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4-H Science, Engineering and Technology Initiative Responds to the Need for Future Scientific Leaders

Working toward 1 million new youth participating in science, engineering and technology activities by 2013

Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188
June 24, 2008

In today's global economy, it is more important than ever to develop a workforce strong in science, engineering and technology. However, only 32 percent of current U.S. college graduates are earning degrees in these fields, compared to 66 percent in Japan and 59 percent in China. The 4-H Youth Development Program offers a solution to address the need for future scientists.

4-H's Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) initiative reaches more than 5 million youth with hands-on learning experiences to encourage young minds and to fill the pipeline of young leaders proficient in science. Today, 4-H out-of-school opportunities focus on agricultural science, electricity, mechanics, natural sciences, rocketry, robotics, biofuels, renewable energy and computer science.

"With the Cooperative Extension System's direct connection to the cutting-edge research and resources of the nation's 106 land-grant universities and colleges, 4-H is strategically positioned to strengthen the United States' global competitiveness and leadership in science, engineering and technology," said Dan Kugler, USDA-CSREES deputy administrator. "The combination of content and context inherent in 4-H clubs, camps and 4-H afterschool programs is proven to have a positive effect on youth, resulting in young adults who are prepared to contribute, excel and lead in their communities and workplaces."

National 4-H Headquarters, along with its private partner National 4-H Council, has set the goal of preparing one million new young people to excel in science, engineering and technology by 2013. To complement its SET curricula, 4-H announced that National Youth Science Day will be held on October 8, 2008, during National 4-H Week. The day will feature a National Science Experiment -- a designated science activity that will engage youth across the country.

The announcement of National Youth Science Day came during a kick-off event on June 18 for the SET initiative on Capitol Hill, co-hosted by Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Tom Harkin, as well as Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

National 4-H Headquarters seeks to promote positive youth development, facilitate learning and engage youth in the work of the land-grant universities and USDA to enhance their quality of life. Nearly 7 million youth, ages 5-19, participate in 4-H youth development experiences in all 50 states, territories and military installations worldwide. More information is available at Information on the SET initiative can be found at

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit