Innovative program steps up value of the youth development program. By Patricia McDaniels, UTIA Marketing and Communications
Every 4-H’er knows the project portfolio is the culmination of years of work on the part of the youth. Whether they choose to learn in depth about what it takes to rear a calf or colt, how to manage and coordinate a garden or how to research and present a first-rate presentation, the 4-H project portfolio represents a tremendous effort on the part of senior 4-H students. Now they can get college credits for their work.
In a unique agreement between the University of Tennessee Herbert College of Agriculture and UT Extension, which oversees the statewide Tennessee 4-H Program, senior level 4-H students will soon be able to apply for college credit in 10 project areas. The currently approved projects represent coursework in the Department of Animal Science or the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications.
“I am more than thrilled to be able to announce this new collaboration between our Herbert College of Agriculture and UT Extension, said Carrie Castille, senior vice chancellor and senior vice president of the UT Institute of Agriculture. “I believe this is the first time that the dedication and in-depth knowledge of our 4-H’ers has been recognized on the college level. As a 4-H’er in my youth, I can tell you that every acknowledgment is valued as students launch their academic careers.”
“Of course, the students must reach certain benchmarks within each project,” says Ashley Stokes, dean of UT Extension. “We are working to add to the number of projects for which students can receive credit, but we must ensure the academic integrity of each college course and ensure that the 4-H project objectives and accomplishments line up with the college course requirements. Our faculty and specialists have worked collaboratively to make this innovative program possible.”
The new program was announced on July 19 at the annual 4-H Roundup at UT Martin by Castille. Roundup is a five-day event during which senior level 4-H’ers present their project portfolios to panels of experts who judge the presentations and the effort surrounding each project. The top-tier projects in certain categories earn the student scholarships and Roundup participants earn bragging rights for their efforts.
Stokes and Caula Beyl, dean of the UT Herbert College of Agriculture, are working with UT Knoxville to ensure the program launch is successful and can be in place in order for students to participate this school year. Says Beyl, “The credits are a tremendous opportunity for new Herbert students that have completed the rigors of a senior 4-H portfolio. Students who succeed in completing specific 4-H projects will satisfy requirements for a related course in the Herbert College, with the first programs expected to be animal science, and agricultural leadership and communications.”
Beyl says the formal curricular approval process is being followed to enable expansion of this extraordinary opportunity to other disciplines in agriculture and relevant areas of study across the university.