This past March, Minnesota 4-H had 13 youth members participate in Ignite by 4-H– a four-day experience in Washington, D.C., where teens in grades 8 and older had the opportunity to explore the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), agriscience, healthy living, career readiness and emotional wellbeing, connect with young people from across the U.S. and learn ways to be change agents on issues youth face around the world.
The youth chose a learning track based on their interests and their leadership roles with Minnesota 4-H: healthy living, STEM and agriscience. During the summit, each group participated in workshops on a variety of topics and heard messages from government officials.
Supporting the needs of LGBTQ+ youth
Three young people participated in the healthy living track. This group was selected to present about the “Let’s Talk About Gender Identity” curriculum they created to support the wellbeing of their LGBTQ+ peers. The team presented an overview of the virtual program grounded in the needs of LGBTQ+ young people and positive youth development.
“The team did an outstanding job presenting their work and connecting with 4-H members from other states who want to replicate their program,” says Joe Rand, interim director of Extension diversity, equity and inclusion programs and Extension educator.
“It was so cool to get to present and meet other 4-H youth. It was also super cool that we got to meet Congresswoman Craig to talk about her experiences in government and share our series,” says Joni, a healthy living track participant.
Being change agents in science
The STEM group had five youth participants who were also selected to present a workshop on the “Green Superheroes of Science” program, which they lead in Minnesota. They described their role as teen teachers and change agents in their presentation.
“This team of eighth and ninth graders has taught science lessons in virtual workshops reaching hundreds of youth throughout Minnesota, and has brought STEM learning in person to youth in summer school and various 4-H events,” says Anne Stevenson, Extension educator. “They inspired their peers at Ignite by 4-H by showing the power of older youth teaching younger youth about important issues like reducing our use of single-use plastics, research around bioplastics, and ways to build STEM skills.”
“A highlight for us was presenting to high school students (our team is mostly eighth graders), and sharing about the 4-H Green Superheroes of Science program. We got a lot of positive feedback on our presentation. I’m also excited about all the leadership opportunities for us Green Superheroes and to share more about the program,” says Samantha, STEM track participant.
Agriculture ambassadors make connections
There was also a group of five Minnesota 4-H Agriculture Ambassadors that participated in the agriscience track of the summit.
“Youth had the opportunity to learn and experience new things at Ignite by 4-H that they will carry with them long after the end of their trip,” says Anja Johnson, Extension educator. “They even made friendships with others from across the country who share similar interests.”
“This was the funnest trip I have ever been on! I will take my experiences with me the rest of my life. Thanks to the donors who made this experience possible,” says Allison, Minnesota 4-H Agriculture Ambassador and agriscience track participant.
This experience was made possible in part with the support of the Delos and Shirley Lake Barber Endowment and gifts to the 4-H General Fund.
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