Extension TodayNews from and about the 1890 Land-Grant Extension System
Message from the Chair
Vonda Richardson, Extension Administrator, Florida A&M University
Extension Today is a monthly digital newsletter intended to highlight 1890 Cooperative Extension and provide updates across the 1890 Land-Grant Extension System. We appreciate the Association of Extension Administrators (AEA) Marketing and Communications Committee’s hard work on this project and each university’s participation in submitting excellent content. Over the next few months, we will highlight the four Cooperative Extension Program areas and the tremendous work done across the 1890 system.
This month, we are highlighting 1890 4-H programs. 4-H is the youth development program for the land-grant system and historically has been one of the pillars for 1890 Extension programming for decades. Positive youth development programs engage youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups and families in ways that are productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes and enhances the strength of our youth; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships and providing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths. Our work with all youth, but primarily those underserved, has developed some of the greatest talent in academia, industry and politics, as well as productive and engaged everyday citizens.
AEA supports our 4-H leaders, educators and volunteers, as well as celebrates those young people participating in our states, their parents and numerous national, state and local supporters. We appreciate you taking the time to read about the talented expertise in 1890 Cooperative Extension and the difference we are making in the lives of young people, their families and in communities. Continue to stay safe and protect others.
Making the transition to online learning
The Alabama 4-H and Youth Development team at Alabama A&M University (AAMU) has successfully made the transition from face-to-face learning to online learning. Heaping words of praise from parents, teachers and students have indicated that activities provided by Alabama 4-H at AAMU are impactful. The team has hosted a myriad of activities on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, bullying and healthy living.
As a result of these endeavors, families are excited about learning and actively engaging in meaningful activities that support positive youth development. Teachers have also expressed gratitude for the partnership that exists between Alabama 4-H and schools. This partnership has introduced teachers to interactive e-learning resources such as Nearpod, which is critical to academic continuity during the coronavirus pandemic.
The team is currently hosting an online reading series called STREAM Stories. With the growing emphasis on STEM education, it’s important for educators to prepare students to read, write and to comprehend informational and technical texts. The objective of STREAM Stories is to instill a love of STEM and reading at an early age. STREAM Stories occur on the second Monday of each month at 4 p.m. Central Time and will run from Sept. 21, 2020, through April 19, 2021. Visit here for registration and other information. Visit the team on Facebook for current news and more learning opportunities.
Gear Up for the Future: Career and College Readiness Program
The Alcorn State University 4-H Youth Development Program partnered with Natchez Early College Academy to conduct a Career and College Readiness Program titled Gearing Up for the Future. The four-week career exploration program is designed to help ninth- and 10th-grade students learn more about careers and college opportunities.
The program provides youth skills and knowledge to help them make informed decisions about careers and their college path. This program aids in the development of skills that will lead to greater persistence in college and employability. Participants gained awareness of higher education options, developed college and career readiness skills, engaged in on-campus events, and actively explored careers and college enrollment.
Through the Gear Up for the Future program, students:
- Learn how their high school choices impact their post-secondary and workplace experiences.
- Learn more about careers.
- Learn about the importance of networking to prepare for their careers.
- Learn job readiness skills, including resume building and interviewing.
As a result of the Gear Up for the Future program:
- 82 percent say this program has helped them explore future career options.
- 89 percent of participants have a better idea of what they might do after high school.
Central State University Extension provides Discovering 4-H Kits to local families
Greene County youth in foster care will soon receive Discovering 4-H Kits offering hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) experiential learning activities from Central State University Extension (CSUE). The activities within the kits include: How to Make a Face Mask without a Sewing Machine, Engineering Your Own Social Distancing Apparatus, Engineering a Wire Art creation, Painting Rocks of Kindness, Trees are Treemendous, Tree Cookies, Exercise Dice Challenge, and Outdoor Games and Beach Ball Activities.
Job and Family Services will distribute the kits to those in foster care and kinship care in Greene County. Kinship care is an alternate living arrangement for a child who cannot remain at home. The child may live with a relative through blood or marriage or with an unrelated person who has a close, supportive relationship with the child (kin).
For more information about obtaining Discovering 4-H Kits for a youth organization, contact CSUE 4-H Youth Development Coordinator Jodi Black at email@example.com with the subject line “4-H Kit Request.”
Students participate in 4-H Mask Making Contest
Ten youths participated in the 4-H Mask Making Contest held during summer 2020 and sponsored by Delaware State University Cooperative Extension. The contestants, all 4-H members, received honorable mention for their COVID-19 masks.
“This pandemic has been difficult for all of us, especially young people,” explained Beverly C. Banks, 4-H agent and contest organizer. “I’m delighted by the 4-Hers’ outside-the-box thinking; their concepts were fun and 4-H focused.”
The participants range in age from 5 to 13 years old. They designed their own masks, making use of what they had accessible at home and following guidelines to make masks representative of 4-H values. Once crafted, contestants were instructed to email photos of their finished projects to Banks by the July 15, 2020, deadline.
“The youth during this time of the pandemic are truly pledging their heads to clearer thinking, their hearts to greater loyalty, their hands to better service, and their health to better living,” Banks added. “The masks promote health and safety through compliance with Delaware’s COVID-19 mandates.”
4-H youth summer program leads to statewide competition
There are millions of insect species in our world, with more than 100,000 found in the United States alone. Unfortunately, insects get a bad name, as most people have a fear of insects or assume they are harmful in some way. In reality, less than 1 percent of insects interact with plants, humans and animals in a harmful way; as many of these "good bugs" feed on the pest insects, in fact, and keep them in check naturally.
The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Cooperative Extension 4-H Insect Summer Science Program was created to provide positive interactions with insects and introduce the various applications of entomology to youth. Participants learn to collect and identify insects, as well as learn general entomology lessons and explore insects as food through hands-on interactive learning. The senior 4-H participants engage in research and learn by doing, using an apprenticeship learning method to actively engage in current entomological topics.
All participants have an opportunity to compete in the 4-H State Insectathon event, which provides 4-H youth opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge of the entomology world. At Insectathon, students can showcase all that they have learned through skills challenges, collection box judging, insect art and other presentation methods. The high school participants present their research to their parents, scientists and researchers at the university.
These programs provide youth with the ability to enhance and develop scientific, critical and communication skills, which are necessary to grow as an individual, a community member and a leader.
Twiggs County 4-H program maintains presence with club members remotely
By Russell Boone, Fort Valley State University Agricultural Communications Public Information Editor/Writer
Phillip Petway, Fort Valley State University’s Twiggs County 4-H Extension agent, is not allowing the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent him from providing programs to youth in his service area. Like other agents in FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program, he is adopting social distancing practices and using technology to deliver programming.
Using Google Classroom, the FVSU 4-H agent instructed his fifth grade 4-Hers to prepare Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Healthy Snacks Family recipes. He also conducted a ZOOM meeting with his 4-H senior (ninth-12th grade) class members and assisted in developing a financial management informational tip sheet shared on FVSU’s College of Agriculture social media sites and several county Extension Facebook pages.
“The support from Fort Valley State University and Twiggs County 4-H Programs is outstanding,” said Anala Bond, a junior at Twiggs County High School. She attended a virtual ZOOM Georgia 4-H/Certified 4-H Teen leader training by Petway. “I was able to learn and meet new people just as I would in real life,” Anala said.
Woodie Hughes Jr., FVSU’s assistant Extension administrator state 4-H program leader, stresses the need for staying connected to young people during the pandemic and providing positive programming under various circumstances.
Kentucky State University 4-H program introduces coding to elementary school students
In 2016, Gallup conducted a study on access, learning opportunities and the perceptions of underrepresented groups on computer science. The study found that underrepresented students have limited access and exposure to computer science, therefore contributing to the persisting diversity gap in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. To address this gap, Kentucky State University Cooperative Extension introduced a coding program to elementary school students.
Kentucky State University 4-H Jefferson County partnered with Gutermuth Elementary School to offer the Coding with Ozobots program. This six-week program exposed students to brand new, in-depth learning experience using an Ozobot (small robot). Students were encouraged to be creative with visual coding using lines and colors they can touch. Throughout the six weeks, students engaged in hands-on activities that allowed them to learn coding in a fun way.
As a result of the program, 75 students learned computational skills, innovative problem-solving skills and career opportunities in coding. Students collaboratively built skills they can apply in the real world and got comfortable with interactive exploration using a tiny robot. Teachers reported overall improved reading, math and collaborative problem-solving skills among students. Students also expressed interest in coding at the end of the program. The Kentucky State University 4-H program will continue to introduce coding skills to underrepresented students in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Ambassadors Leadership Academy: Building the next generation of leaders
By Dr. Rashell Campbell-Daughty
Langston University 4-H Youth Development takes pride in its Ambassadors Leadership Academy (ALA). Currently, the academy consists of more than 30 youth in Oklahoma City, who are actively engaged in science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics (STEAM). The university is adamant and bold about preparing and equipping young minds in the area of leadership as it pertains to civic engagement, constructive socialization and progressive thought.
Throughout the ALA, which is supported by the LU Cooperative Extension program, urban youth gain extensive knowledge in curricula such as public speaking, reading comprehension, financial awareness, creative thinking, and college and career choices all while simultaneously becoming acclimated to the university culture. Dr. Rashell Campbell-Daughty, who is the program leader, believes they must always remember the mission of Langston University and successfully extend it to their communities – in particular, the youth.
“We must lead with clear eyes and a sure vision and have a strong sense of consciousness when it comes to our youth. They are looking to us for guidance, affirmation and clarity, and we shall provide them all of those resources and more,” said Campbell-Daughty. “As an 1890 Land-Grant Institution, we are pleased that we are fulfilling our mission and staying committed to excellence.”
Imagine Your Story: Youth learn the art of storytelling through recreating tales of old
Storytelling was delivered in a non-traditional way this summer as part of youth programming in Southeast Missouri from Lincoln University Cooperative Extension. 4-H and the local library collaborated to acquaint youth with six different types of imagined stories in a digital format.
Each week, the 4-H area educator shared a story with the support of a Take & Make activity kit. The supplemental activities in the kits related to the weekly themes of the stories while developing skills in agriculture, sports and fitness, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), cooking and nutrition, culture and history, and arts and crafts.
These videos and Take & Make kits will be used in future club and individual 4-H project work. Six categories of stories from classic children’s literature were explored in this series.
Teen becomes first African American female to serve as North Carolina's 4-H Northeast District president
Taylor Cotten likes to break barriers and defy expectations. The 17-year-old senior at Bertie High School was a shy child who coped with a stuttering problem and a diagnosis of autism when she joined 4-H. Now, she is the first African American female to serve as North Carolina’s 4-H Northeast District president.
"I’ve had so many opportunities through 4-H, not just to explore my interests, but to gain confidence and find my voice,” she said. Over the years, Cotten found friends and 4-H agents who believed in her and helped her overcome her challenges and become a leader.
She served as a facilitator for Bertie County’s 4-H Cooking and Healthy Eating camps, attended the National 4-H Conference and was a trained facilitator for the Healthy Habits program and National Youth Science Day. As an African American in a rural, underserved region, Cotten sees her new role as a chance to be a voice for other youth like her.
“I want to give our district a voice, and I want to be inclusive and reach out and help other kids who might be shy or introverted. I want to let them know they matter and they are welcome in 4-H.”
Coding 101: Volunteers to the rescue!
By Cynthia Pierfax and Rukeia Draw-Hood
Many underserved and under-resourced youth are in the vulnerable position of not having access to curriculum enrichment programs during the coronavirus pandemic. Prairie View A&M University’s 4-H and Youth Development Program partnered with Athletes for Computer Science (AFCS) to teach students the skills needed to pursue computer science and technology careers. The program has already had a positive impact on youth and communities across the state.
The accessibility of virtual education programming could not be any more crucial than it is now. So, a pilot program between 4-H and Athletes for Computer Science was expanded across the state of Texas. Patricia Freeman, who is a volunteer from El Paso County remarks, “It is a joy to have an organization willing to set aside time to offer students an outlet to build their innovative critical thinking abilities, challenge them, and give them something to look forward to as they are in an unprecedented circumstance.”
The Cooperative Extension Program’s 4-H Youth Development provides non-formal education in science, healthy living and leadership for youth ages 8 to 18. Athletes for Computer Science, founded by former professional football player Ellis Wyms, utilizes technology and motivation from professional athletes to increase awareness and build enthusiasm for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers in youth. The program uses platforms such as code.org and virtual meeting spaces such as Teams, Zoom or Google Meets to engage students in basic computer coding activities.
Within one month, 20 volunteers were trained in coding through the 4-H with Athletes For Computer Science program. More than 100 youth have participated in the weekly virtual learning sessions led by volunteers in Cass, El Paso and Tarrant counties.
South Carolina State promotes summer reading with virtual book club
Many summer reading programs and libraries have had to cancel in-person book club gatherings due to social distancing regulations as a result of COVID-19. With the challenges of limited to no face-to-face contact, the South Carolina State University 1890 Research and Extension program found an alternative solution for promoting youth literacy and cultivating basic social skills by creating the program’s first virtual summer reading book club.
The South Carolina State 1890 Extension Virtual Summer Reading Book Club was created to encourage summer reading and improve the developing literacy skills of participants during the pandemic. The month-long virtual program was held weekly on Tuesdays from July 7 to Aug. 4 via the Zoom meeting platform.
“We wanted students to be able to improve reading skills, gain self-esteem, and encourage a lifelong habit of reading,” said Sydney Reid, 4-H Youth Development Extension agent. “Programs like this allow youth to reinforce the skills learned at school,” said Reid, who developed the summer program.
Southern University Ag Center prepares youth to thrive during the new normal
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, life as we once knew it abruptly changed and posed a major shift in the way we interacted with each other. Many uncertainties around the virus likely caused a significant amount of unrest in our communities. Across the globe, youth and their families missed pivotal moments in their lives such as prom, face-to-face interaction with friends, graduation ceremonies and celebrations. Naturally, this was likely stressful and unsettling for adults and more so on our youth.
Dealing with an international pandemic was new to everyone and holistic adjustments were made emotionally, physically and mentally. Therefore, to provide a foundation for support, the Southern University Ag Center’s 4-H Youth Development team developed a series of five sessions to provide social and cognitive support services to youth, along with high school students who were directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The series called "Giving Youth Healthy Options that Promote Excellence (HOPE)" was conducted via Zoom from June to August.
The sessions were provided in partnership with a licensed clinical social worker and were strategically designed using a progressive learning strategy. The first session was “Dealing with Disappointment.” Ideally, the intent was to acknowledge the feelings of the youth and offer therapeutic solutions to cope with the unprecedented circumstances. Other sessions included Preparing for My Tomorrow: What’s Next for Me?, Vision Board Party, Social Distancing and Teens, and I Made It!
Tennessee State University 4-H Extension agents answer the call
By Thomas W. Broyles
Think back to February 2020. We never imagined an unknown and unexpected virus could cause such sudden devastation. In March, the United States experienced a rapidly climbing death toll, a spiraling economic downturn and an immediate educational shutdown.
No one could fathom youth would not be returning to the classroom for the next several months. The crippling effects of COVID-19 have changed the way people interact and live their daily lives, and it changed the education system. The past six months have proven a positive for the 4-H Youth Development program at Tennessee State University (TSU).
The 37 TSU 4-H Extension agents experienced a minor setback when public schools physically closed, and in-school club programs that affect more than 100,000 students were unable to meet. However, through dedication and perseverance, TSU 4-H Extension agents stepped up to the challenge quickly, developing online/virtual curriculum and embraced social media to reach their audience of at least 10,000 participants during the difficult times. The 4-H Extension agents learned novel technology skills, embraced new technology platforms, and maintained connection with the youth in Tennessee.
Tuskegee University EXERTs its influence on Alabama youth development
Tuskegee University has a long tradition of offering youth development programs in the Black Belt of Alabama that have prepared students for jobs, careers and leadership in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics) related disciplines and in areas of service and leadership. Three years ago, Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension (TUCE) began to make some significant personnel and programming shifts.
As staff began to reimagine TUCE's role in the surrounding communities, the focus was on youth first because of its role in shaping the future of the region. Many of the staff were able to draw on experiences growing up in Tuskegee Youth Development and delivering programs over the past decades. The result of this ideating is what has been dubbed as EXERT (Extension, Education and Research Track). This is a program designed specifically to orient students to innovation and service associated opportunities for their personal and professional development.
Family, Home and Youth Coordinator Millicent Braxton explains, "Agriculture is changing, and so is the world. We want to make sure that we are well ahead of that change and empowering our youth to be leading change in Alabama, the region and the globe."
The program includes agent and educator engagement in the schools weekly, meeting with students to discuss character development, and presenting topics in STEM, nutrition and obesity, as well as community development and personal finances. Other activities include the yearly EXERT competition and EXERT Camp.
Food distribution event helps students in need
By Will Hehemann, UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences Writer/Editor
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Lions’ Cabinet Food Pantry recently held a drive-thru food distribution event for local UAPB students. Fifty students were able to drive to the university and receive boxes of food and toiletries.
Teki Hunt, director of the UAPB 4-H Youth Development Program, said volunteers at the event included Collegiate 4-H Club members, staff of the Student Success Center, and members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. The event was held to support UAPB students living in households that have been negatively impacted by massive unemployment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent well-being survey, a number of students indicated they needed assistance obtaining basic essentials.
“Jefferson County is considered one of the top food-insecure counties in Arkansas – and this was before the pandemic,” said Rita Conley, faculty adviser for the campus food pantry. “Even though our target audience for the distribution was local UAPB students, we hope the event helped address the overall need in our community.”
The boxes the students received contained canned and boxed food, as well as fresh university-grown sweet potatoes, an excellent source of Vitamin A and fiber. In addition to instructions on how to store the sweet potatoes, they were also given two recipes.
4-H STEM program educates youth amid a temperamental pandemic
The UMES Extension 4-H STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program has continued to provide youth with STEM education amid the temperamental pandemic of 2020. Recently, Brad Hartle, 4-H STEM agent associate, partnered with the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education’s Next Generation Scholars Program to offer a series titled “An Introduction to Marine Science.” The focus of the four-part series is to introduce youth to the world of marine science and its many career paths through virtual activities and experiments.
“Virtual teaching limits youth’s ability to get their 'hands dirty,’ but my goal is still to connect youth with the world around them through STEM,” said Hartle.
Hartle introduced students, grades 8-12, to marine biology through a virtual look into shark biology, as well as a real-time experiment demonstrating sea-level change. The third lesson of the series featured him dissecting a squid in real time, and the fourth lesson helped youth learn about the importance of ocean currents, marine nearshore ecology and coral reef ecology.
The return on investment came when one 11th-grade youth said, “I really loved it all, but my favorite was the squid dissection lesson. I can see myself studying this in college.”
i-Congress helping to build confident youth leaders
One way of ensuring that youth grow to become curious, confident and capable leaders is by exposing them early to key life skills, educational opportunities and career exploration through 4-H programs like i-Congress.
The annual program conducted at Virginia State University (VSU) is designed to foster leadership skills in middle schoolers, ages 11-13, by exposing them to healthy living, nutrition, civic engagement, leader development and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics) subjects.
“Positive youth development focuses on building skills that youth need to be successful, contributing members of their community and society, and i-Congress gives them that,” said Dr. Maurice D. Smith Jr., assistant professor and 4-H Extension specialist at VSU.
i-Congress, which took place in July, is normally held on campus but went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An important aspect of the program for youth is being on an Historically Black College and University (HBCU) campus and having opportunities to experience college life, interact with faculty, students, alumni, community leaders and other professionals, and learn about career fields, Smith said. Going virtual didn’t slow down i-Congress’ impact on the more than 100 students who participated virtually and engaged in diverse workshops, panel discussions, hands-on activities and a public speaking contest.
“If anything, going virtual opened up more opportunities for what we can do in the future and exposed youth to a greater number of speakers and topics through Zoom.” Smith is already planning for next year’s program, which will be a hybrid of in-person and virtual sessions.
Students’ curiosity leads to apple orchard at West Virginia school
Dear Mrs. Lewis,
We would like to plant a dwarf apple tree, because if kids are still hungry, they can grab something to eat...
This letter was written to the principal of Crescent Elementary School in Beckley, West Virginia, by fourth-grade students participating in West Virginia State University’s (WVSU) Sowing Young Sprouts 4-H program, which provides hands-on gardening education to youths.
Through Sowing Young Sprouts, 4-H Extension agent Tiffany Ward teaches kids about garden design, construction, planting, care, maintenance, harvest and even selling their crops. School gardens are constructed with the students, who truly learn by doing. Participants also have a direct hand in what gets planted.
“As I always do when I enter a new school, I asked the kids what they would like to grow,” Ward said. “They wanted trees.”
Thanks to the students’ letter, six apple trees are now part of the school’s landscape, adding value to a school and community whose students face high levels of poverty and food insecurity. While the pandemic has slowed progress on the orchard, it will be ripe for teaching and learning once in-person school is back in session.