STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Members of Gov. Wolf’s cabinet congratulated members of a team of local youth who accomplished international victory through teamwork, leadership and a combination of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills.
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Olesiak, and Deputy Secretary Carol Kilko of the Department of Community and Economic Development attended an open house at the build shop for the Centre County 4-H Robotics Club in State College, Centre County, where team members demonstrated their robot.
“As a former 4-H leader, I know firsthand the power of this program, and its value in developing well-rounded youth who are our next generation of civic, agricultural and technological leaders,” said Redding. “This club is an example of how a community can rally to support a program that provides tremendous benefits by investing in its human capital — through hands-on instruction in STEM disciplines that simultaneously encourages social interaction and cooperation.”
The team built a robot for entry in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition, competing against more than 3,600 teams from 27 countries through semifinals in March and the championship round in late April. The Centre County team joined with three other teams in an alliance to secure the final victory, shared between the four teams of the alliance.
“Congratulations to Centre County 4-H Robotics on their remarkable win, which has made all of us in Pennsylvania proud,” said L&I Secretary Jerry Oleksiak. “The skills these students are learning through this organization will allow for more opportunities in their future careers, giving them critical hands-on experience that employers are looking for in a technically adept, 21st century workforce.”
The Pennsylvania 4-H program, administered by Penn State Extension, teaches leadership, citizenship and life skills to children ages 8-18 through projects ranging from livestock to rocketry. Projects like robotics develop abilities and interests in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers, and complement Gov. Wolf’s PAsmart initiative to secure better jobs for stronger communities.
“Getting students engaged and truly excited in STEM applications is one of the most important ways we can strengthen our workforce for the future,” Kilko said. “That’s why events like this are so important — because they demonstrate that STEM can be fun and rewarding, and can lead to a lifetime in a great career.”
In his 2018-19 budget, the governor proposed PAsmart — a first-of-its-kind workforce development proposal to invest $50 million for STEM and computer science education, support hands-on technical education programs, and encourage employers and schools to coordinate together to help students get the skills employers need.
To ensure that students and workers are prepared for success within in-demand careers, Gov. Wolf’s PAsmart proposal provides for an additional $10 million investment to develop CTE and STEM career readiness programs. These additional funds will be used to promote programs that allow high school students to earn both a high school diploma and post-secondary credentials, and to support non-traditional students and workers such as incumbent, underemployed and dislocated workers to earn post-secondary credits and credentials aligned to in-demand CTE and STEM careers.
Gov. Wolf’s budget supports the state’s 4-H programs through a $52.3 million investment in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Cooperative Extension. Since taking office in 2015, the Wolf administration has increased this funding by more than $6 million — about 13 percent.
4-H programs, as part of county Extension programs, are also supported through county budgets. These investments in 4-H, as well as those for the state’s FFA programs, are critical for helping to prepare students for viable career pathways in the agriculture and food industry.
For more information about pursuing an education and career in Pennsylvania at any stage of life, visit PAsmart.
— Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture