Published on 04/03/02

Georgians Among Inductees in 4-H Hall of Fame

As the 4-H Club celebrates its centennial year, the organization announces its National 4-H Hall of Fame April 11. Among the first 100 inductees are posthumous selections for Georgians Herman Talmadge, Bill Sutton and G.C. Adams.

"This Hall of Fame will honor those who have made significant contributions to the 4-H movement during its first 100 years," said Bo Ryles, state 4-H leader for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Each state and the District of Columbia was given the opportunity to submit up to three nominees. "We are honored in Georgia to have all three of our nominees selected for induction," Ryles said.

Sen. Talmadge, who died last week, was a champion for young people and agriculture. "4-H held a special place in his heart," Ryles said. "He continually found ways to support 4-H."

Talmadge's most lasting contribution to Georgia 4-H is Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton, Ga. As Georgia's governor, Talmadge led the state to commit funds to match private donations and to provide prison labor to construct Rock Eagle, now the largest 4-H center in the world.

While serving as U.S. senator, Talmadge continued the 4-H Patronage Program begun by Sen. Richard Russell. The program made it possible for college-age Georgia 4-H'ers to work on the Georgia senator's staff for one year. The program continues in modified form today.

In retirement, Talmadge continued to be a loyal supporter, donor and champion for Georgia 4-H.

W.A. "Bill" Sutton of Swainsboro, Ga., was the director of the UGA Agricultural Extension Service from 1954 to 1963. He was the Georgia 4-H leader in 1942-54 and a county Extension Service agent. He is best known as the founder of the Rock Eagle 4-H Center, and he led the purchase of land for the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Md.

Sutton was intensely interested in the development of a statewide 4-H Youth Center. In 1950, when he heard that the acreage at the Rock Eagle mound and lake near Eatonton was possibly available, he flew to Washington to secure the federally owned area.

After a visit with Rep. Carl Vinson, the acreage was deeded to the University of Georgia for the 4-H Center. Ground was broken on the center in 1951.

G.C. Adams of Oxford, Ga., is credited with being the founder of 4-H in Georgia. He began the Newton County Corn Club in December 1904.

This club was followed by the Tomato Club and other farm products clubs, canning clubs and ultimately the 4-H Clubs of Georgia, coordinated into one nationwide movement in 1921.

The National 4-H Hall of Fame is a project of the public relations and information committee of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.

New inductees will be admitted each year. The Hall of Fame will exist exclusively in cyberspace. All inductee will have their own Web pages. The web address will be announced on April 11.

Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.