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Two Kentuckians inducted into National 4-H Hall of Fame

Two Kentuckians inducted into National 4-H Hall of Fame

Two Kentuckians inducted into National 4-H Hall of Fame


Two Kentuckians recently became members of the National 4-H Hall of Fame.  

Harlene Welch, a 4-H volunteer from Harrison County, was a laureate in the 2021 4-H Hall of Fame class. The late Jim Phelps, former Knott County 4-H youth development agent, was a laureate in the 2020 Hall of Fame class. Both classes were recognized during 2021 in-person ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The National 4-H Hall of Fame was created in 2002 in honor of the national 4-H centennial.  It recognizes volunteers, extension personnel, staff, donors and others, who have made significant contributions to 4-H and its members by giving of their time, energy, and finances over a lifetime of service. States can nominate one person for the hall of fame each year, but only around 16 to 18 members are annually inducted. 

Welch has taught tailoring, sewing, fashion and quilting to more than 2,000 Harrison County 4-H’ers over the past 46 years. Under her guidance, members of the Harrison County 4-H Clothing project have received more championships at the Kentucky State Fair than any other county 4-H Clothing project. Her sewing knowledge and expertise are widely recognized beyond Harrison County. She has taught more than 400 workshops across the county, extension area, state and region.  

She is also very active in Extension Homemakers and currently serves as the treasurer of the Kentucky Extension Homemakers Association.  

Welch regularly volunteers more than 1,000 hours each year for extension and serves on councils for extension, 4-H and Extension Homemakers at the county and area levels. She was recognized by Harrison County Extension for her leadership in 2006; in 2008, she earned the Kentucky 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Phelps served as the Knott County 4-H youth development agent for 40 years and was very active in youth programs at the Hindman Settlement School. A native of Appalachia, Phelps served as a UK representative on an economic development initiative that promoted the area’s rich cultural heritage. During this time, the area saw $10 million in infrastructure improvements and the creation of two artisan centers designed to teach the arts and product marketing in Hindman.  

Active in 4-H Shooting Sports, he was instrumental in introducing the Hunter’s Safety Education Program to Kentucky 4-H.  

From 1999-2012, he served as the historian for both the Kentucky and National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development associations.  

Phelps received many honors throughout his career including being named Man of the Year by the Troublesome Creek Times and the Humanitarian Award from the Kentucky Association of County Agriculture Agents and the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of 4-H Agents.  

The National 4-H Hall of Fame is viewable online at  

4 H Youth Awards Extension

Contact Information

Scovell Hall Lexington, KY 40546-0064