Extension News

Positive Youth Experiences Recruit Students to Iowa’s State Universities

4-H youth


This article is from the Annual Report edition of the Extension Connection newsletter, December 2006.

Iowa State University, University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa are “sisters” when it comes to reaching out to Iowa’s junior high students.

“Helping eighth graders prepare for their next four years academically is an opportunity for the three universities to collaborate,” said Stephanie Salasek, Iowa State University senior associate director of admissions. “We want every student in the state to understand what is required academically to be successful in college.”

That’s why ISU Extension 4-H personnel deliver pocket folders, sponsored by the three Regent universities and containing the Board of Regent’s “Your Courses Count” information, to every Iowa school.

“Extension’s presence in every county and their work with youth make them an ideal partner in delivering this important piece of information to Iowa families,” Salasek said. 

Students and school personnel, kindergarten through high school, already are familiar with Extension’s 4-H youth staff because of after-school and out-of-school programming and community club work. In partnership with schools, ISU Extension provided at least six hours of school enrichment programs to 73,123 Iowa youth during the 2005-06 school year.

These experiences, primarily for kindergarten through sixth graders, are either in the form of ISU Extension youth development specialists teaching curricula to students, training teachers to deliver the curricula or in teacher professional development. With each experience, teachers and students have an opportunity to connect with Iowa State University.

Connecting with Iowa State was a natural for Jennifer Martin. She joined 4-H as a way to fit in at a new school when she was in fifth grade. It led her to Iowa State University and a communications career in Washington, D.C.


“During high school I learned about 4-H opportunities outside of Iowa through Technology Team activities at 4-H conference and the national level,” Martin said. “When it was time to go to college, Iowa State just seemed like the right place — in part because I wanted to stay connected to the Tech Team.”


Iowa State food science graduate Elizabeth Brennan enjoyed food and nutrition projects all through her years in 4-H. “From my first loaf of banana bread, I loved food and nutrition projects,” said Brennan, a Wells Blue Bunny researcher and developer in LeMars, Iowa. “I learned about Iowa State’s food science department through 4-H. Now, I can live in Iowa and stay close to Iowa State, while turning my 4-H experiences and ISU internships into a career.”


Brad Tabke, owner of Quercus Landscape Inc. in Shakopee, Minn., gets instant credibility with his customers when he says he is an Iowa State University horticulture graduate. “Many things I use today — what I know about agriculture and working with my employees and customers — comes from my 4-H experiences,” Tabke said. “Combined with my Iowa State education, it helps me every day in my business.”


ISU Extension is constantly creating ways for youth to connect with ISU. From science, engineering and technology school enrichment projects to events like State 4-H Conference and Animal Science Roundup on the ISU campus, Extension connects Iowa youth with the state’s Regent University system.




Contacts :

Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-0775, lsternwe@iastate.edu