It’s the first day of summer, and through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture funding, 4-H and youth development programs across the nation are providing youth with the opportunity to stay busy and learn while away from school.
The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Summer & Afterschool Program supports youth and their families statewide at 14 afterschool sites throughout Delaware. These out-of-school time programs provide a safe environment, caring and credentialed staff, homework help, hands-on activities, enrichment, peer engagement and quality programming. The hands-on 4-H curriculum includes civic engagement; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); and healthy living.
After participating in the 4-H Summer & Afterschool Program statewide in 2018, youth were surveyed about their experiences and 172 responses were collected. These responses indicated the following:
- 84% reported gaining skills to use healthful diet practices.
- 86% reported gaining skills to use positive stress techniques.
- 80% reported demonstrating leadership skills in their schools, organizations, and/or communities.
- 90% reported increased knowledge about the health and legal risks of using tobacco, drugs and alcohol.
- 85% reported gaining skills and planning to resist negative behaviors.
- 88% strongly agreed 4-H adults care about them.
- 90% agreed or strongly agreed their new STEM skills will help them in the future.
- 89% felt their participation in STEM is more often introduced in 4-H than otherwise.
- 100% felt 4-H is a place they feel safe.
- 100% felt 4-H is a place they feel like they belong.
As a part of the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station, the Learning Games Lab each summer hosts a weeklong session for youth, who test products in development and participate in design activities. During the week, Games Lab consultants play and evaluate games and other interactive experiences like virtual reality, participate in design activities, and pitch a game to the team. They work in teams, explore digital and tabletop games, and give developers product feedback to improve design. The sessions made youth feel more interested in learning about game design, computer skills, and playing new games. Parents and guardians saw improvement in their kids’ technology skills, presentation skills, and critical thinking.
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Photo: Children participating in computer coding class. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.