North Carolina 4-H Development Fund receives $1 million gift for SECU 4-H Learning Center

The North Carolina 4-H Development Fund Board of Directors has announced its acceptance of a $1 million challenge grant from the members of the State Employees Credit Union (SECU) for a new 4-H learning center.

The 8,400-square-foot SECU 4-H Learning Center, to be located in Richmond County, will serve as an educational destination for all North Carolinians, including school groups, 4-H members and families, and the general public. It is part of a 4-H Learning and Education Center that will include a farm shop named by North Carolina Farm Bureau; a restored 1939 farmhouse built by Rudolph Carl Ellis for his sharecropper family with profits from his 4-H peanut project; and the Juanita and Mack Hudson 4-H Courtyard and Gardens.

The board’s announcement was made at an Aug. 8 press conference at Millstone 4-H Camp near Ellerbe, with more than 100 Millstone 4-H campers, Richmond and Moore County 4-Hers, county commissioners, 4-H Development Fund representatives and SECU members in attendance.

The gift itself had been announced with a symbolic $1 million check presentation at July’s North Carolina 4-H Congress, where Mark Twisdale, SECU Foundation executive director, offered the challenge grant to the N.C. 4-H Development Fund, at an assembly of more than 500 4-H’ers from all across North Carolina.

“It has been a pleasure to work with the partner groups affiliated with this project, and I am most impressed with the leadership demonstrated by the youth in directing a statewide convention. This is what 4-H is all about,” said Twisdale.

The SECU 4-H Learning Center’s aim is to make North Carolina, world and U.S. history come alive. It will feature a state-of-the-art laboratory and outdoor learning stations to provide interactive experiences that will engage 4th and 8th grade social studies students year after year. For those students who cannot make the trip, the center will travel to them through teaching kits, exhibits and on-line curriculum experiences. It is estimated that more than 40,000 youth and adults will be served annually at the center, with additional school groups engaged through the travel program.

“The SECU 4-H Learning Center will be a destination where youth and adults can envision North Carolina, U.S. and world history through the eyes of former 4-H’ers who engaged in significant historical moments to make their communities and the world a better place,” said Dr. James Clark, chair of the 4-H History and Learning Center Committee and professor emeritus of English at N.C. State University.

Dr. Marshall Stewart, associate director and head of the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences at N.C. State, said, “The gift of $1,000,000 from members of the State Employees’ Credit Union is a tremendous investment to help create the SECU 4-H Learning Center as a part of the North Carolina 4-H History and Learning Center at Millstone Camp near Ellerbe. Just as SECU members have pledged their support to 4-H, we pledge that our members in all 100 counties will commit to the success of the SECU 4-H Learning Center.”

Shirley Bell, board chair of the SECU Foundation, said, “SECU has partnered with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service on many educational projects, and this foundation challenge grant is a great complement to those efforts.  The SECU 4-H Learning Center, located centrally in the Sandhills, will provide opportunities to educate youth and families from every North Carolina community and county in the state.  The permanent facility and statewide educational impact of this Center align perfectly with the goals of the member-funded SECU Foundation and we look forward to seeing this project come to fruition.”

North Carolina 4-H Youth Development is a youth organization committed to building citizen leaders with marketable skills to succeed in today’s global society. North Carolina Cooperative Extension at N.C. State University and at N.C. A&T State University conducts the 4-H program. 4-H is the largest youth organization in North Carolina with 21,000 youth and adult volunteers and more than 218,000 participants.

4-H provides pathways for youth to view learning as relevant to the world around them, to connect with their communities, and to become intentionally concerned and contributing citizens of their communities and the state of North Carolina. 

Private resource development for North Carolina 4-H is led by the North Carolina 4-H Development Fund, under the auspices of the N.C. Agricultural Foundation Inc.  It is committed to developing current and future leaders by securing and managing resources dedicated to supporting the 4-H Youth Development Program in North Carolina.

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