4-H community shocked, saddened by National 4-H Center sale

Jill Parrent pictured in front of the National 4-H Conference Center

4-H members and alumni from across the country are shocked and saddened to hear that COVID-19 has forced the National 4-H Center near Washington D.C. to be put up for sale.  

4-H alumnus Jill Parrent of Illinois spent a lot of time at the center before the pandemic both as a 4-H member and volunteer. She tells Brownfield what is most upsetting is that she knew nothing about the financial struggles until the sale was announced.

 “It’s difficult to even think about solutions when you are just hearing the news and never heard any rumblings of it before. It was pretty abrupt how a lot of the 4-H community heard about it.”

Given the facility has been the home of 4-H since 1959, Parrent says she would like to see it remain the National 4-H Center, but if selling is the only option, she says the funds should be used to replace it.  

“We need to have a centralized location that has the history of 4-H, no matter where that is, it is vital to the progression and vitality of the organization.”

As of Friday, nearly 4,000 people had signed a digital petition to keep the National 4-H Conference Center in the hands of 4-H members. Others have commented that the center is “just a building” and that 4-H can hold true to its values and success without it.

While alumni and supporters have suggested several fundraising ideas, National 4-H Council CEO Jennifer Sirangelo says their donor pool has indicated they would prefer to invest in 4-H programs instead of the facility.

Interview with Jill Parrent
interview with Jennifer Sirangelo
  • To think proceeds from a sale of this perfectly-located and unique learning center will be put to good use elsewhere is a bureaucratic hallucination. Unlike 4-H itself, this will not make the best better.

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