Sunday kicked off National 4-H Week, a week annually set aside to showcase the remarkable youth, educators, and volunteers in 4-H communities throughout the nation. This year’s #Naitonal4HWeek theme is #Opportunity4All — because 4-H is just that — a program for everyone.
More than a century ago, the first “head, heart, hands, and health”, or 4-H, clubs were formed to help improve farming practices and farm life. While agriculture and rural values remain a large part of 4-H, the organization has grown to include young people from all backgrounds and types of communities.
Through after-school programs, bilingual projects, technology clubs, partnerships with the military, and many other innovative approaches, 4-H remains one of the best hallmarks of American life.
This year’s theme aims to highlight the need for improved access to opportunities for all youth, a gap that the organization believes is widening due to race, unequal access to opportunities, earning, and location.
With a vision to empower youth to become leaders of their community, the National 4-H Council has reached 6 million kids and teens and over 3,500 educators. Not only are 4-H members prepared to become leaders, they are also four times more likely to give back to their community, two times more likely to make healthier decisions, and two times more likely to participate in STEM activities, according to research from Tufts University.
To celebrate the opportunities 4-H provides, organizations from around the country are participating in weekly 4-H challenges, fundraisers, community service events and more. Many local clubs will set up window displays featuring the youth in their local programs. Activities such as hay bale decorating contests, awards ceremonies, and project cornerstones will be popping up around the countryside and on social media.
4-H STEM Challenge
In addition to National 4-H Week, the annual 4-H STEM Challenge will allow youth to dig deeper into ocean exploration with robots. Designed by Rutgers University, Explorers of the Deep, focuses on the mysteries and adventures of ocean exploration. Young people learn how to use science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to explore Earth’s Ocean and how it relates to all life on the planet.
The 2022 Challenge helps young people develop observational and critical thinking skills while exploring the interconnected nature between the ocean and humans, regardless of where they live. They will learn about the incredibly complex relationship between Earth’s oceans and the global climate. According to a recent survey, 84 percent of teens would like to be involved with shaping the future of our environment.
Explorers of the Deep consists of three activities that can be done all at once or individually, making it highly adaptable for classrooms, after school programs, clubs and more:
- Ocean Robot Test Tank — youth learn how to “ballast” their ocean robot by adding weights to replicate the sinking and floating behavior of a real ocean robot. They will investigate data collected by ocean robots and learn about the value of ocean exploration.
- Ocean Expedition — a board game where youth navigate their ocean robot around the world while learning key ocean concepts. Topics include aquaculture, climate change, innovation, human impact and the ocean ecosystem.
- Ocean Communicator — activity in which young people investigate challenges that ocean scientists, engineers and technologists are currently exploring. They design and advocate for innovations and technical solutions that inspire public action.