More than 10 years ago, when I was in 4-H, the face of 4-H was the same, but the projects sure were different.
Designing scrapbooks and sewing, showing market hogs, I really enjoyed. Other projects were gardening, woodworking, cooking, steers and genealogy. I would never have thought of doing a computer or bicycle project, mapping out a geocache or building a robot.
These new and emerging projects are answering the needs of today's youth. Wanting a healthy lifestyle encourages a member to learn about bicycling: the health benefits, safety gear, road rules and more. As more urban youth get involved in 4-H, this project can help them be safer, smarter commuters.
The computer project is good for beginners to the more experienced. It helps members identify and use basic components of a personal computer, learn about technology to pursue their goals and make intelligent and safe use of the Internet. It goes into networking, programming and recognizing the negative impacts that exist as a result of networking, such as viruses and hacking.
The Power of Wind curriculum lets the member learn about wind and its uses. They study how the energy of wind is transferred to machines to do work for us. They use engineering skills to design and assemble a wind project. This fits well with the national 4-H Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative Colorado 4-H is embracing.
Another STEM-related emerging issue is the use of geospatial skills for mapping. This project offers learning experiences and opportunities to increase the knowledge, skill and understanding of geographic and geospatial-related ideas and problems. Members learn about their "position" in the world as well as how to use map-making tools and symbols when making maps.
These projects all support society's changes in thought and practice. 4-H will continue to add new projects with research-based curriculum to help today's youth be the best they can be now and throughout their lives.
Kim Schriver is a CSU 4-H extension agent for Garfield County. 4-H is a cooperative effort between CSU Extension and Garfield County. Call 625-3969 or visit www.extension.colostate.edu/garfieldcounty.