MORGANTOWN , W.Va.This year, 4-H members will have additional opportunities to develop their leadership, communication and science skills during West Virginia 4-H Days at West Virginia University . Learning programs for 4-H members will be expanded from two to four days during July 29-Aug. 1.

The latest learning adventures will be offered to all 4-H members and include hands-on instruction that culminates with the judging contests and demonstrations. The activities include a dog skill-a-thon where kids identify breeds, a safety hazard hunt event, a fashion runway competition and more.

The central site for state 4-H Dayscompetitions and contests at WVU will be the National Resource Center for Coal and Energy on the Evansdale Campus. Activities will also be held at the Core Arboretum , Animal Science Farm, Evansdale Residential Complex and other sites.

Other learning activities during State 4-H Days include an art show, a talent show, a style revue sewing project, and a WVU Jacksons Mill mobile history unit that will be parked on the Evansdale campus.

A club for kids and teens that supports personal growth, 4-H stands for head, heart, hands and health. The organization helps members develop life skills and knowledge, build self-esteem and support positive values, foster active citizenship or service to others, and teach healthy habits.

One of the benefits of State 4-H Days is the exposure to the WVU campus and college life that 4-H members receive.

On Wednesday, July 29, 4-H competitors from around the state will begin arriving at WVU for educational and fun-filled contests, demonstrations, exhibits and tours related to the 4-H curriculum. Competitions will begin on Thursday, July 30 when county-award winners start vying for state titles in the judging categories of horticulture, land and livestock.

On Friday, July 31 and Saturday, Aug. 1, county title-holders will step before judges to exhibit their visual presentation, public speaking and communication technology skills.

There are 30 visual presentation categories during State 4-H Days, which include computer skills, electric energy, community and economic development, foods and nutrition, health, horses, conservation, photography and veterinary science.

Contestants will be judged on a variety of skills such as originality, subject-matter knowledge and material organization. Each presenter must use visual aids including posters, tools and related materials.

Members, who live far away from Morgantown, may never get a tour of WVU . If they come for State 4-H Days, however, that will simply be a bonus experience to an already valuable learning process,said Dr. Chad Higgins, WVU Extension specialist, who coordinates the annual event.The kids can tour WVU s engineering and forensic buildings and see firsthand what they could be accomplishing in college with the skills they are developing in 4-H.

Another change in this years 4-H schedule is its place on the calendar. In recent years, the event has been held in June. This year, the two-day event expands to four days and opens in July.

The WVU Extension Service sponsors 4-H programs in each of West Virginias 55 counties. One of the largest youth development programs in the U.S., 4-H is the only program with direct access to technological advances from university research.

Information about local 4-H opportunities and county WVU Extension Service offices is available at .