A group of 4-H youth from four counties recently explored the environmental science program and careers at Southwest State University (SMSU) in Marshall. The SMSU faculty and alumni engaged youth in learning more about the ways to learn and work in the field.

James Soupir of the Vesta Vikings 4-H Club, Jayden Beranek of the Lamberton Leprechauns 4-H Club and Katelyn Zeug of the Milroy Go-Getters 4-H Club from Redwood County attended.

The day was focused on seventh through ninth graders who were interested in learning more about what they could do after high school. The youth began the day exploring the natural history museum, which focuses on animals and habitat here in Minnesota.

The planetarium was the next stop, followed by a campus tour led by current SMSU students who had graduated from the 4-H program. The youth then experienced the student center for lunch, selecting foods from the all-you-can eat style dining area, just like a college student.

The afternoon was spent outside in the 40-acre environmental learning area, which includes prairie, woodlands, ponds, marsh and wildlife. In small groups youth researched plant diversity, identified trees, tested water clarity, investigated macroinvertebrates in the water ecosystem and observed investigation of invasive water species. Youth who attended shared their favorite parts were the planetarium and the outside activities.

When Redwood County 4-H youth were asked what they liked about attending the environmental science program at SMSU responses were interesting, and each came away with a different area of interest.

“I really liked the planetarium, and I would’ve liked to know more about how the planetarium worked and the program they used to show the earth and relation to the star system.”

Another answered, “I would go again, and I really liked how they had people who are actually working helping us learn more about environmental science.”

When asked if they knew there were so many different areas of environmental science one could work in the responses were “no.” When asked would you do this type of experience again the response was “yes.”

This experience was sponsored by SMSU and the University of Minnesota Extension.

To find out more about this and future career exploration opportunities contact Karen Beranek, Extension educator, at kberanek@umn.edu. Learn more about 4-H at extension.umn.edu.