By Joseph Robertia
From annually working the grill and meat-carving station during Industry Appreciation Day to putting up summer tourists at his family’s Diamond M Ranch, most folks are familiar with Carrol Martin’s smiling face, but some may not be aware of what an integral part Martin has played in the agricultural history of this area.
In an effort to recognize Martin for his many accomplishments, he was recently nominated for the National 4-H Hall of Fame. The 4-H judges board apparently agreed that his lifetime achievements and contributions were exemplary, as roughly a month ago Martin, along with only 15 others, was inducted at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.
“It’s amazing that I’m the only volunteer from the state of Alaska,” said Martin, in an attempt to draw attention to the numerous other talented 4-H volunteers he’s worked with across the Great Land.
As to the basis for the award, local 4-H agent Jason Floyd detailed the reasons in his nomination letter, and the corresponding 1-inch-thick file of Martin’s accomplishments.
“Within his local community, 4-H district and state, Carrol continues to be widely recognized and counted among a short list of volunteers whose names are synonymous with citizenship, leadership, career accomplishment and character,” Floyd said. “The list of Carrol’s contributions to 4-H, his community and state are so numerous it would take several pages to scratch the surface of his qualifications for National 4-H Hall of Fame recognition.”
While Martin first came to Alaska in 1951 with his wife, JoAnne, and their still-growing family, his involvement in 4-H began long before that, back as a boy in Bayfield, Colo.
“My mother was in 4-H, I was in the full length of time as a senior, and I don’t think any of this would have happened had I not been involved in 4-H as a kid,” he said.
Not only did Martin learn many founding principles of raising livestock and agriculture that he was able to expand upon throughout his life, but he also learned quickly about the benefits of selling the products he learned to raise and grow.
“The steer I raised in 4-H as a senior, I eventually sold and used the money for college tuition,” he said.
Wanting to share with others the 4-H opportunities from which he had benefited, Martin implemented similar programs to those he had known in his youth. Many of these were also cited by Floyd in Martin’s nomination letter.
“Among his many achieve-ments, Carrol is recognized for his pioneering work in 1972 with a fish-farming project with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which years later led to the development of the marine science project. Carrol is also credited with the 1975 creation of the first Alaska 4-H market livestock auction. Today, major elements of that first auction remain significant parts of Alaska’s 4-H Junior Market Livestock Program,” Floyd wrote.
Martin agreed his inception of this latter program was one of the feathers in his cap of which he felt most proud.
“I remember that first steer went for $1 a pound,” he said. “I think today there’s around 60 kids statewide in that program now, and it’s good to know they’re learning how to rise good food and become responsible with the money made from that food.”
Nancy Veal, a local 4-H leader who worked with Martin for more than 40 years, said that, in addition to all his contributions to agriculture-related industries, Martin’s work with children is noteworthy.
“He’s been a lifelong leader, and there’s so many things he’s taught kids, and he does it with interesting stories and in ways that are fun for kids,” Veal said.
“Always the consummate educator, Carrol has continually advocated for creative approaches to youth development and learning. Examples of his innovations in positive youth engagement include the creation of annual districtwide farm tours; service learning projects such as cleanup days, where 4-Hers assume responsibility for cleaning 25 miles of community roads; and the cultural partnering of 4-H youth with the local Ninilchik Native tribe in the restoration and renovation of one of the tribe’s oldest historical buildings,” Floyd wrote.
Martin’s contributions to the community aren’t restricted to his 4-H service. Martin has served many years as a volunteer on the Soil and Water Conservation Board, the Alaska Board of Agriculture and the Kenai Peninsula Fair Board, and was responsible for building many of the barns at the fairgrounds.
Martin also helped with local organization of the 2006 Arctic Winter Games, and is a perennial volunteer serving hundreds of hours for local organizations and events, including the Food Bank, Industry Days, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Caring for the Kenai, the ABC Crisis Pregnancy Center and Peninsula Winter Games. He was also the recipient of the 2008 Don Gilman Community Service Award, presented by the governor, and has also won the state Volunteer of the Year Award.
“Carrol has lived the philosophy, ideals and values of the 4-H program,” Floyd wrote. “As a pioneer he selflessly brought vision and innovation to Alaska, inspired generations of 4-Hers and community members, and demonstrated unmatched depth of character, and for these reasons he is one of the most worthy people I can think of for National 4-H Hall of Fame induction.”