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4-H high school students "discover" their future

Posted 6/25/2008

Third annual program attracts 50-plus teens to life at the University

RENO -- Some high school students are cut out for the college experience. Others prefer different career options.

But for 57 students from 11 Nevada counties, the 2008 Discover Your Future program opened their eyes and gave them a weeklong taste of life on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Ranging in career interests from engineering to science, teens attended the annual University of Nevada Cooperative Extension 4-H program, June 15-19.

"I would discover the ’your’ tremendous opportunity you have," University Provost Marc Johnson told the students during last Wednesday’s banquet. "You already expressed your desire by coming to Discover Your Future because you wanted to learn more than you were getting from school. You have already shown deliberate desire to build your future."

From the dorms to meals at the campus "cafeteria," the 4-H high schoolers experienced college life at its best.

"We have a balanced program that seems to be apparently meeting their needs. They met new friends and enjoyed college life," said Steve Schaffer, state 4-H program coordinator.

Not only did they eat on campus, but students attended three two-hour class sessions (College Tracks) in their major field of interest. On the last day, students from three fields (engineering, technology, science) gave presentations to fellow participants and faculty, showing them how they took advantage of the instruction. Students also got a glimpse of possible career options at the career fair.

"We wanted to expose them to different careers and fields of study," Warren Andersen, 4-H military and technology assistant, said. "They learn to work well together and expand their horizons as they hopefully find interest in a career."

Geography instructor Patrick Guiberson worked with the technology group last Wednesday and introduced GPS navigation to the students. They used the device to track and map Frisbees they threw across the lower quad. In the final part of the exercise, Guiberson had the students create maps in the computer lab.

"We used the GPS equipment to mark locations outside and then take that info and put it on the computer," Guiberson said. "Hopefully when they learn about this technology, they realize it’s not just for geography majors. Education is not just in books. You have to get your feet wet."

Students were also exposed to the University’s seismology lab and learned about the recent swarm of earthquakes in the Truckee Meadows. They also dissected a sheep’s eye and heart, maneuvered robots and toured the heat and cooling plants.

Youth experienced the other side of college life �“ socializing. Recreational activities at Rancho San Rafael and Lombardi Recreation Center enabled teens to exercise and hang out with new friends.

"I liked everything from the classes to the dorms," said Chance Haworth, a 14-year-old freshman at Pahranagat Valley High School in Alamo. "I liked the (earthquake) shake tables the most because the cement would break and explode into pieces. I could use engineering to help people if they’re stuck or broken down."

Just for a fun twist on education, William Mehm and Dennis Dobies from Truckee Meadows Community College delivered a magic show. Like any show, they captured the banquet-dinner audience with their illusions and then explained the presentation.

"Magic has been around since the time of Egyptians," said Mehm, a science professor at TMCC. "Many spiritualists did magic tricks to make them seem like they had special powers. The paranormal has an enormous attraction. They’re just absolutely drawn to it."

A waiting list for next year’s 4-H camp has already started after Discover Your Future attracted its largest student numbers in its three years. For more information, contact your local Cooperative Extension office, or Schafer at 775-784-6207.

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