Monthly Archives: November 2013

Virginia 4-H International Exchange Programs Receive Accolades

The Virginia 4-H International Exchange Program was recently recognized by States’ 4-H International with the “Extraordinary Quality Programs” Award for 2012-13.  This award not only acknowledges the outstanding International Exchange Programs conducted by 4-H in Virginia, but also the quality of work of the volunteers who manage the various programs.  In Virginia there are four amazing volunteers who work tirelessly to make sure that 4-H is active and relevant in this area of citizenship.  Please allow me to introduce you to them.

Judy Ann Fray is the coordinator for the VA 4-H/Outbound Exchange program to Japan.  This program provides and opportunity for 4-H members from the United States to travel to Japan.  This year, there were three students who traveled to Japan for the month long stay.  For this program, students must be 14 -18 years old.  You may contact Judy for more information at

Rebecca Moyer is the coordinator for the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program and also the Japanese High School Exchange.  The FLEX program is a hosting program for high school students from former Soviet countries.  They spend the school year attending your local high school and this program is coordinated through the United States State Department.  Two of the students spoke at the 4-H Symposium this past weekend (one from Russia and one from Ukraine).  Japanese high school students may also be hosted for the school year through the Japanese exchange program.  Host families are recruited in the summer to participate in this program.  You may contact Rebecca for more information at

Deb Johnson is the coordinator for the 4-H/Japanese Summer Exchange program.  This is a month-long summer hosting opportunity for families and is a great introduction to the International programs. Students from Japan ages 11-18 years old participate in this program.  Each year Virginia families host over 30 Japanese delegates and adult chaperones.  For more information on this program, you may contact Deb at

Dottie Nelson is the coordinator for the International 4-H Youth Exchange (IFYE) program.  This program focuses on opportunities to students for students to host and travel to a variety of countries and continents.  The program is operated in 25 countries on 6 continents for young people ages 16-26 years old.  Dottie also coordinates the 4-H Summer Inbound and Outbound exchange program with Australia, Costa Rica, Norway, Argentina, and Cameroon.  This program is for youth ages 12-18.  You may contact Dottie at

These programs are all well run and quality programs that you can feel confident in marketing to your 4-H families.  I encourage you get involved in 4-H International Programs and to contact the 4-H volunteers above to discuss the programs in more detail.


Maker Movement and Virginia 4-H:  As I researched  the “Maker Movement” across America and explored the results of a first 4-H grant cycle in four states, I looked for relevant connections to 4-H and have concluded that this form of unchartered creative thinking and doing is definitely a step into the future of Virginia 4-H, if the field finds it as exciting as I did!  It is based on the core of what we already do so well in 4-H — hands-on minds on learning —  yet stretches us to find common ground with a culture of creative tinkerers in authentic environments who find solutions to relevant needs and problems.  What a blast for kids who want clothing that lights up with different dance movements or kids who want to play music through celery sticks and other vegetables or those who want to build their own solar model car beyond the kit.  Think of the camps and clubs and projects, oh my!

I’ll offer a few points of reference and my support/encouragement to explore and include the Maker way of thinking and doing as a part of your 4-H programming. Maker activities are effective ways to thread STEM across all programming areas. They can also serve as exciting “hooks” into deeper content learning in any program area. Make is a relevant, engaging way to capture the interest of kids and enlist the support of community  “do-it-yourselfer” volunteers.  It also provides a new lens through which to look for volunteers. Please Kathleen Jamison if you want to learn more about Make. I will send a follow-up email to the system with attachments and weblinks.

Virginia 4-H Makers  will be one topic of discussion at a STEM committee meeting being scheduled during the 2013 Symposium on Friday. Also, a Master Track session to explore this topic with Dr. Phyllis Newbill, professor from the Institute of Creativity, Arts, and Technology at Virginia Tech, is offered at the symposium. Connect with those who attend for more information. Another source of information is Rita Schalk (Hanover County) who was involved in a Maker Grant that offered collaboration among K-12,  4-H, and an already established mentoring grant in her locality. Additional funding is  being sought for interested agents in a variety of 4-H settings.

If Maker piques your interest, start searching Maker Movement, Make Magazine, DYI Movement, 4-H Makers, and  get excited! Sift through ideas and activities to choose the ones that fit into your intntionally planned program and integrate them as needed to sprinkle some excitement. Look for my email that provides some 4-H connections and a short lit review from a colleague in CA.   I love this stuff!