Happy Holidays to each and every one!
As we end 2019 and look forward to 2020, University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development has news and essential updates to share:
- A story highlighting 4-H animal science lesson plans that are great tools for teaching youth about the science behind animal projects.
- An article on the FIRST robotics programs hosted by 4-H in Idaho.
- A story written by our State Teen Association President where he learned a valuable lesson in “paying it forward.”
- An impact story on the positive changes of our State Teen Association Convention.
Have a great holiday season and thank you for keeping in touch with UI Extension 4-H Youth Development.
Animal Science Lesson Plans Improve Learning
University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development introduced 4-H animal science lesson plans to Idaho 4-H members in 2018. UI Extension educators at county and state levels developed these 60 peer-reviewed plans. The plans focus on essential elements that the National Science Foundation recommends for science-based curriculum.
One goal for the Idaho 4-H animal science lesson plans was to increase the knowledge and skills that 4-H youth gain in animal science projects. We also wanted all volunteers to have access to ready-made lesson plans that helped them feel confident in teaching animal science topics. Lessons include all relevant information for the instructor. These lesson plans were unique because all materials, including an experiential activity, questions to ask, handouts and preparation resources, were presented in one document. The topics of the lesson plans cover a wide variety of information from quality assurance, health, nutrition, showing and grooming, facilities and management, recordkeeping, and reproduction and selection. The lesson plans are available on the UI Extension 4-H website.
We performed a study during the 2018 4-H year to determine the usefulness and effectiveness of the animal science lesson plans. The study was key to help UI Extension educators to determine the knowledge gain for youth using the lesson plans compared to youth who were not taught the lessons. The “Why is Quality Assurance Important?” lesson plan was used to measure the value of the plans. All Idaho 4-H youth raising a market animal are expected to complete a quality assurance lesson each year. It was determined the application of the quality assurance lesson plan should be the basis for 4-H youth animal science education.
The study showed evidence of growth in knowledge of quality assurance practices for the group that was taught the quality assurance lesson. When youth received the information taught by volunteers, they correctly answered more of the quality assurance questions. The group who was not taught the quality assurance lesson (control group) did not have consistent knowledge gain and in some cases showed a decrease in correct answers on the post-test. The take-away from this result is that when youth learn from the Idaho 4-H animal science lesson plans, they learn the lesson information better than without the plan.
The lesson plans will continue to be used as a key educational tool for Idaho 4-H members raising market animals.
FIRST in Idaho
For many, the winter solstice signals the holiday season. But for thousands of youth and their families throughout Idaho (and the world) it means the culmination of the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) robotics season.
Each year, FIRST creates a challenge in which youth work in teams to apply science, technology, engineering and math concepts and skills to solve real-world problems. Annual challenges have included issues such as surviving in space, food safety, recycling, energy and aging. Teams of youth aged 9-14 begin work on the annual challenge in late summer. The robotics season closes in large tournaments where teams present their solutions to the challenge and compete in the robotics game.
University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development partnered with FIRST in 2006 to bring the FLL program to Idaho. Six teams competed in that pilot year with the first tournament held at Lena Whitmore Elementary School in Moscow. That tournament took less than three hours and was coordinated by four staff members. The program has expanded since that first year throughout UI Extension, schools, afterschool programs and neighborhood groups.
This year the challenge theme is City Shaper and teams have spent the last 10 weeks examining issues about how cities grow, thrive and change. They have met with professionals in fields associated with city planning to identify issues they think they can tackle. They have engineered and re-engineered their autonomous robots for the theme challenge. They completed their research projects and have developed and practiced their presentations. Now it’s show time.
Over two weekends in mid-December, the UI Extension 4-H Youth Development program will conduct 13 qualifying tournaments across the state. A total of 164 teams will meet and showcase their projects with other teams. They will attend three judging sessions and get three chances to compete in the robot game. Tournaments take around 10 hours with 4-6 more hours for setup and teardown. We recruit 20-30 trained volunteers for each tournament.
Even though the days are shortening, the excitement with the robotics program is building. If you get a chance, check out one of these tournaments. They are free and open to the public. And if you are really up for some fun, think about volunteering at the upcoming state championship tournaments. We set the bar high and our youth work hard to reach it. It is amazing to see their accomplishments.
Paying it Forward
Hello, my name is Cyrus. I am 17 years old and this is my seventh year in 4-H. I joined 4-H originally to make friends as we had just moved to the area and I was homeschooled. What I found was much more than friendship. I found an extended family and a community of people that were amazing.
A few years ago, I received an email promoting a “Pay it Forward” essay contest presented by Hanson Livestock. The award was for a market lamb that would need to be raised and shown at the 2017 North Idaho State Fair. The rules for the essay were to describe how you would use the opportunity to “Pay it Forward.” It also needed to include how I planned to manage to make my project successful and what I would do with the profits.
When I learned that the lamb awarded was from a fundraiser auction to benefit a 4-H family whose child had recently been diagnosed with cancer, I got the idea for my essay and how I would pay it forward. If I were awarded the lamb, I would donate the profits of the market lamb project back to the family to help continue to support them. I also pledged to seek donations for the feed of the lamb, so I would be able to give them 100% of the proceeds of the project. I was very excited when I was selected as the winner of the contest.
I worked very hard to raise a high quality and healthy lamb with the dream of it doing really well and bringing the family as much support as it could. I was disheartened when I learned my lamb received a red in quality because I was about one week over-finished. I was very worried I had failed in my endeavor, but I kept my head up and persevered. When the auction morning arrived, I remember praying for a 4-H supporter/buyer to bid enough for the lamb that it would make a little difference in the lives of the 4-H family.
Just as I was about to enter the show ring, the unimaginable happened. The auctioneer stopped the auction and made an announcement. He shared my essay and my plan for the proceeds of the sale of the lamb. The auction went wild and people were bidding up the lamb like crazy. The price topped out higher than I could have ever imagined. I was overcome with emotion. While I was leading my lamb out of the ring, I was met by the family and the young boy who hugged me so tight and asked why I would do that. I answered that I knew they were in my 4-H family and that I wanted to do my part in helping.
I have been so blessed by this experience in so many ways and still continue to feel blessed. I am very proud to be a part of this wonderful 4-H family and community of 4-H supporters. When I think of the “Pay it Forward” opportunity and the role it has played in my life I think of all the people that were involved in making it possible. Without the generosity of each and every person involved, I don’t think it would have turned out as wonderful as it did. I am forever grateful.