By David Fleet
On Oct. 11, Groveland Township resident LC Scramlin will be inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame for his lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H.
Honored by Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development Program, Scramlin will be one of 16 inducted during a ceremony at the National 4-H Conference Center, Chevy Chase, Md. The 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 (NAE4-HA); or 4-H National Headquarters/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) based upon their exceptional leadership at the local, state, national and international levels.
“I was the youngest of five children on the Groveland Township farm,” said Scramlin, 69. “I learned the 4-H pledge before I started kindergarten. I’ve been a part of 4-H everyday of my life, so it only seemed natural to give back. And every time I’ve given—they give more.”
The 4H community has been a wonderful ride, added Scramlin.
“There has been so many positive changes in people’s lives,” he said. “The magic of 4-H has changed and adapted to teaching the life skills to children. That continues today. I hear so many people talk about the good old days—for the youth, today is their good old days. Years ago we trained youth with farm work, today most are not going to ever farm,” he said. “But the skills they learn raising farm animals translates into so building character and business knowledge—it still works today. At one time 4H it was all about rural children, now we reach out to everyone.”
After 10 years as a 4-H member, for the next 47 years Scramlin has continued to serve his club, community, country and world as a 4-H volunteer and club leader. From the start, Scramlin was destined to be a 4-H’er, being raised on a 400-acre dairy farm Groveland Township with parents and grandparents who served as 4-H leaders. As a 4-H dairy member, he served as president of the Oakhill 4-H Club, was a state award winner in agriculture, and participated in National 4-H Club Congress and 4-H Citizenship Short Course. In 1967, while president of the Oakland County 4-H Service Club, he built a food stand/trailer for the 4-H fair that earned $6,000 annually in food sales. In addition to his other 4-H projects, he also raised horses and milking cows to sell.
As an adult, Scramlin continued to see the value of 4-H and gave his time as a volunteer and to support the Oakland County fair. When the fair needed a new livestock building in 1986, LC accepted the challenge. In just 11 months, he raised $62,000 as the chair of the Livestock Challenge and with the help of 31 4-H volunteers, the 4-H barn was built. Because of his success of raising funds for the livestock barn, LC was asked to assist with generating funds for the deteriorating Oakland County 4-H Fair, which had a budget of $8,000 and only a part-time office.
The fair came to life under his leadership and Scramlin continued to serve as fair president for 19 years and manager for 13. Today the fair boasts a campus of 118 acres, including numerous buildings constructed during his leadership, and averages 110,000 visitors, 600 exhibitors and 250 family campers each year.
Signs of LC’s exceptional leadership can still be seen on the grounds of the Oakland County Fair today. He was instrumental in helping to secure the largest ever federal historical grant in Michigan, $675,000 for the movement and renovation of the historic Ellis Barn. This grant was matched with $1.3 million in private donations, promoting the barn to become the well-known museum and space for 4-H exhibits that it is today. LC also initiated the first “Miracle of Birth” animal exhibit at the fair, an activity that is still enjoyed by many.
Beyond his own county, Scramlin’s impact has also been felt by many. After the Michigan State Fair closed in 2009, he and others went to work creating a new state fair experience that would allow 4-H youth and others to continue exhibiting at the state level. In 2012, a new Michigan State Fair was launched as a private LLC, giving a new generation of 4-H’ers the chance to live their dreams at the state fair. Scramlin continues to give leadership to this event, serving as chair and director of agriculture/livestock exhibits. Since its launch, the five-day event has grown immensely and now boasts more than 150,000 visitors each year while awarding $40,000 annually in agriculture scholarships to deserving youth participants. As a new feature to the Michigan State Fair, Scramlin also co-founded the 4-H Youth/Teen Council to create a group of youth to serve as ambassadors among the diverse group of rural and urban youth exhibitors.
Though he is passionate about 4-H, LC gives back to his community and industry in many other ways as well. As president for eight years of the Oakland County Farm Bureau, Scramlin developed Project Rural Education, which later became a statewide program that allows third grade students to experience agriculture. In 1980, he was named to the Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) Young Farmer Committee, where he served as chairman and later as a member of the MFB Board of Directors. He is proud to be a 50-year-member of MFB and continues to serve on the Policy Development, Promotion/Education and AgriPac committees. He is also a certified lay leader speaker (28 years) for the United Methodist Church in Holly and an active member of the local rotary club.
In his addition to his community work, LC and his wife Jackie operate Scramlin Southdown Sheep Farm, which provides 4-H lambs and conducts sheep shearing demonstrations for local 4-H’ers. He has been president (2 years) of the American Southdown Association USA and on the National Board of Directors for 15 years. He also serves on the board for the All American Junior Sheep Show, which is the largest sheep show in the U.S. He is a recipient of the Michigan Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan sheep industry and has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Michigan Association of Fairs. Presently, he serves as chair of the Michigan State University Extension Committee on 4-H Fairs as a member of the Michigan Association of Fairs and Expositions Board of Directors.
Scramlin believes and practices the 4-H “learn by doing” model as exemplified by his continued leadership and devotion to promoting and expanding opportunities for 4-H members, and all youth, to grow exponentially. His management skills, creative thinking, and strong leadership qualities have provided unique avenues to make all of this possible. He has a “hands-on” approach to management, a love of agriculture, and a “no frills” style of leadership that is unsurpassed. LC and Jackie have three children who are 4-H alumni and have successful agriculture careers. When recalling his early involvement in 4-H fairs, he often remarks, “we were not just raising livestock, we were raising a family. After all, 4-H and fairs are a family affair!”
By David Fleet