Adelyn Nottingham '16

Strategic Communications

“I probably would not be the person I am today if it had not been for my experiences with 4-H. I plan to continue my journey with the organization into the next chapters of my life.”

For anyone, growing up without a father is not easy. West Virginia University student Adelyn Nottingham experienced this terrible loss when her father passed away from a heart attack when she was only eight years old. Through this tragedy, however, Nottingham kept her head up and learned about the importance of education and helping the community.

Nottingham’s father has always been a guiding light in her life and having received his doctorate in education, Lamont Nottingham stressed the importance of a good education to his two daughters. He showed his love of teaching in everything he did, from his career at the Charleston Division of West Virginia University to his involvement at the Jarrett Memorial United Methodist Church, where he was chairman of the board of trustees. Even after his death in 2002, his legacy lived on when instead of flowers, donations were asked to be given in his name to fund his daughter’s college education.

“His death really affected my life,” says Nottingham, “but it was not all negative. He taught me some valuable lessons and inspired me to do the best in everything I did.”

“The best” became a mantra of sorts for Nottingham. From her involvement in the community to her higher education, she constantly strives to make the best, better.

With an ever positive attitude in the time following her father’s death, Nottingham turned to the Kanawha County 4-H Club where she instantly felt at home. Through the program she learned how to use the four H’s that are the program’s foundation: head, hands, heart and health.

To this day she uses her head to keep an open mind, puts her heart into everything she does, lives a healthy life and uses her hands to ultimately serve her community. With more than ten years of 4-H experience under her belt, including vice president and then president of her local club, Nottingham carries the lessons she learned with the program into her college experience.

“I probably would not be the person I am today if it had not been for my experiences with 4-H,” says Nottingham. “I plan to continue my journey with the organization into the next chapters of my life.”

Today, as a strategic communications major at WVU, Nottingham has aspirations of being active within her program and taking advantage of the opportunities it has to offer. Being raised by a single parent, however, made paying for her education a challenge and, despite the funeral fund, help was still needed.

Her saving grace came in the form of privately funded scholarships, such as the Helen T. Waters 4-H Scholarship, given each year to exceptional 4-H’ers from West Virginia.

Like Nottingham, Helen Tucker Waters lived and breathed for her community. From her career as a home economist to her involvement in education programs, homemakers’ organizations, and 4-H, Waters was dedicated to using her head, heart, health and hands.

Private support from donors such as Waters is essential to more than half of the students at WVU. With Nottingham’s collegiate aspirations, she will be relying on scholarships and grants for the duration of her collegiate career.

Despite her hardships, Nottingham believes that her experiences have bettered her as a person and a philanthropist, and that they set her down a path that her father would be proud of.

“I do think that losing my dad has made me a stronger person,” says Nottingham. “His biggest concern was that my sister and I got an education, and not only are we both in college but we are both making good grades and striving to be the best, just as he did.”