Published on 05/07/13

Rock Eagle lobby named for former representative Bob Smith

By Merritt Melancon

Before he was a state house representative or an Oconee County businessman, Bob Smith spent many of his summers at Rock Eagle 4-H Center.

So it was only fitting, when the University of Georgia administration wanted to honor Smith for his support during his years in the state legislature, that they would look to the summer camp in Eatonton.

UGA administrators renamed the lobby of the Rock Eagle Dinning Hall for Smith during a ceremony April 23. Smith advocated for the funding of the new dining hall, which was completed in 2009, during his time in the legislature.

“(Smith) was a strong supporter of 4-H and the university system when he was in the legislature,” said Arch Smith, state leader of Georgia 4-H. “He was a very active 4-H member in Oconee County, and he is genuinely appreciative for what 4-H has done for him.”

Georgia 4-H is a part of UGA Cooperative Extension, which is the public outreach arm of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Smith served in the Georgia legislature — as representative of Oconee County and part of Clarke County — from 1999 to 2011, when he decided not to seek reelection.

During those years, he served as chair of the appropriations subcommittee on higher education.

He was a vocal proponent for funding the University System of Georgia and the state’s technical college system as key components of the state’s economic development strategy.

While Smith was growing up in Oconee County, 4-H opened the doors to many learning opportunities that shaped his adult life.

“Georgia 4-H offered me a lifelong opportunity to build friendships, learn by doing and to ‘Make the Best Better’... the 4-H motto,” Smith said. “What an incredible journey the 4-H world provided my family and me.”

Rock Eagle 4-H Center, a 1,500-acre summer camp, environmental education center and conference facility, opened in 1955. Thousands of young people travel to Rock Eagle 4-H Center annually to participate in Georgia 4-H Environmental Education programs and 4-H Summer Camp programs.

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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