Ohio 4-H Highlights : June 2020

  1. Final Week to Support 4-H Camp Buckeye Funder

    Matthew Swearingen participating in high ropes activities.

    With the #4HCampNeedsYouNow Buckeye Funder ending Thursday, 16-year-old Matthew Swearingen has something to share.

    “If alumni and friends of 4-H are reading this, I challenge each of them to think back on their fond memories of 4-H and share those memories with others,” said Matthew, a member of the Bentonville Buckeyes 4-H Club in Adams County. “4-H needs their support.”

    Ohio 4-H prioritized the health of campers, staff, and volunteers during COVID-19 when all camps were canceled. As a result, camps may lose as much as 75% of this year’s revenue, and without that annual income, some camps may be unable to operate in 2021 and beyond.

    #4HCampNeedsYouNow is an online fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $1.1 million to support nine 4-H camps, including Canter’s Cave in southern Ohio, Matthew’s home camp.

    Canter's Cave“That’s the camp I love. Canter's Cave is known for our hiking trails. I remember going on those hikes when I was a camper,” said Matthew, who had been looking forward to meeting campers as a third-year counselor on June 1. 

    Canter’s Cave offers several multi-county camps, where youth from nine different counties camp together, allowing the added benefit of meeting youth and counselors from other parts of the state. “This creates a community – a family,” said Matthew.  “That’s a term we use a lot. We have a camp family. We have a lot in common and we all share Canter’s Cave.”

    In addition, Matthew has camped at 4-H Camp Ohio in Licking County and served as a counselor at Ohio Military Kids (OMK) Camp at Kelleys Island 4-H Camp.

    OMK is for children whose parents are in the military. “I have very fond memories of taking campers down to the beach and spending time with them at Kelleys Island.” he said. I am sure their lives have been a little different from the typical camper. We talk about missing a parent or both parents, because they have been deployed.” Matthew speaking to a group.

    Matthew hopes everyone sees the value in these camps, as he fully intends to serve as a counselor next year, if possible.“4-H is a lot of experiences and a lot of fun, and we need to help our youth,” he said. “Let’s make the best better.”

    Through the first four weeks of the campaign, more than $93,000 has been raised for Ohio 4-H camps. The effort concludes on June 18. 

    Show your support by donating at give.osu.edu/4hcamps or establishing a larger gift through the Ohio 4-H Foundation. You can also share your support by using #4HCampNeedsYouNow on your social media pages. For details, contact Crystal Ott at ott.109@osu.edu or 614-688-1454.

    #4HCampNeedsYouNow Campaign by camp (through week 4)
    4-H Camp Clifton $27,980 4-H Camp Piedmont $6,170
    4-H Camp Graham $5,725 4-H Camp Whitewood $8,725
    4-H Camp Hervida $1,700 Canter's Cave 4-H Camp $4,087
    4-H Camp Ohio $11,795 Kelleys Island 4-H Camp $8,606
    4-H Camp Palmer $14,861 Greatest Needs for 4-H Camp $3,571
    TOTAL $93,220


  2. Camping…virtually!

    Young boy sitting at the computer for Camp...ish activities. He has made a camp sign to hang on his wall.

    4-H Camp is one of the most treasured memories for many 4-H members…the campfires, camp songs, outdoor activities, and friendships made with youth from around the state create an experience remembered for a lifetime. 4-H professionals are just as passionate about camping, so when they learned that in-person events could not be held this summer due to COVID-19, “CAMP…ish” was born!

    “Camp…ish,” Ohio’s first-ever, 4-H statewide virtual camp, was held June 9-11 for both 4-H and non-4-H members. Around 275 campers attended over the three-day period. The free event was held via Zoom, and each youth joined in the fun from a home computer. Camp...ish participants

    Although CAMP…ish used computers for communication, it was not a sedentary experience! “Does anyone wanna see my dog?!” called out one young camper, scampering around in front of her screen during a spontaneous “pet show-and-tell” session. Campers could see and interact with other youth and their counselors while doing activities interspersed with rest and meal periods. Sessions ran live each day during three sessions. Co-directors Kayla Oberstadt, 4-H program manager, and Frances Nicol, 4-H educator in Madison County, led a team of over 25 4-H professionals from around the state to host activities.

    Campers took to the outdoors to complete nature challenges, create art from natural materials and set-up obstacle courses in their backyards. Some kids climbed trees while others drew on the sidewalk. Parents or caregivers took photos of the youth during each activity, and the campers then downloaded the pictures to the camp website for sharing with the group.

    Hayden up in a tree to drop his egg for the egg drop activity.Parents were enthusiastic about the program. “I was appreciative that 4-H gave kids an opportunity to do some fun activities and have a camp-like experience,” said Angie Thomas of Champaign County. “What a positive statement they made by thinking outside the box and creating positive activities out of what could have been a negative situation. Thanks for being such great role models for my daughter.”

    “My boys did CAMP…ish and really had fun,” said parent Angie Holmes of Erie County. “They loved the egg drop activity and even climbed our tree to drop their egg!” 

    CAMP…ish kicked off the first day with a virtual tour of a real 4-H camp (Canter’s Cave), video-taped in advance. Seeing the recreation field, dining area, bathrooms and other areas made the experience even more realistic, especially for first-time campers. Young boy making a craft using Popsicle sticks.

    Traditional rituals such as saying the 4-H Pledge to open camp each morning were not forgotten. Additionally, campers created a tent-like feeling during one session by building and sitting inside homemade forts made from furniture and blankets. Making crafts by re-purposing items found around the campers’ homes was another favorite activity. Each day closed with singing camp songs and a reflection. 

    Camper Savannah T., reported that “the STEM activities were my favorite!” She said seeing youth from other counties on her computer screen and listening to their comments was also fun. “The counselors were very nice and helpful. I really liked the experience and would do it again.”

    Some parents reported virtual camping was superior to a traditional camp for children who experience homesickness or who have conditions such as anxiety. Additionally, as a free program, “CAMP…ish” brought camping to many youth who would otherwise never have the experience. Young girl sitting outside "roasting" a marshmallow over a crafted fire.

    A parent whose child had been homesick at camp in the past – and was planning to wait several years before trying camp again – was grateful for the virtual camp. “We were thrilled when the Camp…ish opportunity came up, because our daughter could enjoy camp from the comfort of our home.”

    CAMP…ish drew a wide audience from around the state, with:

    • 58 counties represented
    • 4 out-of-state participants (3 in NY, 1 in MO)
    • 42 youth who were not already 4-H members
    • 167 females and 95 males
    • Ages ranging from 8-15

    Young girl making thank you cards for camp supporters.While in-person camps are planned next year, the 4-H Camping Design Team does not rule out the possibility of conducting more virtual state-wide camps in the future. “It has been amazing to see the creativity of our colleagues!” said Jamie McConnell, Muskingum County. 4-H educator. In addition, more than 12 counties conducted their own virtual county 4-H camps around the state.

  3. Outstanding 4-H Members Recognized

    Award winners being recognized on-screen during the virtual recognition program.

    On May 28, more than 180 people gathered virtually for the 2020 Ohio 4-H Achievement Awards. These awards recognize 4-H members' achievements in specific project areas. More than 350 4-H achievement records were considered at the state-level for these awards.

    Applicants complete this comprehensive record form detailing their 4-H project work, participation in 4-H events and activities, honors, community service, leadership, and experiences in school, church, and community organizations. They also share their 4-H story detailing how the organization contributed to their personal development, leadership skills, and career plans. 

    Bonnie Ayars and Emmy Beck-Aden served as emcees for the evening.Twenty-nine award winners have been chosen to attend National 4-H Congress with youth from all over the country this November in Atlanta. In addition to the Achievement Award recipients, two 4-H members will represent Ohio at the National Dairy Conference in Madison, Wisconsin this fall, two received the Ohio Townships Association Local Government Award, and the 4-H representatives to the Ohio State Fair Junior Fair Board were announced. Thanks to our many sponsors for making this opportunity possible. The list of award winners and sponsors can be found here.



  4. Cloverbuds Go Virtual while “On the Move!”

    Mary and Lizzie, Licking County Cloverbuds

    Roller skates with big wheels for a smoother ride.

    A petting zoo on wheels, complete with animals.

    A rescue-bot for nurses to help people.

    What do these have in common? Each is a model vehicle designed by an Ohio 4-H Cloverbud for “On the Move!” — the theme of the 2020 Ohio 4-H Cloverbot Challenge.

    Virtual activities and gatherings have quickly become part of our everyday lives. And that is true for the youngest Ohio 4-H members, as well. Cloverbuds (4-H youth ages 5-8 who participate in non-competitive activities), recently enjoyed a virtual version of the popular “Cloverbot Challenge” program. Issac with his "On the Move" creation

    The activity, in its ninth year, typically involves youth meeting face-to-face in teams to problem-solve using STEM (science, engineering, technology and math) skills. Over several months, teams research a topic based on the year’s theme, build a working model of their solution, and gather at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center in the spring to share their project.

    Upon learning that COVID guidelines would prevent an in-person event this year, the program’s co-creators Beth Boomershine and Sally McClaskey quickly adapted the Challenge to an online format - with great success!

    Instead of working in teams, Cloverbuds independently created their own project at home, focusing on transportation and the ways in which people and how things get where they are going. Each Cloverbud built a model out of interlocking bricks (e.g., Mega Bloks, LEGOs), took a photo and submitted it to an online gallery for others to view.

    Parents were impressed with the way these youngest 4-H’ers adapted to the news that the activity would be online, without meeting in Columbus for the culminating experience. “My boys were a little bit disappointed, but kids are so resilient,” said Kerry Riggs, a Franklin County 4-H club adviser and mother of two Cloverbuds. Robbie with his "On the Move" creation.“They have become used to this because all their schoolwork is online and they have learned how to do things like scanning and uploading photos.”

    Boomershine, the 4-H educator in Franklin County, noted that while she will be happy to return to an in-person event next year, there is an unexpected benefit to a virtual Cloverbot Challenge. Ohio 4-H supporters who do not normally have the opportunity to see the Cloverbud’s construction efforts can visit the online photo gallery. “The Cloverbot Challenge is funded by a grant from the Ohio 4-H Foundation, so we are pleased with this opportunity to share the gallery with our generous donors,” she said. 

    Boomershine observed an additional benefit — youth enjoy seeing photos of themselves with their creations online for an extended period. “They can also look more closely at the details of other entries, so they are still learning from each other despite not being face-to-face.” Collage from Cloverbot Challenge submissions.

    An exciting feature of the photo gallery is that if viewers hover over a photo, they will find a description of each entry, written by the Cloverbud. McClaskey, program manager at the state 4-H office, believes the team met the goal they set when they decided to go virtual. “We just wanted them to stay connected to the project and have fun with it.” 

    Cloverbuds who submitted an entry received a certificate of participation. Details about the 2021 Ohio 4-H Cloverbot Challenge will be announced early next year, but you can visit this year’s challenge gallery at https://ohio4h.org/image-galleries/cloverbot-challenge-gallery.

  5. Faces of Ohio 4-H

    Michael and his wife.

    Each month we highlight an Ohio 4-H alum. They have amazing stories to share, from their personal experience in 4-H to how they have given back to the program. This month we feature Michael Samples, massage therapist and registered nurse in Columbus, and Jackson County 4-H alumnus.

    Michael Samples came from a very 4-H-involved family. “My grandparents, John and Opal Payne, were dairy farmers in Gallia County and, along with their neighbors, Hayes and Este Deel, started Raccoon Valley 4-H club. They raised my mom, her twin sister, and younger brother to be involved in 4-H, participated in county fairs and attended Canter’s Cave 4-H camp, just like their father did. My Michael winning showmanship for Dairy Market Feeder, July 1995dad, Dave, was the Lawrence County 4-H agent for a number of years, before we moved to Jackson county when he became the Agriculture Agent. Each of my cousins and siblings, and now most of their kids, are involved in 4-H in their counties and states, but Canter’s Cave draws everyone back to southeast Ohio for camp. 4-H is a family affair for us.” 

    It wasn’t until he was eight that he got his start in Jackson County 4-H and began making memories of his own. “My favorite memories of growing up are centered around 4-H camp and the county fairs. I started with general projects like woodworking, vegetable gardening, fishing, and photography. Canter's CaveI was elected as the health and safety officer of my club and really enjoyed sharing what I was learning with my club members. Around the age of ten, our parents allowed us to raise and show livestock. I showed market hogs and dairy market feeders throughout my 4-H career. I went to Canter’s Cave 4-H camp every year and became a counselor when I turned 15. When I was 17, I was hired on summer staff and worked there for four consecutive summers. It was the best job I ever had! My older sister, Alison, and twin brother, John, were also on summer staff for a time. I was a lifeguard, archery instructor, rappelling instructor, high ropes instructor, and engaged the campers in team-building exercises. It was a lot of work – at least 16-18 hours each day with a little down-time for a short nap after lunch.” 

    Michael assisting an elderly man in Dominican Republic with shoulder pain while on a medical mission trip in March 201.Samples explained that 4-H not only helped him growing up, but also led him to becoming a registered nurse and massage therapist. “I often reflect on my first 4-H club leadership position as the health and safety officer. Though I was very young at the time, I developed a strong desire to help others with my first-aid knowledge and skills. I owe much of who I am to my experiences in 4-H; I gained confidence, empathy, leadership skills, service, hard work, humility, and social engagement, just to name a few. As part of the camp summer staff, I played a major role in changing kids’ lives through inclusive actions, which helped them realize they matter, they are important and unique, and have skills that can benefit others.” 

    Left to right: Raymond Friend, Jason Ross, Larkin Friend, Christopher Smalley, Josh Ross, and Michael Samples at Black Rock Falls, Canter’s Cave 4-H Camp for a work-day, November 2019Samples continues to be involved in the organization that has been a part of his life for so long. “I still volunteer at Canter’s Cave, and camp alumni and staff meet a few times a year to clean the trails, repair and update structures, or give attention to anything that needs it. I hope it is evident that I have a strong passion for 4-H and my desire for people to be positively influenced by this organization.” 


    A group of people painting the pool at Canter's Cave.


    Michael continues to help volunteer at Canter’s Cave 4-H Camp as a 4-H alumnus. Check future issues for additional ways you can help volunteer at 4-H camps. Another way you can show your support is by participating in the #4HCampNeedsYouNow Buckeye Funder campaign that ends this Thursday. More details can be found at https://give.osu.edu/4hcamps.



  6. Calendar of Events

    Young boy working in the garden.

    Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays – Exploring with Erica (Facebook Live) – 2 p.m., Join the Mercer County 4-H student intern for kid-friendly recipes, science experiments, and spring crafts.

    Fridays at 3 p.m. – Take a Virtual Field Trip! (Online) – Join Lucas County 4-H Educator Elliot Lawrence for virtual field trips all over the Earth. Check out previous field trips and join upcoming ones here!

    June 16 – Managing insects and weeds in the vegetable garden (Webinar) – 6:30 p.m., Learn from Dr. Timothy McDermott, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator, who will share integrated pest management strategies to address those annoying weeds and insects. Webinar is free but registration is required.

    June 18 – CFAES Time & Change Alumni Webinar Series: Food Supply Chain (Webinar) – 2 p.m., Three panelists and a moderator will examine the current condition and future state of our nation's food supply chain in a discussion led by four prominent CFAES alumni. Find more information here.

    June 18 – Intro to Machinery & Equipment (Livestream) – 4 p.m., This livestream is part of the Beginner Farmer Growing Collaborative hosted by the Stratford Ecological Center. All experience levels are welcome! Find the livestream here. Contact info@stratfordecologicalcenter.org with any questions.

    June 25 – How to Harvest and Sell Pollinator Products (Livestream) - 4 p.m., This livestream is part of the Beginner Farmer Growing Collaborative hosted by the Stratford Ecological Center. All experience levels are welcome! Find the livestream here. Contact info@stratfordecologicalcenter.org with questions.

    July 9 – Summer Garden Walk at the Charles Madison Nabrit Memorial Garden (Virtual) – 6 p.m., We will be talking about weather predictions, pests and weeds, what is in harvest, and thinking about upcoming planting. This free and open to the public, but registration is required.

    July 9 & 10 – Plant Empowerment Workshop (Online) – 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This workshop is to empower crop production through a balanced growing method, through an integrated approach based on physics and plant physiology, for high yields, quality, saving energy, and profitability in greenhouse controlled environments. Workshop fee is $20. Click here for more program details and registration information.