Yates County 4-H kicks off new 4-H year

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

4-H is the largest out-of-school youth organization in the country. Starting over 100 years ago, it has proved to change and adapt over time to operate in new and unique situations and reach increasingly diverse youth audiences and interests. October 1st marks the start of a new 4-H year, making it the perfect time to become involved. Yates County has an active 4-H program, providing opportunities for our young people to grow into competent, caring, and contributing community members. Keep reading to learn more about the 4-H Program, 4-H in Yates County, and current plans for our 4-H year.

4-H poultry exhibitors.

About 4-H

Dating back to 1902, 4-H has strong roots in agriculture, first starting as boys Corn Clubs and girls Canning Clubs. However, 4-H has grown with the times! Still emphasizing hands-on learning, 4-H continues to cultivate confident kids through opportunities for increased skill development now focusing on S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), Healthy Lifestyles, and Citizenship. With over 1,000 project areas ranging from geospatial technology to photography, fine arts and crafts, cooking, public speaking, and more—there is surely something to get excited about in 4-H!

In the United States, 4-H programs empower six million young people through the 109 land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension Associations in more than 3,000 local offices, serving every county in the country. Outside the United States, independent, country-led 4-H organizations empower one million young people in more than 50 countries. Did you know that 4-H is active in areas of Africa, Australia, South America, and Canada? National 4-H Council is the private sector, a non-profit partner of the Cooperative Extension System and 4-H National Headquarters is located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org.

Sunflower wreath kit.

Impact of 4-H Youth Development Programming

Research has proven that participation in 4-H has a significant positive impact on young people. Recent findings from the Tufts University 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development indicate that, when compared to their peers, young people in 4-H are:

  • Nearly four times more likely to contribute to their communities,
  • Two times more likely to pursue healthy behaviors, and
  • Two times more likely to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M.) programs during out-of-school time. 

4-H in Yates County

In Yates County, over 1,000 young people are reached each year by 4-H programming efforts. We provide in-school, afterschool, and summer youth programming opportunities with our local school districts, libraries, and additional youth-serving community partners. Our traditional 4-H program consists of enrolled 4-H members (5–18 years old) learning citizenship, leadership, and additional life skills that will be carried with them into adulthood. Our most popular program areas include animal science, food and nutrition, fine arts and crafts, public presentations, community service, and outdoor education. 

As with nearly all aspects of our lives, Covid-19 has changed our 4-H programming in Yates County. However, 4-H is not new to adapting efforts and delivery methods. During WW2, 4-H quickly adjusted programming to implement 4-H Victory Gardens to help support war efforts. We are excited to share that our 2020–2021 4-H Year will consist of the below opportunities and resources:

• In-Person Programming: We are offering in-person program opportunities with group size limitations and social distancing practices in place. Programming is being offered both outside, when possible, and inside, as available. Topics vary from month to month and are selected by member interest and feedback. 

• Project Kits and Subscriptions: In an effort to supplement current program offerings, we are offering monthly 4-H project kits and subscriptions. Each month we will highlight 1-2 project ideas for families to order. Project subscriptions are mailed directly to your home and kits are available for pick up in our office. Each come with directions and supplies for a fun, hands on, project.

• 4-H Club Programming: Yates County 4-H clubs are meeting at the discretion of club leaders, as well as participant availability and comfort levels. We have two active, staff led clubs that meet out of the Yates County Office Building. Our 4-H Teen Group is for youth 13 years and older, with a focus on community service, leadership development, and fun teen centered activities. Our International Harvesters group is open to 4-H members of all ages, with a focus on gardening, food and nutrition, and fine arts and crafts. 

• Virtual Programming: This summer 4-H Educators from across the Finger Lakes joined forces to create the FLX 4-H Learning Launchpad. This resource shared new and exciting 4-H project ideas every Monday through Friday. Now posting weekly, this platform serves as a resource to not only learn about the many areas and types of 4-H projects, but also offers a plethora of ideas for youth to stay busy, engaged, and take part in hands-on learning! Topics range from birdwatching to animal science, composting, cake decorating, photography, food and nutrition, flower pounding, fishing, biking, insects, mindfulness, and more. Check it out on Facebook @FLX 4-H Learning Launchpad or via a direct link of resources from our 4-H website at http://yates.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth/flx-4-h-learning-launchpad. 

• Online Resources: In addition to the FLX 4-H Learning Launchpad, Yates County 4-H staff have compiled their own resource for families. Click on our “4-H Virtual Learning” link on our website and view a wide array of resources. Looking for something to do on a rainy day? Need a fun activity for a school break or holiday? Do you homeschool and need ideas to supplement learning? Yates County 4-H has you covered! We’ve compiled a variety of on-line links for activities in topics ranging from animal science to art and music, STEM, healthy lifestyles, and more. We have also archived our summer 4-H Project Spotlights, as well as our Mug Monday, Cake Decorating, and Food and Nutrition videos. Interested in wildlife or forestry? We also have links to our friends in CCE-Warren County who have provided Wildlife Wednesday and Forestry Friday activities. We will continue to update this site with new project ideas and resources as we create and find them.

To stay up to date on 4-H offerings in Yates County, be sure to like us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, @Yates County 4-H. For more information on the Yates County 4-H Program, visit us online at http://yates.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth or reach out to us at (315) 536-5123 or jja26@cornell.edu 

Cornell University Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities.