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.