COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri 4-H has received funding through the Union Pacific Foundation Local Grants program to support programming to raise awareness, educate and prepare youths for jobs in STEM fields.

“The Missouri 4-H Career Exploration program will give rural youth opportunities that could develop into family-supporting jobs like those Union Pacific offers,” said Amanda Meek, University of Missouri Extension state specialist in youth STEM education and engagement.

Youths will gain technical and life skills while participating in hands-on activities, virtual learning from professionals in those fields, and field trips when allowable, Meek said.

Through the Missouri 4-H Career Exploration program, middle school students in rural areas can explore STEM careers and build foundational skills in areas such as welding, electrical work, machine operations, and civil and electrical engineering, she said.

“For more than 150 years, Union Pacific has not only connected communities, it has provided training and employment to millions of workers in cities and towns throughout the nation,” Meek said. “Today, the company also helps communities thrive through the Local Grants program.”

The Union Pacific Foundation awards local grants related to safety, workforce development, community spaces and unique local needs.

The grant has been awarded to the Missouri 4-H Foundation, the private resource partner of the University of Missouri Extension 4-H Center for Youth Development. Since 1949, the Missouri 4-H Foundation has partnered with universities, corporations, foundations and individuals to build stronger 4-H programs and provide financial support to benefit Missouri's youths. The foundation helps empower young people in every county of the state to learn by doing and become the leaders of tomorrow.

About 4-H

More than 55,000 members strong, Missouri 4-H is an active, dynamic organization of young people who are learning, growing and preparing to be the leaders of today and tomorrow – making a real difference in their community, country and world. 4-H is the youth development program of the University of Missouri and the nation’s Cooperative Extension System. For more information on Missouri 4-H, visit