The UMass Extension 4-H Youth Development program has identified Springfield as an area of focus. A full time 4-H Educator is dedicated to working in Springfield and Holyoke. In addition, the Massachusetts 4-H Foundation has been successful in obtaining grant funding to support a part time 4-H Program Assistant in Springfield. The 4-H program is uniquely positioned in Massachusetts to work with community partners to deliver quality educational opportunities in out-of-school settings.
The main focus of 4-H programs in Holyoke and Springfield is Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math (STEAM). It is important to our nation's future that the next generation of STEAM leaders develop and succeed.
Over the past eight years Springfield 4-H youth have developed science skills by attending the bi-annual Science Quest held at UMass Amherst, explored the field of Veterinary Science at the UMass Hadley farm, attended the annual Explore UMass 4-H Summer of Science program and completed STEAM projects in cooperation with UMass Engineering faculty and students. They have increased community awareness by visiting local museums and participating in college tours. They also learn and practice important leadership and public speaking skills.
Lauren DuBois, 4-H Educator in Springfield states, "We provide 'learn by doing' experiences, positive adult-youth partnerships and a meaningful connection to higher education. 4-H brings a wealth of knowledge with juried curriculum and a network of professional connections. Young people thrive under the experiential learning model that 4-H embodies."
Current UMass partners include the College of Engineering, the College of Natural Science, the UMass Design Center in Springfield, Student Bridges Organization and Extension Nutrition.
Below, young people from a 4-H STEAM program participate in an activity from the Balls and Tracks curriculum.