Nevada sees second inductee into National 4-H Hall of Fame.
As a child, Karen Hinton was immersed in farming and ranching in the Texas panhandle on her family’s expansive acreage. In the small town of Happy, Texas, with a population that only numbered in the hundreds, 4-H was a place for children to learn life skills — an edifying club in which her whole family was involved.
Her mother was an area 4-H leader and contributed to Hinton’s lifelong fervor for the youth development organization. Within 4-H, Hinton says, she learned respect, analysis, goal setting, and how to strive for success in her life’s endeavors. After her first 4-H project, creating clothing, she was selected as outstanding 4-Her of the year.
From there, her involvement only grew deeper, culminating in her recent, illustrious induction into the National 4-H Hall of Fame.
Long a resident of Carson City, Hinton is one of only two Nevadans ever to receive this honor. The other was former Nevada Secretary of State and Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa in 2002.
“It seems 4-Hers grow into successful adults,” Hinton says. “That’s what really gives back to [4-H’s] paid professionals, giving youths the skills that are so important, the tools to navigate life.”
In 1981, Hinton began working with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, remaining actively involved in 4-H. She rose through the university ranks, earning the title of area director for several Nevada counties before becoming dean and director of the cooperative extension in 1998.
In this role, she oversaw 4-H programs across Nevada’s 17 counties. Hinton appreciated the opportunity to have a hands-on career, working closely with the children and teens involved in 4-H throughout the state.
Additionally, she commends the 4-H professionals, who, she explains, are “so dedicated and a joy to work with.”
Upon her retirement in 2012, Hinton had the distinction of being the longest-serving female dean in UNR’s history.
Hinton’s former colleagues speak of her with reverence and emotion. Covertly nominated by members of the Nevada 4-H Youth Development Program and colleagues at UNR, Hinton was blissfully surprised by the nomination and subsequent honor.
Joined by friends and former colleagues Carrie Stark and Sarah Chvilicek, Hinton attended the induction ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 12, 2021.
“Dr. Karen Hinton is so deserving of her appointment to the 4-H Hall of Fame,” says Lisa K. Taylor, assistant professor and extension educator for UNR. “She paved the way for younger professionals like me to provide meaningful, relevant, research-based programs that are meeting the needs of our Carson City 4-H members and their families. So many members she recruited are now living, contributing, and leading in significant ways that impact our local community. From local garden and nature projects to community service activities … Karen created the foundation for us to envision possibilities, contribute to ongoing partnerships, and continue the momentum for positive youth development every day.”
For details about how to get involved with your local 4-H chapter, visit 4-H.org.
Natasha Bourlin is an environmentally concerned freelance writer. See her work at Passportandplume.com.