BOZEMAN – A longtime leader of Montana 4-H was inducted recently into the National 4-H Hall of Fame for her lifetime achievements and contributions to the youth development organization.

Elizabeth "Betty" McCoy (MSU Photo)

Elizabeth ‘Betty’ McCoy of Bozeman was one of 15 people inducted during the ceremony, which was held Oct. 19 at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Montana 4-H is the youth development program of Montana State University Extension. 4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, serving more than 6 million young people across America and 20,000 youth in Montana annually, with research-based programs in leadership, citizenship, communication and life skills. The program also offers leadership development for almost 3,000 adult volunteers in Montana. For more than 100 years, 4-H has connected the science, engineering and technology innovations of land-grant universities to local youth and families.

“With a constant focus on youth, Betty McCoy provided leadership for the Montana 4-H Youth Development program with professionalism and passion. She earned the trust of youth and adults across the state and the admiration of peers across the country through her dedicated service,” said Cody Stone, MSU Extension director. “This honor is a tribute to a lifetime of engagement and visionary leadership within Montana 4-H.”

McCoy served as a state 4-H specialist from 1978 to 1988 with responsibilities in curriculum development, volunteer management and volunteer leadership. She became the 4-H program leader in 1988 and served as a leader of the program from 1988 until her retirement in 2004. In that role, McCoy provided leadership in the areas of youth development, volunteer management and resources. She also worked to keep the program locally relevant by guiding the Montana Extension Advisory Council – Youth Subcommittee, the Montana 4-H Leaders’ Council, the Montanans for 4-H Legislative Group and the Montana 4-H Foundation Board of Directors.

McCoy was also instrumental in guiding the transition from the State 4-H Office to the Montana 4-H Center for Youth Development through the university approval process and the Board of Regents. The center was approved in Nov. 2002.

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; or 4-H National Headquarters/National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture based upon their exceptional leadership at the local, state, national and international levels. McCoy was honored by the Montana 4-H youth development program.

McCoy’s nomination materials note that she “is truly an individual who embodies the values celebrated by this award. Her influence and positive impact to the character of the 4-H program nationally has been pervasive and substantial from her early career to her retirement as Montana 4-H program leader in 2004. Since her international 4-H youth exchange experience as a delegate to Venezuela in 1969-1970, McCoy has been a positive and influential force behind all international programs in Montana 4-H.”

Her career awards include the National Outstanding International 4-H Youth Exchange Award in 2000, the MSU Extension 4-H Agents Mid-Career Award in 1989, the NAE4HA “Distinguished Service Award” in 1984 and recognition as one of the “Outstanding Young Women of America” in 1970 and 1978.

McCoy is author of “Past, Present, Possibilities: Exploring 100 Years of Montana 4-H 1912-2012,” a book she wrote in celebration of Montana’s 4-H centennial.

In addition to her work with 4-H, McCoy is a member of the Montana Ghost Town Society. She has also been a member of the Middle Creek Community Club where she worked to financially support the Red Cross, Gallatin Valley Food Bank, the Humane Society and others.

For more information about 4-H in Montana, visit montana4h.org.