The father of Louisiana 4-H has been inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame on March 22 at the National 4-H Center in Maryland.
The late Victor Leander Roy Sr. was accepted as a member of a group of 24 people being inducted this year into the National 4-H Hall of Fame, said Terril Faul, head of 4-H Youth Development for the LSU AgCenter and the person who nominated Roy for this award.
The National 4-H Hall of Fame was initiated in 2002 during celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the nationwide 4-H youth development movement. That year 101 people — including Jack Bagent, retired vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter and director of its Extension Service — were honored for making major contributions to 4-H at the local, state and national level.
Now each state can nominate one person per year, but only about 20 to 25 are chosen to be inducted from those nominations and any received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Roy was selected for his role in starting what became the Louisiana 4-H program in 1908 — shortly after the national youth development program was founded in 1902.
“The Louisiana 4-H program will forever remember the dedication of Mr. Roy in organizing the 4-H program in Louisiana,” Faul said. “He believed in 4-H and its ability to develop productive citizens in Louisiana communities and improve their livelihoods. Mr. Roy was respected nationwide, and we are proud he has been accepted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame.”
Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director of its Extension Service, also stressed Roy and other early leaders were instrumental in what the Louisiana 4-H program has become.
“The strength and impact of 4-H in Louisiana today are a direct result of the contributions made by people like Mr. Roy,” Coreil said. “He exhibited the same characteristics we now teach in our Character Counts! program statewide. His legacy is an excellent example of the positive impacts 4-H has and has had on the lives of all Louisiana residents.”
Roy was born June 18, 1871, in Mansura, La., and was a son of Leander Francois Roy and Adelaide Cailleteau Roy. He and his wife, Josephine Sanford Roy, were the parents of five children — Hubert Earl Roy and John Overton Roy, who are deceased, and Lucille Roy (Mrs. James Parkerson Caffery), Sanford Roy and Victor Leander Roy Jr.
Roy received a bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University in 1890 — at a time when the number of students at the university was about 70. In 1894, Roy attended a summer session at the University of Chicago. Then he later attended Tulane University, where he received a master's degree in 1925.
After graduating from LSU, Roy taught in Mansura and later became principal of Marksville High School. Around that time, he also served on the faculty of the Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) and was superintendent of education for Lafayette Parish.
But it was his role as superintendent of education in Avoyelles Parish that coincided with his role in formation of the predecessor to today's 4-H youth development program in the state. That parishwide boys' corn club was formed in Avoyelles in 1908, when Roy collaborated with a local railroad to transport boys to an initial meeting of the club on Feb. 8, 1908, at an old frame schoolhouse in Moreauville.
About 300 boys from every section of Avoyelles Parish attended the first meeting and spent the day listening to instructions on corn-growing and the plan to deliver seed corn to each member. By the time the seed corn was delivered later in February, the number of youngsters involved already had grown to about 400.
That corn club was the predecessor to what has become the Louisiana 4-H youth development program — a broad-based educational effort designed to help young people develop skills and abilities that will benefit them throughout their lives.
Louisiana 4-H today has more than 80,000 members involved in projects ranging from computers to nutrition and livestock to communications. The LSU AgCenter's current youth development efforts also reach hundreds of thousands more each year through accompanying educational programs regarding character.
As for the history, Roy's corn club quickly gained cooperation and assistance of the Louisiana State Department of Education and Farmers Institutes, and 15 other parishes soon followed Roy's example. Even more joined by the following year.
In recognition of his work, Roy became the first state agricultural agent stationed at Louisiana State University, and he became a collaborator with Seaman A. Knapp of Lake Charles, who is recognized nationally as the founder of the Cooperative Extension Service.
Along the way, Roy also attended a meeting in Washington, D.C., with Knapp. That meeting played a part in sparking growth of 4-H nationally.
A. Denise Coolman writes for the LSU AgCenter (318-366-1477 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Tom Merrill is News Editor for LSU AgCenter Communications (225-578-5896 or email@example.com).