Polk County 4-H RISE Conference connects multicultural youth to programs geared toward career and college readiness

Altoona, IA (October 23, 2018) – Today, nearly 80 Des Moines multicultural youth and school staff members participated in the first Polk County 4-H RISE College Access Conference held at Grand View University in Des Moines. The event aimed to introduce 4-H to underrepresented youth from four Des Moines Public Schools, Harding and Hiatt Middle Schools and East and North High Schools. Sponsored by Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach, Polk County, the day-long event included several breakout sessions focused on leadership development, team-building and college and career exploration.
 
“The RISE Conference provides the opportunity for these young people to feel empowered to be leaders in their schools and communities, explore higher education and understand that 4-H is for everyone,” said Tiffany Berkenes, 4-H youth program specialist for ISU Extension and Outreach. “We hope the students attending the Conference will discover how 4-H can foster their talents, passions and skills in such a way that will support their future endeavors whether it be career or college.”
 
Students attending the RISE Conference had the opportunity to listen to several speakers discussing the importance of college and career readiness. Opening remarks came from Grand View University President, Kent Henning who encouraged participating youth to pursue their dreams, goals and college, as well as expressed his support for 4-H by discussing his own personal experience with the program.
 
Additionally, students had broad conversations with college planning and enrollment experts, toured campus, heard college life perspectives from current Grand View University students, and participated in hands-on experiences with campus faculty.
 
“What I like about the day is that we got to experience the college and we were treated like a student,” said Mia Montemayor a 7th grader at Harding Middle School.
 
“The best part of this experience has been going around and seeing the buildings and campus,” said Stanley Ross, sophomore at North High School. “Coming to RISE has helped me visualize where I can be.”
 
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Modeled from a similar ISU Extension and Outreach program held in northwestern Iowa, thePolk County 4-H RISE College Access Conference was tailored toward the needs of Des Moines and Polk County. According to Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS), nearly 60 percent of the student population within the district come from a diverse, ethnic or multicultural background. With a goal to better serve this population, Polk County 4-H and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Polk County customized the RISE Conference to introduce multicultural youth to opportunities and programs that will support their goals after graduation.
 
The event was supported by other community organizations and schools including the Evelyn K. Davis Center, Polk County Decategorization, Des Moines Public Schools, Grand View University and Iowa 4-H.
 
To learn more about the youth development programming conducted by Polk County 4-H please visit https://www.extension.iastate.edu/polk/4h and to learn more about all the programs offered by ISU Extension and Outreach, Polk County visit https://www.extension.iastate.edu/polk/.
 
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About Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Polk County
Since 1916 ISU Extension and Outreach, Polk County has served its residents by connecting them to research and resources developed by Iowa State University. Knowledge and programs offered through the ISU Extension and Outreach, Polk County office have been specifically tailored to represent, enhance and meet the needs of Polk County residents and community. For 2018 ISU Extension and Outreach, Polk County will focus on these local issues: K-12 youth outreach; health, well-being, and nutrition; and community and economic development. ISU Extension and Outreach, Polk County is part of a 99-county campus serving all Iowans to create a strong Iowa.

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