Engaging 4-H Youth in Animal SCIENCE Education

February 21, 2024

Animal science projects are a 4-H favorite! Watch for information about the curriculum and resources available to volunteers to engage 4-H youth in their communities in animal science education. This video  includes announcements about statewide 4-H animal science offerings for 2024!

Video Transcript

Good afternoon. I'd like to welcome everyone to our second of 2024 Michigan for H volunteer webinar series. Today we're going to be looking at engaging for each youth in animal science education. I'm Christina. Hey, an extension educator. I used the pronoun she, her hers. I am the coordinator of all the webinars we do within this series. And we have our presenters today are Autumn Converse and David Lindsay. And I'll let them give themselves a quick introduction. All right. Thank you. As Christine said, my name is Autumn Converse. I am the Four H Livestock and Veterinary science Educator with MSU Extension. And David On my name is David Lindsay. I am an extension educator and I oversee the four H you torque programs. Thank you both. We will give a quick overview of the whole series, the next slide, this is part of a series of webinars that we have been doing. There is a bunch of recordings for the ones that we did in 2023, the one webinar that was done this year. The recording is not available yet, but it will be soon. And then there are upcoming webinars available throughout the year really all about helping volunteers have experiences and learning different topic areas. The one in March, we'll look at group management for four H clubs in groups. We'll have one in April on working with Clover Bud. The May 13 one will be preparing for eaters for fairs and showcases. Really having them think about how do they get ready for that interviewing experience that they might have with a judge or interviewing with any kind of piece. Then the other one this spring will be managing risks for volunteers. That is, on May 22, There will be webinars again that pick up in September, October, and November. Those dates are being finalized. We'll be all on the volunteer webinar series website that you can register for all of them and see all that information. That's just that quick overview of what's going on in this series. Next slide. Okay. Actually, can you go I skipped over a slide item because if you go back to the demographic flight, I'm sorry about that. I don't know that there is a demographic here. Okay. So it's important to remember that MSU extension is open to all and that we really want to make sure we do our due diligence to create programs that are open to everyone and give their opportunities to participate. And additionally, MSU U resides on the residual territories of the different tribes. And the statement on the screen helps give one of our stances to show how we are trying to move that forward. I'm going to put into the chat a quick demographic survey that we ask everyone to please fill out if you're comfortable. It helps us prove if we're meeting the needs of everyone. If you're not comfortable, it's fine. If you are MSU extension employee doing this in your MSU extension rule, we ask that you don't fill this out. Sorry for the delay. That's all right. Well, while Christine finds that link and puts it into the chat for you all, if you could just fill that out, that would be great. That really helps us, like Christine said, show that we are working to meet the needs across the state. I want to officially welcome everyone to today's webinar. Thank them for joining us over the lunch hour. We would like to ask everybody, just so David and I can get a feel for the audience, Please share your name, your county, and the species that you work with. Feel free to un mute to do so. We'd love to hear your voices. St. Clair County and I work with sheep and llamas. That's fun. Okay, Jolie Van Christenberg? I'm also from St. Clair County and we work with rabbits and poultry. Awesome. Thank you. We have a right. We had one in the chat autumn from Trisha from Gladwin County. She works with horses, Tyreene from Alger County. She's New Rabbit Club and other livestock clubs. Exciting. Exciting. Well, thank you guys for sharing. Anyone else? Hi, I'm Misty Meyers. I'm in Lapeer County and I am a approved volunteer and a mother of a future veterinarian. Very cool. All right. Anyone else? Well, that's all right. Well, thank you to those who shared and if you were comfortable sharing, that's totally fine. We really enjoy working with all of the species. Certainly David and I have our expertise areas, but we also do general animal science programming. We really enjoy just animal science projects in general. Thank you all for being here and for the work that you do as volunteers. Hopefully today will be a, give you some good ideas of things that you can do at the local level to help engage youth in those projects along the way, if anyone has any questions, please feel free to un mute and ask or put them in the chat. Otherwise, we just do ask that you stay muted to help us have a clean recording. Info is something that we really like to do. This is a new model that we use, but something that we like to use in terms of our teaching philosophy is helping you thrive. Helping them find their spark, find a sense of belonging, establish relationships, and engage in learning. Christine, do you have anything to add here? Well, and so when we think about the whole animal science project area, this is often a spark for many youth who participate in these Projsers gets them excited. It might be it's that thing that gives them joy. An intrinsic wanting to better themselves always. So as leaders who work in this area, we have the opportunity, we've helped find that spark and now we can create these experience where they haven't a belonging within a project area or within a group. They're building relationships with other youth or with other adults are fighting those pathways and then they're having that engagement. When we find that spark, these project areas, we want to help push that along. And it could be a spark in a very small part of the project area or a more generic spark within a specific project. It's looking to helping you find that. It might not necessarily always be a spark in the project area. Maybe could be leadership or something along that try and know what those pieces are and pushing them along to help them move towards a thriving sense. Go ahead. I'm just going to say, as Christine mentioned, for H, animal science projects are the means for finding a spark for many of our youth. Certainly, I know for David and myself that was true for us as youth which has led us on this path. Christina, let you speak to this a little more. So it is always just taking the time to know what a youth spark is. Their projects don't always mean that it's their spark. It could be a very small thing, but when we find that spark, it helps youth grow and it is really finding it. It might not be their career path. Autumn and David both found sparks within four H livestock projects that ended up being their career path. I also found a spark in a four each livestock project. But my specific career path does not have me working within the livestock area. It has me working in volunteer management because my spark ended up being more about helping others out and wanting to guide people. So that's where my spark was. Well, it started in that whole animal science area. And being a team leader in my swine project area and doing different things in that area, it was the leaders who helped give me those opportunities. Help me beyond quisble teams, help me find new ways to push me, to help guide different things. And so it was fine. They found that spark and helped push me to engagement. And led me down a path that might not have been within the swine project area, but it was within my spark that was found in that swine project area. As a leader, it's helping find that out through the different ways that we help you learn about projects. We can help guide and figure out those sparks which is perfect for our next slide in terms of helping youth find their spark within animal science specifically, this is. To us, we think it's really important that during your club meetings and other learning experiences, you take the time to talk about a wide variety of opportunities and topics. Certainly we have clubs here in Michigan, they are species specific. We have clubs that are not species specific. In both cases, it's really important to talk about a wide variety of opportunities and topics. Because for example, a kids spark could be market hogs. The spark could be working with swine. Or they could find out through a learning experience that they're actually really interested in reproduction and that could lead them down that path. But they would learn that through their animal science projects. You never know what may spark an individual's interest. And that's why it's so important to include a variety of opportunities and topics. Anything to add, David? Well, like Autumn and Christine both said that spark for youth, it might not be the livestock project itself. You might have an individual who finds that the science aspect of the project, that there's more to it than just working with their animal, that it's about the feed that goes into the animal. And those things, the science aspect could be their spark. Making sure that, like we said, making sure that during those club meetings, you talk about a variety of things that only allows your youth to truly learn and grow and continue to develop along the way. Yeah, absolutely. If you need ideas for topics and activities that you can do with your clubs, a really good example of that, we'll show you a few of these is our Michigan Four H Project snapshot sheets. David, if you don't mind, could you throw that link in the chat for them? I got it there already. Perfect. I've got a lot going on so I can't quite see. I got it ready to go. But as you can see on these sheets, there are so many different activity ideas to do with youth who are interested in a specific species. You might be able to find activities on here or ideas for activities on here that are more specific to what they're interested in. A lot of times I feel like it's easy for our projects to be very general, but these snapshot sheets give a really good idea of how you can be more specific and give them more valuable learning experiences. This is the rabbit one. We have them for every species except for baby llamas and alpacas. I don't remember that, but for all of our other for all of our other species, we have these on the website. That link is in the chat if you're interested in those. Here's another example. These are our Dairy Project snapshot sheets. They give just a ton of different examples of things that you can do, whether that's self guided learning for the youth or you want to do this at a club level before Autumn. It's really important that throughout our learning experience, we are incorporating youth voice into our decision making as the adults in the situation. It's really important that we incorporate youth voice into what we're doing to see what they're interested in. We don't know that unless we ask them and they tell us. If you guys have things to add, please feel free with it making sure that allowing your youth in your clubs to run the meeting, let them run the meeting. That's one of our big take homes with. That is because that only allows them to have their voice learn how to run a meeting properly. Again, this is one of those things. Is it directly animal science? No, but it all relates and it goes back to the youth spark to it allows them to have conversations with other individuals who are interested in the same thing and also learn from individuals who are interested in other things. I think the other thing that really think about when we think on youth voice is it is part of that way that we grow their engagement and their spark and the relationships. It gives them the opportunity to share something they're knowledgeable about. Especially if you're in a club with a couple of things. If you're in a general club, have people share different things that can teach everyone about their project areas, about their animal science projects. If you're in a very project specific club, you most likely have a wide range of youth ages and have those older youth start to mentor those younger youth so they start to grow that passion and can learn things when you put the power in youth. You actually get better engagement. You get youth wanting to stay more. Because as youth reach into that early adolescence and teenage years, they want to be with their friends. And they want their friends and that to dictate what they're doing, they would rather be with them. So if we have their friends happily engaged in projects and activities, they are more likely to want to be engaged. One of the things you can do to do this is give the youth the project snapshot sheets and have them, how could we teach this in our club? What's an idea? Have them build the ice breaker that might lead the things, give them those opportunities to start taking on small leadership. So that it is about what their spark is in that project area. But then sharing that to the other youth. Because that gets more youth excited and we want to keep four agers involved all the way through what their four age career could be, instead of dropping out after their first few years because it's boring to them or their friends aren't engaged. So it's important that we find that youth voice in giving youth power. Absolutely. One of the ways we can do that, I'm sure some of you may have seen this image before, but one of the ways that we can do that is the fun business learning model for your meetings. Have 15 to 20 minutes of your meeting, for example. Be centered around that, relationship building, team building, things like that. Recreational activities just to help the youth be engaged with each other. And that's a really great opportunity to have teens run those, your older youth in your clubs. That's a great opportunity for them to decide what those activities will be and then lead them. Your meetings should include the business portion, of course, the business meetings and the discussion and planning. Again, that's something that your officers and four H volunteers would lead preferably the officers, as much as possible. But of course there will be times that the four H volunteers need to chime in as well. Then the biggest part of your meetings, we really like this model because it leaves the biggest part of your meetings to be the learning aspect. There's so many different things that you can do to incorporate education into your meetings, and we'll talk about that on the next slide here. This is not an exhaustive list, but just a list of some examples of things that you could do during your club meetings to incorporate education into your meetings. You could have a demonstration day. This was one of my favorite activities as a four H member. I had a very big club growing up and something that we would do. I think it was every May or so, we would have a longer meeting. I think it would be four to 5 hours. It was a long meeting. But that meeting centered, we would start with a community service activity that day. We would have a short business meeting and then the rest would be focused on giving demonstrations. I'm not exactly sure who brainstormed the topics that were available and provided the supplies. I believe it was a mix of the volunteers and the teens. They would meet beforehand to determine what topics that we could do demonstrations on. Then we would draw straws. They would split us into groups, and we would have time to put our demonstrations together. And then at the end of the meeting, we all gave our demonstrations to the rest of the group. It was a really good way. We learned about the topic of our demonstration, but it also taught a lot about working as a team time management because we were on a time crunch for those public speaking. There were so many different things that went into that. I really like demonstration days. Even if you don't want to pre select the topics for the youth to present on, they may surprise you and come up with some really cool things that they want to talk about. That's an option. If your county does the skillathon, you could do a skillathon practice meeting. That would be a really good opportunity for youth to get comfortable with the skileathon process. I know that can be very intimidating because it's like taking a test, just getting all the materials and helping them to prepare for that. I can let other people talk if you have things to add on those, but those are the first two ideas that we really encourage you to try with going through the list the next on workshops and clinics. You don't have to, is it great to have you industry professionals or professionals in that area for those youth? When we talk livestock projects, it's a good idea to have a judge's perspective, have them come in, learn, you know, better ways of being a showman and things like that. But also, I was lucky enough with four H that we were a smaller county fair, so our clubs were variety clubs. We had all our livestock species, we had small animals, and one of the things that was basically a combination of Autumn's Demonstration Day and a workshop and clinic, our youth ran the clinics and our club. We were the ones that were teaching. I primarily showed horses and I showed pigs. I was not a small animal guy, but in our club, we learned from the kids, from the youth who that was their project focus. They taught us how to show poultry, how to show rabbits. That allowed them to have their youth voice. That allowed them to demonstrate and show us their skills, but also allowed us to learn from them when youth are in that position. That allows them to learn a whole lot more than just by them doing it themselves as well. Going back to skileathon, you might have a skiathon at your county fair, but this can also be it leads into other things because at other statewide events there are skilethons or a contest very similar to that that allows youth to put their knowledge to the test. A skilethon practice could be, hey, there's this opportunity coming up at the state level, would you guys be interested in it? And then you can have the practice and it can lead into that event with that learning aspect being the biggest part of your meetings. These are just ideas that can go into the big hunk of your meetings? Yeah, absolutely. One, this goes along the lines of scillothon, a lot of counties do them together, but something that you could do is at your last meeting before the fair, certainly there's a lot to cover in your business meetings, during those meetings, but something you could do is project judging prep. If you do interviews or record books in your county, sitting down with either a four H volunteer or an older teen who's done it a bunch of times, that could be really helpful for the youth. One to feel more comfortable during that process, but two, to make sure that we're setting them up for success and their record books are complete, they're prepared to answer any interview questions they could get overall. That could be a good idea in terms of setting them up for success during that judging. And then just a couple of other ideas that I think are fun. They take a little more work to prepare sometimes, But other things you could do during meetings are like educational tours and field trips, or guest speakers. If you have anybody who would like to talk to your club about whatever topic you think would be interesting to them. Again, this is not an exhaustive list, but definitely some things that you can do to incorporate education into your meetings. Which brings us to another example of things that you could do during your meetings. Here at MSU, we have an awesome curriculum called Animal Science Anywhere. These are free grab and go animal science activities. They're all available on our website. They can be taught by teens or adults. Really no background knowledge is required to teach them. They're written in a way where you, like I said, grab and go. You can pick it up and you can teach it. The curriculum includes supply lists of everything that you'll need. Most of them or many of them I should say, use minimal supplies and inexpensive supplies to help make them more accessible for you. They include a wide variety of topics. There's everything from like injection methods, meat cuts, I think there's some nutrition activities, reproduction activities. There's lots of different things to help incorporate science into your meetings. Like we said, I think it's easy to focus on things like showmanship because fitting, because those are relevant to them for the fare. But how do we take things one step further and incorporate science into what we're learning? They are animal science projects. How can we do our best to incorporate more of that science aspect into things 100% I did put that link in the chat for you guys, you can see that it goes through a list. These were developed they were developed by the previous livestock educator who put things together. And it wasn't it wasn't just on one animal or the other. There's a lot we talk about overall, animals anatomy and physiology, you can get into dairy. What? A cows. And that's not just dairy cows but you can dairy and beef it. All of these lessons are interactive in the aspect of it goes back a lot with the teaching model that we've talked about today. We talk about Youth Spark doing a piece of this curriculum. It really does go back to that. There could be one, just one simple thing in this curriculum that all of a sudden sparks the interests of one of your youth members and it can open so many doors for them. Before we talk about our statewide animal science program offerings, does anyone have any questions we can answer so far? Okay. Well, if you think of the, feel free to put them in the chat and we have time at the end for questions as well, but we did want to share this list. This is our 2024 calendar of statewide animal science events. You can see there's a very long list. We have a lot coming up. We're very excited to share this information with you all. There is a QR code there. I know you may not be able to scan it, but I think I can grab a link really quick for the calendar. Let me throw it in the chat, it's a long one. But this link will take you to the MSU extension events calendar on our website specifically to animal science events. If there's anything on the screen here that you think would be interesting to the youth in your clubs, please feel free to share those links with them. Many of them are on there and we'll have more information coming soon. But for example, the Spring Livestock Workshop, the Virtual Sciathon, and the hypology contest all have registrations that are open right now. I know I can speak to the Spring Livestock Workshop that registration is filling very quickly. I think we only have about 20 spots left. If you're interested or have youth that are interested more specifically, please encourage them to register for that. That's for ages 12 to 19. The adult spots for that workshop have filled, but if you are interested, you can join the wait list that's for beef, sheep, swine, and goats. Another one that we have currently that's available is the virtual sciathon. Anyone can participate in this all the way up through adults. You can register. There's more information on the website that I just put in the chat if you're interested. But I think you can start as early as eight or nine and go all the way up to 99. You can participate for as long as you want. This is a comprehensive test. There's a few different categories that you answer questions about to put your knowledge to the test. And then Autumn, she did say that the hippology registration is open as well. With hippology's the science of horses, Everything Horses that you can think of may be on there on the website you can. For hippology, the rules are on line in those rules. It will say where you can find all your resources and references for the materials that you should be studying, that they can be tested on during the contest That registration is open, slowly filling, but we're excited about it. Yeah. And then we can briefly touch on the rest of the events that are scheduled for the year. You can see we have three judging contests right in a row, one per month from April to June. David is obviously the contact person for the horse judging contest and then I will be the contact for meets and livestock judging. If you have attended the livestock judging contest in the past or have brought youth to that contest, please note that that is not connected to MLE anymore. It is still a part of the Premier Stockman Award at MLE, but we moved the date to two weeks prior to MLE to hopefully alleviate some of the stress of having move in and the judging contest all in one day. We knew that that was a lot, we shifted some dates there. Another one that I run is four H animal in vet science camp. This is going to be in an all new format this year. It's going to be a two day day camp. More information about that will be available in March, hopefully. Then we also have a colleague, Kendra Van Order. She is brand new to her position as the H dairy educator. She will be running for youth dairy days and then, obviously, state worth show is there at the end that David runs lots of different statewide offerings. If you have those youth who really have a spark that they want to explore that is covered by any of these, please encourage them to attend. We would love to have them there. Leading up to the events as well, you see with the Forge Channel science staff slide that's here if there are in your county, if you guys have an interest with our participants, we have some volunteers, we have some staff people on for extension as well. If you have youth in your county that you think can benefit from some program in your county, reach out. That's what we're here for. We would love to work with you and your youth on helping them with their project, helping them learn more about animal science, develop new skills, things like that. It's a way to be selfishly, selfish and put a plug in if you guys have an interest or think your youth will reach out to us, the animal science staff. Our contact information is here. Autumn is our livestock science educator. I oversee the horse programs. Kendra Van orders our dairy educator, Glenda Weiss, she is our rabbit point of contact. Cat Van is our forage dog point of contact. And Jakes D is our poultry point of contact. Yeah, absolutely. One of the biggest questions that at least that I get, and I'm sure our other staff get, is just help with connection to resources as well. If you have a specific type of resource that you're looking for related to any of these topics, please let us know. We'll be happy to see if MSU has a resource. If we don't, then we can help you locate resources from other extension services as well. Christine? Beef, sheep, swine, and goats would be Autumn. She oversees livestock. Yes, that's me. That's me. Everybody else has one species. I have an umbrella that encompasses my expertise. We wanted to leave a little bit of time here at the end. We gave you a lot of ideas for things that you can incorporate into meetings to engage youth in learning. But we wanted to give you the opportunity if you have something really awesome that you do at the local level that you want to share, we would love to hear about that because I'm sure that the other participants on the webinar today would be very interested to hear what you all are doing as well. Feel free to open up your mics and share if you have anything that works really well for you at the local level. And think that it would work well for others too.