We knew all along that Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp is a great pre-college program for kids to learn through outdoor hands-on experiences and have fun in the process. Others have noticed as well. In 2008, the annual seven-day camp held on the shores of Lake Huron in Presque Isle, Michigan, was named as a 4-H Program of Distinction. In 2009, it won the National 4-H and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Natural Resources Conservation Education Award.
In 2011, it was selected out of 70 nominations of promising science programs through a structured process of nominations and vetting as one of eight top science programs in a National 4-H science program in-depth case study. The study was part of the 4-H Youth Development Program’s National Science Initiative evaluation funded by the Noyce Foundation through a grant to National 4-H Council.
A new report was recently released on the case study. “Priming the Pipeline: Lessons from Promising 4-H Science Programs,” written by Derek Riley and Alisha Butler from Policy Studies Associates, features the camp and the seven other selected science programs. It covers practices in the following areas: youth outreach and recruitment, staff and science volunteers, professional development, science curricula and pedagogy, youth development and attitudes toward science, partner organizations and resource support, program evaluation, and program sustainability and scale-up.
Senior program leader Judy Ratkos serves as camp administrator and co-directs the camp with 4-H volunteer Bob Patterson.
Judy said, “It is truly an honor for the staff and volunteers involved in 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp to have it recognized as one of the top 4-H science programs in the nation. To have it held up as a model for other youth science programs – both within and outside of 4-H – creates awareness that MSU Extension can help lead the way in increasing science literacy among Michigan young people and increase the number of youth pursuing postsecondary education and careers in science.
“The lessons shared in this newly released report should be helpful to other 4-H science programs striving to be ‘SET Ready.’ A SET Ready 4-H experience is a program that is framed in science, engineering and technology concepts based on SET standards and intentionally targets the development of SET abilities and the outcomes articulated by the 4-H SET Logic Model,” Judy said.
Congratulations to Judy and her team! They inspire the rest of us to make the best even better.