Our Granby 4-H Robotics club is part of UConn 4-H Hartford County, and the only VEX Robotics team in New England. They are reaching out to their community and beyond with their 4-H projects. Watch the video to see the team in action.
Talking to Katie Adkins you get a sense that anything in life is possible. That with a little hard work and enthusiasm you can accomplish anything. And that’s exactly what she has done. Katie is the owner of Plymouth Meats in Terryville, CT, a full service USDA inspected facility from harvesting to packaging all done under one roof. Her bright smile and infectious laugh make it seem like being a wife, mother, 4-H club leader and business owner is all part of a day’s work. The hard work ethic and drive to succeed came at a young age as Katie had to rise at 4:30/5:00 am to take care of the animals on her family’s farm. Her father jokes that when Katie was little they had 4-6 beef cows. But as Katie grew the herd grew as well to over 80 cows.
Katie grew up on Blue Moon Farm in Harwinton where her family raises Hereford beef cattle along with pigs, lambs, poultry, rabbits and goats. They process and sell meat from their own cattle. Plymouth Meats is the retail store for their farm products. They also do live animal sales. Both Katie and her parents are members of the New England Hereford Association. Her father is the President. As Hereford breeders, they also focus on genetics and perform embryo transfers as well. Katie joined the 4-H program at the age of 12 and was a member of the Litchfield County 4-H Beef Club, where she served in several officer positions, did public speaking and showed her cattle at the local fairs and the Big E. She is now in her fifth year as the leader of the same club. In taking over leadership of the club, she explains that they started out with only a few youth but have grown to 12 youth currently. She lost a lot of the older youth who aged out of the club. Their parents had beef cows and grew up on family farms. The current crop of youth are younger and only three of them have project animals. The rest are there because they also love the animals and want to come to the fair and help with the projects.
Katie has them come to her farm occasionally for meetings to get hands-on experience. Some of the kids who have multiple animals will share them come fair time so everyone in the club gets to have show experience.
Katie attended Wamogo High School and then went to Delaware Valley University in Pennsylvania where she majored in large animal science and Ag Business. She finished college in 3 ½ years and landed a good job cutting meat at a small store. She decided to forego additional schooling for a career harvesting and processing meat with the goal of starting her own business. In 2011 she started the permitting process for her business which had to be approved by the town. Finding a building was the next step along with the remodeling process which took an additional 2 ½ years. In October 2017 Plymouth Meats was officially up and running. Katie explains that she was only doing custom processing at the time. It was January of 2018 when the 7,000 square foot building was completed and in March of that same year she came under inspection so that the business could do harvesting and processing.
Plymouth meats also offers seasonal deer processing and buys in some other products for weekly specials which Katie promotes strictly through social media. She also goes to the Collinsville Farmer’s Market.
Katie states that the leadership and people skills learned through 4-H provided a good foundation to help her with her business. The life-long friendships established through 4-H have also been wonderful in a lot of ways. Some of these friends are now customers and people she helps out with their 4-H clubs.
A lot of her 4-H members are realizing that 4-H provides great leadership experiences. Watching older club members help younger members is a really nice thing to see. Katie explains that 4-H teaches kids responsibility especially when it comes to the care of their animals. She states that 4-H kids seem to have a better work ethic and do well working as a team. These are all skills Katie learned as a child and uses every day running her business.
Article by Nancy Wilhelm
Lauren Marshall (’18 ENGR, ’19 ENGR MS) and Hannah Kalichman (’15 CLAS and ’20 LAW) are poised to graduate from UConn and have an impact on our community when they enter the workforce in their respective fields. Both are alumni of the UConn 4-H program, and we recently sat down with them to learn how 4-H shaped who they are today.
Lauren joined the Cock-A-Doodle-Moo 4-H Club in Tolland County at age seven. Over the years of her involvement, she showed goats, sheep, horses, and rabbits before joining the Hebron 4-H Horse club to focus on her equine project.
Hannah moved to Connecticut with her family the summer before fourth grade, and soon found herself as a member of the Cock-A-Doodle-Moo 4-H Club, where she met Lauren, and they became close friends. Hannah started with a miniature horse, progressed to goats, and also showed dairy cattle for several years. “I got involved with each species,” Hannah says, “and then met more people and my involvement grew. I couldn’t have done it without the 4-H club.”
Both participated in 4-H Horse Camp, competed in public speaking, and in the horse judging, hippology, and horse bowl academic contests. “All of the learning it took to be an involved 4-H member was challenging,” Lauren says. “It was learning how to study and overcoming a fear of public speaking at 8 or 9 years old.” Both note that there are lifelong rewards for overcoming challenges and facing fears.
“Taking the time to learn about horse health care, diseases, symptoms, and training was important,” Lauren says. “I rescued a Haflinger mare, and bring- ing her back to health and ride-ability needed to be a slow process. When she was healthy again, and had a new lease on life, I finally got to ride her, and that was really rewarding.
“The record keeping was the hardest challenge for me,” Hannah says. “It taught me not to procrastinate, and now I never put anything off. Collectively, all of the behind the scenes efforts at the 4-H fairs and horse shows is one of my favorite memories. A lot of time, hard work, and effort goes into getting an animal into the show ring, and I always loved that part of 4-H.”
The experiences in 4-H have helped shape the successful UConn careers of both Lauren and Hannah. Hannah graduates from the UConn Law School in 2020, and wants to clerk for a judge before focusing on one area of the law. She enjoys litigation and being in court, so may pursue that path.
Lauren graduates with her masters in May 2019, and will return to the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island where she interned in the summer of 2018, to begin her full-time position. Lauren also begins her PhD program in mechanical engineering on a part-time basis in the fall of 2019.
“All of my 4-H experiences impacted my course work at UConn,” Lauren says. “Public speaking, studying, working
in groups – all of these are required in college, and I learned them in 4-H. I was a teaching assistant and member of the Engineering Ambassadors club, and public speaking was essential for both, it was a natural progression for me from public speaking in 4-H to public speaking in my roles at UConn.”
“100% of my work ethic is from 4-H, it totally translates into what we’re doing now,” Hannah says. “My January 2019 argument in the Appellate Court in Hartford felt just like giving a set of oral reasons in a judging contest. We competed in 4-H public speaking for so long, and got very comfortable with it.”
Article by Stacey Stearns
UConn 4-H was one of 10 states selected for a pilot program, in the form of the Common Measures 2.0 Cohort Challenge Grant, to implement Common Measures program evaluation. The evaluation instruments Common Measures 1.0 and Common Measures 2.0 were created by National 4-H to help 4-H staff with planning and assessing local, state, and regional programs.
Many 4-H Extension educators find it challenging to evaluate the impacts of their programs across different subject matters, and to share resources, learned skills and knowledge with other youth educators who share their vision. As a part of
the Common Measures pilot program, a team of UConn 4-H professionals, Jennifer Cushman, Ryan Faulkner, Maryann Fusco-Rollins, Miriah Russo Kelly, and Nancy Wilhelm, joined forces to try this innovative approach to program evaluation.
Common Measures 2.0
Common measures are designed to measure the impacts of 4-H programs in science, healthy living, citizenship, college/career readiness, and positive youth development. The goal of Common Measures is to establish a common core of youth outcomes and indicators consistent with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture Plan of Work system. This includes using information from a national database for evaluating, improving, and reporting on programs and their impacts.
The UConn 4-H team developed a user-friendly survey platform using online Qualtrics software for the National 4-H Common Measures 2.0 instrument. While developing this platform the team also focused on building capacity and excitement in the 4-H program around data collection, analysis, and communication. Data communication uses tools such as Stats iQ and social media.
The 4-H team designed an annual survey that can be used by UConn 4-H youth to capture data relevant to each individual’s program participation. The team customized features in Qualtrics to match surveys to participants’ UConn 4-H program experience, ensuring they received relevant surveys.
Once completed, surveys were emailed to 4-H youth members’ parents/guardians, for consent. After parental consent was received, the 4-H youth could participate in survey. The surveys were designed to be short and engaging. In this pilot year we collected surveys from 127 4-H members enrolled in science projects, 109 in healthy living projects, 151 in civic engagement projects, 168 in college/career readiness programs, and 131 in mindset and social skills, referred to as the universal measures. The team developed this evaluation platform with an eye on the future, and is now poised to conduct a 5-year longitudinal study of program impacts.
In November of 2018 the team hosted the Northeast Region 4-H Evaluation Capacity Building Training Event with participants from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. This event had two tracts, basic and advanced, and covered three areas, data collection, data analysis, and data communication.
Before delving into each of the three topic areas, Miriah Kelly presented a comprehensive overview of key terms
and concepts. In the area of data collection, Jesse Mullendore from University of Nebraska-Lincoln presented on collecting data using Common Measures 2.0, and Ryan Faulkner covered creating a survey in Qualtrics.
In the area of data analysis, Teresa McCoy from the University of Maryland demonstrated ways to analyze data in Excel and Maryann Fusco-Rollins demonstrated analyzing data using Stats iQ. The final segments focused on data communication where Renae Osterman from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln discussed the basics of using the Common Measures reporting template and John Wilson of the University of Connecticut discussed Tableau, a more advanced tool for data visualization.
The Northeast Region 4-H Evaluation Capacity Building Training Event took place one month before the end of the UConn 4-H Common Measures 2.0 Cohort Challenge Grant. The team is now working on their next steps of analyzing and communicating the data from this first year. Knowledge gained from this research, and insights from the longitudinal study will be used to advance positive youth development and professional competencies by providing a means to ensure that programs are intentionally designed and providing meaningful engagement for all our UConn 4-H youth participants.
Article by Maryann Fusco
UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), leadership, citizenship and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living.
Using STEM concepts, 4-H members develop, design, and practice their robotic skills through various local, regional, and national programs. In addition, the 4-H’ers maintain engineering journals of their robot design process in order to develop and strengthen their record keeping skills. Participants also demonstrate and hone their public speaking and research skills through competitions and presentations.
Members implement the values of the 4-H motto to Make the Best Better by improving their robot after practice and competition sessions.
Eight youth from the Granby 4-H Club along with their leader, Rachael Manzer, a UConn 4-H volunteer, successfully launched three experiments into space on a NASA rocket in 2018. Manzer is the STEM coach at the Winchster Public Schools, and leads youth in three robotics project areas as part of the 4-H curriculum.
Cubes in SpaceTM is a global competition designed to help students ages 11-18 develop curiosity, and logical and methodical thought. Selected participants launch experiments into space annually at no cost to the participants. The program is managed by idoodledu inc., and collaborates with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility, NASA Langley Research Center, and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.
It took the Granby 4-Hers approximately four months to write their experimental proposals based on their interest, long hours of research, and thinking. These proposals were then submitted to Cubes in SpaceTM where experts reviewed all applications. After making it through the first round, 4-Hers answered questions, revised their proposals, and resubmitted them for a second review.
4-H members note that they have benefited from participating in the 4-H Robotics Program by gaining and enhancing their skills; for example, in the area of spatial geometry or in programming using the C language. Also, these experiences have provided opportunities for them to demonstrate and strengthen their teamwork and cooperation skills in preparation for their future education and careers.
Final decisions were made after months of waiting. All three Granby 4-H proposals were selected as part of the 80 experiments chosen from the 450 total proposals submitted by youth from the U.S. and international locations.
The three experiments from the Granby 4-H Club included “Bees in Space” where honeycombs were launched, “Rubber Bands in Space,” and “Gallium in Space,” all of which were proposed by the 4-Hers themselves.
Bees in Space
The “Bees in Space” experiment studied if honeycomb changes shape during flight. Club members took pieces of honeycomb from the club bee hive to design the experiment. The research question was: Will
the honeycomb change its shape during a flight to space?
When colonizing a planet, a constant food source is necessary. Bees are necessary for pollinating plants which creates food and oxygen. When bees were first sent to space in 2009, the bee eggs did not hatch and the bees died. The bees likely used all their energy on the hive. To help the bees
preserve their energy, the team sent up a honeycomb to eliminate the need to build one. This experiment looks at if the honey- comb shape is strong enough to withstand a flight on a rocket.
Rubber Bands in Space
The “Rubber Bands in Space” group evaluated how rubber bands are affected by a microgravity environment by creat- ing a rubber band ball. Rubber bands are used by astronauts as part of their exercise equipment. This team hypothesized that if the rubber band ball is exposed to a micro- gravity environment, then the rubber bands will change and no longer be as effective or work at all.
They believed the temperature on the rocket space flight would melt the elastics together slightly, cool back down, and cause them to dry. The team thought the rubber band ball may not bounce as high as it did before, and it may bounce at dif- ferent angles instead of just straight up and down, especially if it melts.
Gallium in Space
Gallium is a post transition metal. What is so unique about this metal is that it has a melting point of 29.77 degrees Celsius (85.586 F). Gallium doesn’t occur as pure Gallium in nature, but as a compound with other metals. These compounds are
often used as semi and superconductors. On its own, gallium is a semiconductor. Gallium’s most similar alloys are used in LEDs and diode lasers.
Gallium is a soft metal and might change shape due to motions during space flight. If gallium doesn’t change shape,
it may be one of the best conductors of electricity used in space. The team hypothesized that gallium would change shape during space flight, due to heat when exit- ing the atmosphere.
All participants of the 80 selected experiments were invited for the launch at NASA Wallops Center in Virginia where they presented their experiments to an audience of 300 people that included NASA and Cubes in SpaceTM officials, other participants, teachers, sponsors, and family members.
Members gained valuable experiences through participating in the Cubes in SpaceTM project. 4-Hers learned the importance of working together, how 4-H and STEM fit together, and learned the process of doing research. The experience provided the Granby 4-H members with the opportunity to practice problem solving skills, answer their own questions, embrace their curiosity, and gain valuable experience in the world of STEM.
Article by Jen Cushman
In April, the Power Surge 4-H Robotics team from Fairfield County was in Maine for a FIRST Robotics Competition. Here is a recap of their competition:
“Things went well in Maine, but we got knocked out in the quarterfinals on our third match for best two out of three.
We were scoring “Hatch” pieces well with a guaranteed climb in every match during qualifications, but we had tough losses by just a few points, and ended up 22 out of 31. However, our scoring and defensive ability was recognized enough to be selected to join a three team alliance to go to eliminations.
In the quarterfinals we had to play defense to shut down the scoring of the second ranked alliance, and got roughed up enough to damage our climber mechanism. With that damage, we just missed our second win to move on to semifinals.
The high honor of the competition was that we won the “Creativity” award for robot design. This really energized the team to not only be recognized for a unique and effective robot climbing design, but also the ability of the students to effectively communicate the strategy and design process to the judges.
The students incorporated the lessons of 4-H into their discussions with the judges and it was reflected in the announcement of the team as the winner of the Creativity award.
Looking back on where we came from, having no shop and equipment in December, this has really been a miracle season to get to where we are and be recognized with an award. We now have a great foundation to really develop the team further next year. We plan to have training classes for the students over the summer in electronics and programming to get a jump on more advanced control techniques for next year.
We will continue competing in post season competitions around New England in late spring and the fall, to give the younger students some competition driving experience. New students can learn from the seniors’ competition experience before they graduate.
Now that the serious competition is over we are concentrating on “catching up” on our 4-H commitment. Members will be getting their binders up to date etc.
Thank you again to the UConn 4-H – Fairfield County program for all your support. Below are a couple of links that FIRST posted on their sites (Twitter and Instagram) because our design was so unique.”
Dan Biron, Volunteer Leader
Power Surge 4-H Robotics
Do you enjoy working with children? Want to share your time and talents with young people in the community? Like to have fun, learn new skills and make a difference? Then being a 4-H volunteer is for you!
4-H volunteers play a significant role in helping youth to reach their potential. As a volunteer, you will help youth in your group learn leadership, citizenship and life skills through projects and activities. If you have a hobby or interest you would like to share with young people such as photography, leadership, animals, plants, fishing, drama, community service, computers and technology, woodworking, fashion design, arts and crafts, rocketry and more, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.
Start volunteering today by going to https://bit.ly/2Oj4TkU
By Alexis Nadeau, Alyssa Newell, Emmit Starkweather
Innovation is a modernly essential pillar to human development and growth into the future. It is this innovative thinking that the organization For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology or FIRST seeks to harness within adolescents and young adults. Focusing on the fields of STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics –FIRST wishes to fuel interests in the younger generations.
State of the art organizations such as the First Robotics Program help to assist students in grades 9-12 with learning the difficult but necessary skills that shall be required to continue the technological growth and innovation which our era depends. Some of the careers that require these skills are mechanical design, electrical engineering, software engineering, and manufacturing. Certain teams in the first robotics program, such as ours (Team 3555) are 4-H clubs.
“My experience on the 4-H First Robotics Team has provided me with access to more knowledge than I was able to acquire previously, and has introduced me to better overall materials than I would have access to otherwise,” club member Nick Mercado said.
The way the club works is that students are allotted a time known as a build season, where each team is given six weeks to build a robot that will be used to compete in various competitions across that state. Each branch of our team does different tasks and works together with the other parts of the team in order to build a robot in a fast and efficient way. For example, the mechanical design people work on the technical sketches of the different components of the robot, while the electrical engineering people work on the wiring and the electrical boards.
While these two branches do very different things, they have to cooperate to make sure that all of the electrical components will be able to fit and work on the mechanical parts. Likewise, people operating in the software engineering branch have to program the robot so that it moves, which requires significant communication with people in the electrical and design branch. This is because the programmers need to know the electronic components that will be used in order to program them correctly, and they need to know the design of the robot, so that it is programmed in a way that allows it to move smoothly and effectively.
After the six weeks, our robot is taken out to various competitions around the state where it competes with other teams in doing certain tasks, such as lifting up boxes and putting them on levers, climbing up walls, or shooting balls at specific targets. The adrenaline rush that is experienced is wild, as the arena is constantly filled with the passion and excitement that is elicited by the thrill that comes with having the crowd at the competitions.
“Both optimists and pessimists have a place in the world. The optimist will build the robot, and the pessimists will bring the safety bucket,” club member Sam Secondo said about the challenge.
The competitions offer many new learning experiences for those who join the 4-H First Robotics Team. Students work under stress, cooperate with other teams, manage safety, show leadership, act graciously, show professionalism, demonstrate quick thinking, and take quick action, all of which are unquestionably valued by the 4-H program. Last year, the team had performed in two out off-season events: Bay State Brawl and the Where Is Wolcott.
“Without the 4-H First robotics program, I wouldn’t know even half of the information about engineering and mechanical design that I currently know,” said club member Alexis Nadeau.
Many people in today’s era strive to learn the new skills that drive the engineering world, and the 4-H First Robotics Program gives students the opportunity to be part of a team that teaches the fundamentals of engineering.
Tractor Supply and JOANN stores across the country are supporting 4-H this spring through their Clovers for Kids and Paper Clover campaigns. From March 1st to April 30th JOANN Stores nationwide will ask their customers to donate towards the 4-H Program through their Clovers for Kids Campaign which is in its second year of operation. Both $1 and $4 donations are available. Purchase of a $4 donation comes with a $4 off a future purchase coupon. In addition, JOANN wants to support individual 4-H’ers involvement by providing a rewards card for 4-H members, leaders, staff and parents. The rewards card gives holders 15% off their purchase every day.
Since it began in 2010, the partnership between Tractor Supply and 4-H has generated more than $11,000,000 nationwide in essential funding. The spring promotion will commence on March 27 and run through April 7. Tractor Supply customers can participate in the 2019 spring campaign by purchasing paper clovers for $1 or more at checkout.
In Connecticut Tractor Supply funds provide exciting opportunities for 4-H members to attend national 4-H leadership conferences such as National 4-H Congress and Citizenship Washington Focus. Over 50 youth will benefit from these funds this year. The JoAnn’s campaign provides support for the 4-H Expressive Arts Day along with other 4-H activities. Visit your local Tractor Supply and JOANN stores this spring to ensure more kids get the chance to participate in hands-on 4-H programs.
The term “4-H” was an organization that I had heard about for many years. I knew the name, but I didn’t really know what it was. Around five years ago my mom saw an advertisement for a 4-H club called Bad to the Bone. This club showed dogs. I decided to go to a meeting and at least see what it was about. I went, and from then on, I have been all about 4-H. Two years after I started 4-H I made a hard decision to switch to another club, Great Goats and More. This is where my 4-H journey really started.
In this club I was exposed to so much more and I got to know about all the other events in 4-H, such as the Food and Nutrition show, public speaking, and state-wide events. I knew that other clubs were organized differently than ours was, but I soon realized the clubs had a president and other officers. I was not new to Robert’s rules as I was in the National Junior Honor Society at my school. These last few years that I have been in 4-H have impacted my life very much. I always knew that I had leadership qualities, but I have gained more leadership qualities, I have built lifelong friendships, I have had so much fun, and made so many lifelong memories. I can speak in front of people. I speak clearly and loudly. I have grown as a person, I am more confident.
In 4-H you are given many chances to lead a group. These opportunities have improved my leadership abilities a lot. I can use what I have learned and experienced not only in 4-H but also in my life. I have used what I learned in 4-H to be a better leader. I learned to listen to people. Since my leadership and citizenship abilities have grown I have been elected to positions that I know I would not have reached otherwise. I have learned to reach out to the quiet members and get them involved in making club decisions. I have also been able to go to programs I never thought possible like the Teen Leadership Forum. The only problem was that I wanted to grow my leadership abilities but there were not many more events in my state I was interested in where I could do this. So, I thought back and realized I could apply for this trip. Although I consider myself a pretty good leader there are things that I could improve. I need to work on delegating jobs. I normally get very stressed out when I plan larger events. I have realized that when I delegate jobs my stress level reduces. I used to be not very good about listening to other’s opinions and acting on them. Through a lot of practice I have gotten much better at this.
When I first joined Great Goats and More I knew that I wanted to be an officer. I knew that I could not do that right away. I needed to prove to my new club that I could do it. So, I set little goals like attending all meetings, volunteering for different activities, volunteering for different games, helping the younger kids get involved and attending other 4-H events. By reaching those goals I was elected vice president in that club and secretary in Canine Commanders.
4-H has impacted my life in many ways. I have learned to speak out, voice my opinion, to acknowledge every person has a different personality and to work among them. I have also learned to show my dog, better take care of my dog, and I have learned many things about other animals that I did not know. Before I started 4-H, I was not someone who always spoke out and expressed their opinion. I only did this sometimes; now I express my opinion whenever I think it is necessary or helpful. I also do this very kindly. I also learned that everyone has a different personality and sometimes people clash because of this. Through 4-H, I have learned to lead meetings and events successfully without a clash breaking out. Five years ago, I knew that showing dogs existed, but I never really thought that I could do it. When I started 4-H I learned to show my dog. Together my dog, Petey and I have placed multiple events, and even went to the Big E! Through showing my dog, I have learned to better take care of him such as trimming the fur under his paws and brushing his teeth more often. Since I started to go to Great Goats and More meetings I have learned that yak fur is called fiber and how to show rabbits.
The skills, knowledge, and leadership that I learn in 4-H will and have benefitted me and others. I have learned several skills. One being to take better care of animals especially dogs. I am more responsible in feeding, exercising and grooming my dog. When I have a family, I will be able to take extremely good care of the family pets and teach the other members to do so as well. I have gained a lot of knowledge in 4-H. I have learned how to be respectful towards others, listen to others and I have learned from my leaders how to handle the different personalities people have. I have also learned that staying true to your values and morals is extremely important. If people don’t like you or don’t appreciate you for these morals than that’s okay. I have become a leader, not a follower. I can make decisions for myself and not give in to peer pressure. As a leader, I have learned that every situation varies and must be handled differently. This has helped to prepare me for different experiences that I may come to in my life outside of 4-H.
Overall in the last four to five years; 4-H has been a large part of my life. I would not be the person I am today and would not be the person I will be tomorrow. 4-H has affected every aspect of my life from my personality, morals, friends, decisions and everything else.
By Chelsea Weimer