4-H Clovers CODE brings STEM opportunities to all

As it gears up for its third year of programming, the 4-H Clovers CODE (Creating Opportunities Designed for Everyone) program continues to bring new opportunities to new audiences.

As it gears up for its third year of programming, the 4-H Clovers CODE (Creating Opportunities Designed for Everyone) program continues to bring new opportunities to new audiences. Operated by Michigan State University Extension, 4-H Clovers CODE is a Michigan 4-H Youth Development program supported by Apple, as part of its Community Education Initiative.

Artwork of a bee and beehive
Original artwork created by Katherine Seeley as part of a 4-H Clovers CODE program.

“The Apple Community Education Initiative has been an amazing program providing state-of-the-art equipment for youth to explore their creative passions, reflect on their learning, engage in new technology, and solve problems collaboratively,” said Kathy Jamieson, MSU Extension 4-H educator in charge of the program.

Originally launched in southeast Michigan’s Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, the program was first funded in 2021 and began programming in 2022. Apple provided MSU Extension 4-H with hardware, scholarships, and professional learning and support, including iPads and MacBooks, and additional support for a staff member to focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) programs using Apple curriculum. With these resources, 4-H Clovers CODE offered a variety of camps, clubs, after-school and in-school partnerships to advance STEAM learning opportunities in communities that are traditionally underserved. During its initial year, 4-H Clovers CODE reached nearly 1,100 participants through 43 different programs.

“It is pure excitement to see youth demonstrate perseverance and resourcefulness in their problem-solving skills during 4-H Clover’s CODE initiatives,” continued Jamieson. “The opportunity to teach each other new concepts is continuous and greatly enhances the youth’s confidence and communication skills. The program puts fun in learning for all involved.”

Fun programs launched in 2022 included 4-H Creative Clovers Camp, where 34 youth created videos, made music and explored photography. On the last day of camp, friends and family were invited to see the youth’s creative work. After attending the camp, 76 percent of youth agreed that they were interested in exploring a STEAM career. Another 4-H Clovers CODE program was a short-term special interest coding program for low-income youth in collaboration with a Mt. Clemens community center. Other counties incorporated technology into their existing programs, by using the iPads and other Apple technology to further explore topics such as gardening, animal science and sewing.

“4-H Clovers CODE helps youth to develop critical life skills and experience with state-of-the-art technology,” said Julie Chapin, director of MSU Extension’s children and youth programs, including Michigan 4-H. “These can be a course-changing experience for youth as those types of skills and knowledge can be the basis of a high-growth, high-paying job in technology and creative careers.”  

In addition to hands-on programming for youth, support from Apple has helped Michigan 4-H to bridge the connectivity gap in communities. Through the use of iPads at county 4-H meetings, both youth and volunteers can enroll in 4-H and complete online training e-modules. This not only provides access for those without the technology at home, but also provides support to older volunteers who may not be comfortable using the tools and systems on their own.

In 2023, the 4-H Clovers CODE program expanded to new locations. While continuing to serve the three southeast Michigan counties, they also added partnerships in Michigan’s rural Chippewa, Delta, Gogebic, Lake, Leelanau, Luce, Mason, Menominee and Schoolcraft counties.

“We’re so grateful for Apple’s ongoing partnership in helping to make this programming possible in new areas,” said Chapin. “The access and opportunity challenges can be the same in our rural communities as it is in our urban communities and their support has helped us to reach youth and communities in both these spaces.”

In 2024, the program hopes to expand again, reaching new and different audiences. MSU Extension is actively seeking additional community partners (after-school programs, in-school programs, libraries, etc.) interested in collaborating on program implementation. To learn more about how to partner or how youth may join the program, visit 4-H Clovers CODE.

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