The Eastern 4H Center was envisioned by North Carolina 4H as its flagship project when the organization shifted its program focus from agriculture to environmental education. The 242 acre site on the south shore of the Albemarle Sound was a mix of woods, wetlands, agricultural fields and sand borrow site.
The program for the Center incorporates facilities for a summer camp, an environmental education program and an adult-oriented conference facility. Throughout programming, master planning, and phase one design the themes of environmental sensitivity and sustainability were ever present. Design elements included: (1) geothermal heating and cooling for climate controlled facilities, (2) architectural design to reflect local, traditional architecture, (3) passive solar orientation for most buildings, (4) use of recycled and local building materials, (5) focus on utilization of borrow pit and open field areas for facilities to minimize disturbance of wooded areas, (6) preservation of wetlands, (7) utilization of decks versus paving for majority of outdoor public gathering spaces, (8) impervious surface demonstration area, and (9) low impact stormwater management (CAMA low intensity development).
The Center officially opened its doors in 2001. At the time this facility was planned, it was considered a leading-edge design for environmental and sustainable projects of its type.