University of Nevada, Reno Extension and its 4-H Youth Development Program is joining the rest of the nation to celebrate National 4-H Week, Oct. 3-9. Every year, National 4-H Week sees millions of youth, parents, volunteers and alumni come together to celebrate the accomplishments of 4-H youth, and the many positive youth development opportunities offered by 4-H. In Nevada, 4-H provides programs statewide that aim to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills in youth through experiential learning.
“We’re reaching about 65,000 youth with our 4-H programs here in Nevada each year,” said Carrie Stark, Nevada 4-H director with University of Nevada, Reno Extension. “Doing so benefits not only the youth participants, but also our society as a whole, by helping to develop more true leaders prepared and engaged to take on critical challenges facing families, communities and businesses today.”
Just one of many 4-H alumni now in leadership positions includes the University’s current president and former Nevada governor, Brian Sandoval, who participated in 4-H in Nevada as a youth. For one 4-H project, he raised lambs. Not only did that experience teach him a lot, he then sold and used the money for something very special – his first car.
“The 4-H Program taught me responsibility, leadership and gave me lifelong skills,” he said. “In fact, it was my participation in 4-H that led me to buy my very first car – a Volkswagen bug. My brother and I spent every morning feeding and tending to our lambs.”
In fact, research by Tufts University shows that 4-H youth are four times more likely to contribute to their communities, and two times as likely to plan to go to college and pursue STEM opportunities outside of school. They also report better grades, higher levels of academic competence, and an elevated level of engagement at school.
A call for more 4-H volunteers
But, in order to reach more youth in Nevada with 4-H programs, Stark says more volunteers are needed.
“Volunteers are at the core of our programs,” she said. “We have over 4,000 trained volunteers who are tremendously dedicated to educating and mentoring these youth. But, in order to expand programs, we need more volunteers.”
Stark says that serving as a club leader or helping with 4-H programs in other ways can be a very rewarding experience. One volunteer, Joni Test, who was the recipient Nevada’s 2020 4-H Volunteer Leader of the Year Award, shared her thoughts on her experience as a 4-H volunteer in Washoe County.
“It has really been my privilege to work with such wonderful families and their youth,” she said. “Being a 4-H leader has given me the opportunity to help youth grow and develop, and it’s amazing to see it happen. Our motto is to make the best better, and I believe 4-H has been able to foster that and make a positive impact.”
Celebrating the positive impacts of 4-H during National 4-H Week
Stark says that Nevada 4-H youth, their families and volunteers are joining others in the nation to help celebrate National 4-H Week in a variety of ways, including by participating in the annual 4-H STEM Challenge, formerly known as National Youth Science Day. Nevada 4-H is conducting the challenge throughout October at select program sites.
This year’s challenge, “Galactic Quest,” was designed by Clemson University and focuses on the mysteries and adventures of space exploration. It explores the history of humans in space, the technology and resources needed for missions, and the obstacles humans encounter in orbit. Activities explore important STEM topics ranging from physics and engineering to computer science and space agriculture.
Youth, ages 8 to 14, learn foundational STEM skills while they wrestle with the same questions as today’s top aerospace scientists and engineers. Activities can be done all at once or individually, and include:
- Astro Adventure – This unplugged board game promotes teamwork, as kids gather the resources needed to live and work in deep space.
- Stellar Optics – In this offline activity, kids build a telescope and learn about physics and light, and how telescopes have been used to explore space.
- Cosmic Claw – Kids work hands-on to engineer a mechanical arm that works to harvest crops in space.
- Cyber Satellite – In this computer science activity, kids learn about cyber security and decoding to stay safe from obstacles in orbit.
Stark said that during all 4-H Week activities, as well as all other 4-H activities, Nevada 4-H in each county is following local and state COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions. For more information on 4-H Week activities and other 4-H programs offered in Nevada communities, contact your local 4-H/Extension office.
4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization. empowering nearly 6 million young people through more than 100 land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension in more than 3,000 local offices. Outside the U.S., independent, country-led 4-H organizations empower 1 million young people in more than 50 countries. National 4-H Council is the private sector, nonprofit partner of the Cooperative Extension System and 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Learn more about 4-H, find us on Facebook and on Twitter.