4-H advocate from Wyoming enters National 4-H Hall of Fame

Long-time 4-H advocate Oliver “Ollie” Hill of Albany County was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame Friday, Oct. 10, in recognition of lifetime achievements and dedication to 4-H.

Ceremonies were at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.

Hill has worked for nearly 45 years in and with the 4-H program in Morgan, Fremont, Custer, Alamosa, Rio Grande and Saguache counties while with Colorado State University and in various Wyoming counties while with the University of Wyoming.

Oliver Hill
Oliver Hill

Hill, while in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UW, was assistant state 4-H leader and later director of Ag Development and College Relations, among other duties. His efforts helped start the State 4-H Foundation and build the Cliff and Martha Hansen Teaching Arena near Laramie.

Hill attributes his success and impact on the support, patience, and encouragement of his family and continues to believe in the importance of the 4-H program and educating youths.

“It is all about working with so many wonderful kids and to see them grow and mature into today’s citizens,” says Hill. “Volunteer 4-H leaders are the backbone of 4-H and are being supported by their extension agents and educators. Thank you to so many great people along the 4-H trail who made it all possible.”

A 10-year 4-H member during the early 1950s in his hometown of Wiggins, Colorado, Hill graduated from Colorado State University in 1963 and began his extension career in his home state. Hill moved from assistant county agent to area 4-H agent, developing a passion for equine science and horsemanship, livestock projects, and the education of children and volunteer leaders.

UW then hired Hill as assistant state 4-H leader with a focus on agricultural and equine projects along with development of the State 4-H Foundation.

Filling a void in equine science, Hill used his expertise to build a foundation for a statewide 4-H horse program. This knowledge also led to him serve on the National 4-H Development Committee.

Hill applied knowledge from training and conferences to raise millions of dollars that supported the Wyoming State 4-H Foundation, county-based programming, and national 4-H events.

Hill became director of Ag Development and College Relations in the then-College of Agriculture. He helped build long-term leaders across the state as director of the Wyoming Leadership, Education, and Development program. He was also a driving force in the collection of funds used to create the Cliff and Martha Hansen Teaching Arena that not only serves UW students, but hosts statewide events. The 47,500 square-foot arena was dedicated in 1996.

Hill undertook many national and regional 4-H roles during his extension career and in 1985 worked his way up to serve as president of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NEA4-HA).

He retired from the University of Wyoming in 1996 and took a position at the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie to create a ranch land exhibit.  In 2009, he completed a curriculum called “Kids Arena Horse Play Game” that earned a national award at the NAE4-HA Conference. Hill has published five books that have been distributed across 20-plus countries.

He is one of 14  inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame. For more information about the event and past recipients, visit www.nae4ha.com/hof.