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Jim Byford receives “Friend of 4-H” award

MARTIN, Tenn. — A long-time Tennessee 4-H youth program supporter has received one of the organization’s most prestigious honors. Dr. Jim Byford, retired dean of UT Martin’s College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences and a former extension service wildlife specialist, received the “Friend of 4-H” Award from the Tennessee 4-H Foundation during the 64th Annual Tennessee 4-H Congress, March 29, in Nashville.  

“I am both honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” Byford said of the honor. “4-H has truly enriched my life, as it has millions of youth throughout the world. I’m fortunate to be a part of such a great youth organization.”

4-H is the youth development program of University of Tennessee Extension. 4-H teaches leadership, citizenship and life skills to more than 300,000 youth in grades 4-12. 4-H also has more than 18,000 adult volunteers statewide.

Buddy Mitchell, interim chancellor, UT Institute of Agriculture, presented the award and described Byford as “a role model and mentor to many 4-H members across the state.” Mitchell added, “He made sure the 4-Hers were always welcome when it came time for State 4-H Roundup at Martin, and they looked forward to his songs and storytelling around the All Star campfire.”

Mitchell also recognized Byford’s continuing 4-H involvement following his 2009 retirement. “His (Byford’s) latest efforts center on developing a vision for a 4-H center in West Tennessee as a member of both a Farm Bureau task force and UT Extension committee devoted to this effort,” Mitchell said.

Byford spent 20 years as extension wildlife specialist in Georgia and Tennessee, giving hundreds of presentations and writing numerous articles on wildlife conservation. Byford was featured in the 1983 Sports Afield hunting annual, the June 1985 issue of Outdoor Life and appeared regularly on “TNN Outdoors” from 1996-98. He has spoken at numerous seminars on agriculture, land management and natural-resource conservation throughout the U.S., Ecuador and Japan. In 1999, he authored a book through UT Press, titled “Close To The Land.”

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