James Taney, Utah 4-H volunteer, was recently named to the National 4-H Hall of Fame. He will receive the award during National 4-H Week Oct. 3-7 in Washington, D.C.
Taney, of Taylorsville, has been a 4-H volunteer in Salt Lake County for 40 years. He and wife, Connie, started a family club in 1965, then expanded it to include outdoor 4-H experiences. Taney has been involved with 4-H ever since.
"We are proud to have James Taney represent Utah, Extension and the 4-H program," said Jack Payne, vice president for Utah State University Extension. "Of the 20 people being honored nationally, he is the only volunteer. He is truly a great example of the time and effort people freely offer to help our 4-H youth."
Taney has been a state 4-H ambassador advisor for 21 years, has worked as Salt Lake County Teen Council advisor for 18 years, has worked in Boy Scouts of America for 24 years and has given his service to countless other youth programs and activities. He and his wife are county chairs of the Taylorsville-Bennion Heritage Center Restoration Project where they raised $20,000 in funds and coordinated volunteer efforts to restore a dairy farm.
Taney worked professionally for 37 years at Primary Children's Hospital as an orthotist, where he built braces for children with physical handicaps.
"Kids have been his life," said John Paul Murphy, 4-H youth development specialist at USU. "His profession revolved around kids and his volunteer work has revolved around kids. We estimate he has touched the lives of around 50,000 youth. I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of an award for outstanding youth development and service than him."
Sometimes 4-H is perceived as a program for rural youth, said Murphy. Taney has helped clear that misconception. The youth he works with are from the Salt Lake area, and the experiences he has provided them are invaluable. He has driven approximately 6,000 miles a year for 28 years chaperoning youth to national conferences and camps, taught hundreds of workshops and presentations, catered and cooked for retreats and activities and reached many urban youth through his programs.
Taney's philosophy is simple. He wants to serve youth, make a difference and help turn kids around.
"There has never been a bad kid," he said. "Kids are incredible, and 4-H has given me the opportunity to serve them."
Taney is one of three Utahns to be named to the National 4-H Hall of Fame in the last five years. 4-H volunteer Emily Drake was inducted in 2003, and former USU Extension Vice President Bob Gilliland was named to the National Hall of Fame in 2000.