Educating 4-H volunteers
Faculty at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine do more than teach future veterinarians—they are also concerned with the education of youth who may one day be sitting in their university classes. Several studies have shown that scientific literacy among K-12 youth in the U.S. leaves much to be desired—particularly in California where our state ranked 47th in science on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The 4-H Youth Development Program has the potential to help address this concern as nearly half of the learning opportunities available are science related and emphasize hands-on learning. However, the quality of the professional development for the more than 400,000 adult volunteers who serve as 4-H educators nationwide greatly affects the science learning acquired by the youth involved.
“To be an effective science educator, ongoing professional development that is systematic and intentional is critical,” said Martin Smith, a Cooperative Extension Associate Specialist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “Rather than episodic workshops, we need to provide longer-term professional development opportunities that include reflective practice."
Smith wrote two articles for this issue of California Agriculture on the best models for the professional development of 4-H volunteers and how that can in turn increase scientific literacy among K-12 youth.
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