November 3, 2011

Management of 4-H Shifts To Link Research, Outreach

Print More

New York’s 4-H Program  — previously managed by the Cornell Cooperative Extension in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences — will now be managed by Cornell’s new Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. The transfer of the program is part of an effort to more closely link research at Cornell with 4-H’s outreach mission.  The move to the Bronfenbrenner Center will strengthen the connection between research and youth educators, according to Prof. Stephen Hamilton, human development, the associate director for youth development at the Brofenbrenner Center.“The new relationship with the Bronfenbrenner Center is truly exciting because it makes for a very close connection between the most current research and community-based Cornell Cooperative Extension youth development programs all across New York State,” Kathy Scholl, the extension specialist, said in an email.Valerie Adams, the newly appointed 4-H youth development leader and assistant director of CCE, agreed that the move of the 4-H program’s oversight into the Brofenbrenner Center would bridge the gap between research and practice.“It facilitates a two-way conversation between researchers and educators on how to best serve young people,” she said.4-H stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health. According to the National 4-H website, “The seed of the 4-H idea of practical and ‘hands-on’ learning came from the desire to make public school education more connected to country life.” The 4-H program provides a variety of youth programs, such as camps, fairs and workshops.The decision to move the administration of 4-H into the Bronfenbrenner Center was made by Director of CCE Prof. Helene Dillard, plant pathology, along with the co-operation of other faculty in CALS and the College of Human Ecology.New York State responded positively to the move, according to Hamilton.In the center, “young people not only learn what scientists have discovered, but they learn how to be scientists themselves,” Hamilton said.The move of the 4-H Program’s administration into the Bronfenbrenner Center coincided with the merging of the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center and the Family Life Development Center — a decision which, according to the mission statement of the Bronfenbrenner Center, was taken to improve research and practice.“Both centers were doing work that was complementary. When the dean [of Human Ecology] sat down to look at the works they were doing, he saw that their works were parallel. It then made sense to create one center,” Adams said.Hamilton expressed optimism about the future relationship of 4-H with the center.“I’ve been pleased at the reception of the move. I see the connection that 4-H has in the land grant and as a good opportunity to improve youth development programs,” Hamilton said. “I am enthusiastic about sharing that with other universities and youth development programs.”

Original Author: Jinjoo Lee