The welcome center building at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake has been named in honor of former university president T. Marshall Hahn Jr., during whose tenure the center was founded.

A dedication ceremony for the Hahn Welcome Center will take place at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14 at the 4-H Center, located at 775 Hermitage Road in Wirtz.

“I’m honored and humbled by this naming,” Hahn said. “The amazing growth and success of this center is a credit to generations of dedicated administrators and generous volunteers. Since this center’s earliest days, it has been a shining example of how we fulfill the outreach component of Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission.”

What is now the Hahn Welcome Center opened in 2011. It was built with money donated by multiple supporters of the center, including W.E. “Bill” Skelton, for whom the Skelton 4-H Center is named. Skelton, who died in 2008, headed Extension programs for many years, including 4-H.

The two-story building is 8,400 square feet. It has a reception area, a board room that seats 26, a warming kitchen, and administrative offices on its upper floor. The lower level has open space that allows for a variety of indoor activities for campers or other groups that pay to use the center for functions when camp is not in session.

“We are able to keep our 4-H camp programs affordable in part because of revenue from outside groups,” said Roger Ellmore, the center’s executive director. “Having the Hahn Welcome Center as part of our facility makes us more attractive to clients, and it also is a great space to use for camp programs and other 4-H classes.”

The welcome center was named for Hahn in recognition of his role in the center’s history, his philanthropic support of the center, and gifts made by multiple donors who wanted to honor Hahn by naming a prominent building at the center for him.

“When you reflect back over the past 50 years and what the Skelton 4-H Center has meant to the hundreds of thousands of youth and adults who have been here, it is only fitting that we honor and memorialize both of the two key leaders who worked together to turn a vision into a reality,” said Garnett Smith, who is a past president of the center’s board of directors and a former vice president of development for that board. “We have already honored Bill Skelton by naming the center for him, and by naming our welcome center in honor of Dr. T. Marshall Hahn Jr., we will forever preserve their legacy here at the center.”

John Rocovich Jr., president of the center’s board of directors, said: “From day one, through the present, T. Marshall Hahn Jr.’s support has been essential to the success of our center. Under his visionary leadership, in collaboration with Bill Skelton, this center came to be. Many years later, he continues to help our center through his extraordinary generosity and his inspiring example.”

The center, which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary, each year provides programs taken advantage of by thousands of people, including both children and adults.

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