Lincoln, Neb. —4-H members in the Nebraska Panhandle do not need to put their goals on hold this summer because of social distancing.
Nebraska Extension 4-H staff from around the Panhandle will be presenting six weeks of fun-filled virtual presentations to help 4-Hers build their skills and jump start their project list for county fair. Extension educators and 4-H assistants from a dozen offices in western Nebraska have been working to create a list of virtual workshops allowing youth to continue to be involved in 4-H without face-to-face contact.
Beginning June 2, three new presentations are being hosted each week from all over the Panhandle. Learn more and register for individual workshops at https://www.smore.com/bzx5h . The website has more information about each program: description, age group, cost (if any), and a link to register, as well as links for more information.
There are some deadlines; for classes in which materials are mailed to each youth, registrations need to be made a week in advance to ensure the materials arrive on time. For other activities the organizers ask that everyone register at least a day in advance. Some workshops are free because participants will be able to purchase the needed supplies locally. Other workshops have a fee (up to $20) because the presenter will mail needed materials to each youth.
The idea for a summer full of virtual activities grew out of the realization that, due to the pandemic, 4-H educators and assistants would not be able to do any face-to-face programming until June 15 at the earliest, according to Sarah Paisley, 4-H and Youth Development Educator for Nebraska Extension based in Oshkosh.
“That cut it close for us to get summer workshops done,” she said. As 4-H staff around the Panhandle talked about ideas for summer activities, the thought grew “that it would be really cool to share some of our special knowledge across the Panhandle.” There are 4-H staff at 10 offices around the Panhandle, and many of them have special experience or skills in certain projects that they were willing to share across the entire region, Paisley said.
“I don’t think any of this would have come about without COVID,” she said. “Normally we do our own programming in our individual counties. At one of our group meetings, we said, ‘why don’t we do this – share ideas across county lines.’ ”
Word is going out to 4-H members around the region via emails, 4-H websites, and social media platforms.
But the activities are not just for 4-H members. Although they designed to help 4-H members create projects that can be entered in county fairs, they are also open to non-4-H members so they can get an idea of what 4-H has to offer by way of building skills for future hobbies or careers.
Those who register for an activity will receive an email with a link they will use to access a Zoom webinar on the designated day. Youth can connect to the workshops using a tablet, computer, or smart phone. Help accessing Zoom is available for anyone who needs it by contacting the local Extension office.
The website also has a link to statewide virtual classes.
Youth can complete the activities at home, with supplies they obtain locally or, in some cases, will be mailed to them directly. Each workshop is designed to help youth learn more about the topic, and also has a direct tie to a project from the statewide list of fair-approved projects. 4-H members can complete those projects during the class or have the tools to start and finish on their own time.
The fair-approved projects are indicated on the website, according to the name of the 4-H project area. For fair-bound projects, parents will need to sign their youth up on 4hOnline in that project area to ensure that they can take their project to the fair this year.
The current list of class dates and topics (all times are Mountain Daylight Time):
June 2, Baking with Yeast, 10-11:30 a.m., presented by Laura Narjes, Extension Educator Cheyenne/Deuel counties. For ages 8-18.
June 3, Hiking Adventures, 10-11:30 a.m., presented by Jana Schwartz, 4-H Assistant, Scotts Bluff County. For ages 8-12.
June 4, Bee Hotel Building, 10-11 a.m., presented by Leo Sierra, 4-H Assistant, Scotts Bluff County. For ages 8-14.
June 8, 9, Building Better Babysitters virtual training presented by Extension Educators. 10 a.m.-noon and 1-2 p.m. each day. For ages 11 and up.
June 10, Digital Storytelling, 10-11:30 a.m., presented by Nathan Rice, 4-H Educator, Scottsbluff. For ages 8-14.
June 11, Batik, 10 a.m.-noon, presented by Ashley Fenning, 4-H Assistant, Box Butte County.
June 16, Cake Decorating, 10-11 a.m., presented by Laura Narjes, Extension Educator. For ages 8-18.
June 17, DIY Wooden Signs, 10 a.m.-noon, presented by Melissa Mracek, 4-H Educator, Northern Panhandle. For ages 8 and up.
June 18, Creating Family Adventures, 10 a.m.-noon, presented by Jennifer Blanke, 4-H Assistant, Kimball County. For ages 10-18.
June 23, Entomology, 10-11:30 a.m., presented by Jana Schwartz, 4-H Assistant, and Harrison Heldt, 4-H member. For ages 8 and up.
June 24, Beginning Photography, 10 a.m.-noon, Steph Mantooth and Ashley Fenning. For ages 8 and up.
June 25, Shopping in Style, 10-11 a.m., presented by Michelle Garwood, 4-H Educator in Cherry County; Jenalee Garwood; and Amanda Davis, 4-H Assistant in Central Sandhills. For ages 10 and up.
June 29, Dried & Delicious, 10-11:30 a.m., presented by Tammie Ostdiek, Food Nutrition and Health Educator, Morrill County. For ages 8 and up.
July 1, Crochet Fun, 10 a.m.-noon, presented by Katlyn Rosas, 4-H Assistant in Morrill County. For ages 10 and up.
July 2, Can Can Robots, 10 a.m.-noon, presented by Melissa Mracek, 4-H Educator. For ages 8-14.
July 8, Upcycled T-shirts, 10-11 a.m., presented by Marie Nelson, Sheridan County 4-H Assistant. For ages 10-14.
July 9, Intro to Tinker CAD, 10 a.m.-noon, presented by Nathan Rice, 4-H Educator. For ages 8-14.
Opportunities on your own time:
Growing Healthy Youth and Gardens, presented by Ashley Fenning, 4-H Assistant, Tammie Ostdiek, Extension Educator, Sarah Paisley, Extension Educator, and Katlyn Rosas, 4-H Assistant.
Tell Your Ag Story video contest, videos due June 30. Divisions – Junior (8-10, intermediate (11-13), senior (14-18).