Callaway man named to Missouri 4-H Hall of Fame

Rodney Garnett has been connected to agriculture-based organization since childhood

Rodney Garnett of Holts Summit was inducted into the Missouri 4-H Hall of Fame on Aug. 9 after years of dedication to the program since his youth.

Rodney Garnett of Holts Summit was inducted into the Missouri 4-H Hall of Fame on Aug. 9 after years of dedication to the program since his youth. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

After a nearly-lifelong connection to the youth organization, Rodney Garnett of Holts Summit was inducted into the Missouri 4-H Hall of Fame on Aug. 9.

Garnett, who grew up on a farm in Marion in Cole County, got his start with 4-H at the age of 10 by showing sheep — six ewes that were a gift from his parents.

He soon switched to raising and showing Holsteins, with which he had success — Garnett had a heifer that was the three-year-old Junior Reserve All-American Holstein in 1954. He had a herd of 25 cattle by the time he was 18 and earned money for college by hauling milk. Part of that herd was placed on exhibit during the Mid-America Jubilee in St. Louis, where he earned $200.

Garnett went to Norway for six months in 1957 as part of the International Farm Youth Exchange, with his family back home taking in a girl from Norway at the same time. Years later, Garnett also hosted a youth from Norway.

Garnett racked up a number of honors during his years participating with 4-H, including serving as a Missouri delegate to the National 4-H Club Congress twice, being selected as a National 4-H Achievement Winner in 1955 and winning a national scholarship for $300 from Ford Motor Co. at the National 4-H Congress in Chicago.

Garnett’s experience led him to pursue a degree in agriculture from the University of Missouri. After a stint with the Army following his graduation in 1959, he returned to his 4-H roots and worked as the 4-H agent with the Callaway County extension office 1963-67.

Garnett, whose family was named the Farm Family of the Year in 1981, later served as leader of the Summit Go-Getters 4-H Club in Holts Summit, which no longer exists in Callaway County.

He also was a founding board member of the Kingdom of Callaway County Fair, and has been in charge of the Callaway Youth Ham Show and Ham Breakfast (now part of the Callaway Youth Expo) since it started in the 1970s.

Garnett is still showing too — he recently took several of his antique tractors and a barbed wire display to the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.

Garnett echoed a previous Fulton Sun interview when he attributed many of his lifelong connections and achievements to 4-H, noting, “It was a good start to get an education.”

“The friendships I’ve made and the people I’ve met,” he said when asked what he has enjoyed most about 4-H over the years. “I’ve had a chance now to work with three generations.”

Garnett said those advantages are why he still encourages young people to get involved with 4-H or FFA.

“It gives young people an opportunity to learn some type of skill that will help them in their future life,” Garnett said.

Outside of 4-H and agricultural concerns, Garnett served as Callaway County presiding commissioner in 1987 and later served on the commission again when the governor appointed him to the western district seat to fill a vacancy. He is a deacon at Union Hill Church, where he helps direct Sunday school for kindergarten through fifth grade.

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