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Sutton is National 4-H Hall of Fame inductee


Of the four “H’s” in 4-H – head, heart, hands, and health – it was his heart that he gave away so willingly. Some five decades ago, Steve Sutton pledged his heart to greater loyalty. Now years later, he is being recognized as someone who has made a lifetime commitment to Tennessee youth.

On Oct. 6, Sutton was one of 16 people inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame in Chevy Chase, Maryland for 2017. Sutton was nominated by his home state for this prestigious award, making him one of seven Tennesseans to have ever received this honor.

Over the past 40 years, Sutton has worked for University of Tennessee Extension as a 4-H agent, specialist, and eventually as leader of the entire statewide organization. He began as a 4-Her himself in his native Newport, and after graduating from the University of Tennessee became an agent in Washington County. In 1986, he joined the state 4-H staff in Knoxville and later was named director.

“It’s so fitting that Steve Sutton is being recognized in the National 4-H Hall of Fame,” says UT Institute of Agriculture Chancellor Tim Cross. “He’s literally devoted his entire life to 4-H — as a youth, Extension agent, State 4-H program leader, and now as a volunteer and donor. His father was an Extension agent, so Steve’s blood has always run green. And he’s committed to making the best better.”

During his time as state 4-H director, Sutton was a founder of the Junior High Academic Conference where 4-H members are afforded learning opportunities with UT professors, and he co-founded 4-H Electric Camp, where young would-be scientists and engineers learn the world of energy and power. His passion for citizenship led him to provide guidance for the Tennessee 4-H Know Your Government program, where he created opportunities for thousands of high school students to experience government through mock legislative sessions in the state house and senate chambers. He also provided leadership for 4-H Congress, 4-H Roundup, and many other statewide 4-H events over the years.

“4-H has been good to me.” says Sutton. “As a youth, it helped me develop the confidence and skills to achieve things beyond my wildest dreams. As a profession, it has allowed me to make a difference in the lives of countless young people.”

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