True 4-H science teen leaders: St. Joseph County

St. Joseph County has three True 4-H Science Teen Leaders in robotics.

Quinn Kelley, Zoe Bungart and Daniel Graber at a recent presentation at one of the local service groups. Image courtesy of Shari Graber.
Quinn Kelley, Zoe Bungart and Daniel Graber at a recent presentation at one of the local service groups. Image courtesy of Shari Graber.

When asked to identify a 4-H True Science Leader, St. Joseph County could not choose just one. Zoe Bungart, Quinn Kelley and Daniel Graber are an amazing team and have been instrumental to the overall success of the CloverBOTS 4-H Club.

This article is part of a series featuring “True 4-H Science Teen Leaders” from around Michigan. So far we have been introduced to outstanding teen leaders from Midland County, Eaton County, Grand Traverse County and Allegan County.

St. Joseph County has three true 4-H teen science leaders in Bungart, Kelley and Graber. Their story began at the 2016 Michigan 4-H Robotics Workshop at the 4-H Kettunen Center in Tustin, Michigan. They all participated in different robotics session tracks. They then brought their knowledge back to their 4-H club and shared it with their community.

They have continued to support each other no matter which robotics project they happen to be working on. Because of their enthusiasm, St. Joseph County now has its own fully equipped 4-H robotics program called the CloverBOTS 4-H Club (Builders of Technology and Science) with 25 registered club members, four leaders, eager participating parents and unbelievable community support.

4-H club leader Shari Graber said the training they received from the 2016 workshop instructors, Michigan State University Extension staff and Angel Fish underwater ROV is what got them off to a great start. This past summer, the 11 charter members of the previously called CloverBOTS STEM club met throughout summer and fall learning the basics of ROV construction while building a Puffer Fish underwater ROV. Their Angel Fish has been used in hands-on demonstrations at the County's 4-H Fun Fair, a summer community event, and the 2016 St. Joseph County 4-H Fair for two daily demonstrations.

These hands-on demonstrations by the youth and leaders were so well-received that they had multiple requests for more. The additional publicity helped them gain sponsorship following a presentation at a service group meeting. The community support doesn't stop there. Generous donors within St. Joseph County 4-H programs and the community have enabled the Robotics 4-H Club to purchase eight Educational Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits and two laptops. Other local businesses with connections to the CloverBOTS have donated four refurbished laptops to operate the EV3s at their current monthly meetings. Furthermore, an invitation arrived recently for the newly elected club officers, club leaders and a few parents to tour the robotics department of a prominent local business.

Eva Beeker, 4-H program coordinator in St. Joseph County, commented on why she believes these three individuals are true science teen leaders.

Daniel, Quinn and Zoe have not only an interest in the robotics program, they have developed a passion for it,” said Beeker. “The three work well together to create an atmosphere of ‘what if,’ ‘let’s try’ and ‘we can’ for the other CloverBOTS club members. Each of them are developing a gift for mentoring others to be problem-solvers as they hone their own skills.”

Beeker also offered advice for other youth interested in becoming a 4-H teen leader.

There are so many advantages in becoming a 4-H teen leader! Teen leaders are the heartbeat of many 4-H clubs. A teen leader is encouraged to share the experiences, knowledge and skills they have developed over their own time as a 4-H member. They help club leaders mentor younger members with 4-H projects, lead club activities and help with the administrative end of club work. In addition to local club and state activities, there is an endless supply of resources available at their county MSU Extension office to assist teen leaders to tap into their own interests of life skills, future education information and career goals.”

This team of true teen leaders recently participated again in the Michigan 4-H Robotics 2017 Workshop, bringing back knowledge and resources to support youth in St. Joseph County. They were true mentors at the workshop in assisting other youth in various sessions and even provided co-facilitation with some of the instructors.

St. Joseph 4-H is growing true 4-H teen science leaders in Bungart, Kelley and Graber. The next generation of invested 4-H True Science Leaders are continually growing in Michigan.

Michigan 4-H is proud to be part of the National 4-H tradition of supporting and growing true leaders. Are you a 4-H alumni? Do you know someone who is? Raise Your Hand for 4-H to show your 4‑H pride and help provide hands-on learning that empowers kids across America. Some 4-H alumni true leaders you may know inlcude Today Show and MSNBC correspondent Craig Melvin; Legion star Aubrey Plaza; Criminal Minds’ Kirsten Vangsness; and country singing legend Johnny Cash.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to create a community excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 4-H STEM programming seeks to increase science literacy, introducing youth to the experiential learning process that helps them to build problem-solving, critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Youth who participate in 4-H STEM are better equipped with critical life skills necessary for future success. To learn more about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth in STEM literacy programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Building Science Literacy and Future STEM Professionals.”

Michigan 4-H has many 4-H science programming areas for youth to explore. Science is everywhere with many questions to ask and discoveries to be made. For more information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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