Nestled in the quiet woods of the Alabama 4-H Center in Shelby County is the Extension Memorial Chapel, an open-air retreat offering visitors a serene place to pause for reflection and remembrance.
The $100,000 chapel was presented to the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation, Inc., in September 1991 by the Alabama chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP), national honorary Extension fraternity of county agents, specialists, and administrators.
Each year hundreds of young people from throughout the state come to the Alabama 4-H Center on sparkling Lay Lake to have fun and learn by participating in 4-H hands-on experiences that prepare them for the challenges of adulthood in an uncertain world. The chapel provides a place for quiet reflection while surrounded by the beauties of nature.
“The 4-H chapel is a special place—a place that reminds young people of the moral and spiritual values vital to their development. And it serves as a permanent tribute honoring our Extension colleagues whose devoted service improved the lives of Alabamians.” –Gary Lemme, Extension Director
A three-sided stone memorial on the chapel portico holds bronze plates honoring the dedication and work of deceased Extension employees. At the 1991 chapel dedication ceremonies, 325 plates were added to the memorial to recognize the work of county agents, specialists, district staff, administrators, and support staff. Each plate was purchased by family and friends of the person named.
As of September 2015, ESP has honored 693 coworkers. The story of each honoree is also included in a Book of Memories on permanent display at the 4-H Center. A memorial service is conducted at the chapel every two years. Any deceased individual who worked in Alabama Extension (Alabama A&M, Auburn, and Tuskegee Universities) may be included if a contribution is made in his or her name. These donations may be from family members, coworkers, or groups the person worked with during his or her career with Alabama Extension.
“The Alpha Pi Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi is dedicated to ensuring that all employees of Alabama Extension have the opportunity to be included in the memorial. We honor the memory of those members who, through their lives, enriched others and us,” according to the Alpha Pi Chapter president.
Book of Memories
The Alabama Extension Book of Memories tells the story of each staff member’s work history and the story of his or her work in the community. Submit the following information at the time the memorial is paid or any time after retirement.
- Name, title, assignments
- History of work/career
- Awards/recognition of Extension associations
- Community involvement
- Religious involvement
- Other appropriate information
Extension staff members who think that a memorial has been paid for them should contact the ESP analyst for verification. ESP is honoring the increase in cost over the years for memorials previously paid.