4-H trying to find new normal during pandemic

Posted at 1:53 PM, Jun 09, 2020

In Wisconsin, 4-H reached more than 30,000 children across the state in a variety of different programs.

But as the Wisconsin State Fair and other local events are canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members are having to adjust for new types of programming this summer.

Members like Libby Willkomm, a West Bend 4-H member who is headed into her final year.

"I'm still cautiously optimistic that we'll get something, you know, maybe late August or in the fall will start to be able to get that for each spirit back together," she said.

She's spending her last year volunteering to help over programs online and introduce new members to 4-H.

"I hope that they continue to stay involved in stick through this one tough year and I think it's a really good time to be a part of 4-H because we are continuing to engage people in try to find ways to connect," Willkomm said.

Programs like civil engagement, STEM projects like robotics, and communication programs including photography.

All 4-H events were canceled in May. This month, they announced many programs are either going online, or have been modified so only one member at a time can participate.

"For some of the fairs, that won't happen this year we've had to think about what other ways do we have for young people to display those competencies," said Dondieneita Fleary-Simmons. "Some of it can be done virtually, some of it doesn't lend itself very well to virtually but we're trying to do as much as we can to allow them those opportunities."

Fleary-Simmons is the state 4-H Program Manager. She said the pandemic first brought frustration about events canceling this summer, but now they are looking for ways to keep kids engaged through things like virtual farm tours and home-based projects.

"Make sure that there are fun, engaging low intensity on parent type activities that people can engage in," she said.

Hopefully laying the groundwork to make sure there is something to bring participants back next year.

"We're not saying, oh, we'll see you next year," Willkomm said.

For more information about 4-H programming this summer, click here visit their website to find out what's available in your county.

Coronavirus in Wisconsin

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Check out county-by-county coronavirus case numbers here.

More information: COVID-19 on the Wisconsin DHS website

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