Published on 07/31/19

Georgia 4-H’ers come together to learn about their shared history at Atlanta History Center

By Merritt Melancon

It can sometimes seem like there are two Georgias — the one that revolves around metro Atlanta and the one that has more pine trees or peanut fields than people.

But no matter how different the state’s urban and rural areas might seem, we all share history, and we have more in common than you might think.

That’s the message behind an event that draws several hundred Georgia 4-H’ers to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead each year.

“For me, this is about bringing people together from all over the state to experience things together … It’s about people and helping people meet each other and understand each other,” said Sheffield Hale, president of the Atlanta History Center.

“Our communities are fragmented, and our state can feel fragmented. Anything we can do to help to stitch our state together and help us all realize that we are one state is something we want to be a part of. We have to work together to build a better Georgia.”

The staff at the Atlanta History Center organized the first Georgia 4-H Open House in 2016 to help celebrate the partnership between University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and the Atlanta History Center. The center became to its own Georgia 4-H Community Club in fall 2016. Since then, 296 fourth- through 12th-graders have joined the Fulton County 4-H Club through the Atlanta History Center Extension office.

The annual open house is a chance for Georgia 4-H club members from across to state to meet their Buckhead-based 4-H club members.

“It’s just cool to come and see all the things that have happened in Georgia’s history, to learn about the state’s past and its roots,” said Avery Cross, a senior Georgia 4-H’er from Catoosa County. 

In addition to touring the Swan House, which the students recognize as President Snow’s house from “The Hunger Games” movies, they toured an early 19th-century homestead and learned about the civil rights movement, Southern foodways and Atlanta’s industrial history at the history center.

Having everyone come together at the history center is a great way for Georgia 4-H’ers to learn about the state and for people in and around Atlanta to learn more about what Georgia 4-H is all about, said Laurie Murrah-Hanson, Georgia 4-H agent at the history center.

“Participation in 4-H Day at the Atlanta History Center continues to increase each year,” Murrah-Hanson said. “It is exciting to see our partnership with the Atlanta History Center grow and how it, in turn, fosters relationships across 4-H programs in counties from all over the state.”

In addition to 4-H, the Extension office offers lifelong learning, especially related to gardening and agriculture. Examples include the Master Gardener Volunteer Program, as well as environmental stewardship, home food production, gardening with youth, the value of landscapes and the health benefits of gardening, among other programs.

For more information, email

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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