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Ohio 4-H Highlights : May 2020
Ohio 4-H Goes Virtual!
Ohio 4-H is open for business, and we’ve gone virtual! When The Ohio State University locked buildings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in March, including county Extension offices, it understandably took the public some time to realize that programming would continue. After all, the staff members who were fixtures in their communities were no longer in their usual spots.
But 4-H professionals were still at their desks, with those offices now located in living rooms, spare bedrooms, and basements across Ohio, with computers now vying for space on kitchen and dining room tables. Within days of beginning teleworking from home, 4-H team members were creating and delivering interesting and educational virtual programs to either replace or enhance former face-to-face events for clientele.
“We knew we had to keep the program moving. We have an incredibly talented and committed team who quickly realized having the continuity of 4-H at the fingertips of youth, families, and volunteers could help them adjust to the new reality of staying at home,” said Dr. Kirk Bloir, Assistant Director, 4-H Youth Development.
From Zoom to Facebook Live, 4-H is now everywhere virtually. County 4-H clubs are conducting meetings, junior fair boards are gathering to make decisions, and virtual camps are being planned for summer. And at the heart of it all are the county 4-H educational programs.
“It was just instinctive to go virtual,” said Margo Long, Extension Educator for 4-H in Marion County. “A lightbulb came on for me. I knew kids were looking for things to do. This is a way to give them a sense of community and show them we can be brave in these uncertain times.”
Long led a four-week virtual coding program for youth in grades three-nine, called “Girls Who Code.” Each session involved identifying a woman in technology, watching a video, having a small group discussion, and completing an activity. The 17 members were challenged to create codes for such things as designing a new app or moving objects through space. “The silver lining is that we’re engaging new audiences, not just from Marion County, but from Ohio and the rest of the country,” she said.
Long considers the best evidence of the virtual coding program’s success to be the group’s eagerness for more sessions. Over the course of the month, she observed behavior change and progression. “It was a safe environment where the youth could eliminate social isolation.”
Further north in Ohio, Elliott Lawrence, Extension Educator for 4-H in Lucas County, felt youth under stay-at-home orders would benefit from getting away through virtual field trips. Over the past eight weeks, 325 participants have traveled with him to the International Space Station, Ford’s Theater in Washington D. C., and the Dinosaur Walk at the Melbourne Museum in Australia. The most popular event, about coral reefs, attracted 101 viewers.
Lawrence, like Longo, is visible on screen, narrating each field trip and answering questions. Although he initially only planned to provide the program a few times, its popularity has spurred him to continue indefinitely. “The trips make places seem up close and personal,” he said. “They are engaging and exciting and let the kids do something they are not used to doing.”
Virtual events will continue as part of Ohio 4-H programs, at least until in-person events are permitted. But Bloir believes some virtual programming may remain an important part of 4-H efforts. “These programs have been very successful, and it is an effective way to reach our 4-H families.”
You can find more information about many of the virtual programs offered by Ohio 4-H by following us on Facebook at Ohio State-4-H Youth Development or at ohio4h.org/families/stay-connected.
#4HCampNeedsYouNow: Buckeye Funder Campaign Kicks Off
The difficult but prudent decision to cancel Ohio 4-H camps due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was made with the health of campers, staff, and volunteers in mind. Unfortunately, without this year’s revenue, Ohio 4-H camps face a challenging financial future.
The #4HCampNeedsYouNow Buckeye Funder, which kicked off this week, is an online fundraising campaign to support nine Ohio 4-H camps, many of which will lose 75% or more of their annual income this year. The campaign goal over the next five weeks is to raise $1.1 million to offset those losses.
The campaign is an opportunity for 4-H members, their families, alumni, and supporters to share their love of camp experiences and invest in the immediate future of these camps. Each week of the campaign will highlight a different theme, including camp songs, skits, favorite recipes, traditions, and memories.
This year would have been Adrianna Meyer’s fifth visit to 4-H Camp Palmer in Fayette, Ohio and her first as a counselor. Adrianna, 15, hopes to serve as a counselor next year, because camp activities like gaga ball and nine-square have been so enjoyable. Meeting new people through line dancing, canoeing, and fishing have been important to Adriana. “My leadership skills have really evolved. I used to be shy. My people skills, networking skills, and my sense of responsibility have developed,” she said.
A member of Henry County 4-H clubs and programming for eight years, Adrianna also enjoyed the team-building programs at Carving New Ideas workshop, the Making Extreme Counselors camp, and the fairs where her family shows goats. Henry County is planning a virtual camp next month to honor senior high school students who would ordinarily be recognized, and to offer crafts and programs to members, she said.
Most important to Adrianna is that other Ohio youth get the same opportunities she has experienced by attending a weeklong summer 4-H camp. “Every day of that week is important.”
Show your support by giving to #4HCampNeedsYouNow at give.osu.edu/4hcamps, establishing a larger gift through the Ohio 4-H Foundation, and raising campaign awareness by sharing through your social media. For details, contact Crystal Ott at email@example.com or 614-688-1454.
4-H Members Offer Helping Hands to Communities
I pledge … my hands to larger service … for my club, my community, my country, and my world.
"Hands to larger service" has been part of Ohio 4-H since the organization began. Giving back to communities to make them a better place to live is a hallmark of the program. Although 4-H members are currently not able to meet in person, many clubs have come up with creative ways for their members to complete service projects while staying home.
In Scioto County, the Ohio State University Extension Office shared information from Scioto County Emergency Management about how to make and donate masks for those in need. 4-H members, volunteers, and their families contributed to the effort.
In Scioto County, The Indian Clover Tribe 4-H Club in Lucasville used club funds to donate 40 pizzas to the staff at Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC). “Each year we complete at least three community service projects to teach our members the importance of giving back,” said Julie Hickerson, the club’s organizational advisor. “This year our first community service project was to show our thanks to SOMC during the Covid19 pandemic. The club also challenged other Scioto County 4-H clubs and those around the state to show their support for essential workers. They are the largest club in Scioto County, with more than 60 members.
Another Scioto County club, the Greensprouts, completed two service projects so far this year. Greensprouts member Katie Rigsby said, “We made cards for local nursing homes to help cheer them up during this time, since they can’t have visitors. We are also making bird feeders for the nursing home to hang outside the residents' windows.” And at the club’s most recent virtual meeting, they voted to make masks and goodie bags for the staff at local nursing homes.
4-H International Travelers Delayed
It was going to be the summer of a lifetime. Seven Ohio 4-H youth from around the state had been preparing for over six months to travel overseas with the Ohio 4-H International Program this year when, quite literally, disaster struck.
“I remember seeing a brief reference in the news on January 20 about a virus that was sickening people in various countries,” said Mary Lynn Thalheimer, program director. “I emailed my boss about it, writing ‘Fingers crossed this does not turn into a major concern worldwide.’”
Just 48 days later, on March 9, the 2020 4-H international program was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The effects of the coronavirus and subsequent quarantines around the world affected the entire Ohio 4-H community, but the youth scheduled to travel abroad this summer were the first to feel the impact. Due to the international nature of their upcoming 4-H experience, the decision not to proceed came earlier than the cancellation of state and county programs.
“We started getting emails in February, saying there was a chance we wouldn’t get to travel,” said Doshia Scheer, a Franklin County 4-H’er scheduled to travel to Japan for one month in July. When The Ohio State University canceled all OSU student international travel, 4-H youth were included in that decision.
“My mom showed up at my school during musical practice one night, and I could see that she was crying,” said Max Schmiesing from Shelby County “When she told me I wouldn’t be going to Costa Rica this summer, it was shocking. It was really heartbreaking.”
Both youths, along with five others in Ohio, had been chosen through a highly competitive process to live with host families overseas. Both were set to live with the international sister or brother who had visited their Ohio home last year.
Max’s mother, Christina Schmiesing, said she was proud of the way her son handled the disappointment of not traveling abroad. He told her, “You know, Mom, I realize this is a first-world problem. Going to Costa Rica was going to be an amazing gift that most people would never get to experience. There are people in the world who are dying and really suffering from this virus.’”
Generous donors to the Ohio 4-H program provide partial scholarships to each selected youth, a gift much appreciated by participants. Fortunately, the seven Ohioans will have the opportunity to travel next summer and use those scholarships. “If I could talk to those donors, I would just thank them so much,” said Doshia. “Because of them I might have the chance to see a place and explore a culture I never would have been able to visit.”
Although not traveling abroad this summer, Ohio’s participants are finding other ways to keep an international focus in their lives. Max is reading the Travel and Leisure magazines that his parents have subscribed to for years. He is also practicing Spanish and learning additional information about Costa Rica. Doshia is keeping in touch with her Japanese sister and going online to learn about various wonders of the world as a way to fill her insatiable curiosity about other countries.
Doshia shared that a Japanese proverb, “It cannot be helped,” has been a source of comfort as she has adjusted to not traveling this summer. In addition, she is focusing on her family and friends and making everyday experiences special.
Faces of Ohio 4-H
Each month, we highlight an Ohio 4-H alum. Each individual has amazing stories to share, from their personal experience in 4-H to how they have given back to the program. This month we feature Miami County 4-H alumna Emma Eichenauer.
Emma has always had a love of animals and a passion for working with people. A senior at the University of Dayton studying environmental biology, she used the skills gained in 4-H to embark on meaningful endeavors that helped not only youth, but dolphins, manatees, sharks, and more. And it all started in Miami County.
“My 4-H experience mainly revolved around poultry projects,” said Emma. The former Miami County Poultry Queen showed market chickens for ten years, along with ducks, geese, turkey, market lambs, and a variety of non-livestock projects. Out of all her 4-H experiences, she most enjoyed fair week each year. Through showing her animals, eating some delicious food, and being with family and friends, she said the fair “was a place to have fun and showcase all the hard work I put in throughout the year.”
Emma’s hard work definitely paid off. Through her 4-H projects, she not only gained a love of animals, but also a strong understanding of responsibility, leadership, and public speaking. Those skills directly translated to her experiences while a student at the University of Dayton, with opportunities working in Florida.
At the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, she educated youth about conservation and marine animal life. While at Walt Disney World’s Epcot, she worked with common bottlenose dolphins and rehabbed manatees. She also worked with an aquarium and marine biology team at Disney, where she discovered more about aquariums and smaller species of sharks, rays, and fish. Emma said, “4-H taught me that I wanted to spend my time working with animals and it inspired me to go out and find these internship opportunities where I was able to work with animals in a completely new way.”
Emma encouraged all 4-H members to “work hard, have fun, and take in every moment, because the memories you make now will go forward with you forever.” Her 4-H experiences propelled her to toward a career focused on inspiring youth and improving our planet. She is excited to give back to 4-H by serving as a mentor, species advisor, or auction buyer. From Miami County to our world’s oceans, Emma is truly “making the best better” by creating a lasting impact on people and animals.
Calendar of Events
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 – Friday Fitness (Facebook Live) – 1 p.m., Join Hancock County 4-H Educator Cassie Anderson for Friday Fitness.
Fridays – Take a Virtual Field Trip! (Online) – 3 p.m., 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!
May 27 – Under the Microscope with Tony Staubach (Online) – 10-10:30 a.m., Join 4-H Educator Tony Staubach for a weekly interactive viewing of our microscopic world.
June 3 – Strategies to Navigate Times of Uncertainty (Online) – 11:30 a.m., Over the past few months, we have been living and working in a world of much uncertainty. With this uncertainty comes more anxiety that impacts us and those around us. In some cases, our emotions or the emotions of others may hijack our thinking and behaviors leading to conflict or the lack of productivity. This webinar will provide some foundational strategies to help you navigate these uncertainties and related anxieties. More information and registration can be found here.
Fridays, June 5 - July 17 – Food Preservation 101 (Online) – 10 a.m., This series will cover the basic methods of food preservation including canning, freezing, drying, and fermentation. Attend just one class or the whole series! All classes are free to attend and will be held via Zoom. The series class schedule, contact information, and registration can be found here.