Paul Coreil, Faul, Terril D., Coolman, Denise, Merrill, Thomas A. | 4/19/2005 10:29:03 PM
Hundreds of young people from across the state will converge on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge next week for the first "4-H University."
The LSU AgCenter event, formerly known as 4-H Short Course during its 90-year history, will bring about 1,800 young people to the state’s capital June 22-25 for educational programs, competition in various events and other activities.
One of the primary changes in this year’s event is the much broader spectrum of educational events that will be available to 4-H University participants.
"We’ve always placed emphasis on quality educational sessions for the competitors during this summer event," said Terril Faul, head of the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H Youth Development Department. "But now we even have educational events for young people who aren’t competing, as well as a broader range of educational events for competitors."
One of the educational offerings at 4-H U will be known as Clover College. It’s designed for young people who don’t compete in the 38 different contests that are part of the four-day event.
"Clover College is strictly an educational track in which 4-H’ers will learn citizenship, technology, science, leadership and volunteer development, character education, as well as workforce preparation," Faul explained. "Then when those 4-H members return home, they will share what they have learned with other youth in their communities."
For example, participants in the citizenship workshop that is part of Clover College will learn about the legislative process and participate in "role playing" scenarios with lawyers, judges and law-enforcement personnel. The workforce preparation workshop will focus on skills needed to enter the world of work, and participants in the leadership workshop will learn about developing leadership skills. 4-H’ers in the character education workshop will learn about ethics and how to make ethical decisions, and 4-H’ers participating in the science workshop will learn about new science and technology programs, while 4-H’ers participating in the technology workshop will explore a variety of new emerging technologies
The young people will attend seven hours of training in these areas during 4-H University.
But those programs aren’t alone. Even the 4-H’ers who compete in the various contests also will be scheduled for up to three educational sessions of interest to young people.
Those sessions include such topics as communicating and dating, managing peer pressure, learning how to interact with others, eating disorders, drug and alcohol awareness and more. The educational sessions also will include a variety of tours of agricultural research facilities on and around the campus, as well as visits to the Louisiana House and Landscape Resource Center, bio-engineering labs and other facilities.
"We want this to be a unique experience for the young people who participate in 4-H U," Faul said. "So we’re trying to give them a good mix of using their knowledge in competition, learning things that will benefit them later in life and learning how to serve others."
As part of that mix, 4-H U participants also will have the opportunity to take part in a variety of community service activities, such as delivering stuffed animals to a local charity, visiting a nursing home, participating in a litter prevention and waste reduction program, preparing bags of essential items for a homeless women’s shelter, learning about coastal erosion and how to prevent it, building bird houses as part of a program to create or preserve wildlife habitats and participating in a local literacy program.
In addition to those experiences, participants in this year’s 4-H University also will hear from such speakers as Dana "Pokey" Chatman, LSU women’s basketball coach, and Patrick Grady, a motivational and youth development speaker from Florida. Grady will talk about such topics as using humor to reduce stress, serving others and being open to positive changes.
Of course, like its predecessor, 4-H Short Course, 4-H University will continue the tradition of giving young people the chance to show off their knowledge and skills in a variety of areas.
More than 1,600 of this year’s 1,800 4-H U participants will compete for the chance to move on to national events or to participate in a variety of educational events related to their interest areas. The 38 contests cover a range that includes such areas as automotive driving, child development, computer science, conservation, dog care, environmental threats, foods and nutrition, horticulture, insects, personal development, plant science and much more.
"4-H provides a ‘learning by doing’ experience that school settings cannot adequately provide," said Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director or its Extension Service. "4-H teaches the life skills that young people need to be successful in their jobs and as community service-oriented citizens once they become adults.
"We call it ‘experiential learning.’ Building character, leadership, community service, the future workforce, citizenship and teamwork are the hallmarks of 4-H – in other words building youth that will become leaders now and in the future!"
For more information about the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H program in Louisiana and the many opportunities it offers for young people, go to http://www.louisiana4h.org.
Paul Coreil at (225) 578-1938 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Terril Faul at (225) 578-2196 or email@example.com
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or email@example.com