Visionaries shape future with their perseverance
by Donald Conkey, columnist
July 10, 2014 01:19 AM | 1804 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On June 20, fellow Tribune columnist Marguerite Cline’s column touched my memory button with her beautiful story about her youthful years involved with the 4/H Clubs of Georgia, going to the coastal areas of Georgia as a child and of her recent visit to the Georgia’s Rock Eagle reservation near Eatonton as a volunteer counselor for local 4/H Club members.

Her words recalled many pleasant memories of my youthful years involved in 4/H clubs in Michigan, my five years of going to Rock Eagle as a Scout master in the 1960s and our recent trip to Georgia’s Golden Isles.

Her column brought back memories of my first 4/H project, raising a Hereford steer, feeding and caring for it, taking it to the Huron County fair, priming and parading that calf before the fair judges, all local farmers or farm wives, who, like Mother and Dad, were totally involved in building their local communities.

Those were the days Dad would park his yellow Ford truck near the fair barns and I would sleep under the stars close to that calf that was as much a part of me as my right arm. While I won a blue ribbon with that calf, I cried when it was loaded on my Uncle Jack’s trailer, who paid me $75 for it, a fee that would be my spending money for the entire year.

Rock Eagle is one of Georgia’s truly hidden jewels. I was first introduced to Rock Eagle in 1959 while participating in a multi-state agricultural conference. But in the ’60s I would go back to Rock Eagle as a Scout master for five years running. Several of the Scouts I took to camp are dear friends even today; one even is a professional adviser to me.

Being a transplant Georgian, it was at Rock Eagle where I was first introduced to chiggers and learned just how miserable they can make one feel when not treated.

Rock Eagle even reminded me of my mother. Someone had to imagine Rock Eagle in their minds before it moved to the drawing boards and became a reality and a beautiful training site for literally thousands upon thousands of Georgia 4/H members and Scouts over these many years.

My mother was a community leader and visualized in her mind the need for a camp ground similar to that of Rock Eagle, but in Huron County, Michigan. Mother was also persistent, and over a period of many years finally saw the completion of her vision of a camp ground that would eventually become a Michigan state park, enjoyed by millions over the past 60 years.

All communities need visionaries who see the need and then have the persistence and tenacity to see their visions turn into reality. Here in Cherokee County, the County Aquatics Center in Holly Springs came about because of someone like Mother, who saw a need, visualized it and persisted until that vision came into existence, helping build a better community.

Even Marguerite’s visit to coastal Georgia hit home. Since my crippling accident, Joan and I haven’t traveled much; but as president of the Cherokee County Republican Women, Joan wanted to attend the state conference on St. Simons in June.

It’s been years since we were last on Georgia’s Golden Isles. Our daughter and son-in-law, celebrating their 41st wedding anniversary, volunteered to drive us down to the conference, thinking us too old to drive ourselves.

It was a marvelous weekend. To watch the waves crash on the rocks; to breath that salt air; to watch people crabbing; to watch a teenager catch his first shark — then throw it back; to seeing an ugly toad fish; to feel the sand blowing in your face; to watch the birds work the people for pieces of bread; to watch the shrimp boats lower their nets; to watch ocean-going vessels going past the Isles; and to talk with people from all walks of life, all there for the same reason — to get away for a few days from the day-to-day challenges of making a living, to toss a line over the pier’s railing hoping to get a bite, but not really caring is they catch a fish or not, there simply to relax and enjoy the awe-inspiring creations of Almighty God.

From its beautiful northern mountains to its gorgeous Golden Isles along its coast, Georgia, with our own Cherokee County near the middle, is a beautiful state, a state I have called home for more than 52 years.

Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.
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