April 20, 2005 | By: Laura Skillman

students with teacherMore than 400 students from a 10-county area converged on the L.D. Brown Ag Expo Center at Western Kentucky University recently to learn about 4-H activities and possible careers.

“We are giving them the opportunity to explore a variety of different 4-H activities as well as a chance to find out more about careers and our work force,” said Paula Tarry, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service 4-H Youth Development agent for Barren County. 

This is the ninth year for the program, which continues to grow and change. It began with agriculture as the primary focus and expanded to add such topics as photography, team building and health.

“We are trying to instruct the six core curriculums that 4-H is emphasizing – agriculture, family and consumer science, leadership, communications, environment and health,” she said. “We are presenting classes to let them look into those particular areas.”

When the program began, it was the first in the United States where two universities, UK and WKU, came together to present such a program. That cooperation continues today, Tarry said. 

“We are very fortunate that not only does UK Cooperative Extension and our specialists support it but we also have a variety of commodity groups that have come in as well as WKU faculty and staff,” she said. 

4-H UK/WKU Exploration Day is geared toward 9- to 13-year-olds. 4-H teen leaders are used as assistants, giving them leadership and volunteer opportunities.
Monroe County Middle School teacher Judy Myers brings students to the event every year. 

“It seems like each year it gets larger and better,” she said. “There are more sessions that the children can enjoy, and they choose what they like to watch, visit and see. There are a lot of displays from different areas and lots of volunteers, and that’s what makes this happen.”
Myers, who teaches health and physical education, said there are many activities during the day that relate directly back to the classroom. 

“I am a former 4-Her myself, my girls were in 4-H and I have been a 4-H leader,” she said. “We came down the first time and it was so enjoyable to see the students participate in all the sessions. I remember one of the students had a chicken feather on their head and they were so excited because they got to touch a chicken. In our society today there are not a lot of children exposed to farm life. I think this is an opportunity to get them close to what it’s like and what it used to be. Through 4-H, we can bring the land to them.”

For Taylor Smith, a Monroe County student, “horsing around” and “the leader in you” sessions attracted her interest.

“I learned how to be a leader,” she said. “You’ve got to have teamwork and communication in order to accomplish things. And I learned the parts of a horse. I really like horses, and they taught us a lot about where the parts are and what types of horses there are.”
Another Monroe County student, Caleb Smith, said he was learning about chickens and trees.

“In ‘eat more chicken’ we learned about the life cycle of the chicken in the egg, and we learned how to make deviled eggs and how to hold a chicken,” he said. “In ‘the great outdoors,’ we learned about trees and what all we get from them like suntan lotion. I didn’t know about that.”


Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278

Contacts: Paula Tarry, 270-651-38