Published on 03/25/04

Summer gala will celebrate Georgia 4-H centennial

By Janet Rodekohr
University of Georgia

If you bleed 4-H green, you won't want to miss the 4-H Centennial Gala at the Westin Buckhead Hotel Aug. 14 in Atlanta.

Alumni, donors and friends of 4-H will celebrate 100 years of Georgia 4-H with a special evening of entertainment, a silent auction and fine dining. The 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented, too.

Georgia 4-H traces its roots to Boys' Corn Clubs in Newton County in 1904. County school superintendent G.C. Adams organized the club for 151 members in Covington, Ga. At the same time, a black teacher, P.D. Johnson, planted demonstration corn plots to teach the sons of black farmers.

Girls soon became part of garden clubs, tomato clubs and canning clubs. The 4-H name, emblem, pledge and motto all evolved from similar youth education programs nationwide over the next 10 years.

4-H became the youth program of the Cooperative Extension Service when it was begun under the Smith-Lever Act in 1914.

Big changes

"I think both Mr. Adams and Mr. Johnson would be proud of today's 4-H program. But they probably wouldn't recognize it," said Bo Ryles, state 4-H program leader with the University of Georgia Extension Service.

"4-H started out teaching farm kids how to raise crops and livestock and prepare nutritious meals. Today, Georgia's 180,000 4-H'ers come from all areas of Georgia, urban and rural," Ryles said.

"They concentrate on building life skills such as leadership, character and citizenship," he said. "Today's 4-H'ers are helping the 4-H staff, county agents and volunteers design a dynamic youth program for the second century of 4-H."

Big celebration

The Centennial Gala will feature Clovers & Co., a nationally acclaimed performing group of about 40 Georgia 4-H'ers. They will show off their musical talents singing the praises of 4-H.

Walter Reeves, Georgia gardening guru and a former 4-H'er and county extension agent, will host the special evening.

Tickets are $100. Corporate sponsors can reserve a table at the gold, silver or bronze levels. Tickets are available through the Georgia 4-H Foundation at (706) 542-8914. Or buy them on-line at

Big goal

Silent-auction items include guitars autographed by professional musicians, original artwork vacation packages and many others. The goal is to raise $100,000 to support 4-H scholarships, facilities and programs. Check out silent-auction items on the 4-H Foundation Web site.

To learn more about the gala or 4-H in Georgia or your county, visit the Georgia 4-H Web site at

(Janet Rodekohr is a news editor and marketing specialist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Janet Rodekohr is a retired news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.