County pair added to 4-H Wall of Fame

Published 7:58 pm Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two of Butler County’s own were recently honored for their contributions to 4-H in Alabama.

The names of Audrey Gruenewald, a longtime 4-H volunteer and George D.H. McMillan, a former Butler County Extension Agent, were added to the Alabama 4-H Wall of Fame on November 13. The event was held at the Alabama 4-H Environmental Science Education Center.

McMillan was said to be the best 4-H agent in Alabama during his tenure.

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As an Extension Agent in Butler County, he is given credit for kicking off many crucial agricultural programs for youth, including the Purebred Jersey Heifer Program, Purebred Duroc Pig Program and the 4-H Poultry Chain.

In these programs, each child was given an animal to care for and its offspring were given to other 4-Hers, teaching proper animal care and bringing revenue to their families.

The 4-Hers also learned about show ring competition.

Each year, McMillan made sure the county-winning 4-Hers were recognized at a special rally. Older citizens will recall the youngsters rallying at the Ritz Theatre, where the students were treated to a free movie followed by a march to Beeland Park. It was the highlight of the year for many 4-Hers.

He served as a 4-H agent for 13 years in Butler County and three more in helping and training other 4-H agents. McMillan continued his Extension career in Dothan, and later became a district agent in the state office. Ralph Thompson nominated him for the award.

Gruenewald inspired hundreds of Butler County 4-Hers through her service and work as a teacher, businesswoman and mother.

As a teacher in the Georgiana School System and later, following the death of her husband, owner of the Western Auto Store, Gruenewald served as an example to the youth of the county as a leader in 4-H.

She encouraged youth to participate in a variety of projects and required them to write about their experiences and maintain records, drilling students for competition and helping them to develop self-confidence and ability along the way.

Gruenewald coached and groomed students for 4-H competition well beyond the Georgiana area. Through her business, she often donated cash and other prizes to 4-Hers. Most importantly, she gave of her time and talent.

Her goal was to encourage 4-Hers to encourage them to work hard, be successful and give back to their community, and she led by example.

Rex. N. Blackburn, Margaret Gaston, J. Paul Till, Ralph Thompson and Charles S. Wingard all nominated Gruenewald for the honor, saying she was “the embodiment of the 4-H Pledge.”

Gruenewald’s son John accepted the award on his mother’s behalf.