Alfaro, H., Kozsan, T., Wharton, C. 2020, 4-H 4 Nevada Vol 20, Iss 1, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno

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Nevada 4-H offering at-home and virtual summer activities

Extension aims to keep youth engaged and learning despite COVID-19 restrictions

By Claudene Wharton

4-H girl feeding brown cow Joy with 4-H in Clark County takes care of her animals on Day 1 of the Hygge Challenge, which challenged youth to care for an animal that day.

In addition to the many adaptations local 4-H programs have made in Nevada communities the last couple of months amid COVID-19, the Nevada 4-H Development Program has developed a variety of activities to engage 4-H youth throughout the state during the summer months. 

“Of course, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to cancel all summer Nevada 4-H in-person residential overnight camps, for the health and safety of our campers, volunteers and staff,” explained Carrie Stark, Nevada 4-H program director with Extension. “We know that 4-H summer camps are a valued tradition. So in the spirit of keeping our 4-H youth connected with each other, engaged and learning, we have developed several programs that our youth can participate in whether they are in Reno, Las Vegas or Elko, for example.” 

Several programs have already begun, such as the Hygge 31-Day Challenge. Hygge is the Danish practice of mindfulness and finding joy in the simple things. Each day in May, 4-H youth participating in the challenge shared a photo of themselves exhibiting this practice, using social media and the appropriate hashtag. 

The Nevada 4-H Spirit Week was also held in mid-May, with 4-H youth joining in a common task or activity each day. For example, on Monday participants wore their favorite 4-H shirt and posted a photo of themselves in it, and on Tuesday, they sent a thank-you note to someone in the community who has made special efforts to help others during the pandemic. The week concluded with a 5-minute virtual dance party on Friday, led by two Nevada 4-H Teen Leaders.

There was also a STEM-learning activity for younger 4-H youth, Cloverbuds, called Cloverbot Challenge. Youth learned about a given topic via Zoom learning sessions, then built a model (such as with Legos) to illustrate what they learned, and shared a photo of their model with other participants.

Thoughtful Thursdays began in mid-May and are in full swing. These are five- to eight-minute videos by 4-H staff of volunteers on topics that might be especially helpful to teens at home coping with the pandemic, such as how to express and manage feelings, exercise tips or helping with the family’s meal planning and preparation. 

A Virtual Graduation Celebration will be held May 31 - June 6, highlighting the graduating Nevada 4-H seniors and their accomplishments. Photos, plans after graduation, favorite 4-H memories and more will be shared virtually.

Beginning in June, Nevada 4-H will launch an eight-week animal science-related project focused on animal by-products. Youth don’t have to be participating in an animal science project already to participate in this project; they just need to have an interest in learning about animals. The program blends online and at-home learning, with lessons and activities focused on learning about beef, dairy, goats, sheep, swine, poultry, rabbits and bees. 

A week-long project called “Engineering and Design at Home” will be offered June 15-19 for 11- to 15-year-olds. Students will be challenged to develop a purposeful/useful artifact from reclaimed materials, while exploring their creative abilities and reducing their consumption and waste production. The week will include online learning and sharing sessions, and participants will need to dedicate about three hours a day to creating their project. Participants will share their completed projects with each other, friends and family online via a Zoom session at the end of the week, and awards in various categories will be presented.

“So much of education today is about rote memorization and standardized testing,” said Sarah Monique Somma, Extension’s Clark County 4-H STEAM coordinator. “But if you can’t actually do or apply what’s on the test in real life, is it useful? In this design camp, students will be given an opportunity to show not only what they know but what they can do in a creative way. The engineering and design process facilitates authentic learning, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.”  

Also June 15-19, the 4-H Pledge Challenge will take place, where 4-H youth will post photos and/or writings each day on the ways they are exhibiting the four “Hs” during the pandemic: Heart (things they are doing to show love and generosity), Head (creative ways they are overcoming challenges), Hands (things they are doing to help others), Health (ways they are staying healthy).                                 

More projects are in the works for July, including a Virtual Camp Out, a State Communications Contest, a Monday Night Dinner activity and more.


Nevada 4-H youth and families provide over 2,000 face masks for their communities

Extension called upon by those helping to manage the COVID-19 crisis

By Claudene Wharton

4-h member sewing mask Hannah, 9 years old and first-year 4-H member, sews a face mask. Photo by Laura Wells.

When the Elko County Emergency Operations Center put in a call March 31 to their local University of Nevada, Reno Extension office saying they needed face masks, Extension’s 4-H youth and their families swung into action, making masks not only for the Operations Center, but also for their local School District nutrition services workers who are helping to serve lunches to students who receive free and reduced meals. Similarly, 4-H youth and their families in White Pine County were early responders to the need for masks, and have now made hundreds of masks for the William Bee Ririe Hospital and Rural Health Clinic in Ely.

Once the word got out that 4-Hers were helping to make masks, more requests started coming in.

“I’d say that requests are coming in faster than our 4-H members can sew,” said Jill Baker-Tingey, Extension educator in Elko County.

After these early efforts in Elko and Ely, Nevada 4-H launched a statewide service project to help provide face masks for all Nevada communities. Now, more than 2,000 masks have been provided by 4-H across Nevada, spanning 10 counties, from Reno to Las Vegas, and from Carson City to Elko. The face masks have been donated to hospitals, hospices, health clinics, tribal healthcare, senior centers, emergency operations centers, school districts, state parole offices, and other collaborative mask-making projects.

In addition, over 100 other PPE-related items have been provided by the 4-H service project, including scrub hats, surgical gowns and ear bands/savers, which prevent ear strain and irritation for those wearing masks for extended periods.

“The whole 4-H community has pitched in – our 4-H youth and their families, as well as 4-H alumni and volunteers,” said Carrie Stark, Nevada 4-H program director with Extension. “Our youth are very community-service oriented and are willing to help. Our 4-H staff and volunteer leaders have helped to get the masks to those who need them and ensure that appropriate health recommendations are being followed throughout the process.”

Stark said engaging youth in the mask-making project also provides them with something constructive to do now, while they may be struggling with the confinement of the COVID-19 restrictions.

“By participating in the project, youth can feel a connection with their fellow 4-Hers statewide, as well as a connection with their communities,” she said. “It can help them feel they are all doing something useful during this crisis.”

Stark says community service is always a large component of the 4-H youth development program, and studies show it pays off.

“Research has shown that 4-H youth are four times more likely to contribute to their communities than other youth. By encouraging youth to engage in community service, it not only helps our communities now, but it helps our youth develop compassion, character and leadership skills that will serve them, and our communities, well in the future.”

Stark says 4-H members, staff and volunteers are receiving information on how to make masks according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendations, as well as information on how to maintain social distancing and other health recommendations while participating in the project. 4-H staff are working to establish drop-off points for the masks and partnering with others in their communities to ensure social distancing recommendations are followed to protect the health and safety of everyone involved. Stark is also reminding everyone that masks do not take the place of following all other recommendations, such as social distancing and frequent hand-washing, during this time.

Businesses and others not involved in 4-H can help with the mask-making project by providing mask materials or funds for materials. Some businesses have already stepped up to provide fabric, and JoAnn Fabrics and Craft Store (a national 4-H supporter), is providing a 15 percent discount to 4-H members and leaders, for example.

Those who wish to contribute to the Nevada 4-H face mask effort should contact:


Elko County 4-H hosts online scavenger hunt and photo contest for members

4-H offers activities to keep youth members engaged during quarantine

By Hannah Alfaro

4-H youth showing a hoof pick 4-H youth Hannah shared a photo with a hoof pick, a grooming tool for removing mud and stones from a horse's hoof, as part of the Elko County 4-H Horse Program's virtual photo scavenger hunt. Photo by Laura Payne.

The 4-H Youth Development Program is adapting to the shelter-in-place order by offering online and at-home activities for their members to learn from home.

Elko County 4-H has been creating activities that involve scavenger hunts and photography, for example. One activity was a virtual scavenger hunt for members of the Elko County 4-H Horse Program. The goal was for the students to continue learning and engaging with their horses as they would in a typical 4-H workshop. Members of the program took photos of subjects related to horses, including parts of a horse, such as the hock, and horse grooming tools, such as a body brush. Participants submitted the photos to a cloud storage service offered by the University and received gift certificates if they were able to take photos of all subjects on the list.

The Elko County 4-H Horse Committee also held an online workshop in which the members recorded videos of themselves safely catching, tying, grooming, saddling, bridling and mounting their horses. These clips were used as a check-in so that the members can show they are still working on their horsemanship skills while at home.

“The feedback has been really positive,” Liz Krenka, Elko County 4-H Program coordinator, said. “We wanted to host some activities that didn’t strain parents or kids, but that still let them go out and be productive while at home.”

Elko County 4-H also held an online photography contest for all their 4-H members. The contest is usually held in person but was transitioned online due to the shelter-in-place policy. The topic was “Quarantine,” and participants were asked to submit a photograph that represented what their lives looked like during this time. Participants submitted photos by email or to the University’s cloud service. The winner of the senior photo competition, for those ages 14-19, was 4-H member Aprilia, who submitted a photo of her baby goats.

“While we are waiting for updates on how our programs are going to continue during the summer, we want to make sure we are still offering activities to help the kids through this time as well,” said Krenka.

Since the shelter-in-place order was extended to May 30, more activities have been created to keep youth engaged. The Elko County rifle range is hosting a photo activity similar to the scavenger hunt where the youth, if they have their own equipment and area to practice in, can submit a photo of themselves using their firearms and their targets afterward or of them cleaning their firearms. For youth that do not have their own equipment, they can still participate by watching training videos and answering some short questions. These photos and answers can then be submitted to be entered into a raffle.


Alumni Q&A: Reana Bye

Former Washoe County 4-H Youth Development participant

 Reana Bye with 4-H campers Reana Bye has been volunteering at the 4-H Youth Development Camp Program in various leadership positions after attending the program as a youth. Photo by Reana Bye.

Question: As a youth, how did you participate in 4-H? What clubs, camps or activities were you involved in?

Answer: I was part of the Washoe County 4-H Program from the time I was 9 to my senior year. I did everything possible, but the biggest programs I participated in were the 4-H Horse Program and livestock – we raised market lambs. Apart from that, though, my mom started a sewing and crafting club for us, and I went to the 4-H camp up in Lake Tahoe as an actual camper, a teen and then as an adult chaperone. As I got older, I had the opportunity to go to 4-H Congress, and I ended up working at the state office while I was at the University.

Question: Looking back on your experiences in 4-H, what do you think you learned from these experiences that benefited you the most throughout your life?

Answer: 4-H, for me, gave me so much more than I ever could’ve imagined. There are very prominent goals that teach you citizenship and hard work and record-keeping. I think, along with that, were the families and people that we were surrounded with that made the biggest difference in my life. When you have people like Sarah Chvilicek or Joni Test, who give their whole lives to these youth, it gives you the opportunity to see what great leadership is like. I had the opportunity to be around people who really made me understand that no matter what I do in my life, I want to make sure I’m there for other kids and to ensure the continuation of these programs. When you’re learning the formal things like how to take care of your animals, it’s great, but it’s really the underlying messages of hard work, dedication and helping others that made it one of the most invaluable experiences of my life.

Question: What is your fondest 4-H memory?

Answer: My most fond time in 4-H was the time I was able to step up into a leadership position and realize that I can give back as well. In my senior year, I was president of the lamb club, and I was able to teach 9-year-olds how to show market animals. I was able to be there for them, support them, and see that I could make a difference. This was probably my most memorable experience, and it translated into actually being a counselor and taking a leadership role at camp.

Question: Have you participated in or contributed to 4-H as an adult?

Answer: Every year I go to camp. Last year I was the assistant camp director and will always do all I can to stay involved. I’ve done a few meetings this year to see how we can develop and change these activities for the current situation. I’m hoping to be able to step back into it as soon as possible.

Question: What do you think are the most important reasons for youth to get involved in 4-H today?

Answer: The biggest reason to be involved in 4-H is because of constant improvement. I know it’s part of the pledge, but it’s really so much deeper than people understand. Not only is it learning all those things and the connections you build with the people around you, it’s also how you can push forward with your life and bring those connections with you. You’re not just making the world better, but you’re making yourself better. You’re able to work through problems, use the information you gathered, lean on the people around you and help the people around you. Some of the benefits that I didn’t realize would follow me were instances like when someone I met at 4-H reached out to me for job offers and other opportunities you wouldn’t expect.


4-H volunteer makes impact on lives of Nevada youth

Jerry Holliday volunteers at Extension's A.D. Guy Knowledge Center, providing time and funds to community

By Hannah Alfaro

Jerry HolidayJerry Holliday is donating his time and funds to helping Extension's A.D. Guy Knowledge Center in Clark County.

Jerry Holliday is a new 4-H volunteer at Extension’s A.D. Guy Knowledge Center in Clark County. For the past six months, Holliday has donated both his time and funds to support the resources that the Center offers the community. Holliday has provided educational support to youth, such as tutoring and help with homework, and has worked to get supplies and funds for scholarships donated to the Center.

Extension's A.D. Guy Knowledge Center opened in Las Vegas’ west side last year, and offers free and low-cost programing to neighboring housing authority residents and the surrounding community. 4-H programming, such as STEM education activities, are provided at the Center, giving area youth access to education opportunities that they otherwise may not have.

“Many of the children we work with at the Center are facing a lot of challenges at home and school,” Holliday said. “It’s so important for volunteers to be there to give them the opportunity to succeed in school and pursue future success, especially if they can’t find that elsewhere.”

Holliday explained that, growing up in a similar community, he’s motivated to make a positive impact on those around him. He’s supported community outreach events, such as the Back-to-School Drive, Thanksgiving Village Meeting and Christmas Toy Drive. Along with working a full-time job, he volunteers not only with 4-H, but also for other organizations, such as the Uplift Foundation of Nevada and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

“I was fortunate enough to have access to education growing up,” Holliday explained. “Volunteering with the A.D. Guy Center provides me the unique opportunity to give back to my community and ensure the people in it are provided with the support they need.” 

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