On-campus events strengthen off-campus outreach

It never ceases to amaze me how smoothly 4-H Exploration Days (led by Judy Ratkos) and the 4-H State Awards program (led by Jake DeDecker) come off each year, and this year was no exception. Behind the scenes, county and state staff members, volunteers, interns, parents, outside instructors, chaperones and countless others dealt with crises and problems as they cropped up, but to the more than 2,000 youth who participated last week, these events seemed to run like clockwork. New sessions on topics such as worm farming or working with sled dogs were hits, as were returning favorites such as producing a TV show or climbing and rappelling.

 And it seemed that no sooner did the last of the Exploration Days youth leave for home, when another group moved in – youth and grandparents for Grandparents University (led by Kathryn Reed). Since Tuesday of this week, hundreds of youth/grandparent teams have been experiencing campus life and learning about how MSU milk becomes cheese and ice cream, aquatic ecology, “green” packaging, digital storytelling – even Israeli folk dancing!

 The Grandparents U folks head for home today, but next week MSU welcomes yet ANOTHER group to campus – participants and chaperones for 4-H’s first ever Discovery Camp (led by Jake DeDecker). This small group of 10 teens will get a much more intimate experience, spending a week learning about alternative energy solutions both on campus and through several field trips. Not only do these camps make for a busy few weeks here on campus, but they also strengthen the conduit between knowledge and resources on the MSU campus and our “clients” out in the state who are the main audience for MSU Extension’s outreach mission.

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