(Posted March 7, 2018)
By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
Madison County OSU Extension is extending 4-H’s Heads, Hearts, Hands and Health into the classroom.
Kirsten Holt, 4-H Extension educator, can be found at schools around the county, offering third- through fifth-graders the opportunity to get up close and personal with topics such as animal and plant science, rocketry, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
During a recent presentation to fourth-graders at Plain City Elementary, Holt talked about indigenous Ohio animals, then passed around actual and replica skulls of carnivores, omnivores and herbivores, along with their accompanying pelts, on loan from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Holt told the students it was an opportunity for them to see the different kinds of animals found in Ohio, learn about their eating habits, and talk about camouflage used by animals as predator and prey.
“I think this is really cool,” said student Samantha Pauly. “Most of the time, you don’t get to see them or their skulls or pelts up close.”
Holt started offering in-school enrichment programming in 2016 at Plain City Elementary and Monroe Elementary in the Jonathan Alder school district. The launch was linked with the district’s 21st Century Grant after-school program. Holt has since teamed up with other districts in the county.
The in-school lessons are derived from researched-based curriculum developed by the National 4-H organization, other Extension programs around the country, or The Ohio State University.
“This really gets them (elementary students) excited about things we don’t get to talk about as much in school,” said Maggie Lombardi, Plain City Elementary teacher. “When you tell them it’s 4-H day, they get so excited.”
All programming offered by Holt can be aligned to state standards if a teacher so desires. Some programming is directly aligned, whereas other programming might be different in order to offer something new.
“This connects with our standards,” said Plain City Elementary teacher Kristal Seagraves, who was a 4-H member for 10 years. “It is much more hands-on when someone different comes into the classroom.”
Holt said she reaches approximately 600 students at five different schools.
“I would like to have every third- to fifth-grader in the county involved in a 4-H school enrichment program by the end of 2018, then grow to middle school and high school audiences starting in 2019,” she said.
“I am looking to build in-school programming that would be monthly throughout the entire school year.”
Holt plans to announce a new 4-H enrichment opportunity in March–an in-school project booth for children who aren’t involved in 4-H clubs in the community.
“That way they, too, can have a presence at the county fair,” Holt explained.