UNH Extension Partners with UMaine and UVM on USDA Grant to Support Rural Youth STEM Education

A $685,000 grant will help deliver remote AgriSTEM learning experiences to rural New Hampshire students
Collage of photos featuring kids, food, chicken and cow

A $685,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture will support the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension’s work to address the negative impacts resulting from COVID-19 on rural NH educators and students through the use of enriched active learning experiences. 

The 4-H Northeast Collaborative: Closing the Gap initiative will assist in the delivery of 100% remote Agriscience-based (AgriSTEM) learning experiences through training, volunteer support and classroom resources for NH educators. This program will serve 1500 youth and teachers across the rural parts of northern New England while cementing a partnership among the three land grant universities — the University of New Hampshire, the University of Vermont and the University of Maine — paving the way for future regional opportunities for underserved youth and families.

This initiative will increase equity and access to educational technology for rural youth and educators through the development of local tablet loan programs and Extension programs. It will build relationships between agricultural partners, local business leaders and rural classrooms.

Principal Investigator and State 4-H Leader/4-H Youth Development State Specialist for UNH Extension Kate Guerdat said, “UNH Cooperative Extension has a long-standing history of serving the youth and educators of New Hampshire and even in the wave of a global pandemic our commitment is unwavering.”, Thanks to support from NIFA, this new collaborative project will utilize existing community-based faculty and staff resources to develop and deliver an innovative K-12 remote learning model for STEM and agricultural sciences.”

Through a "flipped" 4-H school enrichment approach to 100% distance learning, 4-H STEM professionals will virtually facilitate hands-on AgriScience experiences, providing youth with Samsung tablets and lesson materials to complete their learning activities at home. To enhance connectedness and a sense of belonging in the virtual space, youth will capture their experiences through photo journaling and blogging with their peers, educators and 4-H STEM mentors.

“We are excited for the impact this program will have on the educational, social and emotional challenges that have been exacerbated by remote learning and the heightened anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Guerdat said.

This work is supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, Education and Workforce Development Program (grant no. 2021-67037-33475; project accession no. 1024992) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.