4-H CLOVERS CODE BRINGS STEAM OPPORTUNITIES TO ALL
As it gears up for its third year of programming, the 4-H Clovers CODE (Creating Opportunities Designed for Everyone) program continues to bring new opportunities to new audiences. Operated by Michigan State University Extension, 4-H Clovers CODE is a Michigan 4-H Youth Development program supported by Apple’s Community Education Initiative.
“The Apple Community Education Initiative has been an amazing program providing state-of-the-art equipment for youth to explore their creative passions, reflect on their learning, engage in new technology and solve problems collaboratively,” said Kathy Jamieson, MSU Extension 4-H educator in charge of the program.
Originally launched in southeast Michigan’s Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, the program was first funded in 2021 and began programming in 2022. Apple provided MSU Extension 4-H with hardware (including iPads and MacBooks), scholarships, professional learning and support for staff and volunteers, and support for a staff member to focus on STEAM programs using Apple curriculum. (STEAM is short for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.) With these resources, 4-H Clovers CODE offered a variety of camps, clubs, after-school and in-school partnerships to advance STEAM learning opportunities in communities that are traditionally underserved. During its first year, 4-H Clovers CODE reached nearly 1,100 participants through 43 different programs.
“It is pure excitement to see youth demonstrate perseverance and resourcefulness in their problem-solving skills during 4-H Clover’s CODE initiatives,” Jamieson said. “The opportunity to teach each other new concepts greatly enhances their confidence and communication skills. The program puts fun in learning for all involved.”
Fun programs launched in 2022 included:
- 4-H Creative Clovers Camp, where 34 young people created videos, made music and explored photography. On the last day of camp, friends and family were invited to see the participants’ creative work. After the camp, 76% of participants agreed that they were interested in exploring a STEAM career.
- A short-term special interest coding program for low-income youth offered in collaboration with a Mt. Clemens community center.
- Other counties incorporated technology into their existing programs by using iPads and other Apple technology to help young people explore topics such as gardening, animal science and sewing.
“4-H Clovers CODE helps youth to develop critical life skills and experience with state-of-the-art technology,” said Julie Chapin, director of MSU Extension’s children and youth programs, including Michigan 4-H. “These can be a course-changing experience for young people because those types of skills and knowledge can be the basis of high-growth, high-paying jobs in technology and creative careers.”
In addition to hands-on programming for youth, support from Apple has helped Michigan 4-H bridge the connectivity gap in communities. Young people and adult volunteers can use iPads at county 4-H meetings to enroll in 4-H and complete online training modules. This not only provides access to those without the technology at home, but also provides support to older volunteers who may not be comfortable using the tools and systems on their own.
In 2023, the 4-H Clovers CODE program expanded to new, rural locations in Chippewa, Delta, Gogebic, Lake, Leelanau, Luce, Mason, Menominee and Schoolcraft counties.
“We’re so grateful for Apple’s ongoing partnership in helping to make this programming possible in new areas,” said Chapin. “The access and opportunity challenges can be the same in our rural communities as it is in our urban communities and Apple’s support has helped us to reach young people and communities in both these spaces.” In 2024, the program hopes to expand again to reach new and different audiences. MSU Extension is seeking community partners such as after-school programs, in-school programs, and libraries that are interested in collaborating on the program. To learn how to join a local 4-H Clovers CODE program or to partner with 4-H to offer the program, visit 4-H Clovers CODE at http://www.canr.msu.edu/4-h-clovers-code.