November 2014
Youth Matters

4-H Extension Corner: Transformative Power of 4-H

   Jared Fuchs is a 17-year-old 4-H Club member from Shelby County who found his passion for model rocketry and a love of teaching through 4-H.

One Young Man’s Story

Dr. Tony Cook, a 4-H specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, has been teaching young people about science, space and technology since the mid-1980s. Cook will tell you that it is nearly impossible to tell which program will resonate with a young person.

That’s the way it was for Jared Fuchs, a 17-year-old 4-H club member from Shelby County who has been involved in 4-H for five years. He attended a rocketry workshop taught by Cook. A workshop that to Cook’s mind was like many he had taught before.

But that workshop captured Jared’s imagination. His mother, Sherri Fuchs, said that workshop created a passion for model rocketry in Jared, whose first experiences in 4-H were with the shooting sports programs.

"Within three months, Jared had started a rocketry club, and he taught at every club meeting," Sherri said. "He had never built or launched a rocket before, but that did not stop him from learning."

She added, while she and her husband wanted to instill a love of learning in all of their children, 4-H instilled a love of teaching in Jared.

"I see him teaching about aerodynamics and other topics in the rocketry club. I don’t know if he would have found that skill without 4-H."

Jared harnessed that teaching skill when he entered the National 4-H Council and HughesNet video contest called "Inspire a Future Scientist." He had to inspire others with a video that could be no more than 15 seconds long.

Jared’s sister discovered the contest and encouraged him to enter, which had a looming deadline. He admitted that he was in a bit of a time crunch to produce the video.

"I was kind of late to the party," said Jared. "I wrote, shot and edited the video over a four-day period.

"I knew that I wanted to sell the grandeur of science."

Jared combined video of NASA moon missions, shuttle launches and fast-paced urban scenes with still images of deep space. A straightforward narration track describes his passion for science. His 15-second video shows how science, from sub-atomic particles to the structure of the universe, explains who we are and where we are going.

Jared won the contest’s grand prize with his video.

After a panel of judges narrowed the contest to 10 finalists, the winner was selected through 18 days of online voting.

"We promoted my video and how to vote for it on social media like Facebook," he said. "The community response was amazing. It really surprised me how many people came out to vote for my video."

Jared, who is also active in the Civil Air Patrol, won a $1,000 cash prize and a trip to Washington, D.C, for the 4-H National Youth Science Day.

Sherri said winning the contest illustrates how 4-H impacts young people lives.

"The 4-H program opens doors and gives young people opportunities that you cannot find any place else," she said.

A senior in high school, Jared plans to study astrophysics, but is still deciding where he will go to college.

"I would love to work for NASA – maybe even be an astronaut," he said.

Maggie Lawrence is an Extension communications specialist.