Sandy Fiser, Coolman, Denise
POLLOCK – A name change, expanded mission and more involvement of community leaders are transforming the LSU AgCenter’s Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center into a place where people of all ages can come to have fun and learn life skills.
"Our goal is to continue to improve and be a place where all generations can benefit," said Jane Jones, who directs the center for the LSU AgCenter.
A newly formed advisory board already has plans for expansion.
"Their first project will be to acquire more property adjacent to the grounds," Jones said. "This is more than 30 acres and will be used for new programming such as horseback riding."
The Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center is located on about 50 acres near Pollock in Grant Parish.
The site was first used as a camp in 1922 when Rufus Walker donated 10 acres to LSU. More land was acquired, and the site was designated a 4-H camp in 1935. In 1947, the camp was recognized as the first permanent 4-H Club camp in the South. Original structures still in use at the facility include the Greek Theatre and the headquarters building.
The new 11-member advisory board includes people from the surrounding communities. Each member has pledged at least $500 per year, Jones said. The members will help the LSU AgCenter seek funds for capital improvements and day-to-day operations.
"We are impressed with the ideas and enthusiasm these board members are bringing to our center," said Dr. Paul Coreil, vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter. "The board members will be helping us with friend-raising and fund-raising."
The center is home for 4-H Camp Grant Walker, part of the 4-H experience in Louisiana. About 4,000 campers and junior leaders, along with adult volunteers, 4-H agents and staff, attend 10 summer camp sessions offered each year.
"4-H camp is a great opportunity for young people to develop confidence, communication and leadership skills," said Terril Faul, head of the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H Youth Development program. "4-H members learn how to work and contribute to the success of a group as well as make new friends that will last a lifetime."
Although the center still offers traditional camp activities such as swimming, new technology has been added. This includes equipment for video teleconferencing, a computer lab and wireless Internet access.
One of the most popular features of the center is the ropes course.
"This is a team-building activity," Jones said. "People learn trust and cooperation through a series of exercises."
Organizations from across the state have scheduled conferences at the center to take advantage of the ropes course.
"Our facility can be reserved for educational activities and programs," Jones said.
Other plans for improvement include a paved walkway, biking and jogging trail, a poolside bathhouse and 24 new water fountains, among many others, Jones said.
The new advisory board members include: Robert Hirchak, plant manager, Allen Canning Co.; Ronney Broussard, president of the Pollock Area Chamber of Commerce; Jane M. Netterville, Tensas Parish police juror; Missy Lohman, quality assurance administrator, CLECO; Steve Ayres, president of Petron; Mary Benjamin, family nurse practitioner, Family Practice Associates; Nicole Harris, accountant, Roy O. Martin Lumber; Charlie Hutchins, owner of Grant Fruit Processing Co.; Rena LaBat and Martha Latimer, both past presidents of the Louisiana Association of Family and Consumer Education; and Dan Coombs, manager, Chili's Restaurant.
For more information on the Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center, contact Jane Jones at (318) 765-7209.