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4-H Matters

Message from the Director

I hope that your 2017 is off to a great start. As you’ll see in this issue of 4-H Matters, University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development has kicked off the New Year with several great activities.

This past weekend, approximately 140 youth gathered in Boise for the Know Your Government Conference. This three day conference brought youth together from across the state to learn about the judicial and legislative system through hands-on programs. Youth attended workshops featuring key state leaders and took on roles representing the branches of government. I want to thank the teams of youth, volunteers and 4-H staff who worked tirelessly to make this conference possible, which celebrated its 29th year.

We trust that you will enjoy reading about statewide and local programs in this issue, and encourage you to share this newsletter with others who are devoted to the mission of 4-H, or might enjoy learning about our robust work.

Jim Lindstrom
4-H State Director

Did You Know?

UI Extension 4-H Youth Development robotics is celebrating its 10th anniversary and is open to all youth aged 5-18 years old. About 2,000 youth participate in robotics activities in Idaho each year. The program allows youth to gain an understanding of STEM topics. STEM career fields have an estimated average growth of 32 percent; far greater than the 14 percent average growth of all other career fields.

Statewide Impact

FIRST LEGO League Challenges 4-H Participants

The UI Extension 4-H Youth Development FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) robotics program is celebrating its 10th anniversary with the 2016-17 season. More than 170 teams of 9-14 year olds have participated in programs since November. Two championship events were held in January in Moscow and Twin Falls and the first place champions from each event will represent Idaho at the FLL World Festival in Houston this April.

The FIRST LEGO League was inspired by inventor Dean Kamen, who founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989. His purpose was to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. What started as a high school robotics program has expanded to include programs for ages six and up.

FIRST LEGO League challenges its participants each year to research a real-world problem, to invent and present an innovative solution to that problem, and to build and program an autonomous robot to accomplish missions on a playing field using the LEGO Mindstorms platform. All of this is done under a set of FLL core values — a code of ethics that emphasizes that fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Teams can compete like crazy while still treating others with compassion and respect at all times.

“What inspires me about working with FLL is to watch these young people build real-world skills beyond science and technology,” said Robin Baumgartner, UI Extension 4-H robotics program coordinator.  “The maturity, accomplishment and compassion I see in these teams is amazing. They give me hope for the future.”

Two children wear matching shirts while examining a wheeled claw made of LEGO blocks on large tray with other LEGO constructions on it.
The Mammal Madness team releases their robot to complete animal rescue missions.

County Successes

Livestock Skillathon Team Places 8th in Nation

After numerous study sessions and months of fundraising, four teens representing UI 4-H Youth Development in Lincoln County traveled to Louisville, Kentucky for the National 4-H Livestock Skillathon Contest last November, held in conjunction with the North American International Livestock Exposition.

Wade Thompson and Dee Jay McMurdo of Richfield and Seth Dalton and Waid Dalton of Shoshone competed against teams from 20 other states. The team won the right to represent Idaho after finishing first in the 4-H state qualifying event in early 2016.

The team placed 8th overall at the national competition, 10th in team evaluation, 8th in quality assurance and 7th in identification. Individually, Seth Dalton placed 14th and Waid Dalton placed 19th in the nation, both receiving All-American belt buckles for their accomplishments.

The livestock skillathon tests a 4-H member’s knowledge and comprehension of animal science and livestock management practices. The contest provides an opportunity for youth to gain and develop production livestock skills and life skills through a competitive environment.

The contest consisted of individual and team challenges. Each team member tested their knowledge of livestock equipment; meat cut identification; breeds of cattle, sheep, swine and goats; hay judging; wool judging and quality assurance.

“One of the great things about our team and why we placed so high was that every single member of the team spoke at the team competition,” said Carmen Willmore, UI Extension educator in Lincoln County. “That’s an important part of these competitions, to show that they had worked together and all knew what they were doing. One person wasn’t carrying the team; they were all working together.”

After winning the state competition, the team spent the summer fundraising for the trip to the national event. They served meals for 4-H camps and worked at food booths at local rodeos and fairs. Additional funds were provided by the Lincoln County Leaders Council and District III Leaders Council.

In addition to fundraising, the team also spent countless hours studying and preparing for the competition. The team would meet once a week at the UI Extension office in Lincoln County to practice for the team competition and individuals also studied on their own at home.

“Our 4-H leader, Kerry Thompson, works really hard with the kids in the county to study for the competition,” Willmore said. “They had probably been studying for two months leading up to the state competition and another two to three months leading up to the national competition.”

Willmore sees the skillathon as a great way for youth to learn more about the livestock industry.

“I think this is a great competition not only for kids that are already working with livestock, but for kids that maybe don’t own livestock or have that opportunity,” Willmore said. “It’s an eye opening experience and a way to better understand all of the parts of the industry. This helps them at a young age see the whole industry from a new perspective.”

The knowledge gained through the skillathon will also have an impact on those youth who decide to work in the industry.

“Being in the competition has given them a broader knowledge of the industry,” Willmore said. “Now they can come to a producer school, even at a young age, and fully understand what we are talking about. That knowledge will help them in the future if they decide to have a career in the industry.”

Four young men and an adult woman hold up ribbons and plaques in front of a sign for the North American International Livestock Exposition.
Team members, left to right, front: Waid Dalton, Seth Dalton, Dee Jay McMurdo, Wade Thompson. Back: 4-H leader Kerry Thompson.

Partnerships Help Extension Reach Wide Audience

The University of Idaho Extension, Twin Falls County office has partnered with local organizations to provide enrichment and afterschool opportunities for youth in the community. By consolidating resources and partnering with others, a multitude of students are able to participate in a variety of experiences.

UI Extension, Twin Falls County partnered with the Magic Valley Boys and Girls Club in 2014 to focus on robotics education. UI Extension staff provided programming and additional training to the Boys and Girls Club staff to help make the program a success. In 2017 the Boys and Girls Club is funding an additional intern whose primary responsibilities will be to plan and implement a minimum of 14 different week-long camps, which will focus on STEM, healthy living and financial Literacy.

“End of summer program evaluations indicate that UI programs rank highest among all summer programs scheduled by the Boys and Girls Club,” said Bri Owen, Boys and Girls Club director of operations.

Another partnership allows UI Extension staff to provide similar programming to school districts in Twin Falls County. Training in robotics education assists teachers with the planning and implementation of enrichment and afterschool opportunities. Programming provided by UI Extension continues to grow as other local school districts seek funding to support quality afterschool opportunities for youth.

A girl probes an egg yolk in a petri dish while a boy holds out a magnifying glass and another boy between them watches.
Children learn the parts of a chicken egg and their importance to the embryo during an in-school enrichment program.


  • Feb. 15 to March 20: Southern District III Shooting Sports Trainings
  • March 16-18: Western Regional Leaders Forum­­, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • March 17-19: Central District Ambassador Retreat
  • March 24-26: Eastern District Ambassador Retreat
  • March 25-30: National 4-H Conference, Washington D.C.
  • May 12-14: Southern District Ambassador Retreat

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4-H Headquarters

University of Idaho Extension, 4-H Youth Development

Physical Address:
Mary E. Forney Hall
1210 Blake Avenue, Room 206
Moscow, ID 83844-3015

Mailing Address:
4-H Youth Development
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3015
Moscow, ID 83844-3015

Phone: 208-885-6321

Fax: 208-885-4637


Web: 4-H Youth Development

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