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Florida 4-H Youth Compete In National Engineering, Science, And Leadership Event

Ami Neiberger, Florida 4-H Youth Devel

Michael Talbot, Dept. of Agr,

GAINESVILLE-Seven Florida teenagers earned national honors when they competed in the 47th annual National 4-H Engineering, Science and Leadership Event at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, September 21-24, 1997. All seven of the teens placed within the top ten rankings in their categories.

The youth showcased skills learned through hands-on educational experiences in the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program. The Florida 4-H Youth Development Program is part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida.

“Science and technology are very important subjects for young people today,” said Mike Talbot, UF associate professor and extension agricultural engineer. Talbot served as coach for the team and chaperoned the trip. “This competition helps them test their mettle and their abilities against other kids from around the country, and they learn about future careers. A trip like this teaches a lot more than science; it teaches skills for life.”

Computer programming, small engines, automotive, bicycle, lawn tractor, electric energy and aerospace projects were some of the competitive categories. The 75 contestants represented 16 states. More than 350,000 young people are enrolled in these study projects nationally through the 4-H Youth Development Program.

Andrew Allen and Tobias Baucom of Jacksonville (Duval County) placed 5th in the Aerospace event. Jeff Irvin of Frostproof (Polk County) placed 3rd and Bradley Heron of Davie (Broward County) placed 5th in the Bicycle Event. Jamie Burgess of Defuniak Springs (Walton County) placed 10th in the Automotive Driving Contest. Tim Wann of Lakeland (Polk County) placed 2nd in the Small Engines Event and Tim Vaugh of Lakeland also attended. To qualify for this national event, they had to compete at the state level at Florida 4-H Congress.

The contest was not all work and no play. Participants spent a day on educational field trips at Purdue University and in Indianapolis. Workshops in agricultural engineering, aerospace and electrical engineering offered plenty of excitement and career advice. Guided tours covered the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway, the RCA Dome, the Major Taylor Velodrome, the Navistar Engineering and Forge Facility, and the Subaru Automotive Plant.

Cooperative Extension Service professionals and agricultural engineers conducted the event. John Deere sponsored the lawn tractor and small engine contests. The Florida delegation was sponsored by the Florida Farm Bureau, the Florida 4-H Foundation and their local County Extension Service programs.