State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) members via the SECU Foundation has announced the presentation of a $1 million challenge grant for a new North Carolina 4-H Learning and Education Center. The 8,400 square foot facility, to be named the SECU 4-H Learning Center, will be located in Richmond County, serving as an educational destination for all North Carolinians, including school groups, 4-H members and families, and the general public.
With nearly 500 attendees from all across North Carolina, SECU Foundation Executive Director Mark Twisdale presented the challenge grant to the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service Foundation at the State 4-H Congress dinner held on July 20th in Raleigh, N.C. At the presentation, Mr. Twisdale noted, “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!”
The goal of the project is to create a center for learning at Millstone 4-H Camp, in the form of a conceptual clover - a four-piece 4-H history museum as depicted through the eyes of 4-H’ers, according to Executive Director of Development at N.C. Cooperative Extension Service Foundation, Sharon Rowland. She said Millstone was chosen as the location for the project because it has been active in 4-H longer than any other facility in the state. People have been active in Millstone’s 4-H activities since 1939.
Aimed at making North Carolina, world and U.S. history come alive, the SECU 4-H Learning Center will provide N.C. youth with 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.
Millstone 4-H Camp Director Gene Shutt said he is excited about the $1 million challenge grant.
“It’s excellent,” he said. “The local (SECU) board has been very supportive. They’ve been great to work with. There’s a lot that we’re looking at, like Rankin Museum, Seaboard Station and Town Creek Indian Mound, and it seems like we’re making Richmond County a destination for cultural and historical interests. This is the history of rural North Carolina. We are ultimately a culmination of what we’ve done in the past. This will be the 4-H museum for the whole state.”
According to Dr. Marshall Stewart, Associate Director and Head of the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences at N.C. State, “The gift of $1,000,000 from members of 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, Chair of SECU Foundation’s Board stated, “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.”
Shutt said the basic plans are in place, and artist renderings of what the complex will look like are being considered. One focal point of the museum will be “The House Built by Peanuts.” According to Rowland, in 2004 the daughter of a former 4-H’er approached the N.C. Cooperative Extension. Her father had started a peanut business from a 4-H project in Fayetteville in 1930. The man, as a boy, roasted peanuts and packaged them in bags. Then he road his bicycle back and forth between Dunn and Elizabethtown, selling the roasted peanuts. Rowland said the man eventually earned enough money to be able to afford a car. He later purchased land, cut down the trees on the lot and built his own house. That house has been moved to Millstone 4-H Camp, where it will be part of the museum.
Rowland said the project totals $4.75 million, and will reach out to the greater region of central North Carolina. Monday, a press conference will be held to officially announce the $1 million gift.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at email@example.com.