Author Archives: jamisonk

About jamisonk

Kathleen Jamison is an Associate Professor and 4-H Youth Development Specialist, Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Kathleen’s primary areas of responsibility include 4-H STEM Education, 4-H Afterschool, 4-H Curriculum and Learning, Military Youth Partnerships, and 4-H Communications and Expressive Arts. She serves on a variety of national committees and task forces directly related to areas of responsibility. Her current research includes youth voice through digital media, teen and facilitator perception of teaching and learning in informal workshop settings, experiential and inquiry-based learning, and curriculum design and development.

Purple Up for Military Children and Youth!

April is the Month of the Military Child. Because the color purple represents all of the colors of the military branches of service blended as one, we are asking all folks in Virginia to support our military kids and “Purple Up!”.  Set aside a day for your 4-H Club to wear something purple to honor the children who have to live without parents or loved ones while they are in the deployment cycle of military life. Encourage your community to participate – promote at your schools, local businesses and newspapers. Be proud to support our military troops and the children who are waiting for them at home! More information on the Virginia 4-H Military Program can be found at:  and



Virginia 4-H: Making the Future

There has been a resurgence in the do-it-yourself (DIY) culture around the world, and it is finding a home in Virginia 4-H. The Make Movement encompasses unique solutions to problems through “tinkering, “individual planning, and group collaboration. Examples of some of the areas include modifying homemade objects by repurposing, reusing, and upcycling; fabricating scientific equipment to participate in citizen science; self-publishing books and records, and employing shortcuts or novel methods to increase productivity. 4-H has engaged youth in making since its beginnings in 1902 with a wide variety of projects – sewing, quilting, gardening, woodworking, and many others, all examples of DIY. Making is inherent to 4-H, both historically and culturally, it is deeply embedded in diverse and engaging projects in which 4-H youth participate each year. The Make Education movement capitalizes on “thinking with the hands through a hands-on, minds-on, design-based learning approach that integrates science, art, technology, math, and engineering. 4-H youth of all ages and across all delivery modes have become engaged in this revitalized movement.
( Worker & Ambrose, 2013)

In Virginia, 4-H has provided professional development trainings to 4-H Agents in collaboration with ICAT (Institute of Creativity, Arts and Technology), on Virginia Tech’s campus, and at the 4-H Symposium in November, 2013. Funding from Cognizant Solutions, Inc. provided an opportunity to develop and pilot a co-curricular 4-H Maker program in Hanover County, Virginia, expanding an interest in a mini program started out of local interest. At the end of this learning experience, participating youth were additionally funded by Cognizant to attend and train others in the Youth Pavilion at the World Maker Faire in New York City.

A second statewide maker training using kits that are being piloted in March and will be created for agent check out occur as a pre-conference training on May 20, 2014 before the 2014 VESA Meeting at the W.E. Skelton Center, Wirtz, Va. A “Maker” from the grant, a coordinator of the kits, and two electrical engineering graduate students from Virginia Tech will provide support to the 10:00 AM- 9 PM Training on May 20th. The evening session will be an exploration of kits with folks available to answer questions on ways to deepen learning and assist in developing plans for your locality.

Thoughts and Comments on the Make Movement and California 4-H
May 9, 2013. Steven Worker ( and Andrea Ambrose (


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!