Foundations: 4-H Funding Unlocks Opportunities

Though most Wyomingites are familiar with 4-H, they may not be aware of the Wyoming State 4-H Foundation, the organization that provides financial support for 4-H programming across Wyoming.

The 4-H Foundation receives funds, contacts donors, and administers grants across the state. The foundation focuses four core areas: 4-H programming, scholarships, out-of-state trips, and awards and recognition. Through the foundation, 4-H youth are able to not just show livestock or learn about woodworking, but also build robots, apply for a state 4-H leadership position, and even attend international conferences.

A boy leaning down over a lego robot. The robot has pincers and wheels and is right next to a small red lego tower. The boy is white with short brown hair and is wearing a green lanyard.
Wyoming 4-H’er participates in a robotics competition at Showcase Showdown in Laramie. Photo by Tanya Engel.

Long before experiential learning became a buzzword, 4-H educators and volunteers understood that kids learn best by doing. “It’s uplifting to know all the research and science behind positive youth development has been reinforced,” says Johnathan Despain, former Wyoming 4-H program coordinator.

4-H gives kids the chance to develop confidence and try out new skills in a supportive setting. “We intentionally create opportunities that offer a sense of independence, belonging, generosity, and self-confidence,” Despain comments.

Garett Schamber, a senior at UW, got involved with 4-H when he was eight. “I learned a lot of valuable lessons through 4-H,” he says. In particular, he learned hard work and time management, which have made it much easier for him to move through college.

“4-H is the first interaction a lot of kids have with the University of Wyoming,” says Steve Mack, Wyoming State 4-H Foundation director. “We hold a couple of events on campus, and that’s their first glimpse at UW and what it has to offer. You hope it makes a big enough impression that they want to become students here.”

The foundation directly impacts Wyoming college students through scholarships. During the 2022–2023 academic year, the 4-H Foundation awarded more than $64,000 in scholarships to Wyoming 4-H’ers attending the University of Wyoming or a Wyoming community college.

The Ella Schloredt scholarship, for example, currently funds more than 20 full-time UW students. Every year, the 4-H Foundation selects six to eight new students to receive the scholarship. Past winners can remain eligible for up to four years.

The 4-H Foundation is always looking for new ways to support positive youth development and increase access to opportunities, and its impact isn’t limited to children ages eight through eighteen. Through the foundation and the opportunities it opens up, 4-H youth build foundations for life.

Wyoming 4-H scholarships for 2024 are open now. Applications are due by Feb. 15, 2024.

This article was originally published in AgNews 2023, UW College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources’ annual print magazine.

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