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4-H boosting school success

Presli Binkly and Kjiersten Bell watch as volunteer Gudrun Maunter demonstrates how to load a weaving shuttle during a 4-H club meeting. (NMSU/Jane Moorman)

Albuquerque Public Schools principals are turning to the 4-H Youth Development program to spark success. Eight schools are implementing programs to help students.

Collet Park Elementary School principal Stephani Treadwell was looking for a way to provide experiential learning opportunities for her school’s students when she contacted New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences’ 4-H Youth Development program in Bernalillo County.bright spot

The first-in-the-nation “4-H in the School” program is helping improve performance.

The result has been a decrease in behavioral issues, increase in attendance, improvement in student subject proficiency and rise in school-wide scores.

“Our students were not retaining information they had been proficient in the prior week,” Treadwell said. “We realized that new information is retained when it is connected to knowledge … gained through an experience. The majority of our students live in poverty and have not had a wide variety of experiences to link classroom learning to.”

When Treadwell did an internet search on experience and learning, the first item listed was 4-H and experimental learning.

The educational administrator contacted NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service office in Albuquerque and a successful collaboration began.

Brittany Sonntag and Nicole Jacobs, 4-H agents, helped Treadwell develop a plan to integrate a 4-H curriculum into her school.

“We believe Collet Park Elementary is the first school in the nation to implement the 4-H club model and curriculum during the school day,” Sonntag said. “The results are amazing.”

“We dove into the 4-H curriculum and we love it,” Treadwell said. “We implemented school-wide 4-H clubs in 2016, with … teachers using subject kits in their class curriculum the following year.”

Each Friday afternoon, during the last hour of the school week, students attend 4-H clubs they chose featuring a variety of projects ranging from art, woodworking and crafts to weaving, knitting, cooking and gardening.

“The classroom teachers are the project leader. They have picked a subject they enjoy and want to share with the students,” Treadwell said. “Each club has officers, and they begin each Friday with the 4-H Pledge and business meeting, then work on the project activity.”

Besides hands-on projects, the students are learning to be responsible for their homework assignments.

“The students have to complete all of their homework for the week before they can participate in the 4-H Club activities,” Treadwell said. “So, sometimes you will see a student in the back of the classroom working diligently to get their assignments done.”

The teachers are seeing the benefit of the program during regular class activities.

“The kids are experiencing things, then thinking about what it is that they have experienced and how they have grown through the process by … analyzing the activity,” said Nancy Zulic, fourth grade teacher. “They are also becoming more verbal. They are able to talk about what they are learning. I think it has improved their overall performance as students and problem solvers.”

Presli Binkly and Kjiersten Bell watch as volunteer Gudrun Maunter demonstrates how to load a weaving shuttle during a 4-H club meeting. Since implementing the 4-H in the school program there has been a decrease in behavioral issues, increase in school attendance, improvement in student subject proficiency and increase in school-wide scores.

Collet Park Elementary School third-grader Gavin Bendall is learning to weave during one of the school’s Friday afternoon 4-H clubs. Every student at the PreK-5 school attends a 4-H club if they have completed all of their homework for the week.

4-H program in Albuquerque elementary school turning school’s grade around

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