WASHINGTON, DC (October 14) – Kendra Buckel Wells of Rockville, Maryland, was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame on October 14 for her lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H.
Honored by the University of Maryland and the Maryland 4-H Youth Development Program, Wells was one of 16 people inducted during the ceremony held at the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.
The National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees are nominated by their home states, National 4-H Council; the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals (NAE4-HYDP); or the Division of Youth and 4-H, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) based upon their exceptional leadership at the local, state, national and international levels.
Honorees were presented with a National 4-H Hall of Fame medallion, plaque, and memory book during the ceremony. The National 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2002 as part of the Centennial Project of National Association of Extension 4-H Agents in partnership with the National 4-H Council and National 4-H Headquarters at USDA.
“We are proud to recognize the 2020 National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees for the passion, dedication, vision, and leadership they have shown toward young people during their many years of service to 4-H,” says Jeannette Rea Keywood, National 4-H Hall of Fame Committee Chair.
Kendra Wells is a stellar example of 4-H leadership and exemplifies a spirit of service having served the Maryland 4-H Program, National 4-H Council and youth around the world as the 4-H Military Liaison. The daughter of a career extension educator, Kendra grew up in the 4-H program. She participated in a local 4-H club for six years, spent a summer as a work-study student in the Prince George’s County Extension office and, upon graduation from college, continued what would be a lifelong commitment to the values of 4-H youth development. She counts as early influences her 4-H club leaders, state 4-H faculty and her parents.
Kendra started her professional extension career in Montgomery County as the 4-H Educator where she inspired youth and developed innovative programs to extend the reach of 4-H and highlight the breadth of 4-H opportunities. Her career focus was outreach and expansion of high-quality, positive youth development programs to meet the needs of children, youth, families, and communities. Throughout her career, Kendra modeled engagement of the intended audience. Much of her work was grounded in the belief that youth, volunteers and communities possess the knowledge and leadership skills to create the programs and opportunities that meet their interests and needs. Kendra’s work and dedication led to a number of years of service at the Maryland 4-H State Office as the Extension Specialist for Youth Development, a role that allowed her to mentor junior and peer faculty and staff. This role also allowed her to instill higher-level leadership skills through the Maryland 4-H Teen Council and provide leadership development opportunities through the Maryland 4-H Teen Focus.
As an Extension Specialist, Kendra wore many hats and assumed many roles for the state. She has also made an international impact by serving as the state 4-H Military Liaison with responsibility for coordinating all aspects of outreach to youth in active duty, guard, and reserve military families in Maryland and with Army and Navy youth development programs in Europe. She was the Principle Investigator of Maryland’s Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Project for 10 years and provided leadership for the development of afterschool programs. Kendra served as interim State 4-H Program Leader after the retirement of Dr. Richard Byrne and was instrumental in the future strategic vision of the state and national 4-H program. She served on national committees focused on strengthening and expanding 4-H programs and models, including National 4-H Strategic Planning and the National Experiential Learning Design Team. Kendra was also a member of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) 4-H Professional, Research, Knowledge and Competencies (PRKC) team that developed the first update to the PRKC model. This model is still used today to help propel the quality of 4-H professionals forward.
In 2010, Kendra retired from her position as 4-H Extension Specialist with more than 37 years of experience working with youth, volunteers, and other youth development professionals. However, retirement did not slow her contributions down - in fact, it may have just given her more time to serve youth and communities! In retirement, she has been able to turn her focus to both local and national youth development pursuits. From 2011 through 2014, she was the 4-H Robotics Education Coordinator for the National 4-H Council with responsibility for the expansion of 4-H robotics training for volunteers and staff and the implementation of 4-H robotics curriculum across the United States. She was appointed by the County Executive to the Montgomery County Collaboration Council and served two 3-year terms as co-chair of the governance committee and a member of the Child Well Being working group. She was also tapped for her 4-H youth development experience to provide guidance for three of the National 4-H Council’s core service areas – Out of School Time, Social Justice, and Youth Development Community of Practice. At the same time Kendra joined the National 4-H History Preservation steering committee and helped initiate efforts to document 4-H history as a part of the Voices of 4-H History celebration of Extension’s 100th anniversary.
Kendra is always there when 4-H needs a hand and continues to support the program and the youth. She established a Maryland 4-H professional development scholarship and an undergraduate scholarship with the Maryland 4-H Foundation, supported by colleagues and family, as a tribute to her passion and commitment.
She is passionate about building on the legacy of 4-H while helping to ensure that 4-H programs today and in the future are accessible to all youth and that 4-H at the local, state, and national level reflects the rich geographic, racial, ethnic, gender and economic diversity of communities.