Celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2013, University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H continues to offer a series of activities that enrich the lives of more than 30,000 Maine children ages 5–18 throughout Maine each year with hands-on indoor and outdoor experiences. Here is a list of some of the 4-H programs offered in 2013 that could make colorful, educational feature stories illustrating how 4-H broadens life skills and horizons for Maine’s youth.
Robotics Expos — March 16, Machias, and tentatively scheduled in October in southern Maine
Robotics expos include workshops and presentations by college students and professionals who work with robotics. Youths engage in hands-on learning as teams tackle an engineering challenge. Staff contacts: Jennifer Lobley, UMaine Extension educator, Washington County, 800.255.3345; Sarah Sparks, Extension 4-H youth development professional, Androscoggin-Sagadahoc counties, 207.353.5550.
Children, Youth & Families at Risk Grant Project: Sustainable Living Teen Volunteers —
4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond and Cumberland County, mid-April-early June. Many of these schools also are Environmental Living & Learning for Maine Students Project schools. The Maine Sustainable Communities Project is an effort to provide Maine teens with knowledge, skills, attitudes and behavior necessary for fulfilling, contributing lives. Sustainable Living Teen Volunteer training for middle school students promotes ecological and sustainable living, and life skills. It also involves service-learning projects. Long-term outcomes of the program for high school students include developing positive relationships with adults in inclusive and safe environments; engaging in their own learning; and experience belonging, independence and generosity. High school and middle school students engage in positive learning experiences in classroom and outdoor settings; learn the value of living sustainably and the importance of community service. The program encourages individuals, families and schools to adopt sustainable living practices that will reduce their environmental impact. Contact Catherine Elliott, UMaine Extension wildlife and fisheries specialist, Orono, 207.581.2902.
Kids Can Grow Programs — April–September
Kids Can Grow is a gardening program for ages 7–12. Through a series of hands-on gardening classes, children learn how to choose, plant and grow vegetables, herbs and flowers; the basics of good nutrition and food safety; how to build and plant a raised-bed garden at home, with materials, seedlings and amended topsoil supplied by UMaine Extension. Children are matched with Master Gardener Program or 4-H volunteers who mentor, assist and inspire them to be home gardeners. Sessions are 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m., April 27, May 11, June 1, July 20, Aug. 17 and Sept. 21. Contact Frank Wertheim, UMaine Extension educator, York County, 207.324.2814.
Maine 4-H Days — July 19–21, Windsor Fairgrounds
In 2012, more than 480 youths, volunteers and parents traveled from across the state to attend the three-day Maine 4-H Days. The program offered more than 60 workshops for 4-H youth, including robotics, rocketry, archery, gardening, cooking, nutrition, forestry and physics, in addition to traditional 4-H livestock experiences. Maine 4-H Days activities are for all Maine youths and their families. This year’s event will include a 4-H 100-year celebration. Contact Sarah Sparks, Extension 4-H youth development professional, Androscoggin-Sagadahoc counties, 207.353.5550.
Tech Wizards — ongoing at the Bryant Pond Learning Center and in Kittery
Tech Wizards offers a variety of service-learning projects and ongoing school support. Two camps scheduled this summer on rockets and robots involve Operation Military Kids and Tech Wizards. Camps at Bryant Pond are scheduled July 21–26 and Aug. 4–9. Tech Wizard training in Kittery is scheduled April 29–May 1. The mission of 4-H Tech Wizards, held both in classrooms and after school, is to engage ages 8–17 in small-group mentoring programs focused on technology. In a previous project, students used submersible robots and tarps to assist with invasive milfoil identification and eradication with a western Maine community lake association. The program is funded by the National 4-H Council and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Based at Bryant Pond, other groups also participate in Tech Wizards in other counties. Contact Susan Jennings, UMaine Extension educator, Oxford County, 207.743.6329.
National 4-H Science Day — October
In Maine, 4-H celebrates National 4-H Science Day throughout October with a designated science project each year in many counties. This year’s experiment will relate to geospatial technologies. 4-H staff members will conduct a specific experiment with 4-H clubs, after-school programs and public libraries. Contact Sarah Sparks, 207.353.5550, for details.
4-H Afterschool Academy — ongoing
The academy focused on 4-H science and youth development has trained 380 after-school providers and reached 15,000 youths. Contact Kristy Ouellette, assistant UMaine Extension educator in 4-H youth and family development, Androscoggin-Sagadahoc counties, 207.353.5550; and Jennifer Lobley, Washington County, 800.255.3345.
4-H and the Lewiston Housing Authority — ongoing
4-H opportunities in Lewiston with the Housing Authority reach underrepresented and underserved youth. This year, the project has expanded to include 4-H science activities. Contact Kristy Ouellette, assistant Extension educator in 4-H youth and family development, Androscoggin-Sagadahoc counties, 207.353.5550.
SciGirls Training — ongoing
“SciGirls” is a PBS Kids television series designed to change how tweens think about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). SciGirls Training, offered in Maine by UMaine Extension and UMaine’s College of Engineering, integrates inquiry-based STEM instruction with a commitment to gender equity. Educators attending SciGirls Training learn about the latest research for engaging girls and boys in STEM, as well as activities that can put a creative twist on teaching STEM. Contact Laura Wilson, UMaine Extension 4-H science and youth development professional, Orono, 207.581.2971.
Expanded Learning Opportunities — 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond
Throughout the year, Expanded Learning Opportunities STEM programs are offered every Friday at Bryant Pond and every Tuesday and Wednesday at either Bryant Pond or Molly Ockett Middle School in Fryeburg. Supported by local superintendents, principals and teachers, the program involves middle school students partnering with local at-risk youths to engage in experiential learning programs. The program has resulted in decreased school absenteeism, improved grades and more engaged students. Contact Susan Jennings, UMaine Extension educator, Oxford County, 207.743.6329.