Madison County Wins 1st at State Horse Quiz Bowl

The State 4-H Horse Quiz Bowl contest brought teams from across Georgia together on January 29 for a spirited match in which buzzers were hot and stakes were high. Madison County’s senior team took home first place and Alyssa Goldman, Georgia Kane, Clayton Adams, and Elise Parks became the newest Master 4-H’ers in the Georgia 4-H program. The team was coached by Madison County volunteers Shannon McBridge and Sophia Merka.

Horse Quiz Bowl is one of dozens of agriculturally based programs that Georgia 4-H offers to youth with the goal of providing educational experiences that equip participants for their future as citizens and stewards. Contestants prepare by studying industry standard handbooks on equine health, history, management, and care. Participating 4-H’ers gain a practical understanding of equine science and principles of horse management applicable to enhancing horse ownership or other equine related activities.

The contest takes place in a fast-paced quiz bowl style that places teams in brackets with double elimination. Fourteen junior teams and nine senior teams competed at the qualifying level, with the top five junior and top five senior teams competing in-person at Rock Eagle. Junior teams are made up of youth from 4th grade to 8th grade and senior teams are 9th through 12th grade 4-H’ers; the winners of senior-level state competitions become Master 4-H’ers.

The first-place junior team from Thomas County included Anna Argo, Paisley Hurst, Kira Jenkins, Dakota Law, and Jenna McBee. They were coached by Cindy Wynn, Thomas County 4-H and Youth Extension Agent, with assistance from scorekeeper Brenda Benton.

The equine industry has a $2.5 billion impact on Georgia’s economy in an average year. The Horse Quiz Bowl program connects students with leading veterinarians and industry specialists as they prepare to compete. These impactful relationships facilitate the successful future of this important part of Georgia agriculture. Participants and their parents gain access to valuable information that can improve their equine operations.

Dr. Julia McCann, Extension Animal Scientist for Equine, recognizes the long-term benefits of this program. “Horses always win when their owners are more knowledgeable. The veterinarians that help officiate the contest are very supportive of the students’ and coaches’ efforts,” she says.  “The quest for so much knowledge takes real teamwork, strategy, commitment to excellence, and learning to think fast! Those are handy skills to use in competition and in life.”

Other winners in the contest include second place senior team from Oconee County with team members Emily Coggins, Danica Heeter, Molly Smith, Julia Thomas, and McCall Woodruff; third place senior team from Spalding County with team members Jade Brown, Abbey Deal, Allie Miller, and Nakhia Wolfe; second place junior team from Oglethorpe County with team members Mackenzie Erwin, Abby Gabriel, Camden Huff, and Ava Nimmons; and third place junior team from Cobb County with team members Torie Daniels, Sarah Beth Hembree, Addilyn Henderson, Josy Johnson, and Karma Kilfoyle. The contest includes a test element; the junior test winner was Karma Kilfoyle from Cobb County and the senior test winner was Molly Smith from Oconee 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 225,000 people annually through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities.

For more information about how to get involved with Horse Quiz Bowl and Georgia 4-H, contact your local University of Georgia County Extension Office or visit

Cobb County Takes 1st Place at State CBCJ

Coaches and team members pose holding sign at the state Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging contest.

Coaches and team members pose holding sign at the state Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging contest.

Four high school students from Cobb County took home top honors at the 4-H State Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging contest on November 11 at Rock Eagle. Sandhya Rajesh, Kshitij Badve, Haya Fatmi, and Stefan Saboura earned the status of Master 4-H’er with their first-place win at the state level. Alyssa Haag from Oconee County also received Master 4-H’er status as the overall high individual in the contest.

The Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging competitions are made possible by the Georgia Cotton Commission and are part of the Georgia 4-H Healthy Living Program. Participants gain essential critical thinking and public speaking skills and learn the building blocks of consumer economics through decision-making scenarios. Additionally, youth are exposed to the role that cotton plays as an agricultural commodity in Georgia.

The contest includes judging four classes with situations that implore participants to rank choices based on the need of a hypothetical consumer. The 2021 contest included athletic shoes, frozen meals, bicycles, and cell phone plans. Youth are required to present an oral argument that defends their placing of a chosen class.

Each contestant is also required to write and deliver an advertisement that highlights the significant role of cotton in society. Youth are educated on key elements of the importance of cotton and base their presentations on the knowledge they gain.

“Consumer Judging combines all the best parts of 4-H programming into a contest that leaves students with knowledge they can use for their entire lives,” said Dr. Courtney Brown, Extension 4-H Specialist. “I often hear stories of 4-H alumni who utilize skills they learned during this contest to make decisions about college or even when purchasing their own home.”
Prior to the state contest, teams qualified to attend at area contests around the state. The first and second place teams from each area contest are invited attend the state competition, along with a selection of wildcard teams. The state contest is open to Senior 4-H’ers, who are in grades 9-12. Area contests are open to 4-H’ers in grades 5-12.

The first-place team from Cobb County was coached by Brittani Lee, Cobb County 4-H Agent, and Kathleen McElroy, Cobb County 4-H Program Assistant. They will represent Georgia 4-H in the Consumer Decision Making contest at the Western National Roundup in Denver, Colorado next year.
Second place in the team competition went to Robie Lucas, Alyssa Haag, Leah Szczepanski, and Lilly Ann Smith from Oconee County. The third-place team included Lydia Belflower, Lucy Wiegert, and Veronica Lee from Bleckley County.

The second place overall high individual was Robie Lucas from Oconee County and third place went to Sandhya Rajesh from Cobb 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 225,000 people in a typical year through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities.
For more information about how to get involved with 4-H as a student, parent or volunteer, visit or contact your local Extension office.

By Josie Smith

Rock Eagle Centerpiece of Georgia 4-H History Book

This 639-page full-color book that outlines the history and the magic of Rock Eagle 4-H Center. This collection of stories and photos would make the perfect gift for a Rock Eagle counselor, Master 4-H’er, or any Georgia 4-H alumni in your life. Call the State 4-H Office today at 706.542.4444 OR click the “Purchase” button below to order your copy for $65 and receive free shipping.



Burton 4-H Center celebrates 75 years of impact


The Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island — an important hub for environmental education and youth development in southeast Georgia — celebrated 75 years of operation on Nov. 1.

The celebration emphasized the impact that Burton 4-H Center has been making on youth in Georgia since 1947. One of six 4-H centers in the state, records indicate that more than 187,000 individuals have participated in environmental education programs at Burton since the programming began 33 years ago. At least 40,000 students have also enjoyed immersive weeks of 4-H camp at the center during that time.

The center is situated on 6 acres next to a tidal creek that is surrounded by marsh, giving visitors and campers at Burton the unique opportunity to experience the salt marsh and beach ecosystems that are a key part of Georgia’s barrier islands. Learners leave the center with an understanding of how their communities impact these ecosystems and vice versa.

“Giving 4-H’ers and K-12 students the opportunity to be immersed in this special place is a real treat and it helps them gain appreciation for Georgia’s habitats while building relationships with their peers,” said Melanie Biersmith, associate 4-H leader for facilities and residential programs.

The 4-H facility on Tybee Island was officially named Burton 4-H Center in 2004 when Bob and Maxine Burton provided support to ensure the center was able to continue operating. Their generous gift to the Georgia 4-H Foundation provided the necessary funding to make vital updates to the facility.

Bob Burton served as a counselor at the camp in the summer of 1968 and Maxine Burton attended the camp as a member of Forsyth County 4-H. At the celebration, Bob Burton recalled fond memories of being a counselor, including eating blueberry pancakes for the first time when a 4-H agent brought so many blueberries to camp that the dining hall staff recruited the counselors to help cook the pancakes.

“When you think about the different parts of Georgia from whence the campers come — the inner cities, the suburbs, the farming districts, the north Georgia mountains and the coastal areas — they all come here under the 4-H umbrella. There is more common bond than differences as they get to know one another and share experiences,” Bob Burton said.

Today, the Burton 4-H Center reaches more than 8,000 students and adults annually through environmental education and summer camp programs.

The Georgia 4-H Environmental Education program provides science learning experiences using the island as a classroom without walls through single-day programming and residential opportunities. Summer camp provides Georgia 4-H’ers with fun and unforgettable five-day adventures.

“The camping experience is a fantastic opportunity for youth from all over Georgia to make new friends, explore the coast and learn things they would otherwise never have access to,” says Paul Coote, director of Burton 4-H Center. “We are so excited to have the opportunity to resume our residential camping programing in summer 2022.”

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 175,000 people annually through University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices and 4-H facilities.

For more information about the Burton 4-H Center, including information on how to reserve the center for educational opportunities for groups and organizations, visit or contact your local Extension office.

Written by Josie Smith

Georgia 4-H Pumpkin Growing Contest celebrates 650-pound pumpkin from Union County

Published on 11/08/21
By Josie Smith

Senior 4-H’er Maggie Payne poses with her first-place winning 650-pound pumpkin at the Union County Extension Office.


More than 30 4-H’ers from across Georgia competed in the 2021 Georgia 4-H Pumpkin Growing Contest, with the winning pumpkin weighing in at 650 pounds. The Pumpkin Growing Contest offers students the opportunity to learn and utilize knowledge of agricultural and environmental sciences to produce prize-winning fruit.

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association generously sponsors this important contest that cultivates in young people an appreciation for proper fruit and vegetable growing techniques. In addition to the basics of caring for pumpkins, contestants incorporate mathematical knowledge of space, depth, and irrigation needs for their plants. They also develop problem-solving skills for common agricultural challenges such as insect control.

Magdalena “Maggie” Payne, an 11th grade 4-H’er from Union County, earned the top honor in the 2021 contest with a 650-pound pumpkin. Second place went to Angelo King-Rallo with a 598-pound pumpkin. King-Rallo is a 9th grade 4-H’er from Union County. Ava Sharp, a Union County 10th grade 4-H’er, earned third place with her 529-pound pumpkin. These students received cash prizes and ribbons to recognize their impressive entries.

Union County enjoyed great success in the contest this year. “We are incredibly proud of our 4-H’ers and the way that they have represented Union County,” said Jacob Williams, Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent in Union County. “This season presented unique challenges, as every season does, but they persevered. We hope that next year we will be able to keep building on the success that we have had.” Williams serves as the leader of the Union County Pumpkin Club.

All Georgia 4-H’ers are invited to participate in the Pumpkin Growing Contest and pumpkin weights are verified by local County Extension offices. State winners were celebrated in conjunction with National Pumpkin Day on October 26, 2021.

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 175,000 people annually through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities.

For more information about the Georgia 4-H Pumpkin Growing Contest, visit or contact your local Extension office.

State Forestry Field Day



Oconee County is 1st Place Team- (L tob R) Henry Walker, Tree Farm Owner, Coach April McDaniel, Robie Lucas, Lexi Pritchard, Alyssa Haag, Thomas Stewart, Telfair Agricultural Agent Colby Royal, Oconee 4-H Educator Daniel Queen


Jacksonville, Ga. (Sept. 25, 2021) – Thirty-four Georgia 4-H’ers participated in the  program year 2022 State Forestry Field Day on Sept. 25 at the Henry Walker Tree Farm in Jacksonville, Georgia.

The Georgia 4-H Forestry program teaches youth to identify up to 70 Georgia tree species, as well as common pests and diseases that impact those trees. The forest field day competition allows youth to test their science-based knowledge, critical thinking skills and skills with specialized forestry tools. Participants can be a part of a county team or compete individually in the state forestry judging contest.

“The Walker Tree Farm was the ideal setting for our state contest. The Walkers led our youth and coaches on a farm tour after the competition concluded. Our 4-H members were able to see real, multiple resource management on a working farm,” said Craven Hudson, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H specialist. “The setting, the weather and our gracious hosts made for a perfect day.”

The state contest consists of five stations: insect and disease identification, volume estimation, compass and pacing, tree identification and site evaluation. All county teams prepared for the state contest by competing in one of four Area Forestry Field Days held earlier in August and September. Site evaluation is added at the state level and requires youth to consider landowner objectives and make forest management recommendations.

Each county may bring up to 20 senior contestants from ninth through 12th grades. The youth compete individually and as team members. The First Place Senior Team Winners will represent Georgia at the National 4-H Forestry Invitational in August 2022 at the Jackson’s Mill State 4-H Conference Center in Weston, West Virginia.


This year’s winners at the State Forestry Field Day are:


First place team: Oconee County – Alyssa Haag, Robie Lucas, Lexi Pritchard, Thomas Stewart


Second place team: Bulloch County A– Callie Barger, Dorothy Mortimore, Ann Parker, Jackson Thigpen


Third place team: Burke County– Emmaline Cunningham, Tony Gray, Abbie Morgan


 Senior High Individual: Alyssa Haag, Oconee 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 175,000 people annually through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit or contact your local Extension office.


Craven Hudson
4-H Extension Specialist

Mitchell 4-H first youth group named to ‘Clean 13’

Mitchell 4-H first youth group named to ‘Clean 13’


CAMILLA — The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H program in Mitchell County was recognized as a Clean Water Hero in the Georgia Water Coalition’s 2021 Clean 13 Report. The annual Clean 13 Report highlights exceptional efforts to protect Georgia’s water resources.

Mitchell County 4-H is the only youth-serving organization to receive the honor in the five years since the report was established.

Mitchell County Extension created a 4-H2O Camp in 2008 as a collaboration between UGA’s C.M. Stripling Irrigation Research Park and Mitchell County 4-H. The camp provides an innovative way to educate children and adults about the importance of Georgia’s water resources and water conservation.

Learning about water conservation education is particularly important in southwest Georgia, where the essential resource has a significant impact on the extensive farming community. In recent years, this region has also experienced extended droughts, ongoing political battles with neighboring states over water use, and a devastating hurricane.

Since its founding, hundreds of students from Mitchell County, as well as surrounding counties in south Georgia and Alabama, have attended the annual, three-day 4-H2O Camp, at which students learn from experts including irrigation specialists, solar energy specialists, meteorologists and wildlife biologists. Mitchell County 4-H agent Debra Cox coordinates the camp alongside Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent Brian Hayes.

Cox emphasized that students learn while having fun as they use food, interactive models and other hands-on activities as educational tools, noting that several graduates of the 4-H2O Camp are now working in water conservation and related fields.

“Mitchell County 4-H has hosted the 4-H2O Camp for 14 years, and this is the second award we have received,” Cox said. “In 2019, Mitchell County 4-H and C.M. Stripling Irrigation Research Park received the Georgia Project WET Organization of the Year. 4-H2O Camp is a program that will continue to teach our youth to be good stewards of water in and around southwest Georgia.”

Hayes added, “It is a great honor to be the first youth organization to win the Clean 13 award and to be recognized among some great honorees.”

For more information on 4-H2O Camp, contact Mitchell County Extension.

Davies receives Georgia 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award

Published on 08/18/21 from CAES News & Events

Davies receives Georgia 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award

Diane Davies, retired University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H specialist and senior public service associate, received the Georgia 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2021 Georgia 4-H Gala on August 14.

Davies received the award for her “vision, leadership and sustained support of Georgia 4-H.”

“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 this year’s recipient. Not only is her work a series of considerable achievements, her work for Georgia 4-H actually represents achievements of a lifetime.”

Davies was hired by UGA Extension in 1979 to launch the Georgia 4-H 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.

More than 1.2 million participants have enjoyed the 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. This innovative and award-winning program began with a $300 budget, a six-month timeframe and Davies’ determination.

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. By the mid-1990s, more than 40,000 youth from all over the state were participating in the program each year.

“The importance of having children connect to the natural environment and learn from it all that it has to teach them is so vitally important today in their education,” Davies said. “To be given the chance to start the Georgia 4-H Environmental Education program has been the mission of my life’s work and I am truly honored to be the recipient of the 2021 Georgia 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award. It is certainly the capstone of my professional career.”

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 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,” Biersmith added.

In 2013, the Georgia 4-H Environmental Education program celebrated its 1 millionth participant.

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.”

For more information about the Georgia 4-H program, visit

Georgia 4-H installs new board

Georgia 4-H announced the 2021-22 State Board of Directors

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia 4-H announced the 2021-22 State Board of Directors as part of an in-person statewide event for high school 4-H’ers called “THE Senior Event.”

Nearly 350 eighth- through 12th-grade youth gathered at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in late June to compete in a series of fun and friendly physical and mental challenges, part of the annual Iron Clover Contest, to enjoy some much-needed fellowship with peers and to learn the results of the 4-H State Board of Directors elections.

In the week leading up to THE Senior Event, virtual campaigning — including candidate speeches, candidate question forums, and electronic campaign posters — was used to introduce this year’s slate of 4-H State Board candidates to voting delegates from around the state.

Because capacity at THE Senior Event was limited due to health and safety protocols, campaigning and voting was conducted virtually to engage more youth in the election process. High school 4-H’ers who qualified as state officer candidates were required to present a campaign speech, extemporaneously respond to randomly selected questions, and answer questions submitted online by fellow 4-H’ers as part of a Virtual Candidate Forum.

Hundreds of youth voting delegates from around the state were able to vote virtually over two rounds. Candidates earning the five highest counts in the first round of voting are elected to the at-large positions on the State Board of Directors — president, vice president and three state representative positions. The second round of voting is a district-level ballot to select four district representatives to complete the Georgia 4-H State Board of Directors. Being elected to serve as a state officer is one of the top leadership positions a 4-H’er can hold.

The 2021-22 Georgia 4-H State Board of Directors are:

  • President: Katie Beth Brewer, Dodge County
  • Vice President: Georgia Simmons, Banks County
  • State Representative: Aniyah Hall, Ben Hill County
  • State Representative: Jay Lovett, Treutlen County
  • State Representative: Willie White, Pierce County
  • Northeast District Representative: Davis Slate, Clarke County
  • Northwest District Representative: Kaylee Collins, Spalding County
  • Southeast District Representative: Ashton Ates, Coffee County
  • Southwest District Representative: Hinano Tomlinson, Sumter County

To learn more about Georgia 4-H, go to

Published from

Georgia 4-H alums compete in shooting sports at the Tokyo Olympics

Published on 07/22/21

Georgia 4-H alums compete in shooting sports at the Tokyo Olympics

By Courtney Cameron for CAES News


After being postponed last year due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are set to move forward at full speed starting Friday, July 23, when people from all over the world will tune in to watch the best of the best compete for gold in Japan.

Among the high-profile athletes competing in popular sports such as swimming and gymnastics, three former Georgia 4-H’ers will make the flight across the Pacific to represent the U.S. in shooting sports.

James Hall of Carroll County, Vincent Hancock of Putnam County, and Katelyn Abeln of Douglas County all got their start in the Georgia 4-H Project SAFE shooting sports program. This program, which uses shooting sports to teach life skills and firearm safety to students, helps 4-H’ers find community, learn about teamwork and fine-tune their concentration.

“The skills these students acquire are irreplaceable. Of course they learn about safety, but they develop soft skills such as communication and goal setting. Having this development at a young age lays a foundation for future success for Project SAFE participants,” explained Faye Belflower, the volunteer air-pistol coach for Georgia 4-H.

James Hall is set to compete on the U.S. National Team in air pistol. While Hall’s mother was anti-gun growing up, she wanted her children to learn about firearm safety, so she signed them up for the Georgia 4-H Project SAFE.

“She ended up being a 4-H coach and sent three of her four boys off to college on athletic/academic scholarships for shooting,” said James Hall, now the director of development for the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF).

Vincent Hancock will return to the range for the men’s skeet shotgun competition. Hancock, now a resident of Fort Worth, Texas, has previously won two Olympic gold medals, as well as a silver medal in men’s skeet and a gold in the skeet mixed team last month at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Italy.

“And as a small-town Georgia boy, who never thought he would ever really leave the Southeast, traveling all over and talking to different people and experiencing different cultures, I am very thankful that I had what I had to be able to do what I am doing now,” Hancock said.

Katelyn Abeln, a second-year student at The Ohio State University, is an alternate for the UGA women’s sport and air pistol team on the National Junior Team. She won the women’s division of the National Junior Olympic Air Pistol Championship (NJOSC) last month.

Georgia 4-H Project SAFE gave these Olympic competitors a start in a sport that has changed their lives. It provided opportunities to travel, find community and pursue higher education, and while they will be representing the red, white and blue during the 2020 Games, it’s safe to say there is a little green and white in their hearts.

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 190,000 people annually through University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit