Idaho’s 4-H Conquers New Challenges
Early spring is usually filled with planning meetings and promotional releases for summer 4-H programming. However, 2020 decided there would be a new routine. 4-H professionals, volunteers and families were faced right away with figuring out how to continue 4-H amid COVID-19 with no face-to-face options. At the time, common questions were: How can our clubs meet? What will those meetings look like? How can we continue 4-H programs through a stay-at-home order?
Today, those questions are no longer relevant. 4-H professionals, volunteers, youth and families rose to the occasion to conquer those initial fears. 4-H professionals began weekly meetings to network, train, brainstorm and share stories of what county programs were doing to continue 4-H.
The central district 4-H coordinated weekly Zoom 4-H lessons with hundreds of youth actively taking part. UI Extension 4-H in Bannock County coordinated 3-5 activities per week through Facebook, which included various project lessons, video activities hosted by 4-H youth and photo challenges. In Valley County, 4-H stepped up to the plate with help from a volunteer creating the Word Problem of the Week, challenging youth and families to work together about a puzzle specific to Valley County. Finally, even though Benewah County families have limited options for connectivity, 4-H professionals worked with the school district to coordinate weekly 4-H activity folders that could be delivered with meals to families by the school buses.
The UI Extension 4-H team has been curating resources for families to use during this time. There are activities for all youth and families, whether they are in 4-H or just visiting.
COVID-19 brought many new challenges to our 4-H professionals, volunteers, youth and families. However, they did not allow the problem to define them. Attendance at leader council meetings are reported at record-high levels due to adding Zoom online conferencing. County video demonstrations for project lessons are seen more often across 4-H social media accounts. Adults and youth alike are working together on how to continue 4-H programming virtually with the new format for an online State Teen Association Convention this June. Registration is free through 4-H Online.
Idaho has embodied the 4-H spirit by creating a welcoming, inclusive and engaging environment through a virtual reality. 4-H programming may look a little different in each county, but in typical 4-H fashion, the new challenges have only strengthened our program and highlighted the exceptional people we have inspiring Idaho’s 4-H.