By Marc Cournoyer
Though traditional 4-H interest areas continue to thrive, additional audiences have been reached with the introduction of imaginative new programs.
The last year has seen continued expansion in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education with the success of the Saturday Science Club, a home school based STEM club in the Chaplin area, along with several afterschool and short-term special interest programs and events. 4-H continues to work with various community partners such as home school families, EASTCONN, the Thompson Recreation Department, Killingly Public Library, and Griswold Youth & Family Services to name just a few. This year also saw a partnership between 4-H and the Windham Middle School.
4-H members are being challenged to think critically and innovatively in a host of areas. They learn concrete skills such as engineering, technology and math along with skills that help them navigate any area of life such as working in collaboration with others and creative problem solving. The three mission mandates of 4-H -Healthy Living, STEM Education and Citizenship/Leadership development – continue to serve as the foundation of everything 4-H does. Teaching tools such as LEGOs and iPads are being used in Windham County to enhance learning.
There is an entire population of young people in Windham County who are not looking for a traditional agricultural based 4-H experience but are still very hungry for a program that teaches them practical skills they can use in their everyday lives.
These new programs are helping to reach that audience with meaningful programming that is helping to equip them with skills to actively address the issues that face our world in the coming years.
4-H also continues to be an important outreach for those youth interested in more traditional program models. Here we have also seen a growth and expansion of our programs and club participation.
Together, these programs are reaching several hundred youth throughout Windham County.
For more information about 4-H in Windham County, contact 4-H Program Coordinator, Marc Cournoyer at: firstname.lastname@example.org