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Catch This Current: One 4-H’er's Electric Story

Tymothy Wood is a lot like other high school seniors -- looking forward to the future. However, Wood has a plan, a very focused plan that he is passionate and confident about.

“Without 4-H I would have never discovered what I like to do,” said Wood. “4-H has given me great insight on what my interests are and what I want to do with college.”

In a 2009 study, the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University found that 4-H youth had higher grades than other youth, and 4-H’ers expectations to go to college also were higher.

“I want to be on the cutting edge,” said Wood. The nine-year 4-H member, from Tabor, Iowa, plans to attend Iowa State University in fall 2010 to major in Electrical Engineering with a focus on green energy.

Additional findings in the Tufts University study show that 4-H youth are more likely to participate in science, engineering and computer technology programs and plan to pursue careers in these areas than other youth.

Wood has been a part of several project areas within 4-H, including food and nutrition and photography. However, he credits a 4-H conference stay in the Iowa State University residence halls for developing his passion for engineering.

“It was really hot in the dorms, so I started looking for ways to cool the place,” said Wood. Knowing that his parents wouldn’t approve purchasing an air conditioner, Wood designed one. And the ball just kept rolling from there.

For example, he also designed a solar-powered charger.

“I would leave the solar panel out in the sun all day and then bring it in at night to charge my cell phone and iPod,” said Wood. This 4-H project received recognition from the Los Angeles Times.

Wood also has developed his leadership skills through 4-H involvement. He is not alone; Iowa 4-H’ers improve their leadership practices by 72 percent through 4-H involvement, according to a 2009 Iowa State University Extension study.

4-H'ers for 4-H
“Serving on State 4-H Council has been a huge step up,” said Wood. However, Wood has enjoyed the chance to meet other youth from across the state. Wood’s primary role on the state council is on the financing committee.

The finance committee oversees the 4-H’ers for 4-H campaign. This campaign receives $2.75 from each 4-H member’s dues and reinvests that money into 4-H. Nearly $34,000 is raised through this campaign every year, and the money helps fund the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference and 4-H camps across Iowa.

“It’s really exciting to see their money working for them,” said Wood of the 4-H’ers for 4-H campaign.

“4-H is a great opportunity that doesn’t come around very often,” said Wood. “It is fun way to get to know yourself and meet new people.”

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