USU Extension 4-H Youth Part of National Campaign
Thursday, Sep. 06, 2012
Kelcie Thomas with 4-H youth.
Kaydn Ence works with a 4-H robotics club member.
Utah State University Extension 4-H celebrates 100 years in 2012, and there are many stories to be told of youth who are making a difference in their communities. Two such Utah youth were recently featured on the national 4-H website as part of the Revolution of Responsibility Campaign, a movement for positive change in every community in America.
“We are so pleased to have the quality of 4-H members that we have in Utah,” said Kevin Kesler, USU Extension director of the Utah 4-H program. “Our youth stand out in any forum, and Utah has a national reputation for producing outstanding youth with extensive leadership skills.”
One 4-H youth working to make a difference is Kaydn Ence from St. George. When a large company decided not to establish a presence in St. George due to the lack of people with technological skills, Ence, a 16-year-old 4-H teen leader, decided to provide technology education to the next generation of the workforce.
“He established 4-H robotics clubs in his county and worked with his local 4-H office, school system and university to promote the programs,” said Paul Hill, USU Extension 4-H agent for Washington County. “He raised more than $2,000 through grants, fundraising and local sponsorships to buy robotics kits.”
The robotics clubs have sparked the interests of local youth and provided preliminary training for future careers in computer programming, engineering and technology.
"Robotics sounds difficult, but with enough motivation and guidance, anyone can learn how to build and program an autonomous robot,” Ence said.
Just a few short months after founding the program, Ence set up seven area robotics clubs with more than 75 total members. The club participants are learning skills that will carry over to future studies and careers in related fields.
“Kaydn embodies what the Revolution of Responsibility campaign is all about,” said Hill. “He learned of a need in his community and he stepped up to solve it. Many people have ideas and talk about what can be done, but Kaydn went out and made things happen.”
Another youth featured on the national 4-H website as part of the Revolution of Responsibility Campaign is Kelcie Thomas who became interested in battling childhood obesity after completing a research paper as a high school student in Oak City. An avid dancer, Thomas enjoyed teaching dance to younger children and started a dance class in her 4-H community. She realized that she could share her passion for dance to help youth understand the important role fitness plays in a healthy lifestyle, and she founded an organization called “Creating a Healthier You” to show youth in her community new ways to be fit and stay healthy.
According to Millard County Extension 4-H staff assistant Sharal Young, through fund-raising campaigns, an online contest and help from local businesses, Thomas raised enough money to buy equipment for physical education classes and through her “Creating a Healthier You” foundation, has sent equipment to all 40 Utah school districts.
“In total, we’ve reached nearly 250,000 elementary school kids with new equipment, dance training and information about healthy eating and exercise habits,” said Thomas. “It’s been very rewarding.”
In the future, Thomas plans to turn her passion into a career and wants to teach dance to elementary age children.
According to the national 4-H website, 4-H youth are a living, breathing, culture-changing revolution for doing the right thing, breaking through obstacles and pushing the country forward by making a measurable difference right where they live.
“Utah 4-H youth are definitely proving they are part of that revolution of responsibility in their local communities, the state of Utah and nationally,” said Kesler. “Parents, leaders and citizens in general should be proud of the 4-H youth they help to develop and the way those youth represent their communities.”
Writer: Julene Reese, 435-797-0810
Contact: Kevin Kesler, 435-797-0930