The National Association of Extension 4-H Agents honored Diane Davies, known as the founder of the environmental education program in Georgia, by inducting her into the National 4-H Hall of Fame on Oct. 12 at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.
Davies helped develop the environmental education program for the University of Georgia Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton with an annual budget of only $300. She also raised funds, along with last year’s Hall of Fame inductee Tom Rodgers, to build Rock Eagle’s Museum of Natural History. For these and other accomplishments, she was named to the National 4-H Hall of Fame.
Founded Georgia 4-H Environmental Education program
Davies served as the state 4-H specialist for environmental education in Georgia for 24 years. She began her career with UGA Cooperative Extension in 1979 when she was hired specifically to develop the environmental education program. She created the classes, secured the resources, and served as the only instructor, administrator and promoter for the program for nine years. In the first year, the program served 2,000 students. Today it has expanded to all five Georgia 4-H centers and serves about 900,000 students in Georgia and across the southeastern United States. It has also produced $50 million in revenue, according to Arch Smith, Georgia’s state 4-H leader, who nominated Davies for the award.
In 1990 Davies accomplished another significant 4-H effort when Rock Eagle opened the Museum of Natural History after she and Rodgers successfully secured a gift of $200,000 from the Cecil B. Day Foundation for the construction of the facility.
Davies has also worked with the 4-H Foundation and other 4-H faculty to raise funds for the enhancement of other center amenities, including the Wildlife Ecology and Woodruff Aquatic Buildings and the Project Adventure Ropes Courses.
She also served as project coordinator for Global Food Web, a program funded by a Kellogg Foundation grant to educate youth about world hunger and food supply issues. Through her affiliation with Global Food Web, Davies was named a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow and carried out additional environmental work in Africa, Australia, Alaska and the Galapagos Islands.
She has received several honors throughout her career including the D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Extension, the Outstanding Service Award from the North American Association for Environmental Education and the Distinguished Alumni Award from UGA’s Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies.
She's an artist, too
After retiring, Davies started a pottery business and held small art shows at her home. Her shows quickly out grew there humble beginnings, and in 2009 they were moved to the Rock Eagle 4-H Center. Now “Art at the Rock,” an annual event, includes more than 50 artists in a juried art show.
She remains an active supporter of Georgia 4-H serving on the advisory committee and as an environmental education guest lecturer at numerous conferences and programs across the nation.
Davies is the 13th Georgian to be named to the National 4-H Hall of Fame.