Jacob Gray and his fellow 4H members want you to know that 4H is more than animals, agriculture and home economics.
“The National 4H is trying to involve more kids and so we offer rocketry, photography, robotics, computers and GPS (Global Positioning System) and GIS (Geographic Information System) projects,” said Gray, 17.
About two and a half years ago, Gray, a member of the Latrobe Outlanders 4H Club, noticed that GPS and GIS projects were also part of 4H and he became interested. “I was the only one interested in GIS, but five of us were interested in GPS,” said Gray.
Gray began meeting with his GIS project leader, Jose Crummet, GIS manager for El Dorado County. The two met once a week for an hour and a half, learning about GIS, which integrates hardware and software to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and present all types of geographical data. While Gray was learning how to build maps, he was also meeting with a GPS 4H group composed of Rachel Gray, 13, Nick Boring, 17, Will Boring, 13, and Nathan Ross, 17.
The GPS group learned how to use GPS units to show the position of objects on earth and map them.
“We wanted to do a project that would use GPS and benefit the community,” said Gray. With the Placerville Downtown Association as sponsors, they decided to put Main Street online.
“We used the GPS units to locate the points of all the historic buildings on Main Street and then we took photographs of each of the 41 points,” said Gray. Next, the group integrated the information from the self-guided walking tour map of Main Street created by the Heritage Association on the new Website.
“You can click on one of the historical points and see a photo of the building and read the information about it and you can access it from a smart phone, a tablet or a computer,” said Gray. “It promotes our community on the Internet and preserves the history and culture of Placerville, and we can update or expand the information anytime.”
You can see the results at gemp.edcgov.us/mainstreetplacerville/index.
Gray said the project was a lot of fun and the group learned some fun facts about Placerville as well as some important skills that will help them in the future.The 4H groups also learned presentation skills as they presented their interactive Main Street project to organizations such as the El Dorado County Historical Society.
As a next step, the group wants to put El Dorado County bike trails, other historical places, plaques and markers online and they are thinking of expanding the Main Street project to include “Then” and “Now” photos and information.
Crummet, the project leader, got involved because 4H has a grant from ESRI, the international supplier of GIS software.
“I was involved with 4H when my daughter was in it and I saw how it really helped her, so I wanted to give back. These tech projects can be built upon by different groups because technology is always changing,” said Crummet.”It gives room for expansion.”
One interactive map built by the 4H group shows all the clubs in the county. “If you click on a club, it will show the club projects and that is helpful if you’re looking to join a 4H club that is suited to your needs,” said Gray.
The addition of technology oriented projects to 4H’s roster of animal and home economics projects allows urban youth who can’t have animals to become involved in 4H and it offers access to rural youth who may have limited access to technology where they live. Such projects are county-wide rather than group specific so that members of different 4H groups can come together and work on common projects.
“We plan to raise money to purchase some GIS software and additional computers and also GPS units so that each member of the group will have a GPS unit to use instead of sharing them,” said Gray.
Gray was recently selected to become a member of 4H’s State Tech Team, which means he will be traveling state-wide to 4H conferences and events doing tech support.
“It involves all aspects of technology and I might be going to Texas to do the same thing,” said Gray, “because they have partnered with California 4H and have already approached me.”
Locally, 4H partnered with Intel’s robotic team to learn about robotics and Dennis Gray, Jacob’s father, is a project leader for rocketry. Jacob himself is leading a group in building computers from scratch.
“It can be cheaper to build your own computer, but mostly it’s to teach people what’s inside a computer and how it works,” he said.
For information about 4H, visit the Website at ucanr.edu/sites/EDC_4-H_program.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.