Message from the Director
The University of Idaho campus, home of UI Extension 4-H Youth Development, is buzzing with excitement this week as approximately 140 youth and many 4-H volunteers and parents from across the state attend the Idaho 4-H State Teen Association Convention (STAC). On Monday we welcomed them to northern Idaho and have enjoyed seeing them participate in this week’s workshops, tours and more.
Under the direction of a newly formed steering committee and the Idaho 4-H Teen Officers, a new name and vision was developed for the event previously known as Teen Conference, which has taken place on campus for over 90 years. This year’s theme is “Blast Off — A Galaxy of Opportunity” and we are challenging participants to think about post-secondary education and career exploration, something that is important to the 4-H mission. Additionally, youth will participate in service learning projects, teaching important lessons about community. We are excited about the energy we see in our 4-H youth, and hope you will continue to read about other inspiring stories of the program’s impact around the state.
4-H State Director
Did You Know?
The 2017 Idaho 4-H State Teen Association Convention marks the 91st year that teens from across the state will travel to Moscow for this educational event. Over 140 Idaho youth and 30 adult volunteers are participating this year.
Increasing Engagement through 4-H
UI expands teen programs to reach younger students and include non-4-H members
Teenagers across Idaho are getting more — and earlier — opportunities to learn about government, grow themselves professionally and serve their community thanks to changes to the University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development teen programs.
The changes come at the recommendation of a 4-H teen task force, formed in 2015 to find ways to get more teens involved in 4-H. UI began implementing the changes in 2016.
The teen programs now offer a wider range of opportunities to a greater number of teens statewide through accessible, engaging and diverse research-based experiences.
The biggest changes have been made to the Idaho 4-H State Teen Association Convention (STAC), the former 4-H Teen Conference.
“It’s a more professional conference and our state officers are more of a professional team,” said Donna R. Gillespie, UI Extension regional 4-H youth development educator. “They determined a name change would reflect a more professional image for the conference and make it more enticing for 4-H and non-4-H youth and adults who may not know or understand what Teen Conference is or represents.”
The event will now have an even greater focus on post-secondary education and career exploration. The 2017 event — scheduled June 26-29 on the UI Moscow campus — will be the first with the new name. It also offers a smaller state officer group, career-focused tours of businesses in Moscow and Pullman, two community service projects and the opportunity for non-4-H members to participate in the Build Your Future program.
Nurturing Career and Life Skills
Build Your Future is a National 4-H project that focuses on career exploration, interview skills, resume writing and other skills important for life after high school. The expansion of the program to non-4-H youth is part of UI’s efforts to increase the college-going rate in Idaho. Youth who complete the program in their county have the opportunity to attend STAC at no cost.
“We already know that 4-Hers are more likely to go on to post-secondary education, so this program is trying to reach kids who aren’t in 4-H to hopefully help increase the likelihood that they will go on,” said Carrie Johnson, UI Extension 4-H educator in Canyon County.
The new emphasis toward post-secondary education and career exploration aligns the 4-H on-campus experience with UI’s strategic plan and supports additional efforts of student recruitment and increased graduation rates by the UI’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
Steering Committees Guide Efforts
As part of the program updates, 4-H formed statewide steering committees for STAC, the 4-H Ambassador program and Know Your Government (KYG) — 4-H’s three largest statewide programs. A content grid helps the committees determine what needs to be included to achieve the learning objectives of each program and ensure they are meeting the needs of Idaho’s youth.
The steering committees are made up primarily of 4-H youth, with the assistance of 4-H professionals and volunteers. The committees also come with term limits, position descriptions and operation handbooks.
KYG teaches youth about the legislative and judicial branches of Idaho government, culminating in a three-day trip to visit the state capital and meet with representatives. KYG will remain very similar in focus, but will allow for greater input and involvement from participants, including those on the steering committee and those who serve on subcommittees to organize the event.
Other program changes support UI’s effort to begin engaging with high school students earlier.
The 4-H Ambassador program has traditionally been for youth in ninth grade and above. The task force recommended the creation of four district ambassador programs that will be offered to youth as young as seventh grade as a way to get teens involved earlier and keep them engaged longer. Steering committees and content are now being formed for the revamped ambassador program.
“I think we will see our numbers across the state increase in these programs,” Gillespie said. “It’s been very rewarding to see the kids realize how much influence they can have over the programs.”
Focus on Civic Engagement
Idaho 4-H youth learn about community service through action and education
Service to the community has long been one of the hallmarks of 4-H nationwide, and civic engagement continues to be the focus of many successful Idaho programs. Every 4-H club across the state engages in some form of service, from adopting a highway, conducting food drives for local food banks to helping with community events.
“Every club, every kid is involved in service,” said Donna Gillespie, UI Extension regional 4-H youth development educator. “That’s something that’s not really reported back because it’s not a project. But we know it happens and it’s such an important component of 4-H.”
Along with service to the community, 4-H also offers educational programs to teach youth about civic engagement. The annual Know Your Government Conference (KYG) teaches youth about state government and allows participants to interact with the legislative and judicial branches of Idaho government. KYG celebrates its 30th year in 2018.
Another long-running civic engagement project in Idaho is Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF). This program strengthens participants’ communication, leadership and citizenship skills on a national level to help them understand the importance of civic and social responsibilities as they relate to the development of better citizens and leaders.
Every three years since 1962, a contingent of Idaho 4-H youth from Nez Perce County have traveled to Washington, D.C., at the culmination of the project to see how the government operates firsthand.
Nez Perce County CWF volunteer Art King first became involved in the program in 2000 when his two sons were taking the project. He became project volunteer in 2006 and continues to volunteer even though his children have graduated from membership.
“I am so passionate about this program and the need to educate our kids and get them involved in the process that I’ve continued going even after my children were finished,” King said. “There are just so many good, positive parts to this program. That’s why I’ve been doing it.”
CWF is offered on a yearly basis; however, participants must make a large financial investment to attend. To ease the financial burden, Nez Perce County has turned CWF into a three-year program. Over the three years, participants meet monthly to learn about the civic process from city council up to the federal government. They also participate in fundraisers several times per year to save money for the trip to Washington, D.C., and complete a community service project.
“They learn and begin to understand the importance of being involved,” King said. “Not everyone is going to be president of the United States. Not everyone is going to be on a city council. But participate at some level, even if that is just going out to vote. Pay attention to what is going on in your community, in your state and in your country.”
During the Washington, D.C., trip, delegates tour monuments and museums and attend meetings with representatives on Capitol Hill.
“We sit in the galleries and watch the proceedings on the floor,” King said. “I know you can go to C-SPAN and see the same thing, but it’s nothing like sitting there in person.”
King noted that participants often return to school after their trip with a new appreciation and knowledge of the civic process.
“Almost anyone you talk to who has gone on this trip, it makes school more interesting and they do better in their history and government classes because they can relate much more closely to the content the teacher is trying to get across to them,” King said.
The next delegation is scheduled to travel to D.C. in 2018 and will include 33 delegates — 24 from Nez Perce County, three from Latah County and seven from Idaho County.
“I cannot think of a better investment than educating our kids to be part of the process,” King said “We’ve got to get not only kids, but everybody to pay attention to what is happening and understand that they can have an impact on how our government operates.
“If everyone sits back and waits for everyone else to do things, nothing will get done. You’ve got to get involved at some level in community development, community activities and public service of some nature.”
Support Idaho 4-H
Idaho 4-H License Plate
You can show your support and help us broaden the visibility of 4-H in Idaho by purchasing an Idaho 4-H specialty license plate. A portion of the fees are returned directly to the UI Extension county 4-H program where the license plate is purchased. Request yours today from your county vehicle licensing department.