News Release Distributed 06/06/14
BATON ROUGE, La. – More than 1,500 Louisiana 4-H members are expected to participate in 4-H University, set for June 17-20 on LSU's Baton Rouge campus. This annual event gives 4-H'ers between the ages of 13 and 19 a chance to compete in contests, win prizes and explore careers.
"4-H University is an excellent opportunity for young people to demonstrate what they've learned in 4-H," said Mark Tassin, LSU AgCenter program leader for 4-H youth and family development. "Whether students participate in contests or noncompetitive programs, 4-H U makes a significant impact in areas such as public speaking, decision making, teamwork and career development."
While 4-H's roots are in agriculture, students can compete in a diverse range of contests. This year, there are a total of 41 contests that suit a variety of interests, from fashion design and photography to plant science and cooking. In several contests, winners can advance to national contests or receive prizes such as trips to the national 4-H Congress.
But the benefits of attending 4-H U go far beyond prizes. Students prepare for contests under the guidance of their local 4-H agents, who provide valuable mentorship, Tassin said.
Janet Fox, 4-H youth and family development associate department head, said another important part of 4-H U is the noncompetitive Clover College. More than 220 4-H'ers will participate in 12 Clover College programs, which range from "Aquaculture in Action" to "Health Professions 101."
"The major objective of Clover College is career exploration," Fox said. "This venue gives youth a unique opportunity to be in a small group setting. They get to go behind the scenes and learn what a professional in the field they're studying might experience."
Organizers work with LSU AgCenter and LSU campus departments, which provide experts and volunteers who make 4-H U events possible.
"We also work with recruiting so that youth are aware of what LSU has to offer," Fox said. "If it's the type of university that they're interested in, they can not only come visit and compete in their 4-H event or learn through educational programs, but find out more about what it's like to go to LSU."
Participating in 4-H U can help students transition into caring, competent adults, Fox said. The students stay on LSU’s campus in dormitories. Contests and other events teach and reinforce skills such as communication and teamwork that are essential in the workforce.
"The overall premise of 4-H University is to give a young person the experience of college life," Tassin said. "Many of them come from rural areas of Louisiana and have never been on campus. For many of them, this is the first time they get that experience."