University of Vermont

Cultivating Healthy Communities

Professional Development of Teachers Through University of Vermont 4-H Betters Students

Youth engaging in science

teacher and child watching 4-wheel robot
This 4-H Tech Wizards instructor and mentor evaluating the successful robot launch of a small ball. (Lindsay Jones/UVM Extension)

The United States is falling dangerously behind other nations in developing its future workforce of scientists, engineers and technology experts. It faces a crisis in its ability to keep up with increasing demand for professionals trained in these fields. In Vermont, standardized test scores in science grow increasingly worse as students' age.  Over 70% of intermediary and secondary students rank partially or below proficient on the 2009 NECAP (New England Common Assessment Program) test.

UVM 4-H has embarked upon a five-year plan of action to enhance professional development opportunities for educators. We are conducting workshops, training educators and our volunteers who serve in public schools, after-school programs, as school educators, etc. on how to deliver quality, non-formal science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming with a positive youth development framework. This year 255 trained individuals implemented 245 after-school, special interest, school enrichment and day camp science based programs.

Trained volunteers and staff demonstrated new learned techniques and activities for over 3,500 youth, increasing their knowledge and/or skills in subject areas ranging from animal science to environmental science to technology. According to The YEAK (Youth Engagement, Attitudes and Knowledge) report, 4-H Science has a positive impact on youth interest and engagement in future STEM-related programs. The survey indicates that fifty-nine percent would like to have a job related to science when they graduate from school. That is 2,065 Vermont young people likely to enter the science field.

Contact:Sarah Kleinman, State 4-H Program Director, 802-656-0311,