youth development

4-H Youth Program Offers Virtual Activities and Programs

boy with iPadCalling all youth! UConn 4-H is excited to announce a suite of virtual activities and programs for youth. Our 4-H youth educators have shifted their programming online to help youth adapt to the current situation, and continue their involvement with 4-H.

  • The UConn 4-H Challenges are two separate contests – a food art challenge and an upcycle challenge. All entries are due by April 17th and can be submitted on social media using the contest hashtag or submitted on the contest website. Youth must be a 4-H member to participate, and can join online.
  • The 4-H Virtual Trivia Challenge is an eight-week competition for 4-H members using the online Quizziz platform. Each week, 4-H members will join others in their age group – novice, junior, or senior – to answer the questions. Youth can join online as an independent member if they are not already enrolled in 4-H. The scoreboard will be updated weekly on the website, and youth with the highest scores in each division at the end of the competition on May 27th will receive a prize. Youth must be a 4-H member to participate, and can join online.
  • The UConn 4-H Calendar Photography Contest is open to all 4-H members. Youth who are not enrolled in 4-H but want to participate can become an individual 4-H member by joining online. All photos entered in the contest must be related to the youth’s 4-H project and submitted by June 1st.
  • The 4-H Horse Judging and Hippology (horse science) programs are offering youth online resources to learn and practice their skills. Resources are available for all age groups – novice, junior, and senior. A 4-H horse activity book has activities for youth including puzzles, quizzes, and activities.

Parents and families with children out of school can use the other resources available from our UConn 4-H program to provide new educational activities for youth. Keep youth engaged and learning with new materials. We have resources for a variety of age groups.

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn CAHNR Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), leadership, citizenship, and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living.

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

4-H clover

5 Ways to Keep Kids Engaged and Learning at Home

Article by Kittrina Thompson for National 4-H

boy squeezing limeAs communities across America experience the impact of school closures it can be stressful for parents and families to find resources available to maintain a sense of normalcy and make sure kids don’t get off track in their daily development. And while some schools are implementing a virtual learning plan, others don’t have the resources to continue student lessons.

If you are looking for ways to keep your kids engaged during this impromptu time off, 4‑H offers learning resources that are hands-on, fun and engaging. Check out these five fun at-home educational activities:

  1. Inspire your kid to do
    4‑H’s free Inspire Kids to Do™ activity guides collectively feature over 100 activities that will turn your home into a learning oasis! Your kids can learn essential life skills like giving back, health and wellness, cooking, and leadership.
  2. Family fun comes first
    If the entire family is spending extended time at home, you may be wondering how you can make the best of your time together. Plan activities that everyone can participate in that are fun and educational. Try some family recipes (featured in the free downloadable Healthy Living Activity Guide) to bring the household together!
  3. Take a homeschool approach
    If you don’t want to break your kids from the structured learning that is adopted in many classrooms, 4‑H Curriculum can help. From photography to cooking, robotics to entrepreneurship, each 4‑H Curriculum is developed and supported by an accredited university and includes full lesson plans, instructor guides, and student worksheets.
  4. Create your own learning lab
    Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills are applied to many school subjects and everyday tasks. The free 4‑H STEM Lab uses basic STEM concepts and learning to bring you fun activities for kids of all ages. You can sort activities by grade and topic, as well as see items needed for each experiment. Also, each activity shows the mess level—a great added feature for at-home experimenting!).
  5. Combat cabin fever with mindfulness
    With extended time at home, it’s easy to get a little stir-crazy—for both parents and kids. Our guide to mindfulness is a great way to protect and care for your mental health, staying clear- and level-headed and relaxed.

Thinking about using any of the above tips? Use hashtag #InspireKidstoDo on social media to share photos of your kids doing any of the activities to give other parents ideas on engaging with their kids!

Originally posted by National 4-H

Things to Do While School is Closed

science Saturday kidsIt is time to get creative to find some constructive ways to fill our time. It won’t take long before the board games have been played, the favorite TV shows have been watched and everyone in the house is starting to get cabin fever. In an effort to help you stay focused on something other than COVID-19 and how you are getting bored, our UConn 4-H team is passing along a few sites where you can find hands-on, educational activities to keep your brains exercised.

Here are a few recommendations:

  • The website Mystery Science has made some of their most popular lessons available to everyone for free right now. I have used this site many times as part of my STEM programming and really enjoy some of the interesting topic areas they offer. Each lesson has a video and a hands-on activity. Check them out at: https://mysteryscience.com/school-closure-planning
  • 4-H STEM Lab has hands-on, fun learning activities on a host of topics that are easy to follow and for the most part can be done from anywhere. These activities are for many different ages. I have used some of them in my programming, usually to great delight and learning. https://4-h.org/parents/stem-agriculture/youth-stem-activities/
  • Washington State University 4-H has assembled a webpage with links to dozens of sites with activities and learning for kids of all ages. These activities are great for parents looking for ideas to keep kids engaged and learning while they are out of school. You can find the link at: https://extension.wsu.edu/king/learning-links-4-h-and-more/
  • Are you interested in computer science? Then you should check out https://code.org/. This site will connect you with a large variety of coding activities, lessons and courses that you can participate in free of charge. Whether it an Hour of Code activity or a multi lesson course, all you need is access to a computer and imagination.

Please let us know which sites you tried and what you enjoyed the most. Email any comments to Marc.Cournoyer@uconn.edu. If there is a great resource out there that I have not highlighted and you think others should know about it, please pass it along to me and I will be sure to share it with everyone else. Be safe, be healthy and stay curious during your time away from school.

Litchfield County 4-H Names Public Speaking Winners

4-H cloverThe Litchfield County 4-H held their first annual County Public Speaking Contest recently with 12 talented 4-H members from throughout the county competing for the chance to represent the county at the State 4-H Public Speaking Contest at UConn in March. Ages of the participants ranged from 7 to 17 years old, and they chose to present a speech or do a visual presentation on a subject relating to their 4-H project or another area of interest to them. Topics ranged from poultry housing, equine therapy, the decline in the dairy industry, dog obedience and training, to goat milk, tractor use on a horse farm and preparing chocolate desserts, to name a few.

Public speaking is one of the many life skills that 4-H members learn as it is one of the most sought after “soft skills” in any industry or career path these members may pursue. Public speaking is the number one fear in the average adult, so these 4-H members begin to conquer that fear starting as early as age 7 in 4-H so that they become confident, outgoing and self-motivated young adults as they age out of 4-H once they turn 19.

Four of the contestants were selected as county winners and will compete at the State 4-H Public Speaking Contest in March at UConn. Owen Miller, from Torrington, a member from the Udder 4-H Dairy Goat Club, placed first in the Junior Speech division. Abigail Ceritello from Terryville, a member of the Busy Bunnies 4-H Club, placed first in the Junior demonstration division. Madeline Hall from Woodbury, a member in the Bethlehem Busy Stitchers 4-H club, placed first in the Senior demonstration division. Lillian Gura from Southington, a member of the Bits and Spurs 4-H Horse Club, placed first in the Senior Speech division.

4-H is a national program with six million youth participating in various project areas who learn life skills, supervised by over 500,000 volunteer leaders. Litchfield County has 26 active 4-H clubs with over 400 active members in those clubs. Project areas include but are not limited to beef cattle, canine, crafts, dairy cattle, dairy goats, equine, community nutrition, food safety, food preparation skills, horticulture, mechanics, oxen, poultry, robotics, sewing, sheep, small animals, STEM, and swine.

The 4-H program is organized into four program areas including Agriculture, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living and STEM. These themes all overlap throughout the 4-H experience, with emphasis placed on creating well-rounded individuals. 4-H is the youth development program offered through the UConn Extension system. The purpose of UConn as Connecticut’s land grant university is to provide the citizens of Connecticut with educational opportunities through teaching, research and extension programming. For more information about 4-H and how to join, please contact Bill Davenport, Litchfield County Extension 4-H Educator, at william.davenport@uconn.edu or at 860-626-6854.

UConn 4-H Military Partnership Hosts Barnyard Boogie

little boy holds rabbit

The UConn 4-H Military Partnership Project joined forces with the Subase Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), Subase New London School Liaison Officer, University of Rhode Island 4-H, CT and RI National Guard CYP Coordinators, and New London County 4-H clubs for a “Barnyard Boogie” family sensory afternoon. Hosted by Horses Healing Humans, a partnering agency with VETSCT.ORG (Veteran Equine Therapeutic Services), local businesses, non-profits and Mental Health Professionals collaborated to make possible this free event for military-connected EFMP kids to meet kid-friendly barnyard ponies, goats, chickens, rabbits, sheep, and dogs. Over forty youth connected to the 4-H animals, many meeting a farm animal for the first time. Four 4-H clubs attended with animals in tow. This event will become an annual experience for our military families. Proud moment of the day involved one school-age boy, who, after much encouragement from his mom, tentatively reached out one finger to touch Trinket the sheep’s fleece. An expression of pure joy flooded his face, and he threw both arms over Trinket and buried his face in her fleece.

family meets the animals little girl holding a rabbit

Article by Pam Gray, New London County 4-H

4-H Program Teaches Finances to Military Youth

Reading Makes Sense Youth on the USS Constitution in Boston
Photo: Pamela Gray

A group of military affiliated youth recently wrapped up a six-week session of lessons about saving, spending, earning, and the value of a dollar, and their time. Following the Reading Makes Cents 4-H Afterschool Curriculum Guide, participants were able to inspect the hidden secrets of a dollar, learn about saving and spending, needs and wants, and budgeting and sharing (donating to those in need).

Each meeting was started with reading aloud a picture centered on the lessons for the day. The kids had a great time examining needs and wants through a fun experiential game where they decide what is actually necessary to spend money on. They ‘earned’ a week of minimum wage, and then were able to ‘shop’ some catalogs with prices listed – their money was more carefully spent when they considered the time it had taken them to earn it! They brainstormed options available for them to earn money (yard sale of their old toys, lemonade stands, chores for people), as well as ways they can give back to the community with their time instead of giving money.

The stories The Hard Times Jar and If You Made a Million were the clear favorites. A visit from a Navy Federal Credit Union representative helped them explore credit and investments through age-appropriate games and rounded out the experience by providing families with information on the options available through the bank for military affiliated youth. To round out the experience with some real living history, the participants visited Boston, visiting the USS Constitution (the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy) and the Paul Revere house, ‘paying’ for their trip with tokens earned at the classes for attendance and good behavior. Overall, the experience will hopefully produce some great financially wise futures!

Article and photo: Pamela Gray

Making Every Penny Count: 4-H and Financial Education

child looking at a jar of moneyAccording to a 2014 study conducted by the Connecticut Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, only 10% of Connecticut high school students participated in a personal finance class annually. Fewer than 20 high schools required students to take a personal finance course prior to graduation. According to the Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015 by the Federal Reserve System, “Forty-six percent of adults say they either could not cover an emergency expense costing $400, or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money.” Young people need opportunities to learn about money and practice those skills to prepare for their financial futures.

Every 4-Her has the opportunity to learn about finances through their projects and activities. As a member of a local 4-H Club, they are likely to pay dues to cover the cost of their various activities. This fee (usually a dollar or two) may be used to pay for snacks, a club t-shirt, jacket, or supplies. Most clubs have officers including a treasurer who will record these funds under the supervision of an adult leader. In addition to learning about the financial aspects of their specific project such as animal husbandry, science and technology, leadership and community service, 4-H members can register for projects such as money management, consumer education, or financial literacy.

When 4-H members begin a project, they need to write down their project goal. This is great practice for managing their own finances as they will need to identify their personal financial goals and determine their priorities. 4-H members complete project record sheets for their major projects. If they spent money to complete their project, they document it. For example, when a 4-H member has a horse project, they need to consider all the costs involved in keeping that animal alive, healthy, and safe. They inventory their supplies and write down the financial value of those items. Expenses related to feeding and health such as veterinarian bills and costs related to participating in competitions are recorded. This practice reminds them that there are usually costs involved in almost any project they choose. A 4-H alumnus reports “We had to keep records of animals, breeding, litters, sales, [and] showing [events] as well as expenses such as grain, hay, feed and water bowls, carrying cages for showing, and entry fees… becoming responsible for keeping a written record for expenses and income.” In a consumer and family science project such as sewing or childcare, they record any expenses or financial values of items related to their projects such as patterns, fabric, and thread in sewing, or games, books, videos, or craft supplies to entertain young children.

4-H members have the opportunity to serve on county and state planning committees such as 4-H Citizenship Day and 4-H Advisory committees. They review the costs related to the event from the previous year to help in determining the budget for this year’s event. As a committee, they will discuss different ideas for the event and will learn that any changes they make in the program may also affect the final cost, learning financial decision-making and the need to balance income and expenses. In addition, they can become involved in county fair boards where one responsibility of each officer role is financial management. One 4-Her shared “When I was treasurer, I learned more about the financial system in 4-H. I was required to count money during the fair weekend and compare the income to past years. As Coordinator of home arts, I was responsible for calling a vendor with a request for tables. I had to know the estimated amount needed and get the estimate for the fair meeting. For entertainment, I was responsible for filling out forms for performers to ensure they were paid.“

Throughout a youth’s time in the UConn 4-H program, there are many opportunities to learn and practice financial decision-making and responsibility.

For more financial literacy resources visit https://financialliteracy.uconn.edu/

Article by Faye Griffiths-Smith, Extension Financial Educator and Margaret (Peggy) Grillo, 4-H Youth Development Educator

Katie Adkins – 4-H Volunteer Spotlight

Katie Adkins in front of Plymouth Meats signTalking to Katie Adkins you get a sense that anything in life is possible. That with a little hard work and enthusiasm you can accomplish anything. And that’s exactly what she has done. Katie is the owner of Plymouth Meats in Terryville, CT, a full service USDA inspected facility from harvesting to packaging all done under one roof. Her bright smile and infectious laugh make it seem like being a wife, mother, 4-H club leader and business owner is all part of a day’s work. The hard work ethic and drive to succeed came at a young age as Katie had to rise at 4:30/5:00 am to take care of the animals on her family’s farm. Her father jokes that when Katie was little they had 4-6 beef cows. But as Katie grew the herd grew as well to over 80 cows.

Katie grew up on Blue Moon Farm in Harwinton where her family raises Hereford beef cattle along with pigs, lambs, poultry, rabbits and goats. They process and sell meat from their own cattle. Plymouth Meats is the retail store for their farm products. They also do live animal sales. Both Katie and her parents are members of the New England Hereford Association. Her father is the President. As Hereford breeders, they also focus on genetics and perform embryo transfers as well. Katie joined the 4-H program at the age of 12 and was a member of the Litchfield County 4-H Beef Club, where she served in several officer positions, did public speaking and showed her cattle at the local fairs and the Big E. She is now in her fifth year as the leader of the same club. In taking over leadership of the club, she explains that they started out with only a few youth but have grown to 12 youth currently. She lost a lot of the older youth who aged out of the club. Their parents had beef cows and grew up on family farms. The current crop of youth are younger and only three of them have project animals. The rest are there because they also love the animals and want to come to the fair and help with the projects.

Katie has them come to her farm occasionally for meetings to get hands-on experience. Some of the kids who have multiple animals will share them come fair time so everyone in the club gets to have show experience.

Katie attended Wamogo High School and then went to Delaware Valley University in Pennsylvania where she majored in large Katie Adkins as a UConn 4-H member showing a Hereford at the Big Eanimal science and Ag Business. She finished college in 3 ½ years and landed a good job cutting meat at a small store. She decided to forego additional schooling for a career harvesting and processing meat with the goal of starting her own business. In 2011 she started the permitting process for her business which had to be approved by the town. Finding a building was the next step along with the remodeling process which took an additional 2 ½ years. In October 2017 Plymouth Meats was officially up and running. Katie explains that she was only doing custom processing at the time. It was January of 2018 when the 7,000 square foot building was completed and in March of that same year she came under inspection so that the business could do harvesting and processing.

Plymouth meats also offers seasonal deer processing and buys in some other products for weekly specials which Katie promotes strictly through social media. She also goes to the Collinsville Farmer’s Market.

Katie states that the leadership and people skills learned through 4-H provided a good foundation to help her with her business. The life-long friendships established through 4-H have also been wonderful in a lot of ways. Some of these friends are now customers and people she helps out with their 4-H clubs.

A lot of her 4-H members are realizing that 4-H provides great leadership experiences. Watching older club members help younger members is a really nice thing to see. Katie explains that 4-H teaches kids responsibility especially when it comes to the care of their animals. She states that 4-H kids seem to have a better work ethic and do well working as a team. These are all skills Katie learned as a child and uses every day running her business.

Article by Nancy Wilhelm

Maddy Hatt: National 4-H Conference Experience

4-H members in Washington DC
Left to right: Jenn Rudtke, chaperone, Samantha Smith, Christina Ciampa, Maddy Hatt, Representative Hayes’ Aide, and Olivia Hall.

National 4-H Conference

April 6-11 I was fortunate enough to be selected as part of the Connecticut delegation sent to Washington D.C. for the 2019 National 4-H Conference. I was a part of the Entrepreneurship round table and we were tasked with answering a set of questions for the United States department of labor. The challenge question tasked to us was as follows, “It is estimated that fifty percent (50%) of the U.S. workforce will be freelance workers by 2027. What is the Gig economy and what are the characteristics that make it so alluring to youth? What are the kinds of skills entrepreneurs need to be successful and in what ways is entrepreneurial, skills training taught? How important could an innovation-based entrepreneurial economy be to a rural area?” These questions were tough to answer at first but with the help of my round table, which consisted of 15 4-Hers, 14 from the United States and one boy from Saskatchewan Canada, we were able to begin answering the questions quickly and efficiently. We prepared a 30 minute presentation for select members of the United States department of labor and the presentation went very well. Many of these members have been receiving the presentations done by 4-Hers for many years now and as a group the members said our presentation was among the best they’ve ever seen. I learned a lot at this conference about leadership and it tested my public speaking skills as I met other 4-Hers from around the country and as I talked with high ranking officials., Leadership skills came into play in the planning stages of the round table discussions as we needed to put together a very large, multi-parted presentation with people we had never met before. I learned a lot from this conference as well about the industry that I want to go into.
I want to be an entrepreneur and own my own horseback riding facility when I’m older so through the topic of entrepreneurship at conference I learned a lot about what I will need to do in order to be successful in my field.

Why donors should fund these trips?

My experiences in 4-H surpass anything else I’ve done in high school or my other clubs because of the important life skills I’ve gained from these 4-H trips. I have been a part of various different clubs and sports throughout my youth, but the only thing I truly stuck with was 4-H because even at a young age I understood that in 4-H I was being taught important life skills that I would gain no where else. 4-H has taught me a lot about the importance of public speaking and being able to communicate effectively with others. From my first public speaking competition in 2015 where I was barely able to finish my presentation to placing 5th at the Eastern National 4-H Horse Contests in the Individual Presentation contest at the end of 2016, I have shown immense amounts of growth in being able to speak well. From there as I continued to work on my speaking skills I’ve made it to the Connecticut state public speaking finals four times.

Once my public speaking skills were improved through 4-H, I turned my focus to becoming a better leader which 4-H teaches so well. I worked my way up the ranks of my club to become club president for three years. From there I felt I had improved my leadership skills enough to become a superintendent of the Horse Exposition at my local 4-H fair, which is a fair entirely run by 4-Hers. I was able to implement an entirely new event at this fair from my skills learned about leading a group from my local 4-H club. I am now a ranking officer at my fair.

4-H is also a great place for kids to learn interpersonal skills and how to make friends. When you first join 4-H or go on your first national trip, it is likely you will know no one. This encourages kids to make new friends and connections and step outside of their comfort zone, possibly even for the first time. My experiences in 4-H are matched my nothing, and I truly thank the wonderful leaders and extension agents I’ve come to know for that.

Article by Maddy Hatt, UConn 4-H member