CHEVY CHASE, Md. (June 18, 2008) – 4-H, America’s largest youth development organization serving 6 million young people worldwide, announced that its university-based, out-of-school programming, which includes hands-on science, engineering, and technology curriculum, offers a solution to challenges posed in the National Academy of Sciences’ report Rising Above the Gathering Storm (RAGS). The report calls for an ambitious national program to address the need for increased math and science education at all levels. Today on Capitol Hill, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer spoke on behalf of the National 4-H Headquarters and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to members of Congress, national 4-H leadership, and supporting corporate and non-profit partners.
Following opening remarks from U.S. Senator and 4-H Caucus co-chair Saxby Chambliss, national 4-H leadership explained that its unique approach to non-formal scientific education helps develop young people’s passion for the sciences at an early age. 4-H challenges youth to apply the latest technology to projects – many of which impact the local community, county, and/or state in which they live. By combining hands-on scientific applications with civic engagement, 4-H creates a spark that empowers youth to drive change and envision a successful future while creating a long-lasting interest in science, engineering, and technology.
“The global economy demands a more technologically competent workforce, and the value of practical application experiences like those 4-H provides in the sciences are immeasurable,” says Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer. “Encouraging young minds outside the classroom is equally as important as what takes place during the school day. 4-H is key to this success and remains a critical component to providing academically-rich non-formal programs that take youth engagement to the next level.”
To complement its science, engineering, and technology curriculum, 4-H announced a new national initiative named “National Youth Science Day.” This annual signature event, which will take place this year on October 8th during National 4-H Week, will feature a “National Science Experiment” – a designated science activity that will engage youth across the country. 4-H will be encouraging all 6 million 4-H youth plus parents, teachers, and students nationwide to participate in this event. Details of the experiment will be announced later this summer. “National Youth Science Day speaks to our commitment to provide quality, hands-on learning experiences in the sciences,” said Donald T. Floyd, Jr., CEO and president of National 4-H Council.
“Our goal for National Youth Science Day and the National Science Experiment is to make science fun and accessible by showing kids of all ages that they too can make a lasting impact on a national and global level. By encouraging more kids to study science, we can help corporate America fulfill its need for a more qualified and diverse workforce.”
In an additional effort to encourage youth engagement in the sciences, 4-H announced an expansion of the 4-H2O water conservation program. The program includes new curriculum in environmental science and the launch of 4-H2Online, an interactive learning experience that connects youth to water conservation issues. California, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, and West Virginia will lead this national initiative, which was made possible with a $1.48 million grant from Toyota announced this past April.
The idea of engaging young minds and encouraging scientific study will also resonate throughout 4-H’s newly developed public service campaign. The campaign includes newly designed print and broadcast advertisements that will communicate the campaign’s theme and goal “One Million New Scientists. One Million New Ideas.TM” The campaign is based on true life stories of 4-H alumni whose passion for science was sparked by participating in 4-H programs. The ultimate goal of the campaign will be to have one million new youth participating in 4-H science, engineering, and technology programs by the year 2013.
“As the largest youth development organization in America, 4-H has the ability to help shape and mold the future leaders of America,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and co-chair of the 4-H Senate Caucus. “4-H continues to positively impact our nation’s future by providing quality, hands-on science programs to kids that potentially spark a life-long interest in fields of science and engineering. I congratulate all the 4-H members and staff on the launch of their new initiative which will lay the ground work for America to continue to be competitive economically and technologically in the future.”
U.S. Senators and 4-H Caucus co-chairs Saxby Chambliss and Tom Harkin as well as Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur co-hosted today’s event with other Members of Congress in attendance. For a copy of 4-H’s response to the RAGS report as well as additional information on National Youth Science Day, the PSA campaign and 4-H science, engineering, and technology curriculum, please visit http://www.4-H.org.
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Brookings, S.D. – SDSU Extension will host a West River Field School on Wednesday, June 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. MDT at the SDSU West River Research Farm near Sturgis, South Dakota.