Georgia 4-H honors Davies with Lifetime Achievement Award

More than 1.2 million participants have enjoyed the Georgia 4-H Environmental Education Program — using the outdoors as a classroom without walls to engage K-12 students in experiences that highlight the science, natural resources and natural history of local ecosystems — since its inception in 1979. This innovative and award-winning program began with a $300 budget, a six-month timeframe and the determination of Diane Davies, retired University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H specialist and senior public service associate.

For her vision, leadership and sustained support of Georgia 4-H, Davies will receive the prestigious Georgia 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2021 Georgia 4-H Gala on Aug. 14.

“The award was established to recognize individuals who have dedicated time, energy and resources to Georgia 4-H and is considered the highest honor Georgia 4-H can bestow,” said Melanie Biersmith, associate state 4-H leader. “When one considers the contributions of Diane Davies — her many years of outstanding service, the foundation she created, the legacy she developed and the impact her work has had on Georgia 4-H — it’s easy to understand why she is the next recipient. Not only is her work a series of considerable achievements, her work for Georgia 4-H actually represents achievements of a lifetime.”

In 1979, Tom Rodgers, state 4-H leader at the time, hired Davies to launch an environmental education program to serve youth while increasing revenue at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton, Georgia. Despite limited funds and time, Davies developed relationships with local schools and youth groups to personally deliver curriculum to more than 2,000 participants in the first year. Davies earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in parks and recreation administration from UGA in 1974 and 1977, respectively.

After years of success, Davies was able to hire additional staff and expand the program to the other Georgia 4-H Centers: Camp Jekyll (formerly Jekyll Island 4-H Center) and 4-H Tidelands Center on Jekyll Island, Burton 4-H Center (formerly Tybee Island 4-H Center) on Tybee Island, Wahsega 4-H Center in Dahlonega and Fortson 4-H Center in Hampton, Georgia. By the mid-1990s, more than 40,000 youth from all over the state were participating in the program each year.

After the program was well established, Davies focused on soliciting donations and resources to develop additional educational spaces, including the Rock Eagle 4-H Center Museum of Natural History, Wildlife Ecology Building and Woodruff Aquatic buildings.

Davies remained directly involved in programming until her retirement in 2002, continuing to support the program through philanthropic contributions and service in advisory groups and committees.

“Diane Davies is absolutely deserving of this most prestigious honor,” added Biersmith. “She continues to be an advocate for the program she founded and tout its impact to all those with whom she comes in contact. Her work was a strong foundation on which we continue to grow today.”

In 2013, the Georgia 4-H Environmental Education Program celebrated its millionth participant. The natural history museum located at Rock Eagle 4-H Center was rededicated as the Diane Davies Museum of Natural History in conjunction with the celebration.

In 2019, Georgia 4-H celebrated the program’s 40th anniversary. During that time, the program has served more than a million participants and generated more than $77 million in revenue to support the overall operation of the state’s 4-H centers.


State 4-H Leader Arch Smith states, “Diane Davies’ contributions to 4-H inspired others across America to enhance outdoor learning opportunities. Much of the continued success of the Georgia 4-H facilities is a result of Diane’s efforts to develop the Georgia 4-H Environmental Education program.”

Davies will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Georgia 4-H Gala on Aug. 14 at the Georgia Aquarium. For more information, visit


Author: Cristina deRevere,
Source: Arch Smith,; Melanie Biersmith,

2020 Pop Tabs Donation

Each year, since 2002, Georgia Junior 4-H’ers have collected Pop Tabs for the Ronald McDonald Houses of Georgia. Participating counties compete and are honored at the Junior Conference. This year, Georgia 4-H collected a total of 4,506 pounds of pop tabs, totaling a donation of $1,286.09.  This year’s pop tab donation will benefit the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Winning counties:

Northeast District
By Pounds
1st Place Columbia County 440 Pounds
2nd Place Madison County 96 Pounds
3rd Place Oconee County 46 Pounds
Northeast District
Per Capita
1st Place Madison County
2nd Place Columbia County
3rd Place Oconee County
Northwest District
By Pounds
1st Place Paulding County 639 Pounds
2nd Place Walker County 575 Pounds
3rd Place Newton County 254 Pounds
Northwest District
Per Capita
1st Place Walker County
2nd Place Haralson County
3rd Place Crawford County
Southeast District
By Pounds
1st Place Bulloch County 308 Pounds
2nd Place Charlton County 180 Pounds
3rd Place Camden County 144 Pounds
Southeast District
Per Capita
1st Place Charlton County
2nd Place Tattnall County
3rd Place Bulloch County
Southwest District
By Pounds
1st Place Lowndes County 427 Pounds
2nd Place Crisp County 128 Pounds
3rd Place Wilcox County 87 Pounds
Southwest District
Per Capita
1st Place Wilcox County
2nd Place Crisp County
3rd Place Lowndes County

2020 Watermelon Contest Winners

The Georgia 4-H Watermelon Growing Contest offers the opportunity to exhibit knowledge and ability to cultivate and grow one or more watermelons over a regulated period of time. Growing the heaviest watermelon incorporates basic aptitude of measurement concepts. Preparation skills, research abilities, and patience in this field of agriculture and environmental science enhance the ability to excel in this competition. In addition to learning the basic fundamentals of growing and caring for watermelons, mathematical knowledge of space, depth, and irrigation will prepare participants for a successful harvest. Common problem solving, such as insect patrol, are essential elements gained throughout this experience.

Participants develop leadership, initiative, self-reliance, a sense of fair play, and other desirable character traits while experiencing the responsibility of planting, caring for, cultivating, and harvesting a watermelon. They also increase their knowledge of all aspects of agricultural and environmental science and management of a watermelon as well as develop skills in farm management and an understanding of the business and career opportunities.

This year, more than 40 youth participated in the contest. We are pleased to announce the 2020 Watermelon Contest Winners are:

1st place – Preston Peck, Floyd County
108 pounds

2nd place – Tucker Tillman, Appling County
107 pounds

3rd place – Mahle Kauger, Appling County
64 pounds

Prize money is graciously sponsored by the Georgia Watermelon Association and the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.  We ask that 4-H’ers please send them a thank you card showing their appreciation for their support of this contest. Their addresses are:

Georgia Watermelon Association
251 S. L. White Blvd.
Lagrange, GA 30241
Georgia Fruits and Vegetable Growers Association
P.O. Box 2945
Lagrange, GA 30241

2020 Food Product Development Contest

Congratulations to our Georgia 4-H Food Product Development teams!

This year, the process began as normal and later shifted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participating teams are to be commended for adjusting to delayed timelines, moving their practices online,  dealing with a postponed event, and then finally a change to a virtual presentation. On Wednesday, July 8th, the first-ever Virtual Georgia 4-H Food Product Development Presentations were held. Teams presented their business proposals for a new food product and discussed their proposal with expert judges.  Following the team presentations, we heard from CAES Program Coordinator Kathleen Freeman about opportunities with UGA CAES, learned about career opportunities from a food product development expert, Trey Sanders (Bulletproof Research and Development Manager), and were inspired by a message from Dr. Jose Reyes, Food Science Department.


Habersham County placed 1st with their “Owl Go Granola Bars” and receives Master 4-H status. 

  • The Habersham County Food Product Development team includes Rachel Dailey, Camden Hughes, Tabitha Ramey, and Tianna Ramey. Their coach is Renee Smagur.



Haralson County placed 2nd with their “YAP: Yogurt Active Power.”

  • The Haralson County Food Product Development team includes Ayshanna Frazier, Rachel Ibbetson, Rebekah Ibbetson, and Rylie Ibbetson. Their coaches are Jenelle Hanyon and Jozie Mize.


This year only, two superlative awards were conferred by the Judges for outstanding work:

  • Creativity and Innovation Award: Haralson County Food Product Development Team
  • Outstanding Presentation: Habersham County Food Product Development Team


Thank you to Jeffrey Burke and Michaela Fontaine for providing support for our virtual presentations, to Dr. Anand Mohan, Dr. Jose Reyes, Karen Simmons, and Jade Long from UGA Food Science Extension, Kathleen Freeman, UGA CAES Griffin, and Trey Sanders from Bulletproof.

2020 Dean’s Award Winners

Georgia 4-H, the state’s largest youth leadership development organization, provides opportunities for students to gain mastery of skills and knowledge and to demonstrate generosity through civic engagement. The 4-H Dean’s Awards provide Georgia 4-H’ers the chance to showcase their talent, hard work, and commitment to their community. The Dean’s Awards are very competitive and one of the highest honors Georgia 4-H members can earn.

A Dean’s Award is presented every year in each of the following five main project areas: Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (including STEM); Civic Engagement and Citizenship; Family and Consumer Sciences; William “Bill” Edwards Award for Communications and the Arts; and James Harris Award for Leadership. First place winners receive Master 4-H’er status, a $500 scholarship, and recognition at the Georgia 4-H Day at the Capitol.

Competitors submit a cumulative portfolio, much like a resume, highlighting their accomplishments from throughout their 4-H career. The portfolios are judged by project area experts, and high-scoring submissions are invited to participate in a separately-judged interview session. This year, the finalist interview sessions were conducted in a virtual setting due to pandemic restrictions, giving youth the chance to gain interview skills and experience with online conferencing.

Congratulations to all who submitted portfolios, to the finalists who interviewed virtually and to our five newest 2020 Dean’s Awards Recipients!

Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (and STEM)
1st Place – Lydia Connell, Tift County
2nd Place – Kennedy Deveaux, Cobb County
3rd Place – Neely McCommons, Oconee County

William “Bill” Edwards 4-H Dean’s Award for Communications and the Arts
1st Place – Allen Brooks, Houston County
2nd Place – Parker Varnadoe, Madison County
3rd Place – Arham Shah, Emanuel County

Civic Engagement & Citizenship 
1st Place – Juliette McKinley, Paulding County
2nd Place – Ben Tellano, Hart County
3rd Place – Drew Cribbs, Morgan County

Family and Consumer Sciences
1st Place – Shazia Alam, Sumter County
2nd Place – Madison Brown, Elbert County
3rd Place – Lizzy Thompson, Grady County

James Harris 4-H Dean’s Award for Leadership
1st Place – Aromal Saji, Gwinnett County
2nd Place – Gracie Grimes, Candler County
3rd Place – Logan Bush, Laurens County

Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 242,000 people annually through the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices and 4-H facilities.

2020-2021 Georgia 4-H Ambassadors

This year, Georgia 4-H received more than 150 applications for youth ambassador programs.
The selected youth will serve for one program year.


STEM Ambassadors

led by Ms. Kasey Bozeman, Extension Specialist for 4-H Science and Environmental Education

Forty youth were selected as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Ambassadors for the 2020-2021 program year. These Ambassadors will share science, design, technology, innovation, engineering and mathematics within the local community.

[one_third]Clayton Adams, Madison County
Aman Boricha-Masand, Bibb County
Bryce Braswell, Lee County
Kaylyn Contreras, Pulaski County
Tate Cox, Harris County
Casi Curry, Harris County
Kareem El-Gayyar, Fayette County
Salih El-Gayyar, Fayette County
Issabelle Elliot, Houston County
Savannah Fields, Jones County
Hannah Fletcher, Worth  County
Jacobi Gilbert, Fulton County
Kennedy Gross, Columbia County
Hayden Hancock, Glynn County
Isaiah Harris, Newton County
Gracie Howell, Worth County
Ce’Darius Ingram, Hancock County
Connor Keesee, Jasper County
Lexington Kozak-Baun, Liberty County
Samantha Kuhbander, Ware County
Juliette McKinley, Paulding County[/one_third]
[one_third_last]Nicholas McKinley, Paulding County
Matalie Miles, Candler County
Nick Miller, Tattnall County
Owen Miller, Glynn County
Safeer Mithani, Gwinnett County
Skylar Morgan, Effingham County
Savannah Mosley, Jasper County
Jayla Moss, Harris County
Molly Oglesby, Ware County
Tirth Patel, Randolph County
Emily Pethel, Hall County
Taylor Rudeseal, Hall County
Garrison Stewart, Terrell County
Lauryn Wade, Harris County
Dania Wadley, Harris County
Adelyn Walls, Jasper County
Boaz Whealy, Murray County
Lauren Wixson, Ben Hill County
Madison Wood, Floyd County[/one_third_last]

Healthy Living Ambassadors

led by Dr. Courtney Brown, Extension Specialist for 4-H Healthy Living 

Fourty-five youth were selected as Healthy Living Ambassadors. These Ambassadors will share about basic nutrition, food access, cooking skills and food budgeting.

[one_third]Shazia Alam, Sumter County
Chanthony Andrews, Jr., Glynn County
Jocelyn Birko, Gilmer County
Lily Bischoff, Athens-Clarke County
Lauren Blair, Taylor County
Jasmine Blalock, Peach County
Susan Carter, Appling County
Kaylee Collins, Spalding County
Jaytan Cox, Randolph County
Daphne Crawford, Clarke County
Jenna Dekich, Catoosa County
Caiden Goldinger, Worth County
Alexis Gross, Madison County
Akierra Hall, Ben Hill  County
Aniyah Hall, Ben Hill County
Cassidy Head, Pulaski County
Devika Henry, Gwinnett County
Evangelina (Angel) Jarvis , Candler County
Liam Jay, Ben Hill County
Haleigh Ledford, Gilmer County
Brianna Lee, Bartow County
Samuel McBride, Emanuel County[/one_third]
[one_third_last]Janey Miller, Lowndes County
Megan Miller, Tattnall County
Katelyn Millsap, Paulding County
Haley Mosley, Candler County
Elizabeth Ogles, Bartow County
Lauren Davis, Ware County
Tiolu Popoola, Douglas County
Tabitha Ramey, Habersham County
Tianna Ramey, Habersham County
Lauren Richardson, Barrow County
Olivia Richardson, Fulton County
Rylie Rowland, Emanuel County
Lexi Sherrer, Muscogee County
Avondrea Singleton, Muscogee County
Madeline Skojac, Murray County
Charlie Snyder, Barrow County
(Emma) Elise Sparks, Madison County
Leah Szczepanski, Oconee County
Colin Williamson, Tift County
Julia Wood, Floyd County
Jurnee Worthen, Hancock County
Keondre Young, Bacon County
Malachi Young, Gwinnett County[/one_third_last]

Pollinator Ambassadors

led by Ms. Kasey Bozeman, Extension Specialist for 4-H Science and Environmental Education 

New this year!  Twenty-six youth were selected as Pollinator Ambassadors. These Ambassadors will share about the importance of pollination, pollinating insects, pollinating gardens and the connection of pollinating to our food supply.

[one_third]Allie Alexander, Jasper County
Jacob Bennett, Grady County
Pistol Burkes, Grady County
Owen Cassels, Grady County
Kelly Coles, Barrow County
Emma Cooper, Chattooga County
Jerahmy Davis, Gwinnett County
Alyssa Goldman, Madison County
Tyler Guest, Madison County
Lauren Hicks, Jasper County
Markeila Howard, Wilcox County
Kaylin Keen, Barrow County
Luke Krohn, Clarke County
Christopher Kuhbander, Ware County[/one_third]
[one_third_last]Jae Long, Grady County
Jodi Lopez, Grady County
Timothy Lord, Ben Hill County
Grace McBride, Emanuel County
Macy Morgan, Effingham County
Malik Monds, Grady County
Cheyne Norton, Grady County
Lily Norton, Grady County
Lacey Price, Quitman County
Charles Michael Smith, Grady County
John Sodrel, Grady County
Lizzy Thompson, Grady County[/one_third_last]

Ready 4 Life Ambassadors

led by Mr. Jason Estep, Extension Specialist for 4-H Leadership and Civic Engagement

New this year! Forty-two youth were selected as Ready 4 Life Ambassadors. These Ambassadors will share the basics of professionalism, resume preparation, making positive first impressions, basic interactions with local government, manners, entrepreneurship and more.

[one_third]Callie Armour, White County
Jhaycee Barnes, Spalding County
Emily Brooke-Powell, Paulding
Makayla Coomer, Floyd County
Lucy Crawford, Athens-Clarke County
Avery Cross, Catoosa County
Kylie Dallas, Glynn County
Skylar Dato, Lee County
Sammy David, Athens-Clarke County
Amiyah Elam, Ware County
Trent Floyd, Sumter County
Kirsten Hayes, Dougherty County
Braylen Howell, Baldwin County
Isabella Jones, White County
Jaylee Kilgo, Bartow County
Aniston Hanley, Hart County
Sarah Isaac, Stephens County
Hannah Jones, Gordon County
Deontavius Kitchens, Stewart County
Alyssa Lunsford, Peach County[/one_third]
[one_third_last]Clare Pacella, Glynn County
Hannah McElrath, Gordon County
Nyla Nelson, Fayette County
Zabria  Roberts, Muscogee County
Allyson Runyon, Columbia County
AnnaLayne Scarboro, Emanuel County
Janya Scott, Terrell County
Jersey Scott, Johnson County
Emily Seckinger, Henry County
Samuel Shobert, White County
Davis Slate, Athens-Clarke County
Shaniya Smith, Ben Hill County
Benjamin Tanner, Walton County
Dawson Teatino, Barrow County
Bailey Tennison, Lee County
Samantha Tennison, Lee County
Lily Thomas, Putnam County
Hinano Tomlinson, Sumter County
Aquemini Trotter, Ben Hill County
Jesse Tyre, Bacon County
Parker Varnadoe, Madison County
Allie White, Johnson County
Kate Yaughn, Bulloch County [/one_third_last]




Georgia LifeSmarts Championship quizzes Georgia 4-H youth on consumer literacy skills

Seven Georgia 4-H Junior Varsity and Varsity teams competed at the 2020 Georgia LifeSmarts Championship on Feb. 17 at Rock Eagle 4-H Center.

LifeSmarts, a National Consumers League program, is celebrating over 25 years of empowering middle and high school students across the United States to develop consumer literacy skills needed to succeed in today’s marketplace.

“LifeSmarts teaches students critical thinking skills and expands their knowledge on real-world issues to prepare them for life after high school,” said Brittani Lee, Georgia 4-H County Extension Agent and Georgia LifeSmarts Co-coordinator. “The life skills that LifeSmarts students gain through the program will aid them in being well-rounded, knowledgeable and prepared adults in tomorrow’s world. Not only are they preparing for the future, but they are having fun too.”

The competition quizzes the participants on five categories: Personal Finance, Consumer Rights and Responsibilities, Technology, Health and Safety, and the Environment. The student teams, under the guidance of an adult coach, participated in an online qualifying competition series. The highest-scoring four Junior Varsity and Varsity teams were invited to compete in the state championship.

“Both our Varsity and Junior Varsity teams were very impressive at the championship this year,” said Dr.Courtney Still Brown, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H Specialist of Healthy Living Programs and Georgia LifeSmarts Co-coordinator. “It is really encouraging to see these young people understanding and explaining concepts such as budgeting, consumer rights, online safety and much more. They certainly have a head start on how to navigate the complex consumer issues that we face today.”

Varsity Teams-

First place team: Alicia Carnes, David Han, Neely McCommons, Amelia Sale and Kalani Washington
(Coach: Allison Barnes, Assistant Coach: Ryan Rose) – Oconee County Team A

Second place team: Alyssa Haag, Robie Lucas, Jack Durham Marable, Abbigail Miller and Lexi Pritchard (Coach: Allison Barnes, Assistant Coach: Ryan Rose) – Oconee County Team B

Third place team: Safeer Mithani, Savid Pugh, Steven Pugh and Aromal Saji (Coach: Pam Bloch) – Gwinnett County

Fourth place team: Columbia County

Junior Varsity Teams-

First place team: Sara Grace Abernathy, Alexis Gentry, Kendall Jones, Elan McClain and Abby Moon
(Coach: Phyllis Allee) – Floyd County

Second place team: Kenzie Brady, Allison Highsmith, Autumn Samsel and Edwin Wood (Coach: Renee Smagur) – Habersham County

Third place team: Anna Cowart, Joshua Lynch, Dawson Monroe and Tiya Patel (Coach: Stephanie Myers) – Evans County


The first place varsity team will represent Georgia in the National LifeSmarts Championship, in hopes of being the national champions in Washington, D.C.  Through to a wild card bid process, the Rockdale County team has received a bid to compete in the National Championship as well. Additional Georgia teams may also receive a wild card bid to compete at the National Championship.

Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 242,000 people annually through the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit or contact your local Extension office.


Author: Cristina deRevere,
Source: Courtney Still Brown,; Brittani Lee,





State Pumpkin Competition

Union County 4-H’ers Excel in State Pumpkin Competition

Fall is in the air, and this wonderful time of the year is marked by the pumpkin growing competition. This year, 4-H’ers from across the state grew pumpkins in their own backyard. Every year, we are astounded by the size and quality of the pumpkins grown, and this year was certainly no exception. We received a total of 33 submissions. The winners of this contest are:




First Place:

Ava Sharp – Union County (665 lbs)






Second Place:

Kaitlyn Beckman – Union County (583 lbs)

Jessie Holbrook – Union County (583 lbs)








Third Place:

Benjamin Potts – Union County (485 lbs)



We would like to congratulate this year’s winners, along with all who participated, for their hard work this season. Huge thank you to the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association for sponsoring this competition. If not for them, we would not be able to continue this contest as we do now.

Source(s): Blake McBride,

National 4-H Dairy Conference

Georgia 4-H’ers Attend National 4-H Dairy Conference

On September 28th, three Georgia 4-H delegates, Mary Anna Bentley Addison Bridges (Chattooga County) and Morgan Patterson (Jasper County) boarded a plane to Madison, Wisconsin to attend the 65th Annual National 4-H Dairy Conference. The conference allows youth interested in dairy to interact with one another and build industry bridges. They also have the opportunity to learn more about careers in agriculture, attend seminars on dairy topics and interact with 4-H’ers from across the country.

Each day, they heard from multiple speakers on different aspects surrounding the dairy industry and potential careers. They had hands-on experiences, such as creating their own ice cream with the use of liquid nitrogen. The youth experimented with cheese and learned the science behind many of the existing dairy products, including learning about the effects of coagulation on the digestive system.

Participants toured area dairy farms, witnessed the usage of robotic dairy machines and learned the logistics of the daily operations on a dairy farm as well as a variety of ways to market milk.

They saw firsthand how Crave Brothers Dairy takes milk and ships it across the street to their cheese factory. During a tour of Hoards Dairy Farm and its publishing company, participants were able to practice composing, editing and publishing an article.

The youth compared and contrasted dairy with nondairy products in today’s market as well as explored their future possibilities in the agriculture industry.

Addie, Mary Anna and Morgan had the chance to spend time exploring the World Dairy Expo, where they spoke with leading researchers, technical experts and sales representatives from around the world, and view one of the best-known dairy cattle shows.

The National 4‑H Dairy Conference helped these three 4-H’ers connect, learn and engage while focusing on the impacts of agriculture in their communities and world, and how they can be involved in the future.


Source(s): Caleb Millican,
Author: Roberta Pepper,

Madison 4-H’ers at Great American Seafood Cook Off

Madison County 4-H Team represents Georgia 4-H at Cook Off

Madison County 4-H’ers represented Georgia 4-H in the Great American Seafood Cook Off (GASCO) on August 4, 2019. Co-Captains Tiger Rupers and Parker Varnadoe were joined by Alyssa Goldman and Kaylie Goldman. The team was  interviewed and participated in the national video, tours, restaurant dinner and participation in the contest where they highlighted Georgia Grown Products including catfish. Congratulations to the Madison County 4-H Seafood Cook Off Team and their adult leaders!

Source(s): Courtney Brown,