AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Eddie Tullis has dedicated his life to bettering the lives of those around him. Known for his steadfast work as a philanthropist, Tullis is a respected, outspoken leader for the programs and young people served by Alabama 4-H. For his incredible contributions of time, talent and resources to 4-H, Tullis was honored with an induction into the National 4-H Hall of Fame.
“I didn’t get involved in 4-H for an award,” Tullis said. “But I am really thankful for this opportunity and appreciative that my fellow 4-H advocates thought my efforts were worthy of recognition.”
Induction into National 4-H Hall of Fame
Tullis was honored in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Oct. 7 alongside 16 other honorees from across the nation. The ceremony took place at Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University Swindells Auditorium, and representatives of Alabama 4-H and the Tullis family were proud to participate in the ceremony and festivities.
Molly Gregg, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System assistant director over 4-H programs, said it was wonderful to see Tullis receive this national honor surrounded by his family.
“There were 21 family members present including his four daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren,” she said. “Several Tribal Council members attended as well. Their presence was a testament to his living legacy to his family and his tribe. It was a magical moment for us all, and this honor is so deserved.”
Life and 4-H Involvement
Tullis is a native of Mobile, Alabama and proudly serves as a member of the Alabama 4-H Foundation Board. In addition to 4-H, he has also dedicated his life to the betterment of Native Americans. He remains a national leader in Indian Country and continues to tout the benefits of 4-H to members of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
“4-H has been a wonderful avenue for communication with my daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren,” Tullis said. “Once your family gets involved, it is something you can all do together—no matter how busy life gets.”
Tullis said a recent trip to visit family underlined the importance of this “avenue” for communication.
“Recently we took a trip to visit my grandson and his family that we had not seen in quite some time,” Tullis said. “I hadn’t made it to the house yet but noticed that my great-granddaughter saw us get out of the car and turned around to run back inside. Little did I know, she was running to get her 4-H binder that held all of her ribbons and projects to share with me.”
Tullis said he knew immediately that they would have plenty to talk about for the duration of his visit. He said his smile was as big as hers as they looked at her accomplishments and talked about her 4-H involvement.
The same is true for the relationships with his four daughters, who he said especially loved sewing and pig squeal projects when they participated in Alabama 4-H programs as children and teenagers.
Providing Ways to Participate in 4-H
Tullis has always had a soft spot for showing cattle—and his love started at an early age. Paul Pinyan serves as chairman of the Alabama 4-H Foundation board and is executive director of the Alabama Farmers Federation. He said Tullis’ connection to youth in agriculture began at an early age when he exhibited a champion heifer at the Chicago World’s Fair.
“Eddie appreciates the opportunities he received through programs like 4-H, and he continues to give back to future generations through service to students at the local, state and national levels,” Pinyan said.
A tangible example of his dedication to future 4-H members is the 4-H show steer barn on the reservation, filled with show steers and equipped with everything that is necessary to show a calf.
“We built the barn for a small number of show calves,” Tullis said. “Then, so many young people were interested that we’ve expanded to hold 21 calves.”
The facility includes stalls with food and water access, an area to walk steers, grooming chutes and washing stations. He said he has seen parents out working with their children, as well as dedicated young people who are out there on their own.
Growing the Future
Gregg said Tullis encourages her to be a better person because he believes and lives Alabama 4-H’s mission: Grow the future through young people.
“His life is an example for others to follow,” Gregg said. “His life experiences impact his hopes for the future and propel his decisions. His quiet reserve and inner strength have served not only his community, but they have made a lasting impact in our state and nation.”
Pinyan has first-hand experience with Tullis’ commitment to 4-H. He said Tullis is always eager to offer wisdom, support and encouragement.
“Eddie will tell you that the happiest people in the world are those who help others. That’s certainly true of Eddie,” Pinyan said. “From volunteering for the United States Navy and working to improve education for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, to national leadership on behalf of American Indians and helping youth through the Alabama 4-H Foundation, Eddie’s legacy is one of service.”
Seth Tuttle, Alabama 4-H Foundation development officer, said Tullis is a servant leader who always puts others first.
“The time he spends with others makes you feel proud to be in his presence,” Tuttle said. “He truly cares about young people and his community. He has made this world a better place.”
Tullis said he has had the good fortune of living a long life. In that time, he has reaped the rewards of watching 4-H youth make a difference.
“4-H is a contribution to the community,” Tullis said. “It is the most effective way to teach young people critical life skills—working together, respect for fellow man and caring for your neighbor. 4-H programs also provide leadership that is sometimes not available at home. It really makes a difference.”
Learn more about the programs offered through Alabama 4-H by visiting www.Alabama4H.com. The Alabama 4-H Foundation is a strong supporter of the Alabama 4-H programs in each county. Learn more about the support the 4-H Foundation provides by visiting www.Alabama4HFoundation.org.