Fewer than one in five adults from rural communities have college degrees, according to 2017 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But Wyoming 4-H wants to foster a culture that encourages young people to attend college.
In collaboration with the University of Wyoming, 4-H launched “UW Signing Days” last year. Again this year, beginning in late April, UW extension office staff, local teachers, friends and family will gather at high schools across the state to celebrate graduating seniors who have committed to continue their education at UW this coming fall.
Johnathan Despain, state 4-H program coordinator, said they have doubled the number of high schools participating this year. He said the “UW Signing Days” can be especially meaningful for first-generation college students.
“Students told us that they felt completely supported by their family in the step that they are making to go onto college, and how proud the family was because that moment occurred,” said Despain. “Rather than just I think that they are happy for me, they tell me ‘it’s ok if I go do this but they actually felt the transition point: I can go to college and be successful with the support of my family.”
Despain said the hope is that students who attend UW will someday return home with new skills and knowledge that will invigorate local economies. The "UW Signing Days" schedule is available here.