Iowa State 4-H specialist to help create online animal education website


Amy Powell is a 4-H animal science program specialist at Iowa State. In the past year, she helped create an interactive website to teach kids about animal care.

Katie Brinkman

Amy Powell, a 4-H animal science program specialist at Iowa State, grew up in Tennessee with a passion for teaching and 4-H.

4-H is a network of youth organizations whose mission is dedicated to engaging youth to help them reach their fullest potential. The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills in youth.

Before she came to Iowa State, Powell was working with 2,000 4-H youth. Now, she has the opportunity to teach younger generations about the science behind animal care on an interactive website.

“It was actually Jodi Sterle’s idea,” Powell said. “Jodi is a coworker of mine, but she just didn’t have the time or funding to complete it.”

According to a press release, Powell set up focus groups with extension professionals, volunteers and parents in five Iowa counties to find out how youth acquire information about animals. She found that there were no guidelines in place for acquiring and disseminating information about animal care.

“There are more than 16,000 youth in Iowa that take part in livestock projects,” Powell said. “There is a need for them to learn how to properly take of their animals with accurate research.”

Animal University is the name Powell gave to the interactive website to teach youth about animal care. Although it is still in design, the website is set up to be interactive by teaching about various breeds in different parts of the world.

The user will choose a certain part of the world and learn about the breeds that live in that region. By interacting with the virtual environment that the breed is in, the user will learn about the needs of that specific breed.

“This will be a great resource, not only for kids in 4-H but also consumers and schools,” Powell said.

The interactive web-based curriculum also will help students understand the science behind animal care, according to a press release. Powell hopes students gain a better understanding about the reasons why animals need certain amounts of feed or why they behave in a certain way. She also hopes that Animal University will educate consumers with accurate information and facts instead of bias.

“There are seven species that we have planned to do,” Powell said. “We will also have several different modules for the users to go through, so it will take them more than five minutes to complete each species.”

Powell hopes that the beef and swine modules will be completed by this time next year.