Iowa Youth Explored Culture and Interests during Maize Retreat



AMES, Iowa – Nearly 150 youth in grades 8-12 participated in the third annual Maize retreat April 21-23. Maize is a culturally based youth leadership accelerator program coordinated by Iowa 4-H Youth Development.youth at camp

“The Maize retreat provides youth with an accelerated experience in the Iowa 4-H Youth Development program and Iowa State University, while bringing together Native American, Latino and Iowa traditions and cultures,” said Cayla Taylor, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H program manager.   

Young people from twelve counties and the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa spent their first day visiting Iowa State University's campus, visiting a college of their choosing and participating in hands-on educational experiences with Iowa State faculty and staff.  

The remainder of the event was at Clover Woods, formerly known as the Iowa 4-H Center, in Madrid, Iowa. There, youth participated in hands-on workshops, traditional camping experiences and leadership development activities focusing on healthy living, STEM, citizenship, leadership, and communications and the arts through a Latino and Native American perspective.  

Cristal Garcia, a 4-H member and 4-H Youth Advisory Committee member from Franklin County, reflected on her experience at Maize. “Maize brings people together; I met new people I never would have met otherwise," she said. "We get to learn new things in a hands-on way, and we get to try things from our own perspective."

Participants are encouraged to select workshops on a wide variety of topics. “I like getting to learn about things I didn’t know about before. It gives me a better view of what’s going on in our world and how things work,” said Garcia.  

Thanks to the investment of time and talents by more than 100 volunteers, this event encourages young people to participate in local 4-H learning communities, and introduces them to post-secondary education resources.  

The 4-H Maize Retreat is offered to youth enrolled in 4-H at no cost. This opportunity is made possible through a National 4-H Council grant sponsored by the Walmart Foundation. Additional information about 4-H culturally-based youth leadership accelerators can be found on the 4-H website.