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U of I Among Five Land Grant Universities Chosen to Pilot New 4-H Program

June 13, 2024

MOSCOW, Idaho — University of Idaho is among five land grant universities nationwide recruited to pilot a two-year 4-H leadership program culminating with each participating youth planning and implementing a research-based community service project.

In late May, U of I, Auburn University, Rutgers University, The Ohio State University and University of Minnesota each brought a team of five high school sophomores, known as Roth Scholars, to Atlanta for the inaugural meeting of the 4-H Leadership Academy. Universities that have a strong working relationship with National 4-H Council and a reputation for excelling on tight deadlines were chosen for the pilot, which is overseen by University of Nebraska.

“There was a very short list of states that they called to offer this to, and we were on that short list,” said Angie Freel, director of UI Extension 4-H Youth Development. “It means a lot that they think of Idaho 4-H as a place where we can make things happen and get it done.”

U of I chose the following 4-H members for the program based on applications and interviews: Ean Gauthier of Elmore County; Adri Hansen of Madison County; Myka Hansen of Madison County; Cayden Smith of Twin Falls; and Miles Palmer of Lemhi County.

Atlanta businessman and philanthropist Joel Roth funded the national program with a $1.1 million gift, aiming to teach youth skills needed in the workplace such as communication, leadership, ethics, conflict resolution and social responsibility.

“He wanted to reach people in high school, and he was really impressed with how 4-H works with youth and their civic engagement,” said Matt Fisher, area Extension educator of 4-H youth development, who oversees the Idaho program.

Each university was given $58,000 toward travel expenses and funding student service projects. Participating 4-Hers will also receive a college scholarship upon completion of the program, which started in May and runs through the fall of 2025. The exact amounts of project stipends and scholarships haven’t been determined yet.

Team members will participate in monthly calls with youth from other participating universities featuring discussions and presentations on leadership traits. They’ll also engage in monthly virtual discussions with their Idaho teammates. In September 2025, they’ll return to Atlanta, where they’ll present the results of their individual projects.

Gauthier’s project entails studying reasons why high school students who are expelled or suspended multiple times are far less likely to earn a diploma, in addition to identifying and implementing ways to address the problem locally.

Twin sisters Adri and Myka Hansen are collaborating on a project addressing burnout by both high school teachers and students, which leads to higher teacher turnover and student dropout rates. They aim to find root causes of classroom stress and will seek ways to increase accountability for disrespectful students.

Smith hopes his project will boost civic pride within the Magic Valley. He plans to create a board through which residents will find opportunities to volunteer and register for them.

Palmer’s project is inspired by a school trip to Idaho National Laboratory near Arco that he and his father organized. Palmer hopes to develop a small-scale electricity system that will coordinate local energy resources, known as a microgrid. He anticipates using wind and solar power as energy sources, and the grid could provide power redundancy in the Salmon area, where power outages are common.

“It’s an incredible opportunity. The people in this program are brilliant,” Palmer said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of fun.”

Media Contacts:

John O’Connell
Assistant Director of Communications, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Matt Fisher
Area Extension Educator/Agriculture, STEM

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at


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