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4-H Career Explorations 2010: Looking Toward Your Future


For over 70 years, CCE's 4-H Youth Development Program has conducted a three-day event for youth on the Cornell campus at the end of June.  Known as 4-H Career Explorations (Career Ex), this conference has three significant goals  providing youth with opportunities to:

            • Explore career paths that they many or may not have considered before
            • Develop leadership skills - a mainstay of 4-H
            • Be introduced to Cornell University and its vast resources

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With the assistance of faculty and staff from 35 academic departments, Career Ex offers two major programs.

University U is geared toward teens entering grades 8-9.  In this program youth are exposed to a wide array of potential careers while attending six workshops involving everything from art museums to weather forecasting to accelerator science. 

As one teen stated, ...(it provided) "knowledge of career fields I didn't know existed".



Focus for Teens is for youth who are entering grades 10-12. They spend three days with a specific academic department to conduct research or work on a group project. But have no fear--there's also plenty of time to meet new friends, experience college dorm life and just have fun bowling, swimming, or consuming famous Cornell ice cream!

This year, Call Auditorium in Kennedy Hall was filled to capacity during the opening session of Career Ex.  The keynote speaker, Dominic Frongillo, is a member of the SustainUS Youth Delegation to the UN and had the privilege of attending climate negotiations in Bali and Copenhagen. At 26, he is the the Deputy Town Supervisor in the Town of Caroline, Tompkins County and very involved in energy conservation initiatives. Dominic's goal was to show that 4-H youth are uniquely gifted to respond to the challenges of our time and seize the opportunity to create the world anew. His message was clear, "Our generation has been born into the most critical moment in human history - what we do in our lifetime will determine the quality of life on this planet for the next 10,000 years."

Here are snipets from some of this year's Focus for Teens programs:

Jobs for the 21st Century - an introduction to Cornell's sustainable campus efforts included tours of the water/filtration and heat/power plants. The workshop also provided an opportunity to visit the Cornell student-run organic farm (Dilmun Hill), learn about careers and develop a green career roadmap. "It broadened my scope of knowledge on going green."


Ornithology: Lab of O - discovery through citizen science programs as well as bird walks.

Check out their special Career Ex webpage.

Biomedical Engineering - a lab-based program that involved exploring questions like: How does a chick embryo's circulatory system work? Can you isolate heart cells to see how they work? What causes calcification of heart valves? How do you measure the elasticity of heart tissue?  For one teen, the program, "Showed me that I can achieve difficult goals."


Professional Dairy Careers
- Today's dairy industry involves many specialties from nutrition to production management to animal health. At the Cornell Teaching barn, teens practiced technical skills used by the specialists.                          " really changed the way I think about farms."

Crop and Soil Sciences
- Practicing soil and plant tissue testing procedures and learning about operating analytical instruments was the first step. Participants were then able to analyze and interpret the data they collected and the process of drawing conclusions.  For a short time, teens became "soil doctors".



Food Science and DNA Fingerprints
- Working in food science involves knowledge of chemistry, microbiology, food safety and bioterrorism. Teens practiced sample collecting and uncovered a source of an outbreak of food poisoning. They also tested their skills at extracting DNA from a strawberry. And, of course, a tour of the dairy processing pilot plant including the ice cream section was a highlight.  "Great program, really fueled my desire to work in a field of chemistry and physics."


International Studies: Working in a Globalized World - What is it like to work in a foreign country and be totally immersed in that country's culture? Teens learned about opportunities to study abroad and were introduced to classical Indian and Turkish dance, cultural traditions, and participated in language lessons during this unique program.

Celeste Carmichael, 4-H Youth Development specialist, breathes life and energy into  4-H Career Explorations each year with the help of many volunteers and Cornell faculty. Recently Celeste reflected on the program, "The 4-H Career Explorations conference is such a great way to introduce youth and their families to Cornell, interesting career choices and the many and varied paths to higher education. I have heard back from so many former Career X'ers who have started their education and eventually their careers inspired by people that they met, tours that they took and experiences that they had while at the  4-H Career Explorations conference at Cornell. Many students come back year after year - meeting new staff and faculty and further developing their understanding of who they are and what they want to become. As a parent myself - these are the kinds of opportunities that I seek for my children - it is a very enriching opportunity for teens."

Interested?  Visit the 4-H Career Explorations webpage.