Natalie Carroll, professor of agricultural sciences education and communication (ASEC) and agricultural and biological engineering (ABE), received the Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence in Educational Service to the Rural People of Indiana. Indiana Farm Bureau established the Hovde Award to recognize outstanding educational contributions by a Purdue faculty or staff member to the well-being and progress of rural Indiana.
Carroll was recognized for over two decades worth of work with Indiana youth through 4-H and FFA. She has been instrumental in developing 4-H curricula across ten project areas related to natural resources, including entomology, forestry and geology. These resources are used by 4-H members across the state and throughout the 10 years students can participate in the program. Carroll said she was drawn to this mission because of her own experiences and those of her children with 4-H.
“For my kids and for myself, programs like 4-H were invaluable. Whether it’s care of animals, healthy living, or our natural resources, kids just don’t get that anymore in school,” she said. “But those are life skills everyone needs. We teach them subject matter but we also teach them how to navigate life.”
Developing 4-H curricula is a multi-year process. The goal for each program area is to have seniors in high school completing college freshman level work. Carroll said they begin with that goal in mind and works backward to assure youth are learning the necessary concepts to progress.
But it’s not the publications lining her shelves that Carroll is most proud of. It’s the individual success stories she hears coming out of 4-H. The one she’ll always remember? A young boy started participating in the entomology career development event in third grade, but needed accommodations due to a learning disability. He came in almost unable to read, Carroll recalled, and an assistant worked with him over many years to bolster his reading skills. By the time he was a senior he had no need for accommodations. Now, he’s a student at Purdue. Participating in 4-H makes a difference for students, Carroll said, whether it’s the knowledge they acquire, the soft skills they develop or the personalized attention they receive.
“A lot of teachers tell us they can spot the 4-H kids in the classroom. They know how to present things, how to put things together,” Carroll said, adding 4-H is also a great pathway to Purdue or college in general for many students. “During 4-H Round-Up, for example, kids have the opportunity to come to campus, stay in the dorms, meet with faculty and realize they too can come to college.”
“Natalie Carroll is an extraordinary member of the College of Agriculture faculty who is dedicated to educating and inspiring the young people of our state and beyond. Her passion for the potential of what 4-H can do in children’s lives has made a significant difference on both a local and national level,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of the College of Agriculture.
The Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence was presented to Carroll on Dec. 7 at the Indiana Farm Bureau convention in Fort Wayne.