(Posted March 3, 2016)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
They learned basic programming using robots. They made 40 no-sew flannel blankets for patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Soon, they will learn all about bees.
Students at Plain City Elementary and Monroe Elementary are having a blast, thanks to a partnership between Jonathan Alder Schools and the Madison County Extension Office’s 4-H program.
The partnership is an outgrowth of a 21st Century grant, a federally funded program for children who come from economically disadvantaged families and students who need academic support. The program’s goals are improved literacy, language and math skills, positive youth development, and parent and family engagement.
Participating students meet during or after school four days a week for a wide variety of activities. Once a month, those activities incorporate the 4-H curriculum, fulfilling the goal of positive youth development.
“It gives kids who might not otherwise be able to be part of a traditional 4-H club a chance to experience what 4-H has to offer,” said Cathy Corbitt, Jonathan Alder’s 21st Century grant coordinator.
Through a gardening project, students learned about conservation, the water cycle, and the environment. The blanket project taught a hands-on skill and introduced the idea of helping others. The bee activity will introduce agriculture concepts.
To give students even more of a taste of 4-H, Corbitt is looking into holding an essay and presentation contest, with the winner earning a partial scholarship to attend 4-H summer camp.
“Demonstrations and public speaking are a big thing in 4-H. This would be a way to incorporate that into what we’re doing,” she said.
All participating students also have learned the 4-H Pledge, which emphasizes clear thinking, service and loyalty—traits that fit well with the 21st Century program goal of positive youth development.
Plain City Elementary is in its second year of the three-year 21st Century grant and has 63 students enrolled. Monroe Elementary is in its first year and has 48 students enrolled. This is the first school year for the partnership between the schools and 4-H Extension.
“Parents seem to really enjoy it, and the kids seem to be enjoying it,” Corbitt said. “You can see growth in their confidence. It’s a chance to experience things they wouldn’t be exposed to normally.”