4-H expands from agriculture to STEM with youth robotics challenge

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On Saturday young minds showed off their robotics knowledge at a 4-H competition, but this organization wasn't always technology-focused.

We take a look at how 4-H evolved from agricultural activities to the STEM fields.

Fifteen young competitors participated in the robotics challenge of Western South Dakota Youth in Action Day.

Teams of kids were on a mission for NASA searching for water on Mars.

"I like it," ten-year-old Jett Rieb said.

"Why do you like it?"

"Because I like building and programming the robot and everything."

The birth of 4-H in the United States came in 1902 when A.B. Graham started a youth program in Clark County, Ohio.

Matthew Olson says, "So 4-H does have its roots in agriculture. It started out really taking the university to the rural American citizens, especially teaching farming practices and how to live a rural lifestyle."

Although it's still heavily agriculture-based, the youth mentorship program grew to include the STEM field.

Olson says they had robotics challenges twice a year since 2016, and believes STEM came into the picture for 4-H around the 1990s, when the World Wide Web went live to the world.

Matthew Olson says, "I've always gotten the question, 'Do you have to raise an animal to be in 4-H? Do you have to do certain things?' And 4-H is really about what youth want to do. It's not necessarily you have to do XYZ, but what are they interested in? And so as kids got more interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, building lego robots, we changed to support that."

Olson says 4-H cares about the wants and needs of the youth, and that they'll expand their programs as children expand their interests.