When Ellis Williford was growing up in western Edgecombe County, he was active in 4-H, participating in horticulture, public speaking and health promotion activities. His wife, Kathy, a nurse and nurse educator, learned early in life that hard work and higher education can assist people in developing their full potential. Now they are funding a scholarship program to provide educational opportunities to 4-H’ers.
The Willifords, who live in Wilson, have created the Kathy and Ellis Williford Wilson County 4-H Scholarship Endowment in the N.C. Agricultural Foundation Inc. The endowment will be used to provide scholarships for Wilson County 4-H’ers enrolled in an agriculture, business or health sciences undergraduate or two-year curriculum in any school in the UNC system or N.C. Community College system — including N.C. State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its Agricultural Institute.
Ellis Williford, former Wilson County manager, credits 4-H with helping him to develop skills that led to his long and successful public career. Kathy Williford, a Wilson County native who was born into a farm family, earned her nursing degree from East Carolina University. They share the belief that higher education is the key to not only being successful but enjoying that success.
The signing ceremony for the establishment of the endowment was held March 27 at the Wilson County 4-H Livestock Show and Sale at the county’s fairgrounds.
Joining the Willifords at the event from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences were Dr. Marshall Stewart, special assistant to the dean and director of college strategy and leadership; Dr. Mitzi Downing, interim State Program Leader, North Carolina 4-H Youth Development & Family & Consumer Sciences; and Keith Oakley, president, N.C. Agricultural Foundation Inc. Also participating were Walter Earle, director, and Vanessa Spiron, 4-H Youth Development agent, of Wilson County Cooperative Extension Service.
4-H is the youth education program of Cooperative Extension. – Terri Leith