James D. Bassett of Topeka, Kansas was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame on October 6 for his lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H.
Honored by the Kansas 4-H Youth Development Program, Bassett was one of 16 people inducted during the ceremony at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
James D. Bassett, a Kansas 4-H alumnus, joined the Kansas 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees in 2004 bringing along 38 years of Cargill global executive management experience. Jim has one firm belief – all youth deserve a 4-H experience.
Historically, a majority of Kansas 4-H Foundation funds supported the Rock Springs 4-H Center, with $25,000 going to annual innovative 4-H grants. Beginning in 2012 with Jim’s influence, tenacity and finesse, $1,220,000 has been directed to programs to increase volunteer recruitment, engagement, training and recognition through the Kansas 4-H Foundation.
In 2010, Jim negotiated for Extension administrators, agents and volunteers to join with 4-H Foundation Trustees and staff to travel the state as a 4-H Engagement Task Force to listen to the needs of volunteers. Jim spent hours traveling and calling people to determine whether the 4-H Foundation should focus on growing membership and then volunteers or vice versa. He learned that the kids would join, not have the help they need, get discouraged and leave 4-H, so the emphasis was on volunteers first.
He worked to bring together a group to explore expanding the 4-H program with 15 counties, and influenced the Kansas 4-H Foundation Board to raise $350,000 for the project. The goal was to increase volunteers by 20 percent, membership by 20 percent, and increase retention of current members by 10 percent in each county. The counties began by calling a community meeting of individuals that care about youth in the community, and then to create a three-year business plan. Jim brings many years of mentoring and support to his involvement with the Kansas 4-H Program. His strength is to form strong alliances with like-minded individuals and businesses. The capacity for growth was obvious by applying this simple principle that a Cargill executive did every day.
With Jim’s quiet influence, a new alliance was forming with the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita, Kansas. The concept is Kansas needs more people performing more acts of leadership in more venues to make progress on hard issues. The 4-H Foundation Board responded to Jim’s request to provide $70,000 over a three-year period for any 4-H volunteer to attend trainings where they learn the difference between authority and leadership; dedication to the 4-H purpose of helping youth learn life skills; and that anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere.
The original pilot project with the 15 counties ends on September 31, 2017. Plans are underway to expand the project by taking what was learned and applying that to a new $600,000 project for three years. This project will focus more heavily on volunteers, agent training for managing volunteers and intensifying training for volunteers leading project meetings.
Jim is on the Kansas 4-H Foundation’s lifetime giving list, and is a member of the Kansas 4-H Heritage Council with an intent for 4-H in estate plans. Jim and his wife Donna also provided a $100,000 grant to the Kansas Foundation of Dover, a group he formerly chaired, for local 4-H agents to give 4-H volunteers dollars for training, supplies and curriculum materials.
Jim’s other volunteer efforts included: Past Chairman of the KSU Acacia Fraternity, Shawnee County Extension Board member; KSU Ag Alumni Board, and the Kansas Agricultural Rural Leadership (KARL) board member. In 2002, Jim was named the Kansas State University College of Agriculture Distinguished Alumnus.
KSRE interviewed James D. Bassett about his work with 4-H and his induction into the Hall of Fame. Called Grandad on the Crooked Post Ranch, James D. Bassett is the oldest great grandson of the pioneer James Bassett who first came to Dover, Kansas in 1857. When not working on 4-H, he tries to keep the ranch in working order; and on all matters, he tries to follow the sage advice of his wife of 56 years – Donna Bassett, aka Grandma.
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 Agents (NAE4-HA); or 4-H National Headquarters/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 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 the NAE4-HA in partnership with National 4-H Council and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA. Click for more information about the National 4-H Hall of Fame event and past recipients.
“We are proud to acknowledge the outstanding 2017 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.