From the State Leader's Desk... ..May

Posted: May 21, 2012

by Christy Bartley

Spring has caused a lot of change and growth around my home. My house is once again hidden in the trees and difficult to find. I can no longer see the homes of my neighbors. Growth and change has been significant for the 4-H program and for our efforts to positively work with youth across the state. The first nine 4-H teams from Pennsylvania to enter a regional First Robotics Championship can hold their heads high. The members and adults who mentored them learned a lot and even won some awards. The team from Jefferson County qualified to go on to the national championship as a rookie team. At nationals, they ranked 64th out of 100. Not bad!

Last fall the Dean had asked 4-H to represent the College at the USA Science Festival at the Convention Center in Washington, DC. Deb Dietrich, Karen Hack, and Susan Taylor helped to man the booth and determine what we would highlight in the booth. Karen recruited parents and 4-H members from the Franklin County robotics club to help us interact with the thousands of adults and youth who attended the festival. The 4-H club had their FRC robot on display plus designed battle bots out of Lego NXT kits. As Deb indicated in an email to the 4-H science team, we did a great job of drawing people to the booth. High schoolers and adults wanted to know more about the large robot and, of course, had to share if they were alums or students at Penn State. Parents and their children enjoyed the battle bots. Jonathan Ziegler, Marketing and Communications, helped with the booth design and the set up and take down. Deb was even able to recruit a new 4-H member although far from home. It was a great team effort.

We all know we are doing a great job when people start to call the State 4-H Office to ask how they can support 4-H or how 4-H can be involved in programming they are doing. We have had many calls this spring and are looking forward to new collaborations. The 4-H State Council was invited to the Governor’s Mansion for breakfast with the First Lady during 4-H Capital Days. To our surprise, the Governor was also available to meet with the group. Some State Council members will also have the opportunity to meet with Secretary Vilsak while he is on campus. State legislators have been calling to find out how they might be able to support 4-H programming. As those calls come in, we are directing them to the appropriate county offices. The excellent programming you offer and the celebration of our Centennial have provided us with strong marketing opportunities.

We are also aware of the many changes to policy AD39 dealing with minors in University programs. Although the changes significantly change how we screen volunteers, in the many conversations I have had with the Risk Management and Human Resources offices, I continue to hear the confidence people have in the 4-H program because we have been following an approved screening process for over 20 years. We have also been offering mandated reporter training to our staff and permissive reporter training to our volunteers for over 10 years. I look forward to the first staff training using the Penn State mandated reporter training materials on May 16th at 10:00 at We have also been alerted that a revised AD39 will be released shortly along with a policy defining mandated reporters and the process for screening.

I also see change in the work groups. Educators are beginning to see the benefits of working in small groups to accomplish work that can then be used by the entire state. I am proud of those who have worked hard to advance the 4-H program and thank you once again for your accomplishments.