1955: Rock Eagle 4-H Center opens
Rock Eagle 4-H Center opens in Eatonton, Ga.
Rock Eagle 4-H Center, the largest 4-H Center in the world, is located near Eatonton in the heart of Georgia’s Piedmont region and adjacent to the Oconee National Forest. With nearly 1,500 acres of forested land, including a 110-acre lake, Rock Eagle is a place to get away from everyday life.
The 4-H Center’s location was selected in 1950 when John A. (Red) Smith, county Extension agent in Putnam County, suggested that the center be built near the Rock Eagle Effigy Mound in the northern end of Putnam County.
Director of Extension W.A. “Bill” Sutton, with the aid of the Georgia 4-H Foundation Board of Directors, secured matching state funds from Governor Herman Talmadge. Gov. Talmadge agreed that for every private dollar the 4-H Foundation raised, he would match it with one state dollar, in addition to providing skilled prison labor to construct the facility.
In June 1952, 4-H'ers attended groundbreaking activities at the new 4-H center site. Once construction started, the prisoners lived on the 4-H Center in a facility built on-site, which now serves as the Administration Building and provides office space for the center operations, 4-H Summer Camping Program and Environmental Education Program.
The 4-H Center was dedicated on October 31, 1954. It officially opened for operation in 1955. Sutton is now known as the founder of Rock Eagle and the original dining hall, now a mixed-use building, bears his name.