Will Hechman | Faculty of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
As the new semester begins, Hallie Roby, a second-year plant science major at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), is encouraging college students to consider joining their college 4-H club. Although she was not involved in 4-H programming during middle school or high school, on the day she moved to campus as a freshman, she decided to jump at the opportunity to join the UAPB University 4-H Club.
“On my first day, my mom wanted to make sure my major was addressed and wanted to know about scholarship opportunities,” she said. “We went to the 1890 extension building to see what we could find. There we met Ms. Teki Hunt (UAPB 4-H Youth Program Director) and she told me about the many benefits of the program. Registered as a member of 4-H and ended up leaving our meeting.”
According to Hunt, the college 4-H program engages college students in community service, as well as leadership and professional development activities. Membership ensures students have volunteer experience in Cooperative Extension and 4-H programs. The University 4-H program is also actively involved in promoting active youth development on campus and in the community.
Roby said the college 4-H programming gives participants a solid foundation in agriculture and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts.
“The program instills critical thinking skills that will help students get out of the classroom, both in their daily lives and in their careers,” she said. “I also encourage others to join the program because of the connections they will be able to make and the unique opportunities and experiences it will bring.”
In her own experience, Robbie mentioned that she was selected by the National 4-H Council to participate in the 2022 National Farm Day Student Leadership Program as an unexpected enrichment opportunity. As part of the program, she traveled to Washington, D.C., with five other 4-H students and leaders of other student organizations from across the country. There, they met with congressional leaders, including Arkansas Sen. John Bozeman, to mark National Agriculture Day on March 22.
“Initially, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to apply because the program is national — I didn’t feel like I had enough experience to be selected,” she said. “I was stunned when I learned that I was accepted. I would definitely say it was a national celebration because I was selected from students from multiple universities outside of HBCU. Received meeting time After the table, I found out that I was one of only 6 4-H members out of 16, and I was the only person of color and one of two students who attended HBCU.”
Before heading to the nation’s capital, Robbie participated in a series of virtual meetings that included government guests, agricultural experts and advocates. In preparation for National Farming Day celebrations, student project participants engaged in one-on-one, group and group discussions on timely farming issues.
“When I flew to Washington, D.C. during spring break, I met face-to-face with all the student representatives,” she said. “On our first day, we were taken to the press club where we were able to connect with many people within the farming community, from farmers to industry representatives. On our last day, we walked around the National Mall and met different suppliers business and met with state representatives. I met with Senator Boozman and his team – it was a great experience.”
Robbie said her biggest takeaway from participating in the Lunar Day celebrations was learning to take advantage of new opportunities, even if it was a little daunting at first.
“In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to apply, but I did,” she said. “I was nervous about speaking at the press club, but I did it anyway. I was still nervous when I met with senators, but I didn’t show it. Because I took the opportunity, I made new friends and Networking. I’m also in touch with people who work in the House and Senate who have helped me throughout my college journey.”
Robbie said she chose to major in agriculture because of the lack of diversity in the field. While she is currently studying plant and soil science, she hopes to eventually pursue a career in environmental law.
“I’m very proud of Halle,” Hunter said. “She volunteered to join 4-H on her first day on campus. Since then, she has been an active member and grappled with opportunities that will further her education and prepare her for a career in agriculture. For example, in listening to After speaking and applying to the program, she also became a USDA/1890 National Scholar.”
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff provides all outreach and research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other Legally protected status and are an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.