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100 years of Discovery Days
Barton County group to attend annual 4-H summer session
Discovery Days logo 2023

MANHATTAN — Michelle Beran, 4-H Youth Development Agent for the Cottonwood District of K-State Research and Extension, is excited about her trip to Manhattan next Wednesday.

She will bring five students from Barton County schools to the Kansas State University campus for a special 4-H summer program that is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Discovery Days, hosted by Kansas 4-H, is June 7-9, for youth aged 13-18. In its early years, it was known as the 4-H Club Roundup across the state.

“They are all involved 4-Hers,” Beran said of her Barton County group. “They are involved in a variety of project areas.

“We will be going up on the morning of the 7th, and they will be spending a couple nights there on campus in the dorm,” she said. Once there, they will meet up with three Ellis County students who will be representing the Hays portion of the Cottonwood District.

Discovery Days has been an annual lead-in to the summer, with educational sessions and opportunities to develop social skills.

Program objectives include:

• Help youth learn new ideas, techniques and skills they can use personally and in their 4-H clubs or groups and communities;

• Give youth in-depth training through hands-on educational sessions from content and youth development experts;

• Prepare youth to make informed decisions about their careers and college path;

• Enhance personal growth by giving opportunities to develop responsibility, confidence, independence, accountability, problem-solving, decision-making, and time management skills;

• Help youth meet new people and make new friends from different places and with different backgrounds from across the state;

• Provide an opportunity for youth to experience the K-State campus and its wealth of resources; and

• Develop college and career readiness skills which prepare participants academically and socially for a successful transition to college and life as an adult.

Discovery Days participants will be included in a special recognition event honoring the State Project Award Winners. The event will be in the K-State Student Union on the evening of Thursday, June 8 and will include an evening social and entertainment.

Community conversations

Amy Sollock, 4-H youth development regional specialist for southwest Kansas, said youth attending Discovery Days will be invited to participate in a series of “community conversations” in which they’ll be encouraged to share their views on what it looks like to live a healthy lifestyle, and issues they may be struggling with.

“We want to come together and create a space for youth to have meaningful conversations,” Sollock said. “We want to put youth in a position to where they have the agency to tell us what they see as a priority for their mental and physical well-being. Then, based on what they tell us, we’ll be able to put a plan together on how we want to address those topics.”

In January, the Kansas 4-H Foundation announced it had received $100,000 to implement a program called Healthy Blue – which is a partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, and Anthem Partnership Holding Company.

As part of the program, Kansas 4-H agents may address such topics as healthy coping skills, interventions, fitness, nutrition, life skills, healthy peer-to-peer interactions and preventing substance abuse and addiction.

“I want youth to take the lead in what they feel like needs to be addressed,” Sollock said. “I want to know from young people where they see this going. We’ve been given a tremendous financial gift and I want to make sure that what we do with it makes an impact and will be beneficial for young people in our communities across Kansas.”

Sollock notes that 4-H’s community conversations series – which will be offered in the state even after Discovery Days – is part of the solution.

“We’re focusing on a holistic, healthy being – both body and mind,” she said. “We want kids to develop the skills to be resilient, to overcome the challenges that they face so that they can become responsible, thriving adults.”

More information on community conversations and other programs offered by the Kansas 4-H Youth Development program is available online or at local extension offices in Kansas.