Published on 10/20/11

Rodgers named to National 4-H Hall of Fame

By Sharon Dowdy

Athens, Ga., resident and longtime Georgia 4-H supporter Tom Rodgers was honored by the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents when it inducted him into the National 4-H Hall of Fame Oct. 7 at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.

Rodgers was an active Columbia County 4-H’er and mastered in beef records and livestock judging. While a student at the University of Georgia, he served as a 4-H camp counselor. He received a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from UGA before earning a doctorate in education from North Carolina State University.

Georgia 4-H leader

From 1979-1993, Rodgers served as Georgia state 4-H leader. Under his leadership, Georgia 4-H developed the environmental education program that now serves 900,000 youths each year from Georgia and across the Southeast. He helped Georgia acquire the Dolphin Hotel on Jekyll Island, which was converted into Georgia 4-H’s second coastal center.

To help save Rock Eagle 4-H Center from closing in the early 80’s, Rodgers solicited private gifts and legislative appropriations exceeding $2.2 million to renovate the center and construct the Rock Eagle Museum of Natural History.

“Tom Rodgers charted a course for Georgia 4-H to continue its legacy of providing excellent youth development opportunities for young people and kept Georgia at the forefront of 4-H programming in the U.S.,” said Arch Smith, Georgia’s current 4-H leader. “He has made outstanding contributions to Georgia 4-H and is one of only four Georgia Lifetime Achievement recipients. It is fitting that he be selected for induction in the National 4-H Hall of Fame.”

Nominated by home state

Honorees are nominated by their home states, National 4-H Council, National Association of Extension 4-H Agents, or 4-H Headquarters based upon their exceptional leadership at the local, state, national and international levels.

“NAE4-HA is proud to acknowledge the outstanding 2011 National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees for the passion, dedication, vision and leadership they’ve shown toward our young people during their many years of service to 4-H,” said Lori Purcell-Bledsoe, NAE4-HA president and a member of the Georgia 4-H state staff.

For more information about the National 4-H Hall of Fame, visit

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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