An Open Letter to Young People from Jennifer Sirangelo

Have you ever wondered what mental health really is? Experts define it as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health impacts our thoughts, feelings, physical health, and actions in everyday life. Now, I am by no means a mental health expert. I can't speak to the best positive mental health practices because each of us is unique, and we all manage our mental health differently. But what I can do is share my own experiences with mental health. And more importantly, I can encourage openness, acceptance, honesty and support when it comes to the mental health of America's youth.

Young people are resilient, but your needs are often overlooked. You deal with the pressures of growing up while connected 24-hours a day to your community through your phone. You work to fit in - while embracing your individuality and standing out from the crowd. You're held to so many high standards-success, beauty, intelligence, popularity.

I understand what you are going through because I was you. And in many ways, I am still you. I experience moments of high stress, anxiety, and self-doubt. But as an adult, I can seek out the resources I need to help cope. I know it's not always easy for you.

You're facing a whole new world of challenges, and it's our job as adults to listen and respond. According to a new CDC study, the percentage of American high-school students who say they feel "persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness" rose from 26 percent to 44 percent from 2009 to 2021. This is the highest level of teenage sadness ever recorded. As adults, we can and should always provide a safe space for you to honestly share your struggles. In Cooperative Extension's 4-H program, we aim to empower you with resources to overcome the obstacles you face today and grow into the leader you want to be.

We are continually learning about how to best provide these opportunities. In a recent survey we wanted to better understand how teens feel about the environment and their evolving relationship with the outdoor world. The findings were clear, young people who spend more time outside are happier and less stressed. 4-H's approach to outdoor education puts a focus on healthier living and inclusion for all, challenging and encouraging young people to engage in, and build a life-long appreciation for, the outdoors. In other words, you don't have to do it alone.

So, I am writing this open letter to say: your mental health matters. You can find a sense of belonging in 4-H. We are committed to providing the space you need to cope and connect you with caring adult mentors who will listen and come alongside you with resources that can help.

Every day, you inspire me. I watch young people like you take on mental health with so much conviction. From rallying within your community to speaking out and protecting your friends online, you lead and advocate for your peers in a way that no one else can.

You've found your purpose. I see your courage and I'm inspired.

Never stop being honest about your mental health and reaching out to the adults who can help.

Find your local 4-H.

As co-chair of the Congressional 4-H Caucus, I join a group of 55 Representatives who are advocates, champions and alumni of 4-H, raising awareness of the organization’s impact on young people and communities across the United States. We are a community of leaders who use our national platforms to impact the districts we serve locally.

As one of eight children born to migrant farm workers in Laredo, Texas—in a household where we primarily spoke Spanish—I was raised with a passion for advancement and an unwavering work ethic. My parents emphasized education, and to them at that time, a high school education was a great achievement. However, they continued to support me as I went beyond what was expected of me, earning a Juris Doctor and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Today, as the most degreed member of Congress, I credit my education to what my parents instilled in me and their vision for my future.  Due to their influence, my public service to Texas is still informed by the values of my local communities.

This Hispanic Heritage Month, I’m proud to join 4-H in their commemoration of recognition for Hispanic and Latinx individuals across the nation. The campaign, “La Comunidad,” exemplifies the importance of community and celebrates all aspects of what a community means to us all. Today, it is my honor to represent and give back to my community by serving as the U.S. Representative of the 28th District of Texas.

I support my community through the continued development and expansion of the Texas Grant Program, which allows thousands of students the chance to achieve a college education, particularly minorities. I address local agricultural, and nutrition needs by serving on the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee, which provides funding for farmers, ranchers, nutrition programs, food banks, school lunches, and more. Most importantly, I represent my community by being a voice for underserved and underrepresented communities who deserve fair and equitable opportunities to thrive.

Coincidentally, this week is National 4-H Week, a time to celebrate the life-changing experiences and opportunities 4-H provides to all its members in every corner of the nation. It is a celebration of the diversity of 4-H, and how all young people—our future community leaders—have a safe and inclusive space to succeed within their communities and our country.

A community is where we experience fellowship and share commonalities with the people around us. Family, friends, togetherness, hope, experiences, opportunities—that is how we define a community, and this is what 4-H represents.


Henry Cuellar
Member of Congress
28th District of Texas

In memory of Elizabeth Weidner (2004-2021). Her adventurous spirit will live on and inspire us, forever.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, signified by the gold ribbon because children are as precious as gold. Cancer doesn’t discriminate; it can happen to and affect any child. This includes our 4-H families.  It happened to ours!

My journey hasn’t been easy, but one way I stayed focused was my involvement with 4-H.  During my bone marrow transplant for example, I was isolated in a children’s hospital in St. Louis where the occupational and physical therapists wanted me to play games or do Legos because “that’s what people usually do when recovering from transplant.” Instead I worked on 4-H projects.  Those projects kept me focused, brought me comfort, and gave me a purpose!

4-H groups can serve their own purpose while helping families in their communities who may be affected by cancer. Here are some ways you can bring help and provide assistance to those families in need.

Provide Basic Supplies: Partner with local hotels or civic clubs to collect and donate sample-sized toiletries and items to children’s hospitals or local Ronald McDonald Houses. Emergency trips happen, items get forgotten, and budgets are tight. From experience, these samples make a big difference.

Organize Blood Drives: Cancer patients go through a lot of blood products due to the toxicity of treatment on the individual.  Blood banks continue to experience critical shortages that affect the ability to supply hospitals and cancer center needs. Organizing a blood drive can’t offer 4-H members so many leadership opportunities that people don’t think about, like organizational skills. Saving lives is meaningful.

Support Siblings: As a patient, I can tell you siblings are often left out of the equation. Cancer affects the entire family.  Maybe your club could offer to adopt or do something nice for a cancer warrior’s siblings.  My brothers are into sports, so many have purchased athletic shoes or paid for uniforms, which is really helpful. Carpooling, showing up to events and cheering for them, and streaming games are a few other ideas that show siblings that someone cares.

Give Your Time through 4-H Projects: Something that doesn’t require money is the gift of time, especially if that time spent dedicated to a 4-H project or interest! Here are a few examples:

  • Do you have a talent such as photography? When budgets are tight or time is limited, professional family portraits are often neglected. Your 4-H photography project could give a cancer-family precious memories for the future.
  • Maybe you belong to a spin club that focuses on animals. My siblings love to go horseback riding but we don’t own horses. So a couple of local 4-H families donate their time to teach my brothers how to ride. That special time takes their minds off of missing our parents or thinking about what is happening in the hospital. Those experiences put smiles on faces where tears often reside!
  • Do you have members who want to learn how to sew? Try a Saturday service project learning the basics and creating pillowcases for children’s hospitals. Cotton fabrics work best, especially on oncology floors where linens are changed daily. A pillowcase, while it may seem simple, brightens sterile hospital rooms stitched in love.

Develop a Meal Train: A meal train is an organized meal giving system that allows you to donate a meal or request a meal delivery. Some families need daily help while others may choose specific dates that align with appointments.  For my mom, preparing a meal some days may be the last thing on her mind. Coming home to a home cooked meal, especially one that includes tried and true 4-H recipes brings true comfort to our family!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed at any age when you hear the words, “You have cancer,” but where we find hope is our community. Whether a community means where you reside, where you practice your faith, your 4-H family, or another group you belong to, it’s where we find our strength, how we move forward, and ultimately, what makes us survivors.

When I got involved in 4‑H at 12 years old, I had no idea how much I would learn about people, leadership, food insecurity, and the global needs around the world. I got involved in 4‑H to help start a community garden that would provide fresh fruits and vegetables to community members in need. Since then, I’ve developed a passion for addressing food insecurity and had a chance to do so on a global scale as the youth vice-chair for Action Track 1 for the United Nation’s Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), set to take place on September 23, 2020.

In the United States and worldwide, food systems are what we rely on to get the nutritious foods we need to thrive. Food systems include agriculture production, technology, food processing, public policy, distribution and resale, and consumers like you and me! The UNFSS is designed to engage people globally in conversations about food systems and how we can improve them for the future. As the youth vice-chair for Action Track 1, I’ve worked with a team from around the world to address how we can provide safe and nutritious food for all people across the globe. It’s been an amazing experience to hear and learn from world-class leaders who work every day to ensure all people have access to proper nutrition and aren’t going hungry!

I’m proud to have joined many young leaders from around the world to deliver a youth pledge at the UN Food Systems Summit in September. What we eat shapes us; it influences our health and well-being and impacts the environment. That’s why we started a movement called “Youth #Act4Food #Act4Change,” a global campaign to bring the signatures of thousands of young people across the world to the Summit, calling on leaders to bring significant change to our food system.

Through the youth pledge and other initiatives of the UNFSS, I hope that youth around the world will stand up and help bring actual change into our food system. As youth and future leaders, we are the people who will live on this planet the longest, and we want to ensure we have a healthy, safe planet that is ready to support the billions of people who live here for years to come. Our current food systems contribute to the ongoing health, climate and biodiversity crises, so we must work together to call for action amongst our world’s leaders.

Will you join me in pledging to act and calling on decision-makers to make changes that will lead to a thriving, sustainable food system? Sign the pledge today to uplift your voice. When we all work together, we can #Act4Food and #Act4Change to support #GoodFoodForAll!

I stomp my boots hard on the ground, just like my club leader Saralynn taught me. As I finish the final move, I spin in my dance partner and yell a loud grito, louder than I ever have before. I walk off the stage, chest puffed up, filled with pride, sweat dripping down my face. I take off my sombrero, sash and sarape.

Through the Ballet Folklorico De Colores 4-H club, 4-H has given me the greatest gift in the world: Being able to truly know my own culture.

My journey in 4-H first started at the 4-H Summer Day Camps in Wayne County, North Carolina. Learning about sewing, sea animals, and STEM during the summer was what 4-H meant to me seven years ago. In 2014, I joined the newly formed Ballet Folklorico De Colores 4-H Club simply because I wanted to wear the bright, colorful attire. As a fifth-grader in a school where I was the only Latino in my class, it was difficult to find myself and appreciate the culture I was a part of. De Colores brought that to me through dance. For many of the kids in De Colores 4-H, it has provided a sense of not just community, but family. Many of our club members, including myself, have family thousands of miles away that we do not get to see often. De Colores brings us together and creates unbreakable bonds because together, we are learning about our own culture and seeing the true beauty of our forever home away from home every Friday night.
Wayne County is a tight-knit community. Everyone knows everyone, but not everybody knows everyone’s culture. I think back to one of our early performances at Herman Park, where the crowd was cheering, but not like they do now. The big dresses, large mariachi sombreros, and the elegant white-laced tops were unknown and new to our community. Our club has expanded my community’s views on Mexican and Latino culture. They have seen dances and clothing that many Americans will not see and have had the opportunity to have a widened view of their Latino brothers and sisters.
In 2019, De Colores 4-H had the chance to star in Lauren V. Allen’s VSCO Voices Film, “GRITO,” highlighting Latino Youth and the Ballet Folklorico De Colores 4-H Club in Wayne County. Through this project, we showcased to Wayne County the beauty, struggle and perseverance of the Latino 4-H youth and how we showed and spoke about our culture with a true cathartic yell of honor. Many Latino families stay hidden, trying to draw the least amount of attention possible. Their weekly routine mainly consists of work, home and church. De Colores did the exact opposite. The Mexican culture is loud, vibrant and colorful. So were the dances we were performing all over Eastern North Carolina. For many of our families, this was an outlet to appreciate and remember back to their days in Mexico.
Not only are we changing our community’s perspective of our culture through dance, but through community service as well. Our De Colores members participate in 4-H presentations, 4-H competitions, and aid in community service. Dancing is a great gateway to public speaking and becoming a leader because if you can dance in front of a crowd of 200 plus people, you can speak. Our parents aren’t left out from community service. They meet every Friday as part of the Caminando Juntos Extension and Community Association Club. They help build, sew and fix our costumes and hairpieces, and participate in County-wide volunteer efforts, such as our local Fair, service projects, and much more.
I am currently the North Carolina 4-H State Council President and proud to say the first Latino to hold that office. My position has provided me with the platform to make the grito of every Latino louder than ever in 4-H. This Hispanic Heritage Month, and every month, I have the opportunity to do more for the Latino community, not just in North Carolina but the United States. Because in 4-H, we believe in Opportunity for All and making our country’s best better every single day.

On September 1, 2001, I moved to New York City to start a new job in the positive youth development field that I love so much.  Ten days later, our lives were changed by the attacks on the World Trade Center towers.  Here’s what I remember:

  • Looking out my 10th floor apartment window in the morning and seeing smoke billowing from the first tower.
  • Walking to NY Presbyterian Hospital to give blood. Seeing the doctors and nurses straining their eyes toward downtown and waiting outside in the emergency room driveway for ambulances to bring patients.
  • Spending hours dialing and re-dialing my cell phone to reach my family in Missouri because the cell phone antennas atop the World Trade Center were gone.
  • The quiet streets in NYC in the days after 9/11.  No cars, no people, just silence as the city mourned.
  • Second Avenue on 9/12 – empty of cars except for a miles-long line of yellow bulldozers and construction equipment heading to the WTC site like an excavation armada.
  • Adding my brownies to the huge potluck table of food from neighbors for the police officers and staff of the 13th Precinct who were working around the clock right on my block of 21st street.
  • The heroes – police, fire, EMT, Port Authority. Everyone giving them tremendous respect and appreciation for all they had done and all they had lost.
  • The horrible smell of all that was burning downtown and changing my air conditioner filters every week to get rid of the black soot.
  • So many people wanting to support the needs of kids through our organization during such a difficult time.
Most of all, I remember the overwhelming feeling of unity this tragedy brought to our country. As a new New Yorker, I tangibly felt the support of the entire nation and the world as we struggled to come to grips with what had happened. And I was determined to stick around to be part of the city’s recovery.

On this 20th anniversary, I realize that today’s 4-H’ers don’t remember 9/11. Thank goodness.  Our 4-H'ers and their peers in Gen Z are being shaped by other formative experiences – the pandemic, school shootings, racial injustice, and cyber-bullying.

After more than 20 years in this field, this anniversary of 9/11 is a reminder to me that every generation faces significant challenges. To build the resilience, confidence and connections needed to thrive, our young people need the mentors, leadership roles and skill-building that positive youth development organizations like 4-H provide.  Thanks to millions of Cooperative Extension staff, volunteers and supporters through the decades, 4-H has been here for every generation since 1902 and we will continue to be here for Gen Z and beyond. How thankful I am to be a part of such an important mission.

May each of us never forget the heroes who gave their lives for their neighbors on 9/11 or the lessons of that horrible day that inspire us to “pledge our hands to larger service for our clubs, community, country and world.”

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic took so much from people over the past year. It also showed how far people will go to help others.

As life came to a grinding halt and health officials called on the public’s help to flatten the curve, nearly all group, in-person activities were cancelled due to social distancing. For a 4-H teen robotics team in Elgin, Ill., that meant a competition season lost, but also an opportunity to help their community.
With school now on Zoom and all other activities wiped from the calendar, the “got robot?” FIRST Tech Challenge Team quickly put their newly gained free time to use by making face shields for health care and other frontline workers – tested and approved by the Kane County Coroner’s Office.
Using open-source instructions and designs found online, the team of about 11 changemakers printed and assembled the masks in their homes. At its peak, the team ran as many as 10(ten) 3-D printers in homes. Some were borrowed from school. Some families purchased them. A local dentist loaned his printer. Running around the clock, the printers made 40 headbands per day. Depending on the size of an order, a single printing run could last as long as 10 hours.
“[W]e were happy to get up in the morning, start printing, have some breakfast, [and] do some school. Hopefully, a little past lunchtime, it would be at least over halfway done,” said Brock Russell, 18, a “got robot?” member. “And then before dinner you would take it off, start a new print, maybe clean up some old ones that you’ve already got printed, and just repeat the process every day.” 
After printing the pieces, they filed down rough edges, punched holes in the plastic shields, and packaged the parts with instructions before shipping. They used a Google Drive spreadsheet to record and track orders. Team members and their families were responsible for delivering the face shields in their local communities using their local contacts and networks.
Early on, the STEM team reached out to local hospitals to see if they needed more PPE.
“We asked, ‘Hey, how bad is it?’ And they responded with, ‘It’s 10 times worse than you imagine.’ They were washing masks, reusing gloves, bringing homemade cloth masks in, which were not medical grade at all,” Russell said. “And after we donated a couple [face shields], word of mouth just kept going and it kept getting bigger.”
The shields went to local hospitals, the coroner’s office, police and grocery workers. Postal workers also received some, said club member Raymond, 15.
“[T]hey didn’t have very much protective equipment unless they brought it from home. Especially in the early days and the mail never stopped. It probably ramped up if anything, so yeah, postal workers were another big one that we were able to give to and help and they were extremely grateful for it,” he said.
By the end of April, they had printed 4,000 shields. In May, the team set up a GoFundMe account to offset the cost of supplies, such as filament, eventually raising more than $4,300, which was even more than they needed. As a result, they redirected nearly half that money to other critical educational needs in the community. One of those initiatives was supplying backpacks filled with STEM educational activities in both Spanish and English to local students, in partnership with the local library. Separately, the group has also used 3-D printing to make prosthetic hands for children in developing countries.

The face shield printing reached peak production in the summer, and then as nationwide PPE production caught up, demand for the “got robot?” masks decreased by September. As of mid-March 2021, they had distributed nearly 7,300 face shields. Although many of the face shields were used in their suburban Chicago community, some of the shields went as far as Colorado and Georgia, and some found their way to Puerto Rico and Mexico.

The reach of the shields and the impact on the community surprised Burrage.

“Originally, I thought we could get these out to some people and they would help some people, but it would kind of be something that would last for maybe a month at the most, and then they would get discarded or whatever, but they’re still in use now,” he said.

Part of the impact came from lessons learned in 4-H, such as how to work as a team and the empowerment to accomplish projects, said team mentor and Russell’s mother, Susan Russell. “It was inspiring as a mentor to see that they believe so much in what they were doing. And they’re like, ‘We can do this, we got this.’ There was no fear of the numbers. There was no fear of the amount of outreach,” she said. “It was like, a bunch of factories really pumping these things out and it was quite amazing.

”Kane County 4-H Program Coordinator Doris Braddock has watched the evolution of the “got robot?” team for several years. Along with the community service, they share their time and knowledge whether helping with robotics competitions or teaching at summer camps, she said.

“So anytime we need something in the robotics line, I feel confident I can call on these youth and they’ll step up to the challenge. Very proud of them,” she said.

The teens of “got robot?” are creating positive change in their community. Find out how you can be recognized as a changemaker by applying for the 4‑H and Invisalign® ChangeMakers Program!

"got robot? 4-H Club Creates 3D-Printed Face Shields for First Responders
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Avery Williamson has quite an impressive NFL career that spans seven years. What’s also inspiring is his love of farming. The fourth-generation farmer and Tennessee 4‑H alumnus has a passion for agriculture, and he’s paying it forward to the next generation of diverse farmers.

I caught up with Avery to discuss why it’s important to find your passion and create more opportunities for diversity in agriculture.

What was life like growing up on your family’s farm?

Avery Williamson (AW): I grew up on my family’s farm in Milan, Tennessee. It was right down the street from where my grandpa and great-grandpa’s farms used to be. I spent a lot of time outside as a kid and started helping my dad around the farm when I was six years old. My dad was a truck driver, so when he was away, he would leave me in charge and give me responsibilities on the farm, including feeding and taking care of our cows. It wasn’t easy at times because I’d usually have to work on the farm before school or afterwards when most of my friends were out having fun.

After I went to college and entered the NFL, my dad continued to work on the farm after retiring. During my second year in the NFL, I learned that one of my teammates had a farm. So that inspired me to invest in our family farm. I purchased new equipment, more cows, and the rest is history. I love it. Unfortunately, I don’t get to go back as much as I want to right now, but it’s something I really love. I’m passionate about farming, and it’s what I want to do when I retire. I think managing a farm is something that not many people think a Black athlete would be doing.

How did your experience in agriculture shape who you are today?

AW: My dad always said that the hard work I did on the farm made me tough for football. It instilled a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility at a young age. When I was in 5th grade, I knew I wanted to get into football, so to work out, I built a track in our hay fields to pull a car tire back and forth every day, rain or shine, in between school and my farm chores. I eventually worked my way up to a tractor tire before I went to college.

In elementary school, I learned a lot about agriculture and taking care of cows through Tennessee 4‑H. 4‑H supported my passion and interest in farming, building skills that helped with our family farm and in business which I still use to this day.

Why do you think it’s important to uplift stories like yours or those of other Black farmers? 

AW: It’s so cool for kids to hear these stories because it could inspire them to explore careers or interests in agriculture. The world runs on agriculture—from the clothes we wear to the food we eat. We’ll rely on young people to bring fresh ideas and talent to the agriculture industry in the future. That means making sure all voices are heard. As an athlete, I have a great platform. So hopefully telling my story and stories of my family will inspire others.

What are some of the challenges facing Black farmers today?

AW: For my family, even growing up, we continue to face racism. Others would see the hard work we put into our farm, the resources we have, and think we aren’t deserving of them because we are Black. A year ago, someone opened the gate to our farm, and nearly all of our cows got out. We experience these kinds of incidents to this day. But we never let it deter us from what we love to do. We’re proud that our family has always had our own land, all the way back to my great-grandpa.

In what ways are you inspiring young people to find their passion, as you found yours, whether in agriculture, sports, or other interests?  

AW: I try to lead by example and help young people to see their own potential by continuing to show my work ethic and my passion. I’ve stayed consistent. I tell kids all the time that even when you are successful in something, you have to keep pushing. Continue to motivate yourself through the good and bad moments.

So, what brought you back to 4‑H, and why are you partnering with the organization? 

AW: My 4‑H and agriculture experiences helped shape who I am today. I am so much more than a football player because of it. So I wanted people to see that side of me and to pay it forward. Through my partnership with 4‑H, I’ve been able to share what a day in the life of a farmer is like by inviting aspiring farmer, Ohio 4‑H’er Joyona Helsel to my farm. We had so much fun. We rode in my tractor, baled hay, and picked fresh vegetables from the garden. Joyona even tried a beet for the first time. I love to share these experiences with young people and show them that there’s more to farming than they might think. And I hope to continue to open up my farm to more kids. I want to use my platform to give kids opportunities and experiences that could inspire an interest in agriculture.

What are some other ways we can continue providing young people with meaningful experiences that will impact and change the course of their future?

AW: Hands-on experiences are key. For example, it’s essential to get kids out on the farm when it comes to agriculture. Let them experience it. Every kid learns differently. Along with traditional classroom learning, kids need the opportunity to see it, live it, and experience firsthand what interests them. It can be life changing.

What advice would you give to a young person who has a passion for agriculture and wants to find their purpose in the field? 

AW: Don’t give up on what you love to do. There are a lot of opportunities, especially for Black farmers. For any person of color, you can be successful in agriculture.



This interview is a part of a series of blogs supporting 4‑H’s Community Impact program emphasizing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion – an effort sponsored by Nationwide®

Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2021 Nationwide 

Now more than ever, the world needs young people. We need their leadership, their compassion, and their drive. In fact, 78% of Gen Zer’s feel it is important to be seen as someone who stands up for what they believe in. For over 100 years, 4‑H has equipped young people with the skills they need to lead and positively impact their communities through acts of service, big and small. That’s why National 4‑H Council has teamed up with Invisalign to celebrate young people who are changing the world through the Invisalign® ChangeMakers initiative.

Through this new initiative, Invisalign and 4‑H will recognize 100 teens who have taken action to uplift and empower their community in 2020. The incentive: a $5,000 award and honors at a virtual event in July 2021.

So—are you changing the world? Here are six examples to help teens answer the question.

1. Feeding the community comes first: With the so many hardships experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families struggle to provide basic care for the families, like mealtime. Like the one Yusuf volunteered at, local food banks have become a saving grace for so many communities in need. Despite the risk of in-person contact, Yusuf knew he needed to lend his hand, and as a result, helped distribute more than 1,500 boxes of food.


2. Turning a creative outlet into a service project: We all have ways of coping with difficulties in our lives. Many people use those experiences to pay it forward to those will similar life challenges. Maria, who was diagnosed with autism at an early age, knew the importance of coping with sensory overload. So, she created Heavy Hugs Weighted Blankets for Autism to help others on the autism spectrum reduce sensory overload with deep pressure. In 2020, she used those same sewing skills to make masks donated to pediatric centers and hospitals.


3. Solving food insecurity: The need for more sustainable food has been an issue for communities even before the onset of a pandemic. Food distributors like grocery stores and markets struggle to meet the community’s demands with healthy food options aren’t available. Alexa wanted to do her part to make sure her community had access to food. So, she volunteered to help connect distributors and donors to food insecure communities and people in need. She has helped facilitate the distribution of over 200,00 pounds of food and growing.


4. Making learning accessible to all: The effects of the pandemic have been tough on kids, as so many students have had to shift their way of learning. This shift has impacted the availability and accessibility of educational resources. Ashini—through her organizations, Reading Rainforest and Students to Science—helps introduce kids in underrepresented groups to STEM through virtual learning sessions, access to experts, and more.


5. Fighting hunger: When schools closed due to COVID-19, many kids lost a healthy and free source of meals. Erin decided to meet kids where they are by delivering meals to their homes, ensuring they had access to nutritious foods.


6. Growing food for good: Community gardens have been an easy way to provide communities with foods that are healthy and locally grown. For Janya, being a part of her local community garden was a great way for her to use her passion for and skills in agriculture and help alleviate food shortages, now and in the future.

Learn more about the Invisalign® ChangeMakers Initiative and how to apply at
Now that we’ve re-introduced you to the 4‑H STEM Challenge, it’s time to celebrate! October is 4‑H STEM Month and we don’t want you to miss all the fun, engaging and educational content coming up during the month.

Here’s what to expect during the month-long celebration of STEM:

Participate in the 4‑H STEM Challenge

The 2020 Challenge, Mars Base Camp—designed by Google and Virginia Cooperative Extension—kids ages 8-14 will learn all about Mars and explore what it takes to send a mission to the red planet. The STEM Challenge Kit features a collection of activities that teaches STEM skills such as mechanical engineering, physics, computer science, and agriculture.

And don’t worry, whether kids are learning in the classroom, online, or at home, the 2020 STEM Challenge is tailored to fit all their educational needs. Purchase your kit and find out how you can participate in and October and beyond.

Mark Your Calendars: Online STEM Events

We have some special guests lined up to share their expertise on all things STEM! Mark your calendars and tune into these upcoming live events on social media:

Mars Base Camp Trivia Challenge

  • When: October 1, 12 PM ET
  • Where: Facebook Live
  • Description: Four 4‑H’ers go head-to-head as they are quizzed on all things Mars. Play along to test your knowledge and get ready for a surprise celebrity host!

Ask a NASA Scientist

  • When: October 14, 7 PM ET
  • Where: Facebook Live
  • Description: Join us for a virtual Q&A session with two members of NASA’s Mars Trek Systems team! They will be answering questions about Mars, space travel, and what it’s like working for NASA!

4 for 4: Andrew Bosworth

  • When: October 20, 11 AM ET
  • Where: Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, IGTV
  • Description: In episode 10 of the interview series, get to know Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth, VP of Augmented and Virtual Reality at Facebook and a proud California 4‑H alum, and learn about how his 4‑H experience sparked his passion for STEM.

STEM in the Community

We are excited to partner with several organizations to bring STEM learning to more kids and communities everywhere through additional 4‑H STEM Challenge Kit distributions to communities and groups across the country: Afterschool Alliance, American Camp Association, American Library Association, First Book, Imagine Science, and NASA.

More STEM, All the Time

There’s more than one way to celebrate and learn about STEM. Check out 4‑H at Home for even more hands-on learning resources and activities available for all kids, all ages, everywhere!

No matter when or how you choose to celebrate, you can share your experience on social media using #4HSTEMChallenge! You can learn more about the 2020 4‑H STEM Challenge by visiting 4‑