The pandemic is not slowing down 4-H clubs that have found creative ways to make virtual meetings fun and engaging.
In Union County, the Scissors and Sandwiches 4-H Club hosts color meetings, where members are seen on-screen wearing the same hues. The Circle 62 Club in Columbiana County sends its 30 members on in-house scavenger hunts. They receive a list of items prior to the meeting and then submit photos with their finds to the club. Previous hunts included searching for cookie sprinkles, toys that make noise, and an extension cord. “These hunts keep everyone involved and have been great fun for our kids,” said Paula Bardo, club advisor.
The fun activities have not replaced a 4-H staple—club demonstrations. Members of Scissors and Sandwiches submit a video sharing their skills via Flipgrid, a web-based teaching tool. This has allowed members to complete demonstrations that were more unique than could have been done during the traditional in-person setting. Demonstrations have included a tour of a member’s wood workshop while discussing shop safety and informational presentations on vegetable care directly from the vegetable garden.
4-H professionals in at least 15 counties are offering virtual countywide club meetings to provide an educational program and meeting space to clubs. According to Frances Foos, 4-H educator in Madison County, club advisors were struggling with how to host virtual meetings. “This program helps do the groundwork for volunteers, so they don’t worry about creating a virtual meeting space or program,” said Foos. The meetings feature topics members may not normally encounter—such as fire safety, paleontology, and tapping trees for maple syrup—then Foos connects each topic to a 4-H project that members can complete.
4-H club leaders also have a new tool this year to make meetings easier. The Ohio 4-H Grab & Go Meeting Toolkit offers seven meeting agendas and accommodates both in-person and virtual meetings.
In true 4-H fashion, 4-H professionals, volunteers, and members continue to make the best better even when faced with the challenges of a global pandemic.