New director at Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center

Robyn Raines

The Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center in Abingdon is very pleased to announce the appointment of Robyn Raines as its new center director. Raines is a native of Southwest Virginia who moved back to the region about five years ago to serve as director of the Appalachian Arts Center, a part of Southwest Virginia Community College. Most recently she worked as an advancement officer and capital campaign manager at Barter Theatre in Abingdon.

“My first experience at the 4-H Center was as a nine-year-old camper from Russell County. From that first week of camp, the Southwest 4-H Center has held a special place in my heart,” Raines said. “I feel honored to now have the opportunity to bring my knowledge and skills back to work for the 4-H Center. I look forward to working with 4-H, which is a wonderful youth development organization, and to bring more attention to the important work and opportunity provided to the region through the 4-H Center.”

For more than fifty years, the Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center has been providing once-in-a-lifetime experiences for young people of Southwest Virginia. Each summer, more than 2,000 youth and volunteers participate in the American Camping Association accredited 4-H camping programs at the Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center. Both week-long residential and day camping programs have a rich history of development for thousands of youth through hands-on, experiential learning. In addition, the 4-H Center is utilized throughout the year by businesses, agencies, church groups, families and others for meeting, dining, and lodging opportunities available at the 4-H Center.

Raines will be the center director, assuming the position held for the past twelve years by Sandra “Sam” Fisher. Fisher will continue her work within Virginia Cooperative Extension as the 4-H Camping Specialist for the state of Virginia.

“I could not be prouder about this appointment. I have had the privilege of watching this young lady grow up in 4-H and become the amazing young leader she is today. As I transition into my new role and leave the center, I know the 4-H center is in great hands,” Fisher said.

“It is an exciting time to become reacquainted with the Southwest 4-H Center as construction begins on a new 7,600 square foot lodging facility;” Raines said. “The primary use of this new lodge will be boys’ housing during Junior 4-H Camp. This new lodge will greatly improve boys’ summer camp experience, plus double the capacity of year-round retreat opportunities with additional housing and meeting space.”

“We are very fortunate to have a center director of Raines’s capability overseeing our 4-H business,” Charles Atkins, president of the Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center’s Board, said. According to Atkins. “The 4-H center is in the midst of a monumental building project with the new lodge being built this year. We are pleased to have Raines in place to carry this building project forward.”

The Southwest Virginia 4-H Center is the oldest of the six 4-H centers in Virginia and serves Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise and Wythe counties. Sandy Shortridge, the 4-H youth development extension agent in Buchanan County knows very well the service of the Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center to the region.

“Robyn has a dynamic personality and will be a valuable asset in helping the 4-H Center reach their goals and expand on their vision for the future,” Shortridge said, “She has a strong 4-H background and realizes the positive effects her contributions will make to the youth throughout the region.”

For additional information, contact the Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center at 276-676-6180 or email

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