In the early 1900’s, the property that is now the William P. Ridley 4-H Center was originally the University of Tennessee farm. In addition to the land being used for agricultural practices, it was also the site of the first 4-H camp for the Boy’s and Girl’s Club Workers held in 1923 led by Mr. S.G. Abernathy. While at camp, children swam in a nearby swimming hole, enjoyed sports, helped prepare their meals and learned about the care of farm animals from those who worked on the farm. In 1924, the first girls from Marshall County attended camp. The 34 member group earned money to cover its own expenses for camp and did not accept money from parents. The girls from the Delina Club rode 21 miles in a two-horse wagon to meet the train in Lewisburg.
In the 1920’s, the University of Tennessee farm relocated to Spring Hill, Tennessee and became known as the Middle Tennessee Experiment Station. A gentleman named William P. Ridley, a world famous farmer, an agricultural leader, and an encourager of 4-H and Extension did not want this land to be sold or used for other development. With his strong beliefs of educating young people about the land and the importance of agriculture in our society, he was instrumental in the efforts to retain 49 acres of land that was once part of the University of Tennessee farm as the home of the 4-H camp in Middle Tennessee.
William P. Ridley was a farmer in Maury County, Tennessee. He was the son of James W.S. Ridley and Anne Lewis Pillow Ridley. He was born in 1873 and later became the owner of the 2,000 acre homeplace located about five miles southwest of Columbia on the Mt. Pleasant Pike. Mr. Ridley was very active in the community. He was a charter member of the Maury County and Tennessee Farm Bureau, served as president of the Tennessee Livestock Producers Market and Burley Tobacco Growers Association, a member of the Federal Reserve Board, Director of Maury National Bank, Commerce Union Bank of Nashville, a member of the Board of Directors for the University of Tennessee, and was instrumental in dedicating the former University of Tennessee farm to 4-H camp and youth activities.
In dedication to the efforts made by W. P. Ridley, the 4-H center in Columbia, Tennessee was named the William P. Ridley 4-H Center.
*Soucres: UT Agriculutral Extension Service Camp Brochure 1985; Local newspaper article written by Gordon H. Turner possibly 1948 or 1949; interview with Campbell Ridley 2003. Photos: sources unknow.
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Terri Quillin, Interim 4-H Center Manager & Environmental Education—Program Director
Terri is a native of Big Sandy, Tennessee located on the beautiful Kentucky Lake—Tennessee River in Benton County. She is a University of Tennessee-Martin alumni. She earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Natural Resources Management—Wildlife Biology in 1994. Terri came on staff at the Ridley 4-H Center in 1996 as the wildlife instructor for the Outdoor Science Program and the 4-H summer camping program. In 1997, she became the Director for the Outdoor Science Program. In November 2009, she accepted the role of interim manager after the retirement of Boone Morrow. When she is not at camp, she is traveling with her family playing baseball and softball.
Kathy Morrow, Administrative Specialist
Kathy was born in Oakland, California. She grew up and went to school in Nashville, Tennessee. She attended Middle Tennessee State University. Kathy has been a Ridley 4-H Center staff member for 31 years. Today, she manages the 4-H Center office, handles scheduling for rental groups, and designs the food menus for all camping groups. Her hobbies are reading history, travel, and heirloom sewing for her grandchildren.
Brian Stewart, “Crazy Critter Guy”—Extension Program Assistant
Brian rarely hears his real name at the 4-H Center. Over the years, the students have given him many nicknames such as the “Crazy Critter Guy,” “Creature Teacher,” or “Bug Dude.” Originally hatched in Pennsylvania, he discovered a love for all things creepy, crawly, slithery, and slimy at an early age. After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he spent the next several years exploring various habitats, from the farmland of Ohio to the mountains of North Carolina, and down to the swamps of Florida. In 1998, he married the only lady who could put up with his assortment of live animals and returned to her home state of Tennessee. The Crazy Critter Guy has been a staff member at the Ridley 4-H Center since 1999. His duties include leading the forest ecology class, presenting evening activities that most often include his extensive collection of live reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids, and providing assistance for the Outdoor Education Program Director. During 4-H summer camp, he can usually be found leading a group of adventurous campers on the popular “creek stomping” activity or in the wildlife room surrounded by snakes, spiders, salamanders, turtles, toads, and lots of campers eager to learn.
Lisa Vassar, Extension Program Assistant
Lisa is a native of Shelbyville, Kentucky. She attended Georgetown College where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Music Education. Lisa and her family moved to Columbia, Tennessee in 1991. Lisa began working at the Ridley 4-H Center with the Environmenat Education Program in 2005 as the earth science instructor. She is also the Program Assistant for the 4-H summer camping program at the Ridley 4-H Center. Lisa is married and the mother of three daughters and has one grandson.
William “Bruiser” Roland, Maintenance Staff
Bruiser is a native of Culleoka, Tennessee located in Maury County. He has been on staff at the Ridley 4-H Center for 28 years. His duties include assisting the 4-H Center Manager in the operations of the Center and assisting with the Outdoor Science Program. In his spare time, he enjoys riding his motorcycle and spending time with his wife and his chocolate lab, Molly.
Jason “Duck” Morrow, Maintenance Staff
Duck is a native of Culleoka, Tennessee located in Maury County. He has been on staff at the Ridley 4-H Center for 10 years. His duties include assisting the 4-H Center Manger with the day to day operations of the camp. In his spare time, he enjoys woodworking, hunting, and spending time with his wife and daughter, Annsley.
Daniel Kelly, Maintenance Staff
Daniel is a native of Columbia, Tennessee. He joined the Ridley staff in 2009. His duties include assisting the 4-H Center Manager with the day to day operations of the camp. He now resides in Culleoka, TN. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting and spending time with his wife and twin boys, Lane and Caleb.
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