Area Youth Celebrate National 4-H Week With Focus on Science

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

October 2 - 8 is National 4-H Week – and more than 300 area 4-H members are celebrating with a variety of activities and events, according to Tracy Pestle, Mercer County 4-H Program Coordinator with University of Illinois Extension. 

“Mercer County 4-H Clubs will participate in a window display contest around the Mercer County area. The window displays promote our local 4-H Youth development program, in addition to providing another opportunity for our local 4-H members to exhibit their learned skills in their individual project areas. The winning club will receive a cash award sponsored by Mercer County 4-H Federation.  We invite the community to check out all the different club window displays, and vote on your favorite display by emailing fowlerpe@illinois.edu ”.

Displays will be located at:

Alexis All Stars 4-H Club - Gregory Building-Main Street, Alexis

Country Kids 4-H Club - Morrison Market-1103 17th Ave, Viola

4-H Federation - Mercer Co. Extension Office, 2106 SE 3rd St., Aledo

Hamlet Handy Helpers 4-H Club - Perks, 205 S. College Ave., Aledo

Kimel 4-H Club - Blessed by Nature, 315 SE 3rd St., Aledo

Saddle Teens 4-H Club - Serenity, 112 E. Main St., Aledo

Sunton Achievers- The National Bank, 201 W. Main St., Aledo

The 4-H National Youth Science Day – set for Wednesday, Oct. 5 – also is part of 4-H Week this year. 

On that date, young people all across the country will perform the same science experiment, Wired for Wind, in which they design and build their own wind turbines, play with blade-pitch variables, and map a potential wind farm site in their own state.

Illinois 4-H Director Denise Legvold says 4-H has always been about helping young people develop life skills.  In addition to providing opportunities for youth to learn and practice skills in leadership, citizenship and public speaking, today’s 4-H projects and programs emphasize science literacy. “America just isn’t producing enough scientists and engineers to meet the long-term demand for those skills,” Legvold said. “Only about 5 percent of U.S. college graduates earn degrees in science, engineering or technology – compared to 66 percent in Japan and 59 percent in China, and that has some serious ramifications for both our country’s future and for the future of our sons, daughters and grandkids as individuals.” 

Nationwide, 4-H has a goal of engaging one million new young people in science programs within the next two years.  “And it all begins with our local 4-H volunteers and staff who are working hard to get kids excited about science – whether that’s through robotics, sports-nutrition, veterinary studies, horticulture, alternative energy or any of our other projects that teach them how to think critically and develop their scientific skill set,” said Legvold.

Studies show that only about 18 percent of U.S. high school seniors are proficient in science.  But a long-term study done at Tufts University indicates that 4-H members are more likely than their peers to excel at science and to pursue careers in science, engineering and technology. 

"In some way or another, most of our 4-H projects are science-based,” Legvold said.  “So along with learning how to give back to their communities and speak in front of an audience, our local 4-H’ers are developing the kinds of analytical skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in a world we adults haven’t even begun to imagine.

 Statewide, nearly 300,000 youth between 8 and 19 years of age take part in 4-H, which is coordinated by University of Illinois Extension.  To volunteer or find out more about 4-H programs in your community, contact : Tracy Pestle @309-582-5106, fowlerpe@illinois.edu, Mercer County Extension Office,  2106 SE 3rd St. Aledo, IL 61231