or tires of trying to help her 4-H members.”

Brents said she doesn’t plan to step back from 4-H anytime soon.

“These 4-H’ers are my extended kids, just like my former students. Some of them call me Gran Gran like my grandkids do, and others call me on Mother’s Day,” she said. “I’m working on my third generation of 4-H’ers. I’ll be around for a while.”

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