August 10, 2018 | By: Katie Pratt
Lexington, Ky.

A longtime University of Kentucky agricultural engineer and a home economist will be among the newest inductees in the National 4-H Hall of Fame.

George Duncan and Ruth Hatchett Duncan received the honor for their lifetime achievements and contributions to the nation’s young people. They were nominated by Ken Culp, UK principal extension specialist for 4-H youth development, and are the first couple to be nominated and inducted together into the National 4-H Hall of Fame.

“4-H is certainly the premier youth development organization in the world,” said George Duncan, a retired agricultural engineer in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “We have been blessed to be a part of the 4-H program for over 50 years and to be able to experience the growth of youth to become leaders and make the best better in their life.”

 Both grew up in Kentucky 4-H. George Duncan was a member in Logan County, and Ruth Duncan was involved in Washington County. They met while participating in Collegiate 4-H while students at UK.

George Duncan’s volunteer involvement with 4-H ramped up when he became a UK agricultural engineering extension specialist in 1966 and continued for the next 40 years. Duncan guided youth through many different 4-H electric, energy and computer projects. He also served as a 4-H judge and accompanied state winners and colleagues on trips to regional and national 4-H contests.

He was part of a team that developed the first 4-H computer project, which received the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Superior Service Award in 1986. He worked with colleagues to develop a 4-H Electric project book series in 1994-1996 that was published by the National 4-H Cooperative Curriculum System. The five-book series received an American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers’ blue ribbon in 1998. More than 178,000 copies of the series were sold and distributed across the nation during the first four years after its publication.

In 2002, Duncan served a year as the interim assistant director for 4-H youth development with the UK Cooperative Extension Service. He is a recipient of the Kentucky 4-H Youth Development Distinguished Leadership Award.

Ruth Duncan got her first opportunity to teach sewing to 4-H’ers while still a high school student in Washington County,

After graduating from UK, Duncan worked as a home economist with Kentucky Utilities. In 1969, she accepted a position teaching tailoring in the Fayette County Schools Adult Education Program and held that position for the next 32 years.

Along with her career, she continued to serve as a 4-H sewing leader for many decades. During this time, six of the young people she worked with became state champions in the Make It With Wool sewing contest.

Ruth Duncan has served on county, area and state councils for 4-H and the UK Cooperative Extension Service. She as a member of a team that developed a 4-H Council training series.

In 1992, she established the Ruth H. Duncan Endowed Scholarship at UK, which has benefitted many former 4-H’ers.

Both Duncans continue to be members of the Kentucky 4-H Foundation. In 2018, the Duncans received the Friend of Kentucky 4-H Award.

The Duncans will be inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Oct. 19 in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The National 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2002 as part of the Centennial Project of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents in partnership with National 4-H Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


George and Ruth Duncan,