Doug Steele, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development director in Fort Collins, was awarded the Visionary Leadership Recognition Award on Sept. 26 at the Cooperative Extension annual banquet. The award was given by Epsilon Sigma Phi, the Cooperative Extension professional fraternity.
Steele joined the Cooperative Extension team in the fall of 1997. In the mid-1990s, 4-H enrollment in Colorado was 80,000; since then, it has reached 120,000. School enrichment and after-school programs also have seen growth, and enrollment in state fair projects has steadily increased in almost all exhibit areas, especially horse, shooting sports and dog shows.
"Under Doug’s leadership, the 4-H program in Colorado has seen continued growth and improvement, including branching out with new programs that are popular among youth," said Milan Rewerts, Colorado State Cooperative Extension director.
Steele led a discussion with youth development professionals during 1999 and 2000 to determine priorities for the state 4-H program. The program now functions under an action plan that addresses current and future needs while promoting the most efficient use of available resources. For example, six urban counties have received $30,000 to expand the program, which has allowed them to reach an additional 20,000 youth. The program also is being expanded to reach nontraditional youth through the international exchange program and 15,000 to 18,000 students in school programs each year. Rural programs are being expanded through special funding initiatives.
Steele is a past recipient of the Superior Service Award from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service; the Group Award for Excellence from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and the Distinguished Service Award for the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents. He is a founding member of the National 4-H Council 4-H Leadership Trust.
4-H and youth development programs through Colorado State Cooperative Extension are developed to teach youth leadership, sportsmanship, career skills and poise. The programs are based on researched methods that are proven to be effective in reaching youth. In Colorado, 4-H serves urban and rural youth with traditional 4-H programs, school enrichment program and after-school programs.