The Alabama 4-H Foundation Board met November 18-19, 2022 to recommend strategic directions for the board to focus on and budget for over the next three to five years. This was in collaboration with ACES & 4-H State Leadership, 4-H FREA’s, 4-H Foundation Staff, with design guidance and facilitation by Donna Rae Scheffert, President of Leadership Tools.
Recommendations for the Alabama 4-H Center
The objective of the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation, Inc, is to establish a permanent, altruistic, non-profit corporation, primarily educational in nature, for augmenting and enhancing the educational, leadership, and citizenship training of young people in Alabama through youth development programs and activities of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Since the most recent strategic plan ratified in 2016, the 4-H Foundation staff and board has led towards significant growth and quality improvement of facilities and programming including:
✔ acquisition of nearly 200 acres of land which the 4-H Center is built on
✔ renovation of the Main Lodge to a contemporary, state of the art facility with new kitchen, dining, and conferencing spaces
✔ successful capital campaign to fund the Main Lodge renovations
✔ annual investments from financial proceeds of the 4-H Center and the 4-H Foundation office to ACES for 4-H FREA’s, National Trips for 4-H Youth, and 4-H Higher Education Scholarship Funds
✔ numerous improvements to the Alabama 4-H Center campus
✔ bolstering of equipment and supplies for recreational and science related efforts at the 4-H Center
✔ annual giving and other gifts to support specific timely needs and opportunities
✔ prominence of the 4-H Center at the national level with funders and National 4-H Council
Priorities for 2023-2028
The board identified two critical areas to focus on and generated a set of potential strategies to explore further over the next few years. The two main areas of focus are:
- 4-H Center Facilities and Property
- 4-H Programming at the 4-H Center
The 2022 recommendations are consistent with the 2016 general directions of:
- supporting 4-H Center infrastructure improvements,
- enriching programming for youth and adults,
- operating the 4-H Center at full-capacity,
- generating revenue to support 4-H staff, leadership trips, scholarships, and capital loan payoff.
- continued effective partnerships between ACES, 4-H and the 4-H Foundation remains a critical component to advancing the mission and vision of Alabama 4-H.
Top Ten Recommendations for Alabama 4-H Center (Facilities and Property)
Questions: What ideas do you have for how the 4-H Foundation can augment and enhance the youth development programs of the 4-H Center? What are specific ideas you have for programs, activities, or infrastructure at the 4-H Center?
- 24 individuals participating
- includes 4-H county staff for each SET
|Recommendation||% Prioritized in Group|
|1. Bathroom renovations or builds at Cottages||96%|
|2. Additional beds for overnight campers/guests/staff||92%|
|3. Reduce transportation barriers for 4-Hers getting to the 4-H Center||66%|
|4. Build a new covered recreation area||66%|
|5. Move the Aviary to another location||66%|
|6. Update Mayfield Building (sound and air conditioning)||66%|
|7. Develop a staffing plan (paid, volunteer, intern) for camps||42%|
|8. Plan and sponsor Project Specific Camps for 4-H||33%|
|9. Repair basketball courts||25%|
|10. Expand teen opportunities||21%|
Recommendations for Alabama 4-H Center Investments
Facilities and Property
Six of the ten recommendations relate to 4-H Center Facilities and Property (i.e., bathrooms, beds, Aviary, covered recreation area, Mayfield Building, and basketball court).
The Phase 2 major infrastructure needs are Bathrooms and Beds. These most supported recommendations are consistent with the 2017 Master Plan and board planning. The board will seek a proposal for updates from GMC, the firm who created initial the Master Plan.
Next steps include building the case for support, estimating costs for bathrooms and bed, and developing the funding approach. Three scenarios were suggested for moving ahead with these recommendations. More deliberation and the Master Plan will inform the best direction.
Five of the mid-level recommendations relate to the 4-H Center
- Move the Aviary
- Develop a covered recreation area
- Update the Mayfield building
- Repair the basketball court area (related to covered recreation area)
- Create more teen opportunities
Mid-level prioritized investments include moving the Aviary, building (or renovating) a covered recreation area, updating the Mayfield Building, repairing the basketball courts (or incorporating into a Covered recreation area), and creating more on campus activities/ opportunities (e.g., walking trails, climbing wall, recreation equipment, etc.) for guests to enjoy (Youth & Adults).
Moving ahead with these recommendations will likely include a mixed approach of gifts, targeted annual or event giving, or packaging into a capital campaign. For example,
- Aviary – Annual Giving and/or Gift
- Rec Center Upgrades – Annual Giving
- Basketball Area – Annual Giving
Recommendations for Alabama 4-H Programming
4-H State Programming at the 4-H Center
Reducing barriers for transportation to 4-H camp and other programs at the 4-H Center is highly supported recommendation.
This intent is to keep registration costs affordable. For some youth, the added expense of a bus ride can make the overall registration costs too high for some potential campers. This recommendation is consistent with a survey of 4-H staff by Seth Tuttle.
Four of the most supported recommendations relate to 4-H State Programming.
- reduced transportation barriers
- develop staffing/volunteer plan for camps
- offer project specific camps
- expand teen opportunities (e.g., camps, classes, use of age-appropriate recreation equipment)
Launching two new types of opportunities at the 4-H Center were recommended.
- Project Specific Camps by 4-H
- Expanded Teen Opportunities
These new ideas differ in who is the lead and what is required to be done to move forward. The type of investment was recommended at the retreat. Further detailing is required to understand the scope of investment and work required (Example, staffing and staff hiring).
Next steps include building the case for support, estimating costs for transportation assistance, and developing the funding approach. For staffing at Camp, Project Specific Camps, and to Expand Teen Opportunities, next steps might be done by management/staff or a task force for each recommendation may be designated to brainstorm ideas and implementation strategies.
- Transportation – Annual Giving
- Staffing for 4-H Camp at 4-H Center (Paid, Volunteer, Interns) – Annual Giving
- Project Specific Camps sponsored by 4-H – Gift; or may be able to offer without financial assistance
- Expand Teen Opportunities – Gift; or may be able to offer without financial assistance
For more information:
Alabama 4-H Club Foundation, Inc.
244 Duncan Hall
Auburn University, AL 36849-5612
The Alabama 4-H Club Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization. All donations made to The Alabama 4-H Foundation are tax deductible according to IRS standards. Contributions can be designated to support a specific 4-H purpose that is important to you, or left unrestricted to be used where the need is greatest.