Rex Warner graduated from Purdue with a bachelor’s degree in Agronomy in 1964 and received his master’s in Education Administration from Central Michigan University in 1969. Upon his graduation from Purdue, he began what would be a 31 year career with the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service. Rex served as a county educator for several counties and as extension director in Newton County before being named to the state 4-H staff in 1976. At the state office he was responsible for Animal Science Youth programs. Rex retired in 1995 in order to begin a second career and fulfill his lifelong dream of building a children’s church ministry as the youth pastor of Victory Christian Center.
In his role as Youth Development Specialist in the State 4-H/Youth Department, Rex provided program leadership to the more than 30,000 youth enrolled in livestock projects. He was key in the development of the extremely popular Animal Science Workshop, a joint effort of the departments of 4-H/Youth and Animal Sciences, a program that attracts 300-400 students annually and has been replicated by many other land grant universities. In the area of curriculum development, he introduced electronic assisted learning tools and developed educational kits that were adopted nationally.
Rex’s nominators note how he always kept the young people he served at the forefront of his program development, always asking “is this program about better animals or making better kids?” When youth livestock competitions became fraught with unethical and sometimes illegal practices, Rex took the leadership in implementing meaningful show ring ethics in youth livestock shows at the Indiana State Fair. When the International Association of Fairs and Expositions developed its National Code of Show Ring Ethics, the program Rex helped implement in Indiana was often cited as an example of the right way to conduct youth competitions.
Rex has served his profession in numerous leadership roles. He was a Purdue University Senator representing the School of Agriculture, and he served as president of the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Specialist Association. He’s served on many state committees including those for Junior Pork Day, Hoosier Horse Fair and Seminars, 4-H Curriculum Review Task Force, the state Commission on Farm Animal Care, and the Indiana Ag In the Classroom Steering Committee.
In his present career as Children’s Pastor of Victory Christian Center, Rex has spearheaded an effort to provide transportation for church members and numerous underprivileged children. He runs a Bible School for more than 200 children that involved more than 20 volunteer teachers. With his wife and co-pastor Nell, he edits a monthly newsletter “Kids for Jesus” and he founded a care club of the same name that has about a dozen clubs meeting in members’ homes. He initiated an incentive program for the children, “Victory Bucks,” that recognizes children for their accomplishments, their community service and their involvement of others in the church’s activities.
Rex’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by others, as he’s received many awards and recognition for his contributions. His extension peers honored him with both their junior and senior career awards during his career at Purdue. He was chosen as a national Mott Educational Intern. The national Association of Extension 4-H Agents cited him with their Distinguished Service Award, and Governor Evan Bayh named him a Sagamore of the Wabash.
Rex, for your service to the agricultural profession above and beyond the call of duty, it is my pleasure to award you this day, the Purdue Ag Alumni Association’s Highest Award, the Certificate of Distinction.