Dr. Alma C. Hobbs

Dr. Alma C. Hobbs of Farmville, N.C., will be inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame on Oct. 9 for her lifetime achievements and contributions as the first Black woman to serve in multiple strategic positions in 4-H, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s youth development program.

Hobbs will be one of 16 people inducted during the ceremony at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md. The honorees will be presented with a National

4-H Hall of Fame medallion, plaque and memory book during the ceremony.

“We are proud to acknowledge the outstanding 2015 National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees for the passion, dedication, vision and leadership they’ve shown toward our young people during their many years of service to 4-H,” said National 4-H Hall of Fame Committee Chair Jeannette Rea Keywood, in a statement.

Hobbs began her 36-year public service career in 1970 during the crucible of integration following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Then an extension agent in Bertie County, N.C., with emphasis on clothing and textiles and 4-H, Hobbs met the challenges head-on.

“She held county meetings to improve communication, paved the way for Whites and Blacks to work effectively together, opened opportunities for Black 4-H’ers to participate in county and state 4-H competitions for the first time and provided many avenues for races to work together in harmony, thus improving their standard of living,” according to a press release.

When she took on a similar position in Nashville, Tenn., she did much of the same. Six months into the job, Hobbs received a mandate to increase 4-H enrollment in the county from 2,000 to 10,000, with an emphasis on minorities. Again, Hobbs strategically mastered the challenge, enrolling more than 6,000 minority students from predominantly Black schools.

Hobbs’ innovations in 4-H programming and her visionary leadership boosted her up the ranks of leadership as the first minority to head up Tennessee’s 4-H clothing program, an assistant deputy for 4-H in the USDA, and later the deputy for 4-H, Nutrition and Family and Consumer Sciences.

A transformation leader, Dr. Hobbs was aggressive in her efforts to make 4-H more inclusive and transparent, reaching out to minorities and other non-traditional communities through the 4-H Building Human Capital Initiative. She also reorganized the national 4-H program to ensure equal access to programs and activities, and instituted sensitivity and diversity training in all states and territories. Other significant programs under Dr. Hobbs’ leadership included signature national 4-H programs such as Youth at Risk Programs, 4-H Character Counts and Making the Grade and management of the 4-H name and emblem.

For her achievements, Hobbs received an NAE4-HA Distinguished Service Award in 1992.