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Youth Development and 4-H

One of the frequently overlooked consequences of American military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq is that many thousands of children of National Guard and Reserve households are experiencing the deployment of a family member. Those children can experience problems coping with new family circumstances, new responsibilities and new stresses that are now part of their daily lives. A specific, critical need for Massachusetts is that many of our Reserve and National Guard personnel do not live on or near military bases.

More than 22% of the population of Massachusetts is under age 18. These young people are the future workforce and leaders of our state and our nation. The healthy development of these youth cannot be left to chance. Since 1919, the Massachusetts 4-H Program has provided support, resources and educational opportunities to Massachusetts youth. The mission of Massachusetts 4-H is to prepare youth to become independent and contributing members of society by providing them with the tools they need to be successful.

The 4-H Sustainable Communities Project will engage young people in the city of Springfield in the out of school time hours to provide educational enrichment and promote life skills development. An area of national and local need that has been identified by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, National 4-H Council and UMass Extension 4-H is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education (STEM). Education in the STEM disciplines is critical for preparing a globally and regionally competitive workforce.

The 4-H Tech Wizards program is designed to expose youth to technology, help them understand how to better utilize it, have some experiences with it and learn about different possible careers that involve technology. By becoming 4-H members, meeting for a set number of times as a 4-H group with a specific technology focus (using a broad spectrum of options) as a project, youth will learn about that technology as well as participate in community service.

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