Students at Grace Miller Elementary control their “battle bots” with “light sabers.”
The Eleanor Hazel 4-H After-School Program will start this year at five locations around Fauquier.
A donation from the William A. Hazel Family Foundation and support from Fauquier County and Virginia Tech will make the program possible at M.M. Pierce, H.M. Pearson, Grace Miller, Mary Walter and Claude Thompson elementary schools.
The after-school program will make 4-H activities accessible to more children. The program will engage them in hands-on STEM projects while helping them develop life skills.
Programs offered throughout the year will target different grade levels and student interests. A pilot program at Grace Miller Elementary School in the fall focused on robotics for kindergarteners and first-graders. students tackled challenges such as designing a “battle bot” that they controlled with light sabers and coding a robot to navigate through a maze. Other potential offerings include space exploration, veterinary science and coding.
There also will be opportunities to partner with 4-H Clubs. For example, the Fauquier County 4-H Ham Radio Club recently received a grant from Amateur Radio Digital Communications to build a ham radio trailer that can be hauled to different schools to give participants a hands-on experience.
The Fauquier County 4-H Program will hire for a program educator who will develop the new after-school program while also supporting ongoing 4-H activities.
Mrs. Hazel, a Broad Run resident who died in 2020, grew up on a farm and for many years served as a 4-H leader. Inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame, she also provided significant support for the Fauquier County Fair.
Fauquier has 15 volunteer-led 4-H Clubs that focus on livestock, shooting education, STEM, horse projects and companion animals. 4-Hers engage in hands-on projects that help them develop life skills such as responsibility, time management and record-keeping. Youth involved in these clubs also have opportunities to get involved in county, stat, and national events and competitions.
It is free to join Fauquier County 4-H Clubs, and most meet during the evenings or on weekends.