To succeed in the 21st-century workforce, young people will need skills in science, technology, engineering and math. They will also need life skills in public speaking, leadership and community service.
La Plata County 4-H is motivated to help prepare all youths to meet the challenges of the future. We are excited to be expanding our 4-H after-school outreach efforts. This will be accomplished through implementing the Colorado State 4-H STEM AmeriCorps program.
As an alumni AmeriCorps member, I often hear it described as the domestic Peace Corps. Basically, it is a national service organization that engages Americans in providing support to communities. The objective of Colorado State 4-H STEM is to prepare young people for success in careers and life.
Nancy Kastning, a retired teacher, will be taking on the 4-H STEM AmeriCorps member role in La Plata County. We are very lucky to have such an experienced person to deliver STEM education. She will be providing after-school activities at the Durango School District Kids’ Camp program.
Nancy will provide a variety of hands-on, relevant, educational and, most importantly, fun activities to elementary-schoolers. She will teach physics through building rockets and marble racetracks. Chemistry will be taught through ceramics, leather crafting and making silly putty and ice cream. Young people will explore the Earth and space with lessons in building solar ovens, kites and sun dials. In the spring, Nancy will teach biology through growing and seed-planting activities. She will also use 4-H animals for biology lessons.
4-H STEM has been a major focus nationally, regionally and locally. STEM education allows 4-H to broaden its outreach to more youth audiences. It also provides enrolled 4-H club members with more opportunities to thrive. Currently, we offer great projects in robotics, computers, electricity and more. We also plan on adding more STEM-integrated camps, educational events and projects.
For example, La Plata County 4-H is excited to provide club members with the opportunity to learn STEM education through Legos. We have registered and will be entering the First Lego League competition this winter. We just received our Animal Allies challenge kit and will be preparing for this fun event.
The 4-H Youth Development program is dedicated to making our community a better place. Whether it’s through after-school, school-enrichment or club programming, we want to make a difference in the lives of today’s young people.
Please contact me if you would like to request STEM programming for any organization serving young people in our area. We also have a diversity of kits and supplies that can be borrowed.
La Plata County 4-H is now enrolling members for our 2016-17 club programs. We have 15 clubs throughout the county. Throughout the year, we offer many leadership, life-skills and project-based learning opportunities.
Greg Felsen is the La Plata County 4-H youth development agent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6463.