WSU Extension faculty inducted into NACAA Hall of Fame

Janet Schmidt grew up participating in 4-H, Pony Club, and other programs and activities. The Redmond, Wash. native, who rode her horse on what is now the Microsoft campus, knew early on that she wanted to help young people and adults be successful in their lives and careers.

Portrait photo of Janet Schmidt taken outdoors.
Janet Schmidt

Since joining Washington State University Extension in 1984, Schmidt has achieved that goal, helping so many people statewide that the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) recently inducted her into its Hall of Fame.

“I want youth to be capable, caring, contributing members of society, just as the 4-H mission states,” said Schmidt, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from WSU. “It’s so rewarding to see young people develop leadership skills, and 4-H plays a huge role in that. I’ve loved doing this work for so long.”

Now semi-retired and working part time as Whitman County Extension director, Schmidt views the Hall of Fame honor as a capstone on her entire career.

“I’ve worked with so many kids, starting when they’re very young,” she said. “I’ve watched them grow up, graduate, and have kids of their own. It’s so rewarding to see these youth come back and volunteer or enroll their own kids in Extension programs.”

NACAA is the professional improvement association for more than 3,200 U.S. Extension agents and specialists. Recognizing active and retired members with sustained and distinguished careers, the Hall of Fame award honors educators who have demonstrated commitment, dedication, and effective leadership, association involvement at the state and national level, and outstanding humanitarian service.

Schmidt is the second woman to be elected to the Hall of Fame and the first person from Washington to be elected since 2013.

She has run or overseen the Whitman County 4-H program, robotics, statewide 4-H shooting sports, fishing kids, market animal evaluation, livestock programs for youth and adults, and more in her career with WSU.

“My experience with 4-H and Extension exposed me to so many new things,” Schmidt said. “I only ever wanted to share those experiences with as many young people as I could, and I hope that I have. This honor from NACAA provides some validation for my work. I’m so appreciative of the entire journey.”