N.C. Cooperative Extension of Henderson County Says Goodbye to a Legend

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There comes a time in every successful run when you must finally bid a legendary career farewell. Paul “Bear” Bryant leaving BAMA comes to mind. Tom Brady leaving the Patriots. John Wooden leaving UCLA. Chipper Jones retiring from the Braves just to name a few. Well, that time has come at N.C. Cooperative Extension of Henderson County.

Denise Sherrill has built a legendary 4-H program here at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Henderson County Center. For the last 22 years, she has guided the youth of Henderson County to countless achievements in 4-H and has built one of the best 4-H programs in the state. Many of our youth owe a lot to Miss Denise for her guidance, example, discipline, and love of our youth. Many have gone on to do great things because of the foundation that 4-H laid in their lives.

At the end of this month, this legendary leader will take the course of many before her and go off to enjoy retirement. That is a privilege she has earned and that we hope she will enjoy with her husband Danny for many years to come.

No doubt, she will miss 4-H camp, embryology, club meetings, building floats, the annual plant sale, county council meetings and so many other great 4-H activities. And, in all likelihood, after a period of rest, she will return as a volunteer to continue to share her love and her talents with the youth that she loves so much.

But as much as she will miss all of these activities, we will miss her even more. We will miss the meticulous planning that went into every 4-H event. We will miss the excitement in her eyes as she prepared for camp. We will miss the kindness that she always showed to others, particularly those in need. We will miss the thank you cards for each and every good deed we turned for 4-H.

Denise has had a remarkable career. She spent her first six years as the 4-H program assistant before becoming the 4-H agent. It is the epitome of 4-H to be inducted into the state 4-H Honor Club. In her 16 years as the 4-H agent, Denise has had 17 of her 4-H’ers tapped for this achievement. That is well over the percentage for most counties.

Denise has always encouraged excellence in all her programs and with her youth, leaders, and volunteers alike. This has been borne out in how well they competed on a district and state level in competitions. In presentations, almost all her youth get a medal each year at both district and state competitions.

She recruits great coaches that can help teach these kids from cloverbud age to high school how to improve their skills and compete at the highest level. It has been said that when the Henderson County 4-H van pulls into the competition site, there is a look of disappointment on the faces of the other teams. They know the best have come to town.

She demands that the officers on the county council participate and are serious about their meetings and the activities that they plan. She is very well organized and expects events to happen without any problems. She attends club meetings as often as she can and meets with club leaders to make sure that their activities are enriching the lives of the members.

Denise is highly regarded as a caring, compassionate educator that imparts life skills to 4-H’ers that will make them better citizens. She arranges with the County Manager to have 4-H’ers lead the pledge at commission meetings once a month. She has served on numerous committees in her state association and at the district level including the Awards Committee and the Volunteer Leaders Conference Committee. She has hosted District Day and is her cluster’s chair this year.

Denise has had a stellar career. She has poured herself into every day she has worked to make sure she gives her all to the youth that she is charged with mentoring. While no doubt, she feels the satisfaction of knowing she has made a difference in each of these lives, there is also no doubt that the real beneficiaries of this effort have been the youth that have crossed her path.

Inevitably, 4-H will continue in Henderson County. There is no reason to believe that there will be any decline in the quality of programs and training our 4-H’ers will get. Because Denise is leaving the program in great shape. The next 4-H agent will simply have to pick up the reins and keep the wagon headed in the right direction.

Oh, there will be changes to the program as the new agent crafts it to be their own. However, the groundwork and the benchmarks have been laid to motivate the next agent to achieve success just as Denise has. The older youth and volunteers will demand as much from the new leader.

The greatest legacy that Denise will leave is that her hard work will live on in the youth she has served for many years, and possibly many generations, to come. These same youth will hopefully instill the characteristics they learned in 4-H into their own children and encourage them to become 4-H’ers one day.

We will have a celebration of Denise’s career at N.C. Cooperative Extension on December 11, 2020, from 1 to 5 p.m. We encourage you to drop by and wish Denise well as she turns the page on a new chapter of life. It will be a time to celebrate the great accomplishments she has achieved. Yet, bittersweet, as we see another legend move on.