More than 12% of the 2021 first-year students at the University of Wyoming participated in the state’s 4-H program, according to the University of Wyoming Admissions Office.
That number is 183 students, said Shelley Dodd, director of admissions.
“I realize there may be more students who have been involved in 4-H from this incoming class, but this is the number we calculate of who had an initial first contact with us from 4-H,” she said.
The State 4-H Program office provides the admissions office names of 4-Hers as part of a university recruitment process.
4-H is the youth educational program of UW Extension.
State 4-H Program director Johnathan Despain thinks the 12% number would be even higher if incoming freshmen from out of state were asked.
“What this (all) means is we are creating learning environments that help kids want to pursue higher education,” he said.
More than 6,800 youths are in the Wyoming 4-H Program. Its goal is to build capacity with young people to be successful adults, Despain said. One measure is their desire to pursue and be lifelong learners.
“What excites me is it’s more evidence what we’re doing makes a difference on kids connecting to UW,” he said. “Taxpayers are getting their bang for their buck through the 4-H program is what it comes down to.”
Despain said counties that provide money want the funds to make a difference in their communities.
“If kids are engaged through their county programs, not only will they go to through the county education, they’ll go on to higher education,” he said. “We know from the research side they are more likely to engage in their communities than their counterparts. What I’m hoping for is a county commissioner to look at this and say, ‘OK. It’s working. Our little investment here locally matters because here is how it fits into the big picture.’”