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97th annual Virginia 4-H State Congress inspires true leaders

4-H members on drillfield standing in the shape of a 4-H clover

Virginia 4-H State Congress is the leading, statewide annual 4-H event for 4-H members and volunteer leaders.

More than 500 4-H’ers and adult volunteers will converge on Virginia Tech’s campus for the 97th annual Virginia 4-H State Congress to take place June 19-22.

Virginia 4-H State Congress is the leading, statewide annual 4-H event for 4-H members and volunteer leaders. Its mission is to provide competitive and non-competitive educational experiences to Virginia teens and the adults who work with them, helping them to develop life skills and leadership abilities to become contributing citizens in their communities.

Participants customize their 4-H State Congress experience by selecting activities from the dozens of workshops, showcases, and competitions offered. The activities provided cover topics such as communication and expressive arts, citizenship, healthy living, leadership, service learning, career/economic education, animal science, STEM, and environmental/outdoor education.

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The sky’s the limit at 4-H camp where kids learn about life, the universe, and everything in between

boy looking into homemade paper rocket

These days, 4-H’ers are learning about STEM activities such as rocket science in this classroom in the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center.

Rocket science requires lots of high-tech instruments, but when you’re a young 4-H’er, there’s one thing that is essential to your airborne creation’s design.

“We’ve got stickers over here to decorate your rocket,” said Spencer Gee, 20, from Tazewell, Virginia, a camp counselor at the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center outside of Front Royal.

Gee is teaching a Create, Innovate, Solve class where the kids are using nothing but PVC pipe, construction paper, Scotch tape, a 2-liter soda bottle, and, most importantly, their imaginations to make rockets and study the principles of physics.

“I love teaching this class,” said Gee. “I give open-ended directions, and the campers take the initiative to construct the rocket the way they want.”

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Norfolk fifth-graders ‘light up’ during review on electricity

In the Virginia 4-H In-School Electricity Curriculum, students are given hands-on opportunities to manipulate batteries, magnets, bulbs, switches in order to discover the properties of electricity.

In the Virginia 4-H In-School Electricity Curriculum, students are given hands-on opportunities to manipulate batteries, magnets, bulbs, switches in order to discover the properties of electricity.

In Norfolk elementary schools, students take Standards of Learning exams on electricity concepts a year after they learn about electricity. But the Virginia 4-H In-School Electricity Curriculum, provided by Virginia Cooperative Extension, offers a hands-on refresher before the SOLs — much to the delight of students and teachers alike.

By the end of the daylong session in one classroom, a student was using her necklace in place of a wire to light a circuit.

“This program accomplishes two main things: It brings out students’ creativity while engaging material they already know, and it relieves some pressure on teachers to cover material they may not be familiar with,” said 4-H youth development agent project lead Greg Costanza.

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Virginia 4-H member wins lawn tractor contest

young man on riding lawn mower

Tyler Burgess in Lafayette, Indiana, at the 2016 National Youth Lawn Tractor Challenge.

Tyler Burgess, a 4-H member from Franklin, Virginia, won the 2016 National Youth Lawn Tractor Challenge on Sept. 27 in Lafayette, Indiana.

The event is designed to give youth participating in lawn tractor-focused educational programs an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the areas of lawn care, business management, lawn and garden tractor operation, and maintenance and safety.

Burgess competed against youth from around the country to win the title. He won after completing a written exam, identifying mechanical parts, and demonstrating safe operation of a lawn tractor through an obstacle course.

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4-H transmits science loud and clear through Maker education in Prince George County

The Maker Program encourages children to find create ways to solve problems using the science, technology, engineering, and math

The Maker Program encourages children to find create ways to solve problems using the science, technology, engineering, and math

The young child from Prince George County couldn’t believe what was before him – a radio he had made with his very own hands. But it was about so much more than just one radio.

“I can’t believe it! I built a radio and it works. I can do anything!” he said.

The child was one of the many who participated in the Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H Maker program and learned about their untapped potential.

Maker programming encourages thinking by doing hands-on activities to create and modify objects by repurposing, reusing, up-cycling, fabricating or employing shortcuts and novel, untried methods to problem-solve. It’s also part and parcel of a comprehensive initiative aligned with research supported by exterior entities such as the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to make science more accessible to youth and in doing so, instilling intrinsic motivation for learning.

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