Ohio 4-H Spark EXPO inspires youth with pathway opportunities exploration


The Ohio 4-H Spark EXPO, an exciting event dedicated to exploring future career opportunities, concluded its summer session on a high note. From June 12-15, teens from across Ohio gathered on The Ohio State University campus for an immersive experience aimed at discovering pathways in agriculture and related STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) fields.

Hosted by Ohio 4-H and the Ohio State College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), the Spark EXPO provided participants with a unique opportunity to engage with industry experts, faculty, and staff, and tour Ohio State’s Columbus campus and the CFAES Wooster campus. More than 50 teens, representing 28 counties, attended, eager to explore potential career paths and gain hands-on experience.

“I enjoyed learning how different agriculture-related careers impact the world and the various career paths,” Bridget Niese, a Putnam County 4-H member, said. “I’m really excited to attend Ohio State in the future now!”

One of the sessions featured a tour of the new state-of-the-art Trimble Technology lab at Ohio State ATI on the CFAES Wooster campus. Aaron Smith, an agricultural data analyst, demonstrated how students can interact with technology in the classroom before using the equipment in the field. Participants also had the chance to ride along in machinery equipped with guidance controls and steering systems.

Industry leaders from Cargill, Ohio Poultry Association, Ohio Valley Institute of Food Technologists, and Ohio State’s Center on Education and Training for Employment played a crucial role in the event’s success. Their involvement highlighted the collaborative spirit of the 4-H community, which is instrumental in fostering an environment of growth and learning.

“The Ohio 4-H Spark EXPO is about opening doors and expanding horizons for our youth,” said Margo Overholt-Seckel, program manager, Ohio 4-H Workforce Development and Pathways. “By exposing them to a wide array of career pathways and equipping them with essential skills, we are helping to lay the foundation for their future success.”

In addition to career exploration, the Spark EXPO emphasized the development of essential life skills. Activities focused on leadership and teamwork prepared participants not only for their future careers but also for active and effective participation in their communities.

“We are delighted with the enthusiasm and engagement of all the participants, faculty, staff, and industry,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES. “The Spark EXPO is more than just an event; it’s an opportunity for young people to discover their passions, explore potential career paths, and gain the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve their goals.”

Ohio 4-H is the youth development program of Ohio State University Extension, CFAES’ statewide outreach program.

CFAES News Team
For more information, contact: 

Margo Overholt-Seckel
Program Manager, Ohio 4-H Workforce Development & Pathways