Impact Reports

4-H Rite of Passage

Successfully Claiming Adulthood

2016

A vital question of any culture is how youth are prepared to take on the identity of a mature individual. Positive mentoring relationships have been shown to have a healthy effect on life trajectories and outcomes. Modern young people passing through adolescence without guidance may take unhealthy risks or feel compelled to follow self-destructive paths to claim their approaching maturity.

While there appears to be vast social concern to ensure successful development of young people, there currently are increasing numbers of teen suicides, young adults being clinically diagnosed with depression, and post-college graduate dissatisfaction ratings. Researchers and sociologists have begun to identify trends of delayed adolescence and maturation in young people. Neither identify exploration or achievement will be exercised sufficiently if a culture does not encourage autonomy, decision making, and the development of personal volition in its youth.

A vital question of any culture is how youth are prepared to take on the identity of a mature individual. Positive mentoring relationships have been shown to have a healthy effect on life trajectories and outcomes. Modern young people passing through adolescence without guidance may take unhealthy risks or feel compelled to follow self-destructive paths to claim or resist their approaching maturity.

While there appears to be vast social concern to ensure successful development of young people, there are currently increasing numbers of teen suicides, young adults being clinically diagnosed with depression, and post-college graduate dissatisfaction ratings. Researchers and sociologists have begun to identify trends of delayed adolescence and maturation in young people. Neither identity exploration nor achievement will be exercised sufficiently if a culture does not encourage autonomy, decision making, and the development of personal volition in its youth.

A Rite of Passage is an event chosen by a young person that recognizes his or her transition with empowering actions and supportive mentoring. The process of a Rite of Passage allows an individual to confirm and strengthen his or her intentions around a personal “life story,” affirming positive, self-scripted narratives that are developed with the assistance of community elders and mentors. It has been particularly well received by youth who enjoy outdoor activities and are ready for reflective time alone in the wilderness. Adults in the community who have participated in the program are available to serve as mentors, preparing the youth for their personal ceremony six months to a year in advance. This period of preparation is known as Severance, since the young person is letting ago of the person they have been in order to make room for the person they intend to become.

The Threshold is the ceremonial time of personal challenge. WSU 4-H Rite of Passage threshold ceremonies generally are held in the summer of each year, in the outdoors. Sufficient time is given for the young person to engage in deep self-reflection. Traditionally ceremonies involve fasting and self-reflection time, followed by a time to share with a group and receive encouragement from community elders.

A ceremony is followed by a year of Incorporation, which is the period when the individual will be answering the call to demonstrate his or her new role in the community.

Youth Results
Two integrated cohorts of ROP participants were evaluated by Mark Van Ryzin, University of Oregon, using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965, Hagborg 1993), and the Children’s Hope Scale (Snyder, et al. 1997). Each cohort demonstrated significant growth in self-esteem during the 4-H Rite of Passage. Growth in hope for the second cohort was close to significant (p<.06) Participants in the Rite of Passage reported persisting effects that included improvements in attitudes, mood, and altruistic social effects.

Circles of Influence
Adult participants in the 4-H ROP program have shared our programs beyond 4-H and influenced both local and international communities:

Schools and Universities

Montessori Schools of Bellingham, WA; Alberni, Nanaimo, and Victoria School Districts, BC, Canada; Portland Waldorf School; Spring Street International School, Friday Harbor, WA; Alaska Crossings, Wrangell, AK; Renton, Bellingham, and Shelton School Districts, WA; Wild Whatcom, Bellingham, WA; Rooted Emerging, Bellingham, WA; Pinchot University, OR; City University of Seattle in BC, Canada; Naropa University, CO; Cedar Rock Preserve University of Washington Labs; Fairhaven College, Western Washington University.

Therapeutic and Intervention Programs

Canadventure Education (Wilderness Therapy for Youth) Sayward, B.C., Canada; Square One Counseling, Bellingham WA; Mason County Detention & Probation Services; San Juan Island Prevention Coalition; San Juan County Health & Community Services Department; Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations, Spokane, WA;  Three Leaves Counseling, Jeffery Howard, Private Practice; Mark Lazich Counseling, Private Practice.

Leadership, Wilderness, and Governance Organizations

Chinook Observer, Pacific County; Coast Weekend, Astoria, OR; Clatsop County Teen Advocacy Coalition, OR; Kayak Tillamook, LLC; Hautes Etudes Commerciales, Paris, France; Mason County 4-H Summer Forestry Leadership Program, WA; Pacific County Community Historian Project, WA; Panhandle Lake 4-H Camp & Camp Long, WA; San Juan Island Community Foundation; United Way of San Juan County; Wilderness Awareness School, Duvall, WA.
  • More than 45 educational partners locally and internationally.
  • Since 2003, 4-H Rite of Passage has mentored and safely guided an estimated 140 youth through their transitions to adulthood.
  • There are approximately 75 adults in a queue to become 4-H Rite of Passage guides.

“What stuck with me the most was how in just 10 days I felt like the people I had been there with I had known all my life. I still think about everything about my experience almost every day. The thing that has really stayed with me was the feeling of me letting myself really go, and becoming the man I always knew inside I could be.” K.A., Male age 17

“Rite of Passage was an amazing eye-opening experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I went with an intention to appreciate what I have at the moment and to have empathy for others. It’s so life changing, and helps you realize who you truly are as a person. Getting to know yourself and your needs and where you stand in this world. I totally recommend doing ROP. I believe it can really change your perspective on life.”  L. P-V, Female age 16

 

For more information about WSU 4-H Rite of Passage opportunities contact Mike Wallace, WSU Whatcom County Extension, 1000 N. Forest Street, Suite 201, Bellingham, WA 98225, 360-778-5813, or visit our website at:  http://tiny.cc/ropwsu.

4-H National Youth Science Day

Learning by Doing

2016

Our nation is falling behind other countries in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Participation in high-quality positive youth development programs offers youth and adults the opportunity to engage in scientific exploration and work together to build the next generation of our nation’s scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

A recent longitudinal study conducted by Tufts University, The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, revealed 4-H programming does indeed get young people more connected to science. 4-H’ers are two times more likely to take part in science programs outside of school. Consistent with the Tuft’s study, Washington State 4-H Youth Development program is engaged in promoting STEM learning opportunities for youth by offering diverse hands-on learning experiences that explore the sciences.

Our nation is falling behind other countries in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Participation in high-quality positive youth development programs offers youth and adults the opportunity to engage in scientific exploration and work together to build the next generation of our nation’s scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

Today the U.S. ranks 27th among developed nations with college students receiving science or engineering degrees. Only 1% of 4th graders, 2% of 8th graders, and 1% of high school seniors are deemed “advanced” in science. Only 45% of high school graduates in 2011 were ready for college work in math, and 30% in science.

A recent longitudinal study conducted by Tufts University, The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, revealed 4-H programming gets young people more connected to science. 4-H’ers are two times more likely to take part in science programs outside of school. Consistent with the Tuft’s study, Washington State 4-H Youth Development program is engaged in promoting STEM learning opportunities for youth by offering diverse hands-on learning experiences that explore the sciences.

Since 2008, National 4-H Council has led the way in a rallying event to bring together youth and volunteers across the nation to simultaneously complete a National Science Experiment during National 4-H Week in October. WSU 4-H has engaged youth throughout the state in taking on the challenge to participate in the annual science experiment. The experiments not only have introduced various science and engineering challenges, but also have engaged learners in strategies to address real world problems. Experiments focusing on protecting the environment and learning skills to be savvy consumers have increased interest in STEM learning and inspired youth to ask critical questions.

The 2015 National Science Experiment, Motion Commotion, explored the science of motion through the relationship of speed and stopping distance. The experiment extended to a real-world investigation on reaction time and safety, making connections to the dangers of distracted driving. Youth used a toy car, a figure made of modeling clay, and a ramp to observe collisions, to investigate the physical factors of motion and what influences a car’s ability to stop. They learned about Newton’s Laws of Motion and how to measure speed. Teens and volunteer leaders facilitated the experiment with youth in grades 4 and above and engaged them in activities to explore how distractions such as cell phones can influence reaction time and safety.

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4-H SeaTech

Leaders in Washington 4-H STEM

2016

For more than a decade the 4-H SeaTech club that operates in Skagit County, Washington, has offered young people a chance to gain valuable engineering skills and insight into careers in science and engineering. These efforts have had a significant impact on the career trajectories of many 4-H youth.

The numbers of high school graduates, particularly females and minorities, enrolling in computer science have been low and declining (Salamon, Kupersmith, and Housten 2008; Barker and Ansorge, 2007; NAS, 2007; NCES, 2005). Twenty-nine percent of teens surveyed indicated any familiarity with career opportunities in engineering, and 63% reported never considering a career as an engineer (Intel, 2011). To this day, a review of almost any state’s reported standardized test scores reflects that there is an ongoing critical need for enhancing science education, particularly for high school youth (NCES, 2005). Competence in science has a particularly noticeable decline between middle and high school, which might indicate a lack of rigor in earlier grades or a failure to consider the developmental needs of adolescents (Smith & Darflur, 2012). 4-H STEM activities can provide prolonged and in-depth exposure to experiential-based inquiry and design.

For more than a decade SeaTech has been a premiere robotics club in Washington State 4-H. Since its inception into 4-H in 2001, SeaTech 4-H Club has provided in-depth science mentoring to more than 115 youth. Most participants remain in the program for an average of two and a half years, receiving both intense and long duration exposure to science and engineering practices. The club’s name is an acronym for Skagit Exploration And marine TECHnology. SeaTech creates elaborately custom-designed underwater remotely operated vehicles that compete in numerous national events.

The hands-on experience offered by the club provides students an opportunity to learn and apply basic engineering skills essential to solving complex problems. Inter-club competitions promote teamwork and opportunities for collaboration between members involved in the same design challenge. The 4-H approach of promoting teamwork, encouraging public speaking, and providing public educational opportunities is designed to help youth apply their content, build connections, effectively communicate,  and contribute to their health and well-being, their futures, and their communities.

The impacts of effective and engaging science opportunities for youth cannot be underestimated. Eighty-five percent of the youth in SeaTech reported that science and math became more interesting subjects in school as a result of their participation in club activities. Approximately 66% of those indicated that their math and science scores improved as a result of joining the club. Seventy-one percent were motivated to take more science classes in school as a result of participating in 4-H. 4-H club activities in the STEM fields can vastly improve youth engagement and success in school learning environments.

Survey participants reported a greater understanding of what scientists and engineers do, and a greater understanding of the processes that scientists and engineers utilize to produce results. The 4-H framework was reported as essential in helping these young club members build teamwork and communication skills that became cornerstones of their success. They did not hesitate to report that learning to deal with challenges was an important lesson. Of youth still in school, 76% of the survey respondents indicated that their career interests were now science-related. Of those out of school, 26% indicated they were in science-related careers.

Since 2009, the SeaTech teams have consistently earned first through third place awards in regional competitions, and they have attained international recognition at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center competitions.

  • More than 60% of SeaTech 4-H club members reported doing better in science and math at school as a result of joining SeaTech.
  • 91% feel that being a member of SeaTech 4-H helped them have a better understanding of science.
  • 71% said they were motivated to take more science classes after they joined SeaTech 4-H.  
  • 74% of survey respondents entered into, or planned to enter into, a science, engineering, or technology field in college.

“SeaTech encouraged me to get into the electrical engineering field and challenged me to understand electronic theory and apply it to building and troubleshooting circuit boards. I have used these skills in both school and work.”

“I learned teamwork and a dedication to putting your all into a project. Commitment goes beyond just doing your best – you dive in, study, ask questions, test, and do thorough research until you have made your best better and, most of all, you never give up.”

“I have learned leadership, teamwork, dedication, CAD design, painting, critical thinking, brainstorming, compensating, delegating, social skills and being trustworthy.”

For more information, please contact Mike Wallace, WSU Regional Specialist, Whatcom County Extension, 1000 N. Forest Street, Suite 201, Bellingham, WA  98225, call: (360) 676-6736, Ext. 41 or email: mlwallace@wsu.edu.

Youth Advocates for Health

YA4-H!

2015

Teams & Resources

Despite research showing the benefits of healthy eating, obesity and overweight status in children and adolescents has tripled in the past 30 years, nationally. In Washington, 11% of youth ages 10–17 are obese.

WSU Extension Youth Advocates for Health is a statewide effort to address obesity among children and youth, by promoting healthy eating behaviors.

Despite research showing the benefits of healthy eating, obesity and overweight status in children and adolescents has tripled nationally in the past 30 years. In Washington, 11% of youth ages 10 to 17 are obese, and only 28% of youth this age participate in vigorous physical activity for 20 minutes daily (Levi, Segal, Laurent and Kohn; 2012). Among youth in grades 8 through 12, only 25% reported eating five or more fruits or vegetables per day, and in grades 6 through 12 less than one-half of the youth reported 60 minutes of exercise 5 or more days a week (Washington State Healthy Youth Survey; 2008).

Washington State University Extension Youth Advocates for Health (YA4-H!) is a statewide effort to address the developmental risk factor of obesity among children and youth. The primary mission of YA4-H! is to promote healthy eating behaviors in children and adolescents 8 to 18 years old. Other goals include promoting positive youth development in teens (as teen teachers) (Balsano et al.; 2009; Catalano et al.; 2004; ) and building healthy youth-adult partnerships (Handy & Rodgers; 2011; Lee & Murdock; 2001; Libby et al.; 2005; Zeldin et al.; 2005; Mellanby et al.; 2000).

Four Washington counties (Spokane, Kittitas, King, and Pacific/Wahkiakum) participated, with county educators, staff, volunteers, and teen teachers in the initial statewide training. County groups then recruited additional teen teachers; secured local sites; and continued to train, practice, and prepare teen teachers to deliver the nutrition program to younger youth. Participating teens received stipends at the end of the program.

YA4-H! teen teachers delivered the Choose Health: Food, Fun and Fitness (CHFFF) nutrition program to youth ages 8 to 12. The Teens-as-Teachers (TAT) program was an additional resource for the teen teachers.

YA4-H! included six phases of (voluntary) evaluation including teen teacher pre-implementation  and post-implementation surveys and interviews, program recipient end-of-lesson surveys, and program staff/volunteer surveys.

Future program development will include streamlining survey methodology/activities; increasing program monitoring and technical assistance between staff/volunteers; developing teen teacher recruitment and retention plans; developing a statewide marketing plan to help secure appropriate program sites; securing additional funding for teen teacher incentives, recruitment and marketing efforts; and providing multicultural food alternatives for CHFFF lessons.

Before implementing the program, teen teachers consistently reported being unsure of their knowledge, skills, and abilities to teach younger youth. However, post-implementation results showed a pattern of improved health knowledge, self-perception, and increased skills/abilities such as communicating with others and public speaking. Post-implementation data also show that teen teachers reported increases in positive youth development constructs (e.g., pro-social values, future orientation, contribution to others).

Participants also consistently reported that because of their YA4-H! experience, they view themselves as leaders, mentors, and people who can help others. Analysis of the program shows that teen teachers’ levels of comfort, confidence, and teaching skills increased after the full program.

Pre- and post-survey results, interviews, open-ended comments, observations, and notes illustrated increases in health knowledge and healthy eating behaviors among participating teens and younger youth such as reading nutrition labels and engaging in more physical activity on a regular basis. We found that teen teachers and younger youth demonstrated increases in health/nutrition awareness, skills such as food preparation, and increased motivation and desire to eat healthy.

Evaluation revealed emerging aspects of both positive youth development and youth-adult partnership frameworks. Teen teachers and participating adults consistently reported that the initial statewide training was a key component, and the CHFFF curriculum and TAT materials were considered highly useful resources.

The YA4-H! pilot program demonstrated initial success in achieving its mission and targeted goals. We found, overall, that when youth are trained, given a stipend for their involvement, and provided a high level of support, structure, and organization to teach younger youth, they gain important developmental benefits (Lee and Murdock 2001).

Teen Teachers reported overall increases in healthy eating behaviors:

  • 100% reported increased effective communication skills/abilities.
  • 91% reported possessing teaching skills and abilities.
  • 71% reported eating more vegetables.
  • 71% reported eating more whole grains.
  • 57% reported drinking more water.
  • 57% reported eating fewer snack foods like chips, cookies, and candy.

“The more I learn about the CHFFF curriculum and the more I learn about health and nutrition in general, the more I can apply it to my own life and see the results myself.”

“Our adult partner has helped a lot, like making sure that we know how to deal with different kinds of kids and different kinds of situations.”

“At the last school, a girl came to 5 out of the 6 lessons that we taught. Every week she’d come back and talk about how she used what she learned. … It was pretty cool that we made that much of an impact.”

http://ext100.wsu.edu/2015/02/
12/ya4-h-resources-and-team

For more information, contact Mary Katherine Deen, Assoc Professor, Human Development
mdeen@wsu.edu or 509-682-6956.

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State 4-H

Investing in the Future of Washington’s Youth

2014

An effective democracy requires an active, engaged and literate population.  Regrettably, 26% of current Washington youth fail to graduate high school, and for minority youth that failure rate rises to over 40%. For more than 100 years, 4-H has championed the idea that young people are the single strongest catalyst for change.

An effective democracy requires an active, engaged, and literate population. Regrettably, 26% of current Washington youth fail to graduate high school, and for minority youth that failure rate rises to more than 40%. Youth who fail to earn a high school diploma are creating a permanent economic underclass. McKinsey Global Institute predicts that by the year 2020, the United States will fall short of workers with college and graduate degrees by 1.5 million, but will have a surplus of nearly 6 million unemployed individuals who have not completed high school.

America faces a future of intense global competition with a startling shortage of scientists. Our youth continue to be undereducated in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in comparison to their global peers. An understanding of STEM is essential for young people to face the challenges of a global labor pool. Equally troubling is the widespread lack of civic engagement and civic literacy among young people. These disenfranchised youth often have neither the knowledge nor experience necessary to effectively engage in the responsibilities of citizenship.

For more than 100 years, 4-H has championed the idea that youth are the single strongest catalyst for change. What began as a way to give rural youth new agricultural skills has grown into a global positive youth development movement. 4-H is our premier organization for preparing young people to be empowered citizens.

4-H is helping cultivate the next generation of leaders by tackling challenges such as building a skilled STEM-ready workforce, encouraging civic engagement, and creating a healthier society.

As the only youth program with direct access to technological advances in agriculture, life sciences, human development, social sciences, and related subjects from land grant university research, 4-H values results-driven educational opportunities that prepare young people to participate and lead in their communities and workforce. 4-H has maintained the “hope building” business by viewing young people as assets – not as problems to be solved.

Through intentional educational experiences of sufficient intensity, duration and frequency, 4-H is preparing the next generation of leaders, doctors, engineers, farmers, bankers, scientists and citizens to step up to a successful adulthood.  4-H youth are mentored in three major mission areas: STEM, citizenship, and healthy living.

The results of 4-H are well documented through the decade of longitudinal research conducted by Tufts University in its 2011 “Study of Positive Youth Development.” 4-H youth are more likely than their non-4-H peers to enter the workforce  prepared to collaborate, think critically, solve problems, and be innovative. These are skills that lead to a competent workforce contributing to vibrant industries, which thereby strengthen our communities and state. Through participation in 4-H, youth develop skills that are important for their future careers, including leadership, organization, setting and achieving goals, financial literacy, and positive social skills such as being an effective team member.

Integrated into all phases of 4-H is civic engagement. Statewide, youth and adults contribute more than 100,000 hours annually to respond to critical community issues, thereby strengthening those local communities through civic engagement.

Through real-world experiences that cultivate self-esteem, self-confidence, and leadership, youth adopt reduced-risk behaviors and improved healthy lifestyle habits.

When compared to their peers, young people involved in 4-H are:

  • Twice as likely to plan to attend college. Students who attain an associate’s degree earn nearly one-third more over the course of their lifetimes than those with just a high school diploma. Students who earn a bachelor’s degree earn 75% more over their lifetimes.
  • More likely to pursue careers in science, engineering, or technology and therefore are better prepared for lifelong employment.
  • More than twice as likely to exercise and be physically active resulting in improved public health and reduced health-care costs.
  • 30% more likely to be engaged in post-secondary education and excel. In fall 2014, 4-H freshman entered WSU with a .31 higher GPA.
  • Four times more likely to give back to their communities thereby building a life pattern of civic engagement.
  • Present in all 39 Washington counties.
  • Engages nearly 80,000 youth annually.
  • 7,000 trained adult volunteers.
  • More than 1.5 million 4-H alumni.
  • 92% of 4-H’ers attend post-secondary education.
  • 44,500 youth engaged in school enrichment.
  • 53,600 STEM Projects.
  • 18,000 Citizenship Projects.
  • 25,000 Healthy Lifestyle Projects.

“4-H helped me develop a good work ethic and make smart choices. I learned a lot of great decision making skills, which are helpful in athletic competitions.” — Casey Smith, USA 2014 Olympic Biathlon competitor from the Methow Valley

“Not only did 4-H give me tremendous networking and interpersonal skills but it also changed my outlook on life and my purpose in the world.” — Reina Almon, 2013 Miss Washington

“There is no finer feeling than to watch shy, unsure youth develop into outstanding, skilled, articulate and self-confident young adults capable of doing whatever they choose to do.” — Don Ballard, 4-H volunteer

For more information, contact Pat BoyEs, Director of 4-H Youth Development: Washington State University Extension | 2606 West Pioneer, Puyallup WA 98371 | 253-445-4589 or boyesp@wsu.edu.

For more information about the WSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program, visit http://4h.wsu.edu/.

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4-H Know Your Government

2016

The 4-H Know Your Government program empowers youth and adults to engage in leadership, citizenship, and life-skill development and application.

A lack of civic engagement and civic literacy among youth is widespread—they often do not have either the knowledge or experience necessary to connect civics facts and concepts to the responsibilities of citizenship.

Civics in America is in decline and it’s an alarming trend among American youth. A lack of civic engagement and civic literacy among youth is widespread. They often do not have the knowledge or experience necessary to connect civics facts and concepts to the responsibilities of citizenship. The National Assessment of Education Progress 2006 report on civics competencies indicates that barely a quarter of the nation’s 4th, 8th, and 12th graders are proficient in civics, with only 5% of high school seniors able to identify and explain checks on presidential power. Only 35.5% of teenagers can correctly identify “We, the people” as the first three words of the Constitution (National Constitution Center; 1998). Civic education plays an essential role in strengthening our democratic society, informing citizens, and cultivating a habit and culture of civic participation. Youth need civic learning experiences to enable them to become informed, active, and participating citizens in their communities.

Know Your Government (KYG) is an experiential civic education program developed and produced by Washington State University Extension 4-H to increase youth understanding and practice of positive citizenship. The KYG program strengthens the connection between youth and our political and social networks through education, experience, application, and inspiration. This hands-on program plays a critical role in providing civic education to high school youth. It enhances the students’ understanding of citizenship by teaching civic knowledge and linking that knowledge to practical experiences. Focus is put on developing life skills that strengthen the development of positive, contributing citizens.

Each year, more than 220 high school students (Grades 9–12) and 50 adult mentors participate in the KYG program. Participants are introduced to the democratic process in an interactive and informal way through a four-year program of rotating civic topics covering the legislative process, the judicial process, elections and party platforms, and politics and the media. Students study civics and practice what they’ve learned through debates, mock trials and legislative processes, elections, and discussions at county 4-H meetings—all of which culminates in the annual Know Your Government Conference in Olympia, Washington.

Both the community service aspect and the service learning emphasis of the program provide students with a strong sense of accomplishment, and the development of civic dispositions leads them to stay involved. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Students who receive effective civic learning are more likely to vote and discuss politics at home, are four times more likely to volunteer and work on community issues, and are more confident in their abilities to speak publicly and communicate with their elected representatives.

Over the past three years, 85% to 93% of participating youth reported significant gains from pre- to post-program in the following life-skill areas and in civics:

  • Leadership;
  • Communication;
  • Decision making;
  • Organization;
  • Accepting differences;
  • Knowledge of the judicial and legislative processes, and how a citizen functions in them; and
  • Realization that democracy requires responsible citizenship and participation.

Research shows that civic education of youth leads to:

  • Young people who are engaged in civic education, with greater political involvement and regular participation in elections;
  • Participants seeking additional civic education for themselves and their community;
  • Social improvements and more active, positive citizenship;
  • Increased participant willingness and likelihood to address social problems at the local level and beyond; and
  • Civic improvements accomplished by engaging a community in its entirety.
  • More than 220 high school students and 50 mentors attend the KYG Conference.
  • 90% of participating youth, on average, reported significant gains in civic knowledge over the past 5 years.
  • Since 1978, KYG has provided hands-on civic education.
  • More than 3/4 of Washington counties are represented at the KYG Conference in any given year.

“The most important thing I have gained from participating in the 4-H Know Your Government Program is a new-found appreciation for the work that goes into each aspect of a trial.”

“I have learned more about our judicial system and more about myself in the process.”

“This in-depth learning experience taught me how complicated the government processes can be, yet how important it is.”

“I know more about the government than ever before and I had fun while doing it.”

“Through the KYG program, I learned how to respect my rights and not take them for granted, and how to use them to improve my community.”

For more information, contact Jan Klein, 4-H Adolescent Leadership Specialist. | WSU Extension 4-H, PO Box 1495, Spokane WA 99210 | 509-358-7937 or jlklein@wsu.edu.

For more information about the Know Your Government Conference, visit http://4h.wsu.edu/conferences/kyg/.

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4-H Teen Conference

2014

Helping young people explore multiple and flexible pathways for a successful future

Nearly 6.5 million U.S. teens and young adults are neither attending school nor working. The employment rate for youth ages 16 to 19 has dropped 42% since 2000. To address these concerns, Washington State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program organizes and sponsors the annual 4-H Teen Conference to assist youth in finding answers for their future.

The last 10 years have been the most challenging decade in 50 years for young people to transition to adulthood, earn a degree, get a job, and stand on their own financially. Nearly 6.5 million U.S. teens and young adults neither attend school nor work. The employment rate for youth ages 16 to 19 has dropped 42% since 2000. In 2011, only 24% of 16- to 19-year-olds and 60% of 20- to 24-year-olds were employed. These youth are veering toward chronic unemployment as adults, and failing to gain the skills employers require in today’s job market. When young people lack connections to jobs and school, the government spends more to support them.

Yet, as young people struggle to gain experience and find any type of job, businesses cannot find the skilled workers they need to compete in the ever-changing, 21st Century economy. Part of the challenge is the gap between young people’s skills and the qualifications needed for available jobs. More than three-quarters of job openings in the next decade will require skills obtained beyond high school. McKindsey Global Institute predicts that by 2020, the United States will fall short of workers with college and graduate degrees by 1.5 million, but will have a surplus of nearly 6 million unemployed individuals who have not completed high school. In 2011, the National Center for Education Statistics reported Washington’s graduation rate was only 73.7%.

To address these concerns, Washington State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program organizes and sponsors the annual 4-H Teen Conference to assist youth in finding answers for their future. The 3-day event, held on the WSU Pullman campus, focuses on identifying post-secondary educational options, exploring careers, and developing life skills, including workforce preparation. More than 60 workshops connect youth to educational and employment skills and options, provide support for transitioning from high school to college, and help them strengthen skills to move into the work force. Activities, networking, and mentoring connect youth to education and training pathways that prepare them for jobs and economic success. Young people with academic know-how, technical skills, and essential “soft skills” to hold a job, can launch a career.

Conference objectives include:

  • Opportunities for teens of all backgrounds across Washington to come together to engage in educational programs applicable to their lives;

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Forest Youth Success

2014

Despite living in a county that is about 90% forested, many Skamania County youth have little connection with, or knowledge of, the surrounding forest.

Despite living in a county that is about 90% forested, many Skamania County youth have little connection with, or knowledge of, the surrounding forest. And, in a county where poverty and unemployment are high, youth have almost no employment opportunities and few chances to gain job experience. At the same time, local forest managers and communities need help completing projects to benefit the health of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Washington State University Extension 4-H, along with Stevenson-Carson School District, Skamania County, the Mt. Adams Institute, and the USDA Forest Service have partnered to create the Forest Youth Success (FYS) program for youth development and employment. Goals of the FYS program are:

  • Teach the fundamentals of forest ecology and forest health management through work in a real-world setting;
  • Develop and enhance life skills to increase employability;
  • Help participants develop a sense of responsibility for themselves, the forest, and their communities;
  • Provide participating youth with basic job skills in a paid-work setting that emphasizes environmental stewardship; and
  • Employ local adults as program crew leaders to further community engagement and emphasize positive youth–adult relationships, at a ratio of approximately 5 youth to 1 adult.

Since 2009, FYS received competitive awards from the USDA Forest Service Resource Advisory Committee of more than $670,000 and county contributions of $80,000 as a result of the Secure Rural Schools Title II funding. Each year, the program employs ten adults and 48 youth to complete forest health projects.

The WSU Extension 4-H FYS program was accepted as a National 4-H Program of Distinction, and the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) awarded the program a Specialty Team Award in Excellence for Natural Resource and Environmental Stewardship in 2013.

Since 2002, the FYS program has been the largest summertime employer of youth in Skamania County. On average, $165,000 in direct work value is completed on the forest each year, with a total estimated value of more than a million dollars for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest since the program’s inception. In 2012, all 48 students who participated in FYS received elective high school credits for summer work through the credit recovery pilot project.

Using the 4-H life skills development tool, positive life-skill impacts are measured annually. In 2012, FYS participants indicated increases in all life skills and employability indicators that were measured. FYS participants also showed an increase in understanding forest management practices (79%) and awareness of the types of natural resource careers (71%).

From 2009 through 2011, 95% to 98% of student participants confirmed slight to significant changes in life skills, including:

  • Decision making;
  • Financial resource management;
  • Listening;
  • Effective communication;
  • Organization;
  • Problem-solving; and
  • Job responsibility.

In 2010, past participants from the previous five years were surveyed for lasting impacts. More than 65% responded that FYS helped them acquire another job. Ninety-five percent credit the program for forming their work ethic and increasing their basic job skills. More than 70% of past participants credit FYS for shaping their career interests. More than 50% chose their college major and shaped their degree because of FYS, and more than 90% found FYS effective for helping manage personal finances.

  • Since 2002, more than $1 million in work value provided in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

In 2012:

  • $113,812 in work value.
  • 1 mile of new boundary marked and cleared.
  • 14 miles of trail work completed.
  • 1 mile of new trail built.
  • 14 acres of white pine pruning.
  • 2 acres of invasive species removal; 2 acres surveyed.
  • 19 miles of roadside brushing.
  • Habitat enhancement, with 8 western pond turtles released.
  • 4 acres of fuel treatment for prevention of forest fire.
  • 9,500 trout released.
  • 75 campsites maintained.
  • 360 cubic yards of oyster shells placed in fish filter beds.

“Working so closely with FYS has truly been a rewarding project as I am very passionate about this program, especially since it helped me gain responsibility and leadership as an adolescent.”

“FYS has allowed me to get the work experience I need to get a job in the real world. It has instilled in me the work ethic and morals of any good citizen and allowed me to grow as a person.”

“FYS has helped me become a leader, step out of my comfort zone, and learn so much about this beautiful place we live in, how to help maintain it and the amazing people that already love and appreciate it.”

For more information, contact Scott VanderWey, Director of Adventure Education | WSU Puyallup R & E
Center, 2606 W Pioneer, Puyallup WA 98371 | 253-445-4581 or vanderwey@wsu.edu.

For more information about the WSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program, visit http://4h.wsu.edu/.

4-H Challenge Course

2014

Developing capable, caring, contributing citizens through research-based, guided adventure exploration and experiential learning.

Partner

Washington State University Extension 4-H Youth Development is collaborating with Seattle Parks and Recreation to provide the residents of Seattle, King County, and beyond, the benefits of an educational partnership for school districts, non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, businesses, and the public, resulting in the strengthening of community life.

Youth need more than knowledge to be successful and productive members of society—they also need social and emotional skills such as communication, leadership, cooperation, respect, trust, self-confidence, conflict resolution, decision-making, and problem-solving, frequently referred to as “emotional intelligence.” In today’s world of standardized testing and increasing pressure for academic success, students have fewer and fewer opportunities to develop these life skills (Source: “Using positive youth development to predict contribution and risk behaviors in early adolescence …” Int J Behav. Dev., vol. 31.). Currently, our country is experiencing a 30% to 40% dropout rate in our public education system. Nationally, the graduation rate for Caucasian students is only 78%; rates for minority students are lower still: 72% for Asian students, 55% for African-American students, and 53% for Hispanic students (Source: “Getting ahead by staying behind: An evaluation of Florida’s program to end social promotion.” Education Next 6).

Washington State University Extension 4-H Youth Development is collaborating with Seattle Parks and Recreation to provide the residents of Seattle, King County, and beyond, the benefits of an educational partnership for school districts, non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, businesses, and the public, resulting in the strengthening of community life. As a result, an outdoor Challenge Course has been established in an urban setting, at Camp Long in Seattle. The hands-on learning and experiential methodologies used in the program are the tools for re-engaging students in the learning process.

In active development for seven years, Phase One—a low course and two stand-alone high elements—was completed in September 2011. Phase Two—a hub-and-spoke high ropes course—was completed in 2012. This has allowed both the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation and WSU Extension 4-H to meet strategic goals of strengthening relationships and building a sense of community while promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Camp Long provides a unique location, adjacent to a major bus route, making it accessible to all Seattle public school students. Open to the public, Camp Long also serves the largest school district in the state; Seattle Public Schools has 50,000 students in 95 schools.

» More …

4-H Science

A New Way of Thinking

2016

Grants & Donors

America faces a future of intense global competition with a startling shortage of scientists. To address the growing demand for STEM professionals, and to increase STEM literacy for youth, Washington State University 4-H has implemented the 4-H Science program.

America faces a future of intense global competition with a startling shortage of scientists. In 2005, only 18% of U.S. high school seniors were proficient in science (National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); 2005) and a mere 5% of current U.S. college graduates earned degrees in science, engineering, or technology, as compared to 66% in Japan, and 59% in China. By 2011, the NAEP reported an increase in science literacy; however, the United States still lags behind its global partners. Literacy in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is a prerequisite for young people who face the challenges of our complex world.

To address the growing demand for STEM professionals, and to increase STEM literacy for youth, Washington State University 4-H has implemented the 4-H Science program: A New Way of Thinking. Objectives include:

  • Increase youth interest, literacy, and engagement in STEM;
  • Increase the number of youth pursuing post-secondary education in STEM; and
  • Increase the number of youth pursuing STEM careers.

While 4-H projects have long been grounded in science, they have not often been framed as science. Faculty, staff, and community partners now encourage a new way of thinking that brings the researched science base of the curriculum to the forefront. Today’s 4-H youth engage in science learning through traditional club experiences, day camps and residential camps, afterschool programs, fairs, conferences, and workshops.

WSU 4-H assembled two teams of “4-H Science Champions,” in Pullman and Seattle, to bring together creative thinking, exploratory questions, and visionary strategies to move 4-H Science forward. The committees, involving WSU and 4-H faculty, researchers, business and community leaders, and STEM professionals, reviewed the target program areas for 4-H Science, prioritized critical needs for STEM, and identified potential partners and strategies to address the needs.

  • WSU 4-H Science has:
    • Raised awareness and changed attitudes about science learning and science careers;
    • Increased science skills and understanding of science concepts; and
    • Improved outreach to broader audiences and new partners to engage in STEM programs.
  • 4-H Science is implemented in 30 of 39 counties in Washington, with programs in robotics, digital photography, environmental sciences, animal sciences, computer sciences, shooting sports, plant sciences, and engineering and technology.
  • More than 1,000 faculty, staff, and volunteers have participated in STEM professional development training events at the national, regional, and statewide levels. Raising the awareness of 4-H members and leaders that 4-H Science is diverse, and can be included in multiple projects and delivery modes, has been effective in growing the 4-H STEM emphasis.
  • Since 2010, nearly $1.9 million in grant funds and $24,000 in local gifts have provided impetus to develop and implement a range of STEM-focused programs across the state.
  • In 2015, more than 3,000 Washington youth participated in the National Youth Science experiment “Motion Commotion.” The experiment challenged youth to explore motion, speed, and reaction time, and learn about the hazards of distracted driving. Youth had the opportunity to learn engineering concepts, develop math skills, learn about physics, and help solve a relevant safety issue.
  • Sharing opportunities and successes of local 4-H Science programs has increased support and expansion of STEM literacy programs.  More than 15,000  4-H Science bookmarks have been distributed across the state to market A New Way of Thinking. Feature stories on the WSU 4-H website and in Extension publications have put 4-H Science in the spotlight.
  • 4-H Science programs currently in 30 of 39 Washington counties.
  • 1,000 faculty, staff, and volunteers participated in STEM training at national, regional, and statewide professional development events.
  • More than 15,000 4-H Science bookmarks distributed to promote A New Way of Thinking.
  • In 2015, more than 3,000 youth in Washington participated in the “Motion Commotion” experiment.
  • Since 2010, nearly $1.9 million in grant funds, and $24,000 in local gifts received to support STEM-focused programs.

“I came into the program with almost zero knowledge of engineering or mechanics and learned a lot from different mentors. I now know how to use computer-aided design programs and different mechanical tools.”

“Getting the pneumatics to work was a problem at the Robotics competition. We put out a message to other teams and they gave us a hand. These are teams we were competing with. It’s ‘gracious professionalism.’ It’s about competing, respecting one another, and trying to make sure everyone gets the most out of the experience.”

“I enjoyed doing the Biofuels experiment, recording the results, and making a poster of my findings. I plan on researching more about how to become a chemical engineer after doing this.”

  • Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention
  • National 4-H Council
  • Altria and Lockheed Martin
  • Avista Utilities
  • Schweitzer Engineering Lab

For more information, contact Janet Edwards, 4-H STEM Specialist | WSU Extension 4-H,
Riverfront Office Park – 307, PO Box 1495, Spokane WA 99210 | 509-358-7867 or edwardsj@wsu.edu.

For more information about the 4-H Science, Engineering & Technology programs, visit http://4h.wsu.edu/technology/set.html.

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