Georgia 4-H Foundation celebrates 70th anniversary with new leadership endowment

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Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and first lady Sandra Deal were recently honored by the Georgia 4-H Foundation and the University of Georgia during a celebration of the foundation’s 70th anniversary. A new endowment for leadership programs has been created by 4-H alumni and supporters and named in honor of the Deals for their leadership and commitment to the youth development organization.

“No governor in our history has been more supportive of 4-H than Nathan Deal, and no first lady has been more passionate about educational causes, including 4-H, than Sandra Deal,” said Judge William M. (Billy) Ray II, the anchor sponsor of the endowment and a member of the Georgia 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees.

The new endowment will support enhanced training and programming for 4-H officer boards. Two former state 4-H officers helped present the honor to the Deals during a ceremony held at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia on Oct. 31.  

During the event, Gov. Deal recalled lessons he learned during his first 4-H project about pigs, and Sandra Deal credited 4-H programs and agents for helping teach the couple’s four children life skills and responsibility.

Ray, a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals since 2012 and a former legislator, gave his personal appreciation to the 4-H program and UGA. “Other than my family, I’d give credit to the skills I learned as a 4-H’er and at the University of Georgia as well as to the relationships I developed in both of those places,” he said.

In addition to Ray, supporters for the endowment represent a cross-section of 4-H alumni, friends and Georgia businesses including:

  • Founding sponsors Coweta-Fayette EMC, Georgia Power, Kelly Loeffler and Jeff Sprecher, and Jim Walters.
  • Presenting sponsors Georgia EMC, Jerry and Janie Griffin, Gulfstream Aerospace and Premium Peanut.
  • Supporting sponsors Bob and Maxine Burton, GEO, and Jay and Laura Morgan.
  • Sustaining sponsors Aflac, AT&T, Dr. Frank and Christy Carter, Dr. Kevin and Sue Chapman, Arch and Brenda Smith, and Diane Vaughan and Lynn Rainey.

“Millions of Georgians have benefited from the generosity of 4-H donors who have supported the largest youth leadership development organization in our state,” said State 4-H Leader and Director Arch Smith.

“We’re also appreciative of Gov. and Mrs. Deal who are longtime 4-H supporters. Under Gov. Deal’s leadership, our programs and facilities are better equipped to continue to serve youth and keep the Georgia 4-H program among the best in the nation. We couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds for our entire organization and especially the 4-H officer programs.”

Each year, 64 Georgia 4-H members are elected by their peers to represent their districts and serve at conferences, meetings and events. Another nine high school students are voted to the state board of directors to lead statewide events, represent the organization and speak to stakeholders on behalf of their peers.

The Georgia 4-H Foundation was chartered on Nov. 17, 1948, to receive funds for the construction of the Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton, Georgia. When the project was completed, the foundation continued to support 4-H programs and facilities by developing endowments that fund scholarships and programs.

More recently, the foundation has solicited funds — including state appropriations from Gov. Deal and the Georgia Legislature — for new cabins at Rock Eagle 4-H Center to replace the aging cottages built in the 1950s.

Georgia 4-H is the youth development program of UGA Cooperative Extension. It reaches 170,000 students across Georgia. To learn more about 4-H programs, visit www.Georgia4h.org or call your local UGA Extension office at 1800-ASK-UGA1. To give or learn more about the foundation, go to www.Georgia4hFoundation.org.

Josh Paine is a marketing specialist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
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