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"My hope for our kids is that they will become connected and committed to their community. Our youth are our future."

Meet Jim Schneider.

Jim is a science teacher at Northome High School in Koochiching County. His first 4-H experience as an adult was judging science and engineering projects at his local county fair.

"I grew up in 4-H, but in a different area, and I didn't initially think about 4-H for our family. But once I got reconnected, I remembered how great the program is and wanted my sons to be involved."

When his older son Caleb was young, he and Jim joined a 4-H club near their home, started attending monthly meetings, and began exploring different project areas. About 15 years ago, when their club needed a new leader, Jim stepped up and agreed to fill that volunteer role. The club continues to this day, and Jim's younger son Peter is an active member.

Jim especially enjoys helping 4-H youth explore engineering and design through the 4-H robotics program. He coaches teams that work collaboratively on robotics challenges and compete with other teams across the region and state in the FIRST LEGO League.

“The core values of FIRST LEGO League are right in line with 4-H. They are excellent program partners. Robotics is great for kids and an important alternative to just doing sports. It makes science, problem solving, and engineering more accessible for youth.”

Jim is one of three adults who coach 4-H robotics teams in Northome. While Jim focuses on programming, another volunteer specializes in the required research project, and a third handles core values and team logistics. Jim’s grateful that other caring adults have been willing to volunteer with him. Together, they provide a valuable and supportive experience for about 20 youth each year.

“As coaches, we learn right along with the kids. You don’t have to know everything to volunteer. You just need to show up and be willing to learn. We make sure our youth know they are cared for and important. That’s what makes a difference.”

4-H offers a variety of learning experiences for youth including animal science, creative arts, and citizenship and community service. Jim is especially glad that robotics and other STEM projects are core options for youth in his part of Minnesota.

“For some kids in our community, 4-H is essential. It gives them an outlet that doesn’t exist anywhere else. Outside of school, some kids have nowhere else to learn, grow and discover. In 4-H robotics and FIRST LEGO League, youth get to meet new people, travel, and serve others. They get to see how other youth are making an impact and be inspired.”

Jim is proud to live, work, and volunteer in Koochiching County. He knows that adults getting involved with younger generations is an important way of building his community’s future.

“We need cross-generational relationships. My hope for all our kids is that they will become connected and committed to their community. That they will serve and lead. If we don’t personally help to steer them in a positive direction, who will? Our youth are our future.”

As a 4-H volunteer, Jim is one of 11,000 caring adults who are making a difference in the lives of Minnesota young people.

Thank you, Jim, for being a Minnesota 4-H True Leader!

Discover how you can get involved with 4-H STEM programs.

University of Minnesota
Extension Center for Youth Development

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