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National observance week highlights 4-H program

By Bonnie Coblentz
MSU Ag Communications

Renee Anderson, a member of a DeSoto County 4-H robotics club, prepares to test her robot’s ability to chase an infrared ball, a task she programmed it to do. She took part in a five-day 4-H Robotics Academy hosted by the Mississippi State University Extension Service’s Center for Technology Outreach. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey)
Renee Anderson, a member of a DeSoto County 4-H robotics club, prepares to test her robot’s ability to chase an infrared ball, a task she programmed it to do. She took part in a five-day 4-H Robotics Academy hosted by the Mississippi State University Extension Service’s Center for Technology Outreach. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey)

MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi 4-H provides a year-round youth development activity in Mississippi, but it gets an extra share of the spotlight with fall activities that include National 4-H Week Oct. 6-12.

The 4-H Youth Development Program is part of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. This year, it has more than 103,500 members ages 8 to 18 in 1,731 clubs across the state. These groups range from specialized clubs for robotics, horses, shooting sports or outdoor activities, to general interest clubs and after-school programs.

“Young people in 4-H receive a wealth of opportunities to learn new skills, practice leadership and have fun,” said Paula Threadgill, Extension associate director. “They have numerous opportunities to take part in activities outside of school that give them experiences and confidence to help them succeed later in life.

“Our goal is to assist young people in their personal development and character growth in honesty, integrity, responsibility, creativity, citizenship and leadership skills,” she said.

Harvey Gordon, state 4-H specialist, said adult volunteers who work with the county and state professional Extension staff make it possible for young people to enjoy these benefits.

“The 4-H program provides an opportunity for young people to become better decision makers, improve their social networking skills and become more responsible and accountable,” Gordon said. “These experiences are valuable help as they decide upon their careers for life.”

2013: THE 4-H YEAR IN REVIEW

Fall Events
The Mississippi State Fair is an annual, 12-day event that includes rodeos, musical entertainment, tractor pulls, carnival rides, a circus and many other events.

A highlight is 4-H Day at the State Fair, which is scheduled for Oct. 12. The 4-H project exhibits will be on display in the Trade Mart, and 4-H’ers will participate in a fashion show and a public-speaking event.

On Sept. 21, 4-H took to the football field for the annual 4-H Day at an MSU home football game. The Bulldogs won against Troy University, and 4-H members and administrators gave game balls to two honored state legislators, who were former 4-H members.

Club Congress and Project Achievement Days are held in the summer, allowing members to compete in subject-area events. Many win a chance to compete at the regional or national level, and some have the chance to travel as part of their participation. Club members also compete in district, state and regional horse shows throughout the summer.

This summer was the third year the MSU Extension Service partnered with NASA to host Summer of Innovation camps, which sustain science, technology, engineering and math learning during the summer break. These camps were offered in 33 counties and gave 1,400 children and teens the chance to enjoy hands-on activities designed to promote science and space exploration. For example, some campers had the chance to design a moon rover.

In August, the MSU Extension Service’s Center for Technology Outreach hosted the 4-H Robotics Academy. Instructors from NASA and Carnegie Mellon University trained 58 participants in two robotics programming languages and then helped as participants learned how to use these languages to operate their robots.

Spring Events

Each spring, Mississippi 4-H provides an opportunity for four qualified members to work in state government for one week during the legislative session. They participate in the Legislative Page Internship Program, usually serving either in the Senate or House of Representatives.

Winter Events

The Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions each February in Jackson is the state’s premier livestock auction and the culmination of the year’s livestock competitions. 4-H’ers who qualified by earning top honors in county, district and state contests participate in the Dixie National. In 2013, the sale hit a major milestone when it passed the $5 million mark in funds raised over the sale’s 44-year history.

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Released: Oct. 9, 2013
Contact: Dr. Paula Threadgill, 662-325-3032

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