A long-time volunteer leader with the Mississippi 4-H Program is the state's newest member of the national organization's Hall of Fame.
Hobson Waits of Brandon, Miss., was inducted during ceremonies held at the National 4-H Council headquarters in Chevy Chase, Md. He was a member of 4-H during his youth in Washington County, Miss., in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Once you are involved with 4-H, you don't want to let go,” Waits said. “People may become involved at another level within the organization, but they never leave.”
Waits was an employee of the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi for 36 years and served as chief executive officer for 23 years. When he retired recently, the power association donated more than $37,500 in his honor to support the 4-H Learning Center and Museum at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson, Miss.
State 4-H Program Leader Susan Holder said Waits has been a person of great influence and unwavering support. She credited Waits with several areas of leadership. As a 4-H volunteer, Waits:
Led the development effort of 4-H Legislative Day promoting 4-H and the Extension Service.
Provided support for the construction of the 4-H learning center.
Assisted with the acquisition of 63 acres of valuable investment property.
Secured funding for the annual 4-H Cooperative Business Leadership Conference.
Secured sponsorship from the power association to send 4-H youth to Chicago to National 4-H Club Congress.
Waits also served on the Mississippi 4-H Advisory Council for 35 years as a member, president and a board-of-trustees member. He oversaw a growth of nearly 100 percent in the 4-H Foundation's financial holdings and helped raise thousands of dollars for 4-H support after Hurricane Katrina.
“I have had as much fun watching 4-H members excel as they have had fun,” Waits said. “Our youth are the cream of the crop.”