Manhattan, Kan. — A Kansas 4-H official said the state’s largest youth organization is “excited” to move one of its capstone events for college and career readiness back to in-person learning.
Shane Potter, a 4-H youth development specialist, said Discovery Days will be held on the Kansas State University campus June 1-3. The annual event was only offered virtually the past two years.
“We are really excited to be back in person,” Potter said. “We are happy that we could offer those virtual opportunities, but for Discovery Days, there is nothing that replaces being in person and experiencing college life.”
More than 300 youth ages 13-18 from across Kansas typically attend Discovery Days, which focuses on giving them a college experience that is “as real as possible,” according to Potter.
“They get to live in the dorms, eat in the cafeteria and experience the really cool things that K-State has to offer,” he said. “They will engage with faculty and talk with undergraduate and graduate students that are teaching some of the sessions.”
Youth will explore such areas as science, engineering, animal science, health, entrepreneurship, GIS/GPS technology and many other areas.
“They’ll still be exposed to a lot of the things that 4-H is known for, namely leadership and connection to youth across the state,” Potter said. “But we’re really focused on how we can prepare them for the future. It may be something they find out they love and want to do for the rest of their lives, but it’s also an experience where they can narrow down their interests and realize that something is not for them.
“We’re creating a safe environment where they can try things out.”
Potter noted that youth choose from many shorter content sessions, and eventually have an opportunity to spend one full day immersed in an area they want to explore deeper. All sessions are paired to an academic area available at K-State or at other colleges and universities.
“4-H youth are in projects throughout the year; they’re exploring things around healthy lifestyles and science and engineering and animal science and more,” Potter said. “Discovery Days is an opportunity to go one step deeper than their project-based learning. They’re engaging with experts and faculty that can show them the next step. So, if you love a particular area, we help them learn how they can move forward and look at careers and opportunities in that area.”
Potter said this year’s event will feature some special presentations.
Staff from the Kansas Wetlands Education Center will give a presentation on the Cheyenee Bottoms wetland, commonly thought of as the most bio-diverse ecosystem in Kansas.
And staff from K-State’s Hale Library will teach a session on the Sutherland Foundation Innovation Lab in which youth can learn about videography while exploring the design process.