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Historic West Virginia 4-H Camp Engages Youth in Online STEM Learning this Summer

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4-H West Virginia Image

Deep in the heart of Appalachia, on the banks of the West Fork River, lies the historic homestead of the Jackson family, which Revolutionary War figure Colonel Edward Jackson settled in 1800. Given to West Virginia University (WVU) in 1921 to establish a youth facility, WVU’s Jackson’s Mill, as it became known, is home to the first statewide 4-H camp in the U.S. and attracts thousands of West Virginia youth from around the state every summer – and year-round.

West Virginia 4-H hasn’t let COVID-19 and the move to remote learning stop their momentum. Camp URL invites West Virginia youth to replicate at-home the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) lessons, arts and crafts, and outdoor activities they would experience in-person had the pandemic not closed the site for the summer. The chapter has also distributed 25,000 “Try This at Home” kits to students statewide. The kits include camp program booklets filled with at-home STEM activities alongside growth mindset materials for parents to help students get the most out of the experiments. And, families within and outside the Mountain State can explore nature in their own backyards with the West Virginia 4-H Neighborhood Nature Scavenger Hunt – a fun way to engage with STEM learning this summer!

In contrast to its colonial-era heritage, Jackson’s Mill has garnered a reputation for bringing impactful sustained learning to life through memorable STEM experiences for youth in West Virginia. The camp’s STEM curriculum includes drone building, underwater robots, and water testing activities for 9- to 18-year-old campers who come to the wooded campsite for two-week sessions during a regular summer season. And, in partnership with WVU, Jackson’s Mill hosts a Tech Innovation Day when 4-H campers stay the night in a dorm, sit in on STEM classes, and work in labs alongside WVU students.

Jennifer Robertson-Honecker, STEM specialist for WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program, shared: “Having taught at the college level, Tech Innovation Day is an important event to help students experience the next level of STEM education in a fun and engaging environment. This opportunity for young learners is especially important in a state with the lowest percentage of residents with 4-year degrees.”

HughesNet is proud to have supported WVU Jackson’s Mill and West Virginia 4-H. To learn more about the HughesNet commitment to rural STEM education, click here.

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