By 1910, a Newton County innovation was catching on across the country.
It was the Boys Corn Club, a program begun here six years earlier. It was just one of many ways Newton County was leading the educational system in Georgia.
In 1912, when state authorities were asked by the U.S. Department of Education to name the top two school systems in the state, Newton County was one of the two.
A 1913 article from The Covington News that was reprinted in an Atlanta newspaper declared, "Rural schools of Newton lead all of Georgia."
The article recognized the board of education for the first travelling library in the country, the first consolidated schools with wagon transportation, the first boys’ corn club in the South, and even for the prohibition of smoking and provisions for individual drinking cups for children.
Just as the school board worked 100 years ago to meet the needs of an ever-changing body of students, 4-H today continues to support the school system in this work.
G.C. Adams' original boys' corn club of 1904 started as a way for boys to learn about new corn research and to implement it on their own farms.
Each boy raised corn and community members offered prizes for the winners, such as a No. 9 Oliver chilled plow and a sack of Hays high grade Newton County fertilizer.
Today, both girls and boys enter 4-H contests in subjects including not only agriculture, but also computers, performing arts, and nutrition.
The prizes have changed as well, although they are still provided through the generosity of Georgia individuals and companies.
Today's district winners move on to State 4-H Congress at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia, and those winners join 1,200 4-H'ers from around the country at National 4-H Congress each fall.
4-H also focuses greatly on service, leadership, and public speaking today.
However, today's 4-H'ers still use and learn practical, hands-on knowledge to develop their own skills and teach that to other youth and adults both inside the school and in the community.
To learn more about 4-H and Cooperative Extension in Newton County, contact the local office at (770) 784-2010 or online at www.ugaextension.com/newton.