Extension dOes
4-h youth development

By teaching the value of teamwork and a strong work ethic, Purdue Extension and Indiana 4-H are preparing today’s youth to become tomorrow’s leaders – whom we’ll all need to overcome the challenges of the future.

Inspiring, and instructing, the next generation of leaders 

Purdue Extension is the driving force behind every 4-H organization in Indiana. Over the past 10 years, we’ve shaped the futures of more than a quarter of a million youths! Whether urban or rural, 4-H organizations empower Indiana’s youth to reach their full potential by working and learning in partnerships with caring adults. From elementary to high school, 4-H’s future leaders and innovators choose hands-on learning activities to develop life skills across dozens of topics, including agriculture and STEM education.

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Building Critical Skills … and Cool Robots

Through 52 county LEGO™ Robotics clubs, Indiana 4-H reaches a diverse mix of urban and rural youth, and many first-time 4-Hers are drawn to robotics.

Guided by 4-H Extension Educators and volunteers, club members assemble an 800-piece bundle of parts into a robot. The students then plan activities on a computer for the robot to perform. This exercise hones their skills in building, following directions, independent design, teamwork, group negotiation, and computer programming. Youth competing in their local county fair or Indiana State Fair robotics competitions also gain experience in public speaking and audience engagement.

Indiana 4-H’s Robotic Encounters workshop offers a demographically targeted, regional, daylong robotics experience at beginner, intermediate, or advanced levels to help students at any level of ability or understanding. Nearly 200 youth attended a 2015 Robotic Encounters event in southeast Indiana, prompting support for six new robotics clubs and plans for a similar event in northern Indiana.

Learning while inspiring and teaching others

Indiana 4-H’s Teens Teaching Bio-Technology (TTB) program trains teenage science enthusiasts to lead elementary-aged students in experiments using everyday items like strawberries, gummy bears, and drink mixes. Taught in county 4-H clubs, schools, and after school programs, these lessons take an entertaining glimpse at genetic pairing, DNA structures (modeled with candy), water properties, and more. 

Teen teachers develop their confidence, leadership, and creativity while younger kids engage in critical thinking, interactive processes, and conceptual modeling … and everyone has fun.

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encouraginG successes for underserved youth

For many youth, Indiana 4-H is often the front door to Purdue University and the vast opportunities it can offer them. Reaching Indiana’s underserved or underrepresented youth is of utmost importance.

Using grant funding and demographic data to determine where resources to help stop juvenile crime and delinquency are most needed, Indiana 4-H established the Youth and Families with Promise Extension program – including afterschool 4-H clubs, Family Night Out events, and mentoring programs – in East Chicago and Gary. All afterschool club participants increased social competency, and Lake County’s 4-H club, based in Gary, is Indiana’s fastest-growing, largely made up of first-generation 4-Hers.

Meanwhile, Allen County 4-H Educators created programs appealing to Fort Wayne’s population of Burmese immigrant youth. And in Indianapolis, grant funding allowed Marion County 4-H Educators to bring robotics lessons into a local mosque – instructing young Muslim girls in problem-solving skills, collaboration, and science, and inspiring them to consider futures in the field of engineering. Educators have furthered their partnership with Indianapolis’s Muslim community with an upcoming urban garden project in a K-12 Muslim school.