​UT Martin Dean Emeritus and Former UT Extension Specialist Among 16 Honored

Jim Byford, UT Martin Dean Emeritus

Dr. Jim Byford, dean emeritus of the University of Tennessee at Martin's College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences and former UT Extension Wildlife Specialist has been named to the National 4-H Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy J. Byford and LifeTouch.

​Original article appears online at UT Martin

MARTIN, Tenn. — Dr. Jim Byford, of Martin, is one of 16 individuals selected to join the national 4-H Hall of Fame for his service and dedication to the organization. Byford is dean emeritus of the University of Tennessee at Martin’s College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.

Before beginning his career with UT Martin in 1987, Byford spent more than 20 years serving as an extension wildlife specialist in both Georgia and Tennessee. A certified wildlife biologist, he received a doctoral degree in wildlife from Auburn University and began working with the Georgia Extension soon after graduation.

Byford’s involvement with the national 4-H program, which in Tennessee teaches leadership, citizenship and life skills to more than 168,600 youth in grades 4-12, goes far beyond classroom instruction. During his 18-year tenure with UT Extension, Byford initiated the Tennessee 4-H Wildlife Project, which enrolls more than 30,000 members annually; the Tennessee 4-H Wildlife Judging Contest, which became a national event in 1988 and has been recognized as a national program of distinction; and the Tennessee 4-H FACE (Food and Cover Establishment) Contest, which allows members to grow a wildlife food plot.

He also started the Tennessee 4-H Wildlife Conference, which lasted more than 35 years and was the longest-running conservation camp in the nation, and initiated the first Southern Region 4-H Wildlife Volunteer Leader Conference.

He has participated in more than 20 other state, regional and national 4-H conferences and was awarded the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents’ Distinguished Service Award in 1979.

During his 23-year tenure with UT Martin, Byford worked to ensure that 4-H members and organization events were always welcome at the university. He served as adviser and mentor to the UT Martin chapter of the Collegiate 4-H Club and often assisted with State 4-H Roundup events. He received the prestigious State Friend of 4-H Award in 2011 during the 64th annual Tennessee 4-H Congress.

Byford has given more than 60 invited presentations in 28 states, Ecuador and Japan over the past three decades, and is the author of a book titled “Close to the Land,” published by UT Press in 1999.

The National 4-H Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is scheduled to take place Oct. 7 at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.

For more information on this recognition, contact Byford directly at jbyford@utm.edu.