4-H Today – An organization seeding STEM education

Campers at a local 4-H STEM summer camp during a Critter Care project.

4-H is a community of six million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, life, career, and STEM skills. The mission of 4H is to “empower youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.” Today, 5 million of those youth are actively engaged in exciting science, engineering, and technology projects.

We all know America is falling dangerously behind other nations in developing its future workforce of scientists, engineers, and technology experts. In order to better prepare our next generation, the 4-H youth development program plays an important role in our country. 4-H provides youth development programs that focus on “hands-on”science learning for children throughout the country.

The 4-H has been growing tremendously in the past few years. The Noyce Foundation recently announced its continued support of 4-H’s Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) programming with a $1.73 million gift. With the support from Noyce Foundation, 4-H will continue to grow and bring more positive influence on children.

Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Program Leader Timothy Davis stated that a study conducted by Cornell University found 4-H participation makes a difference in the lives of New York State youth and contributes to positive youth development. Research has confirmed that youth who are involved in the program are more likely to be educationally motivated and have higher self-esteem.

Davis also seen 4-H have a life long impact on its members.  According to Davis, many youth go to college and follow career paths based on their involvement in 4-H program. For example, studying water quality in 4-H could lead to a biology major in college. Or, a strong nutrition experience could set the stage for a career in science. Often times American students pick their majors without having strong interest in the disciplines. But by participating in 4-H programs, students can explore their interests at an early age and will be better prepared to chose a major.

Participants in 4-H also have an opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities. GeoSeekr 4-H club is a group of young adults who use geospatial science to benefit their communities. In 2009, the club worked with Emergency Management Services to produce a GIS map identifying the fire hydrant locations for the village of Manchester. In 2010, the club will be working with the Planning and Research Department to develop a GIS map of historical marker in Ontario County. The young adults get the chance to learn something different every year!

Members of the Geo-Seekers 4-H Club recording fire hydrant locations using GPS units to later develop a GIS map for the Village of Manchester.

Other local 4-H programs include Geneva’s North Street School Afterschool 4-H program where approximately 75 elementary students have the opportunity to participate in various SET activities such as woodworking, rocketry, animal science, plant science, and food science. Local 4-H also offers several STEM summer camps.  During 4-H STEM camp, campers spend the week doing hands-on science experiments, taking field trips, and enjoying guest speakers. Additionally, local 4-H also offers an immersion experience where students explore agriculture and food management in Upstate New York. They visit different farms and agriculture/food management businesses  in the Finger Lakes for tours, discussions, and experiential activities.

 

As educators and parents, we are obligated to cultivate their interest in STEM field. There are different ways to do so both in and out of school. Joining 4-H could be the most interactive and fun learning experience a particular childs experiences while figuring out what STEM is all about! You are encouraged to check out their website for more information about this great organization.

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