Southern Ohio 4-H educators host virtual project clinic

Haven Hileman sharing tips for a successful project interview.

In Scioto County, 4-H member Haven Hileman drove to her school parking lot and parked in just the right spot to secure internet access. Her goal? Using her phone to share how to give a great virtual project interview to county fair judges.

She wasn’t the only one. An Ohio 4-H volunteer who was at a Texas livestock show that same night snuck out to the parking lot to sit in her car and speak into her mobile phone on the topic of woodworking.

And then there was the Ohio mother and daughter team who took a break from the fair they were visiting to sit at a picnic table and use their laptop computer, holding up various plants and greenery to demonstrate how best to make them grow. Abby and Leanne Fuhrman teaching a session on gardening.

Across Ohio, 119 4-H youth were listening and watching from their homes or internet hot spots to these and other speakers during the Ohio Valley 4-H Project Clinic, offered in June by a team of Ohio 4-H and Extension professionals, volunteers, and youth. Check out the informative sessions on various topics by visiting https://go.osu.edu/oveeraprojectclinic.

The event was the brainchild of Josi Brodt-Evans, Extension Educator for 4-H in Scioto County and was brought to life by the technical skills of Christy Clary, Brown County Extension Educator for 4-H. Along with a team of instructors from nine southern Ohio counties, they initially expected 30 or 40 youth from the area to tune in to the virtual event. But with no limits on participation and with 4-H promoting the program state-wide, the numbers soon swelled and included viewers from every corner of Ohio.

Ranging in age from nine to 18, 4-H members learned virtually everything they needed to know about completing 4-H projects, including requirements, completing a project book, and tips for the judging process. And they learned from the best of the best, since volunteers and youth who had the most expertise in each area were chosen to present. Welcome screen to the workshop.

“The quality of our presenters was very high and included achievement award winners and state fair winners,” said Brodt-Evans. The leadership team decided what expert from the nine counties would present in each of 15 project areas, as well as teach the general sessions. If the desired speaker happened to be out of state or busy with something else that night, it did not present a barrier – they just joined the Zoom meeting from wherever they were at a suitable time.

Experts spoke about project areas including Shooting Sports, Cake Decorating, Self-Determined, Clothing and Textiles, Small Animals, Wood Working, Natural Resources, Food and Nutrition, Gardening, Dogs, Photography, Home Design, Scrapbooking, and STEM.

“It was fun to collaborate and we could really play off each other’s strengths,” said team member Jo Williams, Extension Educator for 4-H in Scioto County. Her son, Garrett, participated and sat on the family’s back deck while learning more about 4-H gardening projects. Anya Brooks leading a breakout session on cake decorating.

Both participants and the teaching team gave the program high marks. When asked if they would attend a similar virtual workshop if offered again, almost all youth indicated “yes” and said they would recommend it to a friend.

The experience was a highlight for 4-H and extension professionals, as well. “I love the people I work with!” said Williams with enthusiasm. “With all the difficulty this year brought when it comes to canceled events and programs, it also brought new programs and opportunities, and for those I am so very thankful.”