A 4-H student from New York State earned a prestigious national award for his resilience and commitment to using technology to spark community change.
The National 4-H Council awarded Clyde Van Dyke, 17, the 2019 4-H Youth in Action Pillar Award for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). He is a 4-H participant in Broome County’s Geospatial Mapping Club, a program that teaches youth to create maps to visualize data
Van Dyke will receive a $5,000 scholarship for higher education and will serve as an advocate and spokesperson for 4-H STEM programming. He was officially recognized at the 10th Annual 4-H Legacy Awards in Washington, D.C. on March 12.
“Clyde is so deserving of the recognition he is receiving for his work in 4-H,” said Andy Turner, director of 4-H in New York State. “The 4-H team in Broome County has done an amazing job of creating opportunities for youth like Clyde to find a spark that can lead them to college and career opportunities they may not have even been aware of otherwise. Clyde has seized all of these opportunities and made us all proud in the process! He has a bright future ahead of him.”
Van Dyke faced many challenges in his childhood, including losing his mother at a young age. He said he didn’t put much effort into school because he thought that kids from his economic background couldn’t succeed. But when a friend invited Van Dyke to a 4-H technology club meeting, he said he found his passion.
“Without 4-H, I would have slipped through the cracks,” he said. “4-H gave me the motivation and resources I needed to overcome the mindset that I couldn’t succeed. 4-H taught me to communicate with others – especially teachers – so could ask the right questions and get the help I needed. Now, I show other kids the path for success and what they can gain in 4-H, too.”
4-H educator Kelly Adams said Van Dyke has taken the Geospatial Mapping Club to the next level by creating maps that help people visualize important community issues and envision a pathway for community action.
Van Dyke’s most meaningful geospatial map visualizes the drug overdose epidemic in New York, charting the increase in drug overdose deaths from 2008 to 2016 along with the potential factors that contribute to this growing epidemic. Van Dyke showcased this map at the Esri International Conference and routinely teaches workshops to educate others to use geospatial mapping to enact community change. He hopes this map motivates others to make a change.
Van Dyke is on track to graduate with both his high school diploma and an associate’s degree in May 2019.