4-H members get ‘mini-college’ experience at Discovery Days

By Bethany Knipp

Teenagers from across Kansas are occupying Kansas State University for the annual 4-H Discovery Days this week.

Discovery Days organizer Sarah Keatley said there are 640 participants this year, including 76 adult supervisors.  The 4-Hers arrived Tuesday and had a full week of fun ahead of them with classes, swimming, a dance and a talent show. They’re staying in K-State dorms for the week, getting a taste of college life.

“It’s a mini college experience essentially is what Discovery Days is,” she said. “We have them take some educational classes as well as get a chance to meet and interact with other kids from across the state.”

The week is packed full of activities for the 4-Hers, who are ages 13 to 18.

On Day 1 of Discovery Days, the 4-Hers attended opening ceremonies at the K-State Student Union, took a group photo in the old band practice field south of Justin Hall and attended “speed meetings,” similar to speed dating, in which the 4-Hers talk with their fellow campers before meeting another person.

On Wednesday, some 4-Hers participated in a fun run at 6:30 a.m. to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project for military veterans.

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, classes began, many of them practical for a number of 4-Hers, including instructor Mike Lumpp’s ATV safety training course.

“The most important thing you can do is put that $40 helmet on your head,” said Klumpp, a multi-state 4-H ATV safety coordinator from Edmond, Okla.

Klumpp had his class of about 30 students answer questions about their ATV experiences and safety practices with remote-control-style “clickers,” a sort of digital polling system.

Forty-eight percent of the class polled that they knew someone who had died as the result of an ATV accident.

Jacob Smith, 14, of Wathena said for him, it was a friend of his family’s years ago.

“What happened was they were out on a four-wheeler and their parents were complaining that they didn’t have seatbelts,” Smith said. “They decided they’d take bungee cords and strap them to the four-wheeler.”

Smith said one person died after the ATV rolled and its riders couldn’t get off because they were strapped in under the cords. 

Smith said he’s been riding ATVs years and hasn’t crashed, though 54 percent of the safety class polled said that they had crashed when riding ATVs, a few with injuries.

The trainees watched a video about what not to do on ATVs, including having a passenger on vehicles made for only one person whether or not it was large enough for two. 

After Klumpp went over the basics of safety in a Call Hall classroom, the class headed outside to get on some ATVs for further training, but they didn’t ride them.

Smith said that after the ATV safety training class, he would go to classes on catapult building, “camp counselor survival,” bowling and a Tuttle Creek Lake tour.

Over in Kedzie Hall, 4-H extension agent Carol Ann Crouch of Scott City taught a class of 20 how to “upcycle” old T-shirts into rugs using hula hoops as looms.

“A lot of kids have T-shirts they can’t wear- you know how kids are with fashion,” Crouch said. “This is a good way to reuse some things that they might find either in their dorm room or in their bedroom,” she said.

Crouch said she came across the project by browsing the Internet for craft ideas for Discovery Days.

“It’s fairly cheap, the hula hoops can be used over and over again, and the T-shirts, for the most part, are free,” she said.

Crouch said the class aligns with 4-H goals in that lets the students use creativity.

“It’s just a fun project,” she said. “What’s neat about not having two rugs the same is that it’s an individual project, you know. Just like sewing is.”

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