Iowa 4-H Resources Encourage Young People to Explore Career Paths, College

August 27, 2019, 8:18 am | Cayla Taylor, Bonnie Dalager

little girl listening to a dog's heart beat.AMES, Iowa – Young people enrolled in the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program explore a wide variety of topics that interest them, from animal science to visual arts, woodworking, outdoor adventures, leadership to food and nutrition. A revised set of 36 project area publications encourage 4-H members to discover and explore topics that interest them.  

As an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach program, resources for Iowa 4-H project areas are developed based on research-based information to assist young people in their self-directed learning. Project area “hot sheets” are a great first step for parents, club leaders or 4-H members to learn more about any topic of interest.

Each project area hot sheet includes information on ideas for project area learning as well as information on recordkeeping, exhibiting and goal setting. There are also ideas for tying in core 4-H skills including communication, civic engagement and leadership.

New this year, each project area hot sheet features connections to entrepreneurship, educational opportunities and career options. “Iowa 4-H Youth Development programs help young people develop life skills and make informed decisions about their post-high school education and career paths,” said Cayla Taylor, ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H educational opportunities program manager. “Young people will easily make connections between their 4-H project areas and their future using these revised project area resources.”

Grant Heineman, a former Boone County Westside Hustlers 4-H club member, said 4-H had a positive influence on his education and career choices. “My project area work in beef, swine, welding, woodworking and aerospace taught me valuable lessons and laid a foundation to learn upon. I felt that a degree in agricultural engineering combined my passion for agriculture and mechanical skills. In 4-H, I learned problem solving skills and was taught to pursue practical, creative solutions through hands-on experiences.”

Heineman studied agricultural engineering at Iowa State University and is now a product evaluation engineer at Kuhn North America.

Former Muscatine County 4-H member Amanda Quinn is a lecturer at Iowa State in Apparel, Merchandising, and Design. She says she’s grateful for the impact 4-H has had on her choice of college major and career. “My clothing projects were the ones I enjoyed the most, and I found I had an aptitude for it. There were wonderful opportunities at the state and local level that challenged me to advance my skills, try new things and develop a life-long passion for the field,” she said.

“Many 4-H members discover new skills and consider future career options through their experiences exploring 4-H project areas,” said Bonnie Dalager, ISU Extension and Outreach product development program specialist. “The educational experiences they have in 4-H can also prepare them by developing career readiness skills such as communication, decision-making and collaboration.”

Joel Stave, a former member of the Lincoln Lions 4-H club in Clay County said his participation in the swine project area continues to have a positive impact on his work as the Managing Director of PrairiE Systems. “Beyond the values I learned through my 4-H experiences as a young person, I also learned the importance of continuous learning. In my professional life there are opportunities every day to learn something new and develop skills,” Stave said.  

The updated project area hot sheets guide caring adults in discussions with 4-H members about possible educational activities, goal setting and even future pathways based on the topics they’re interested in. The full set of project area hot sheets and other educational 4-H resources can be found online in the Extension Store as a free PDF download.

For more information on the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program and the project areas available to all Iowa youth, contact a local county ISU Extension and Outreach office or visit the Iowa 4-H website at


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