Mohave County 4-Hers Connect with University of Arizona, STEM
A UA Freshman from Mohave County says part of the reason she’s attending the University of Arizona – is thanks to a 4-H program that’s been around for more than 30 years.
“I started attending the U of A, and one of the reasons I came here, is because of this. And I saw the campus. I came here, and I was like ‘I really like this campus, and I really like the programs’, says Kailah Goers, a freshman from Kingman, Arizona.
Goers is talking about an annual field trip from Kingman to Tucson to see campus, and tour the university’s food product and safety lab.
The lab visit is part of the ‘meat judging contest’ 4-Hers can enter after raising an animal, as part of their livestock and market project.
“We brought a group of 4-H youngsters today, who competed at the Mohave County Fair with their animals. We brought them down to the meat lab for them to actually see their animals, what kind of meat products those animals produce,” says Gerald Olson, Extension Agent in 4-H Youth Development in Mohave County.
Olson, accompanied by parents and 4-H volunteers, has been bringing 9-18 year olds to Tucson for the campus tour for more than 35 years.
“They can evaluate their feeding program, their exercise program, and determine whether they’re doing the right stuff. ‘Am I feeding too much? Am I not exercising enough?’ So over the years, they’ve been able to use this data to improve the product that they’re making,” Olson says.
Dr. Sam Garcia, Assistant Professor of Practice and the Manager of the Food Product and Safety Lab, talks with the 4-Hers in a classroom setting, and gives them a tour.
Garcia talks about cuts of meat or pork, and how categories like “prime” and “choice” are given.
One mother of a 4-Her, and a 4-H leader, says it’s an invaluable experience.
“They came to see the end product of their fair animals – so they raised them, and now they get to see their meat that they raised. And the end result. They get to see it – from beginning to end – what they put into their project is what gets produced,” says Shannon Cavalierre.
“4-H teaches responsibility. This teaches them how to humanely raise something. It teaches them to see something through from beginning to end, so they know what they put into something – they get something out of it,” Cavalierre says.
This year, there were a few ‘extras’ included in the visit.
Christina Garcia, an Academic Advisor for Veterinary Science and Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, talked to students about coming to the University, areas of study, and opportunities for scholarships and financial aid.
And 4-Hers also got to visit the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, to hear from current undergraduate and graduate students from Dr. Sadhana Ravishankar’s and Dr. Gerardo Lopez’s labs at UA.
That part of the visit, is a new STEM – or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math - component.
“It helps us bridge from the county level to the University. Making those contacts – it encourages students to pursue their college careers here at the University of Arizona versus other universities,” says Dr. Gerardo Lopez, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in 4-H STEM Youth Development.
“I think them being on campus is going to let them think, ‘I can pursue this degree’. I like having the undergraduate, and graduate students involved, as well, it makes a direct connection to something they’re doing in 4-H, to what their career and degree could be,” says Lopez.
“The extra effort Jerry Olson makes to bring the Mohave 4-Hers to the UA campus deserves a special thanks, it truly opens the young kids’ eyes and makes them feel they can attend the University of Arizona”, says Lopez.
Another part of the Tucson visit for the 4-Hers, is a home football game at the end of the visit. Another important piece, says Olson.
“Our kids come from Kingman Arizona, in Mohave County” Olson says.
“And there are more people in that stadium, than live in Kingman, so they get to see something big and something really important. And they see campus, and walk around campus- they get the idea and the feeling, that, ‘I can do this. This is not a big, scary place’. A lot of our kids don’t think of going to college. A lot of our kids don’t think that far. They think high school is the end. So, this is a chance for us to show them there is something for them after high school.”