Virginia 4-H Mission

Virginia 4-H develops youth and the adults working with those youth to realize their full potential becoming more effective, contributing citizens through participating in research-based, informal, hands-on educational experiences.

4-H Center Service Area

The Skelton 4-H Center serves 19 county and 2 city 4-H programs in western, central, and southwestern Virginia. Localities served span from Rockingham County in the northwest, to Pulaski County in the southwest, to Halifax County in the south-central part of the state. The Skelton 4-H Center serves other youth groups and adult groups from all over the region, state, and beyond.

The W. E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake has been serving youth since 1966. Originally named the  West Central 4-H Educational Center, there were limited facilities in the early days–a far cry from the spacious and modern meeting, lodging, educational, and recreational facilities that encompass the Center’s grounds today. Through the various transformations, updated facilities, and re-naming ceremonies, one thing remains true: the 4-H Center’s focus is providing a safe, child friendly facility which is capable of providing high quality programs for youth from throughout our region and beyond. Over the past 50 years the Skelton 4-H Center has done this in serving more than 160,000 youth and 260,000 other clients!

On September 9th, 2004, the Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Conference Center was re-named in a dedication ceremony to Dr. William E. Skelton for his many years of service and commitment to the youth from our region. Dr. Skelton served on the 4-H Center’s Board of Directors for 37 years and provided leadership not only to this organization but also served as the Director of Virginia Cooperative Extension and Dean of Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia Tech before his passing in 2008.

Since 2004 the 4-H Center has experienced a tremendous surge of growth in new and renovated facilities and program areas. This includes the Willard Amphitheatre, Friendship Retirement Community Wellness Center, The John G. Rocovich, Jr. Regional Shooting Sports Complex, Harris Flag Plaza, Hahn Welcome Center, renovated Smith Central Activities Building, Smith Youth Golf Training Complex, new climbing wall, and renovated staff lodge. The Center continues to improve and evolve to meet the needs of the youth of the region.

In 1928, Dr. William E. Skelton became a member of 4-H, initiating 76 years of volunteer service and leadership within the youth education program. Following graduation from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1940 with a degree in Agricultural Engineering, Dr. Skelton became a 4-H Extension Agent and served in a total of 10 counties as an employee of Virginia Cooperative Extension. During his time at Virginia Tech, Dr. Skelton served as Director of 4-H programs and Director of the Cooperative Extension Service. The Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Conference Center and five other Virginia 4-H Centers were established under his leadership. He was appointed Dean of the Extension Division in 1965. Following his retirement in 1979, Dr. Skelton was conferred with the honorary title of Dean Emeritus of Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Dr. Skelton remained committed to 4-H, volunteering and aiding in the development of this 4-H Center and its facilities and programs until his passing in 2008. For 37 years, he served as volunteer and Board Member of the Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Conference Center, a campus which was renamed in his honor in 2004.

In 1964, a generous land donation from Appalachian Power launched what has become one of the nation’s premier 4-H centers. Over the past 50 years, the center has grown from a single pole barn building to a campus of 30 buildings on 120 acres. More than 160,000 4-H campers and 255,000 other youth and adult participants have had the opportunity to attend programs and events at the center.

Through generous contributions from many supporters, the center continues to grow as facilities are added and upgraded. State-of-the-art equipment and technology is being implemented to provide the best learning tools for our youth.
We thank you for joining us as we recognize those that envisioned and shaped our success over the past 50 years, and look forward to continuing to grow and improve over the next 50 years…

Keep an eye out for more information to come!

John G. Rocovich, Jr., President
Roanoke, VA  |  Attorney-Moss & Rocovich, P.C.

Joseph W. Altizer, Vice President, Budget & Finance
Blacksburg, VA  |  CFO, Rockydale Quarries, Inc.

Leon Harris, Vice President, Development
Roanoke, VA  |  President/Owner, Keltech Inc.

Sam L. Lionberger, Jr., Vice President, Facilities
Roanoke, VA  |  CEO, Lionberger Construction, Retired

Brian Hairston, Vice President, Programs
Collinsville, VA  |  Henry County 4-H Extension Agent

Robert J. Berkstresser
Lexington, VA  |  President, Vesuvius, Inc.

Mark Dempsey
Roanoke, VA  |  Vice-President, External Affairs |  Appalachian Power

K. Jason Fisher
Halifax, VA  |  VCE – ANR, Forestry & Natural Resources

Sonya Furgurson
Halifax, VA  |  Halifax County 4-H Extension Agent

Mark Gobble
Roanoke, VA  |  Sr. V.P. Merrill Lynch

Director Emeritus
D. Rae Carpenter
Lexington, VA  |  VMI Faculty, Retired

Donald G. Smith
Roanoke, VA  |  President, Roanoke Electric Steel, Retired

Christine L. Hodges
Low Moor, VA  |  Allegheny County 4-H Extension Agent

Jill Hume
Wirtz, VA  |  CFO, Interactive Design Group

Betty Kingery
Rocky Mount, VA  |  Owner, Mountain to Lake Realtors

William (Billy) Kingery
Rocky Mount, VA  |  Owner, Mountain to Lake Realtors

The Honorable Charles Poindexter
Glade Hill, VA  |  9th District Delegate, Virginia General Assembly

John K. Skelton
Blacksburg, VA  |  Associate Broker, Coldwell Banker Townside, Realtor

Garnett Smith
Moneta, VA  |  Vice-Chairman, Advance Auto Parts, Retired

Georgia Anne Snyder-Falkinham
Blacksburg, VA  |  President/Owner, Snyder and Associates, General Contractors

Cathy Sutphin
Blacksburg, VA  |  Associate Director, 4-H Virginia Cooperative Extension

Ronald L. Willard
Wirtz, VA  |  President/Owner, The Willard Companies


Executive Director
Roger F. Ellmore

Roger Ellmore  |  Center Director  |  540-721-2759 ext. 263
Dr. Doug McAlister  |  Director of Development & Strategic Partnerships  |  540-721-2759 ext. 269
Jessie McKeon |  Program Director  |  540-721-2759 ext. 254
Rayna Wheeler  |  Outdoor Education Coordinator  |  540-721-2759 ext. 253
Nina Brooks  |  Conferencing Manager  |  540-721-2759 ext. 262

Employment at the Skelton 4-H Center

The Skelton 4-H Center employs approximately fifteen (15) full time staff as well as approximately thirty-five (35) part time staff throughout the year. Typically, departments include Administration, Programs, Food Service, Housekeeping, Conferencing, and Buildings & Grounds. Check this site often for position vacancies. Please note application instructions will be included with all job postings.

Part Time/Seasonal Positions:

Approximately 21 summer staff are hired annually to conduct Junior 4-H Camp and 4-H Center Specialty Camps (i.e. MDA Kids Camp, Carilion Family Camp, Ruritan National Youth Conference). Typically 4-H Center summer staff have completed at least one (1) year of college, have experience working with youth, and/or experience with 4-H or other camping programs. Summer staff must be at least 18 years old.

Summer staff positions include (but are not limited to): Staff Coordinator, Camp Coordinator, Horsemanship, Kayaking, Canoeing, Archery, Riflery, Climbing, Challenge Course, Performing Arts, Computer Science, Multimedia, Small Animal Science, Robotics, Outdoor Adventures, Beginning and Advanced Swimming, Camp Medics, etc.

Applications change yearly and will be available online in September.

For more information please contact the Summer Program Coordinator (540.721.2759, x. 268).

Outdoor Education programs are offered to public and private schools as well as other youth organizations throughout the spring, fall, and winter seasons. Seasonal instructors are hired to staff these programs, teaching a wide variety of curriculum in the areas of environmental education, teambuilding and adventure education, character education, and recreational activities. Training is provided. Preference is given to those with documented experience. For more information or to apply, please contact the Outdoor Education Coordinator (540.721.2759, x. 253)
Internships are offered each season and are focused on the chosen field of the Intern (Outdoor Education, Camp, Adventure Programming, Adult Programming, etc.) as well as requirements set forth by the student’s educational institution. Training and experience will be offered in all areas of program and facility administration to enhance the Intern’s experience and marketability post-graduation. A special project will be required of all Interns, to be determined by the intern and Intern Supervisor. Students seeking an internship as a requirement for their undergraduate degrees are encouraged to contact the Program Director (540.721.2759, x. 254) for more information.
The Program Staff position at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Center is open each fall and spring and is a position for up and coming young camping professionals. Program Staff serve as Outdoor Education staff, points of contact for guest groups and Road Scholar attendees, and they work in every department including dining services, conferencing, housekeeping, and maintenance. No job is too difficult for the versatile members of this team! Ideal candidates have multiple camp-related certificates (ropes, lifeguarding, environmental education, EMT, WFR, canoe/kayak instruction, Leave No Trace, etc.) and a willingness to learn and do every job on campus. Benefits include room and board throughout the duration of the contract, flexible scheduling, paid training, and leaving the program with a bolstered resume and countless marketable skills. Student schedules can be accommodated. If this sounds like you, please contact the Program Director (540.721.2759, x. 254) to discuss this opportunity.
Adult programs are offered from August-June and feature a variety of interests and course lengths. Day courses in painting, drawing, photography, cooking, computers, antiquing and more are offered. Weeklong courses held at the 4-H Center are offered through the Road Scholar program and provide engaging educational courses for adults at affordable prices! Adult Program Instructors are always needed to boost the variety of programs we can offer. If you are interested in instructing for our Adult programs please contact the Adult Program Coordinator (540.721.2759, x. 264)

Latest Features

What’s happening at the W.E. Skelton Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake

The Second Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta | July 29th, 2017

After an incredible debut event in 2016 we are honored to bring back this day of fun at the lake featuring cardboard boat races, live music, food


July 24–July 28 Register in Alleghany County Register in Augusta County Register in Bath County Register in Highland County Register in Rockingham County

Hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

November 5-10, 2017 Hike to mountaintop vistas and historic sites in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with an expert instructor to teach you the best hiking practices

The Art of Storytelling in Virginia

Learn expert storytelling techniques from award-winning authors. Tell your personal story, enjoy tales from professional storytellers and relax on the shores of Smith Mountain Lake. Discover your inner

Download the Retreats and Conferences Packet

Please submit your information in the form below to download the Retreats and Conferences Packet.

Cooking with Westlake Kroger’s Chef Jason Hardy

Come eat with us! If you are looking for new recipes, new skills, or you are just plain hungry then this is the class for you. Westlake Kroger's

The W.E. Skelton Educational Conference Center is more than just a summer youth camp.

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What did you do at summer camp?

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“One of the best retreats I’ve ever attended. A great combination of work and play!”
Conference Attendee, Smart Business Solutions
“There was so much to do at 4-H camp, that I didn’t miss my cell phone at all!”
Camper, Roanoke, VA