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4-H And Google Reaching Beyond Agriculture

Google and 4-H programs are now working together to teach useful technology skills to the public. Google donated $1.5 million for trainings, equipment and other useful supplies for 20 different states.

David Francis works in the Utah 4-H extension office and helps provide science, technology, engineering and math programs to the public.

“So we take what happens at the university, we get it in the hands of the people,” Francis said. “We take questions from the community and issues that need to be solved and take them to the university and start coming up with solutions. So there’s this two-way street of information flow and questions.”

Francis said the National 4-H Council wanted to take extension a step further and approached Google about expanding efforts in computer science and computational thinking.

“And that can include things like robotics, it includes the computer science, it includes the natural resources and environmental science,” Francis said. ”People, when they hear 4-H they think, ‘Oh that’s agriculture. That’s cooking. That’s sewing.’ So what we’re trying to do is push that envelope to expand the reach of that. So this next step is really fostering the computer coding and the computer science.”

Francis said programs like this have important impacts on the lives of young people.

“We don’t want kids to just be users of technology we want kids to be creators of technology,” he said.

These programs help young people become qualified for future jobs, but Francis said it also develops leadership skills.

“And that’s what’s most exciting about what we’re doing is using teens as teachers for computer science,” Francis said. “That’s what’s going to give them the skills to go into industry and say, ‘Not only do I understand the science of what we’re doing, but I have the skills of a leader to be able to collaborate, to communicate, to work as a team collectively to realize some of these goals.’ And that’s what I think is helping prepare these kids for these careers.”