The ships that 4-H builds

John Lawrence’s message from May 7, 2018

Last week I met with our youth program specialists during their training session on campus. In our short time together, we covered the usual organizational topics, budget updates, my plans for a summer of centennials, visiting sessions around the state and the internal communication committee.

I also shared a little extension history from R.K. Bliss, as I like to do from time to time. In 1952, R.K. compiled and edited “The Spirit and Philosophy of Extension Work.” The book is a collection of significant extension papers, including some written by R.K. himself. In one, he focused on “Ships That 4-H Club Work Builds.” He wrote about workmanship, fellowship, acquaintanceship, friendship, sportsmanship, partnership, salesmanship, leadership, stewardship and citizenship. Workmanship was achieved “through better methods of farming and homemaking.” The remaining ships, as R.K. wrote, “have to do principally with getting along with other people. Learning to live happily as families and with neighbors is one of life’s most important achievements. 4-H Club work is training youth not only how to make a living, but also how to live more successfully.”

Today 4-H is building ships not only through club work, but also through all our youth development programs as we invest in Iowa youth. We call it empowering youth to reach their full potential through youth-adult partnerships and research-based experiences. Did you know?

  • 4-H experiences are designed to strengthen a young person’s sense of belonging, generosity, independence and mastery.
  • 4-H’s priority areas are STEM, healthy living, leadership and civic engagement, and communication and the arts. These areas fully align with Iowa State University, ISU Extension and Outreach, and 4-H National Headquarters (USDA/NIFA).
  • Local dollars are leveraged by state, federal and grant dollars. In fiscal year 2016-2017, the state 4-H office brought in over $1.25 million in grants and contracts to support youth across Iowa. These funds helped support lower individual costs for youth and their families; lower county costs for high quality educational products and programs; development of new research-based educational products and programs; research and evaluation; and adoption of new technology.

Each year we reach about 100,000 Iowa youth through 4-H Youth Development. (Want the numbers for your county? Download 4-H Data for Decision Makers.) We build skills in Iowa youth to improve their college and career readiness, address achievement or opportunity gaps, and encourage youth to use their skills to shape Iowa’s future. Or, as R.K. said, we help youth learn to make a living and live more successfully.

Congratulations to our extension colleagues who will be receiving university awards, including:

  • R.K. Bliss Extension Award, Jerry Chizek, Region 7 director
  • Award for Distinguished Service in Extension, Beth Doran, beef field specialist
  • Award for Outstanding Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice, Alison Robertson, professor and extension field pathologist
  • Award for Early Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice, Lee Schulz, assistant professor and extension economist
  • Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award, Sara Sprouse, human sciences specialist
  • Award for Achievement in Economic Development in Iowa, CED Latino Business and Entrepreneurship Team – Lisa Bates, Himar Hernandez, Victor Oyervides, Jill Sokness, Scott Timm and Jon Wolseth
  • Award for Early Achievement in Teaching, Christopher Currey, assistant professor of horticulture
  • International Service Award, Manjit Misra, director, Seed Science Center

One more note: Make sure to review the May program update from the leadership team.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

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