National 4-H Youth in Action
Thursday, August 22, 2019
Posted by: Kelly E. Adams 4-H Program Coordinator, NY
I cannot express how amazing it has been to see one of my 4-H members be recognized as a National 4-H Youth in Action winner. I have watched my 4-H’er, Clyde Van Dyke, grow from a fun, joking, energetic young man, into a competent, confident, young adult who is connected, and engaged with his community. I am proud of him for who he has become and how he is sharing that with the next generation of 4-H youth.
The Youth in Action (YIA) program provides youth an opportunity to share how 4-H impacts their lives and showcase their impact on their club, communities, country and world. As a spokesperson for National 4-H Council, YIA allows them to expose the diverse opportunities of 4-H to a greater audience. National 4-H Council, through the YIA program, brands 4-H on a national level, supports local 4-H programs, and helps to show how powerful the impact is on youth no matter what their 4-H Spark is.
I believe that encouraging youth to apply for the YIA program is important. Partnering with youth, we can help them put their 4-H experiences into “skill” and “attribute” language. We can provide feedback on their essays, help them record their 60 second application video, or provide the space and equipment for youth to interview with 4-H Council. Many of our 4-H’ers have developed these skills along the way in their 4-H programming, but they still need our support as they apply for scholarships (like this one), for colleges, and for jobs.
Having a 4-H Youth in Action pillar winner is truly incredible, and you have a great opportunity to help them navigate this new experience. Our community overflowed with support for Clyde, so I stepped in to support him in media coverage, sharing the press release National 4-H Council designed, and promoting him (and other youth) in our state. He was fortunate enough to be recognized for his accomplishments by the Village of Johnson City (his hometown), the County Executive, and by his State Senator, Fred Akshar, with an Akshar’s All-Stars award. It has certainly been a busy year! I’ve also stepped up to help him with paperwork, videos & photos, registering for 4-H events he’s attending, coordinating transportation, and identifying additional funding streams. National 4-H Council covers most of the expenses involved, but there are always incidentals and souvenirs!
Even if your 4-Her is not selected as a Pillar winner, it’s a great learning experience. You can meet with them to talk about how the process went, helping them navigate through and see where they could improve and apply again. Maybe they would fit a different Pillar category better. Maybe they need to do some additional community work to really solidify their project and help it grow. Help your 4-H’er understand that they haven’t failed! This is an opportunity for growth! You can also use their application materials to tell the 4-H story in your community. Just because they weren’t named a pillar winner doesn’t mean you can’t repurpose their essays to use as profile stories for your local news/blog or use their application video/photos for your 4-H social media! You can give them opportunities to share their stories whether they’re selected as a winner or not.
From the moment it was announced that Clyde received the National 4-H STEM Pillar Youth in Action award, he has experienced so many opportunities that have helped him grow even more, as in individual. From the scholarship money he’s received, to the experiences he’s had with leaders in the tech industry, to representing 4-H in various capacities, this has really been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Pillar winners receive a $5K scholarship for college. As the 4-H National 4-H Youth in Action Winner, Clyde Van Dyke received an additional $5K scholarship, which allows him to finish his associate’s and most of his bachelor’s degrees, debt free! In today’s economy, this is a major plus for someone starting out after college.
As the STEM Pillar winner, Clyde represented 4-H youth across the nation at the 2019 National Youth Science Day Design Summit in New York City. This was a 2-day event at Google NYC with Google staff and West Virginia University Extension Service staff. Clyde gave his input on several of the activities and provided details about his experiences with STEM and NYSD activities. They even offered him a job when he graduated college! Once the activities were designed, he was asked to review them and provide final feedback.
Through this experience, he has used and enhanced his public speaking talents through numerous speeches, interviews, presentations, and more. From working with a professional video crew, to interviews with the newspaper, news stations, his college and high school, to being videotaped for a show on PBS, that will air in the fall about Chasing the Dream. He has been asked to speak to Cornell University’s Executive Directors, P-Tech graduation ceremonies and will be the Keynote for a STEM Sampler event at Cornell.
Connecting with the other Youth in Action Pillar winners - Addy Battel for Agriculture, Mason McClintock for Civic Engagement, and Elisabeth Watkins for Healthy Living – at the Legacy Awards was a really special experience He also got to meet with National 4-H Council CEO, Jennifer Sirangelo, famous performers like Jennifer Nettles and Carla Hall, National 4-H Youth Advisory Committee, and many distinguished 4-H Alumni.
In addition to fellow 4-H’ers and 4-H alums, Clyde has also met with his sponsor, HughesNet, a leading company in satellite internet services and the STEM Pillar sponsor. As the official sponsor of the 4-H Youth in Action STEM Pillar Award, HughesNet gave Clyde a tour of their offices in Maryland. Clyde’s goal is to represent 4-H youth and show how partnerships with companies, like HughesNet, can make a huge impact on youth. Over the next few months, Clyde will author an activity for the National 4-H STEM Lab, sponsored by HughesNet, and he is looking forward to presenting at the National 4-H STEM Summit.
Another upcoming special experience for Clyde is meeting with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). OJJDP supports the National 4-H Mentoring programs, and Clyde is looking forward to sharing his 4-H story of getting involved in 4-H through the 4-H Tech Wizards mentoring program. It’s amazing to see his 4-H experiences come full circle.
Watching Clyde win the National YIA Award at the Legacy Awards took my breath away! His character shines where every he goes and through all that he does. As he stood in front of the crowd and recognized me in his thank-you speech, I cannot say that my eyes remained dry!!
Over the past few months, I’ve reflected back on all the experiences Clyde has had through 4-H and how he has taken them all on with enthusiasm and vigor. It has been amazing to support him through his Youth in Action Journey so far, and I look forward to providing those same experiences to more youth and encouraging them to apply for YIA as well.
For more information about the 4-H Youth in Action program, you can visit http://4-H.org/YouthInAction, or you can email YouthInAction@4-H.org.