Georgia 4-H dedicated the Thomas F. Rodgers Administration Building at Rock Eagle 4-H Center to honor former Georgia 4-H state leader Tom Rodgers for his years of service to 4-H and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.
Rodgers served as the leader of Georgia 4-H from 1978 to 1993 and championed the renovation of Rock Eagle 4-H Center during his tenure. Raising more than $2 million for the facility, he secured Rock Eagle’s continued status as a centerpiece of Georgia 4-H. Cabins, meeting spaces and support buildings were improved and expanded during the renovation, and revenue subsequently increased by 66%.
The March 29 dedication included reflections from current and former 4-H leaders and recognized Rodgers’ six-plus decades of impact. “Tom made decisions, took risks and garnered support that ultimately make it possible for us to still be standing on these grounds today,” said Sue Chapman, Georgia 4-H associate state leader.
The Thomas F. Rodgers Administration Building serves as a hub for operations and management for the nearly 1,500-acre campus in Eatonton.
“I am honored by this recognition, and it’s only possible because of the team of people I worked with during my career. They deserve the recognition too,” Rodgers said during the event.
The successful Georgia 4-H Environmental Education program was created under Rodgers’ leadership in partnership with former 4-H specialist Diane Davies. Since 1979, the program has served 1.2 million youth at all six 4-H centers across Georgia.
Additional highlights from Rodgers’ 4-H career include the establishment of Georgia 4-H Day at the Capitol, the acquisition and renovation of the Jekyll Island 4-H Center, and an 89% increase in Georgia 4-H Foundation endowment funds.
After 15 years in the state 4-H leader role, Rodgers was promoted to assistant director and head of county operations for UGA Extension, helping to supervise more than 800 agents, program assistants and support staff. He led the initiative that resulted in Extension agents being classified as UGA public service faculty.
Rodgers went on to serve as UGA’s vice president for public service and outreach and as associate dean of outreach and Extension in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences before his retirement in 2004. Rodgers earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal science and agricultural economics from the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences before receiving a doctoral degree in education from North Carolina State University.
He was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame in 2011 and was awarded the Georgia 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. Rodgers’ contributions to the success of Rock Eagle 4-H Center laid the groundwork for the success of Georgia 4-H to this day. The operational revenue from the center makes possible a large portion of current 4-H programming.
Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become future leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the premier youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches hundreds of thousands of people annually through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities.