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Ohio 4-H Youth Development

Ohio State University Extension


Marvin Olinsky(Retired CEO, Five Rivers MetroParks) inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame

Oct. 24, 2016

Marvin Olinsky was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame on October 7 for his lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H.

Honored by the Ohio 4-H Youth Development Program, Olinsky will be one of 16 people inducted during the ceremony at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees are nominated by their home states, National 4-H Council, the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) or 4-H National Headquarters/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) based upon their exceptional leadership at the local, state, national and international levels.

Honorees were presented with a National 4-H Hall of Fame medallion, plaque and memory book during the ceremony. The National 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2002 as part of the Centennial Project of the NAE4-HA in partnership with National 4-H Council and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA. For more information about the National 4-H Hall of Fame event and past recipients, visit

“We are proud to acknowledge the outstanding 2016 National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees for the passion, dedication, vision and leadership they’ve shown toward our young people during their many years of service to 4-H,” says Jeannette Rea Keywood, National 4-H Hall of Fame Committee Chair.

Marvin Olinsky retired as CEO of Five Rivers MetroParks (FRMP) in Dayton, OH. The highlight of his career was envisioning and starting Adventure Central, a unique partnership of FRMP, Ohio State University Extension, and 4-H Youth Development. He moved to Ohio in 1980 as director (then CEO) of FRMP and immediately connected with OSU Extension, Montgomery County. His biggest contribution to Ohio 4-H was his commitment to disadvantaged youth in Dayton as he envisioned and developed Adventure Central.

Marvin grew up in New Jersey and was a 10 year 4-H’er. As a 4-H’er, then in his early career as an Agent / Educator in New Jersey and New York, he knew the value of 4-H and the lifelong impact it can make on a child. As CEO, he dreamed of developing a facility with a program targeted to urban youth in a limited income neighborhood. That dream became Adventure Central, a three way partnership that has existed for 15 years.  This education center in Dayton serves youth ages 5-18. Focus includes after-school programs, activity nights, and day and overnight camps, plus parent / family programs. Participants connect with nature in a positive context with a goal of creating caring, capable, and contributing citizens of the future, all incorporating the 8 Key Elements to Positive Youth Development.

Marvin is the person he is today because of 4-H. He had dyslexia as a child and his parents strived to provide opportunities to learn, including 4-H. He has always had a strong interest in working with youth because of his struggles learning and the help he received from Extension staff and volunteers. He often states that, if not for 4-H, he would have dropped out of school. Marvin is passionate about helping youth who might be facing similar battles in the classroom. He is one of the most positive individuals you will ever meet and an amazing leader and visionary thinker. The history of FRMP states he “was often characterized as a spark plug and ‘out of the box’ thinker.” He sees and thinks at the big picture level. He encourages all to lead with their heart. He provides constructive feedback that makes a difference yet is very professional. Former US Congressman Tony Hall traveled with Marvin as a volunteer in Sierra Leone and he calls Marvin a “visionary, public servant, and humanitarian.”

At the 50th anniversary of FRMP, it was noted that these parks are among the best and well-known in the nation because of his leadership. Adventure Central promotes positive youth development education and leadership skills using an environmental foundation in a welcoming, safe, fun, active setting that utilizes volunteers and community resources with adult and youth interaction. If it were not for Marvin, Adventure Central would not exist. Marvin made a difference with Adventure Central. Since opening in 2000, Adventure Central programs have serviced over 2,500 youth with 100,000 direct contact hours from the Adventure Central programs.

Marvin was a participant at the first Citizenship Washington Focus trip. His family has hosted three IFYEs. He chaperoned 4-H’ers to Citizenship Washington Focus while a 4-H Agent in NJ; chaperoned Ohio 4-H’ers to Japan in 2007; and Marvin and his wife chaperoned Ohio 4-H’ers to Leadership Washington Focus in 2015. He is sought after every year to serve as a judge for 4-H projects at the county and state level.

Olinsky has served on regional, national, and international committees, including the Ohio 4-H Foundation Board (and is an A.B. Graham Donor) and working with NJ 4-H camping program as staff. Significant honors include: North Central Region Lifetime Volunteer Salute to Excellence Award (in process of national review), Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame Inductee, Top 20 Most Influential CEO’s in the Miami Valley, ESP National Friend of Extension Award, 4-H Leadership Award, Division Leader for 4-H Youth Development from Rutgers Extension, and NJ State Entomology Award. Olinsky continues to be involved in his community. He retired as CEO of Five Rivers MetroParks in 2001. He now is a community volunteer for 4-H, K-12 Gallery for Young People, and is a wood sculpture artist. He teaches Master Gardener Volunteer classes with OSU Extension.

Congratulations Marvin!