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

Jen Clancey, 4-H Educator
Still emphasizing hands-on learning, 4-H continues to cultivate confident kids through opportunities for increased skill development now focusing on S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), healthy lifestyles, and citizenship.

4-H is the largest out of school youth organization in the country. Starting over 100 years ago, 4-H has changed and adapted over time to reach increasingly diverse youth audiences and interests. October 1 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 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.

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.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, 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 4-H is active in areas of Africa, Australia, South America, and Canada? National 4-H Council is the private sector, 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.

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
  • 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. Yates County Cornell Cooperative Extension provides 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 (5-19 years old) learning citizenship, leadership, and life skills that will be carried with them into adulthood. In Yates County, our most popular program areas include animal science, food and nutrition, fine arts and crafts, public presentations, community service, and outdoor education.

4-H youth learn all manner of skills in the completion of a wide variety of group and individual projects throughout the year.

As Covid-19 continues to impact our lives, Yates County 4-H continues to work with our families, as well as our local health department to provide program opportunities in a variety of safe and welcoming settings. Adjusting 4-H programming efforts and delivery methods is not new to 4-H. Did you know that during WW2, 4-H quickly adjusted programming to implement 4-H Victory Gardens to help support war efforts? Yates County 4-H is excited to share plans for our 2021/2022 4-H Year, consisting of the below opportunities and resources:

In-Person Programming – We are currently 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 – These kits started during the 2020 shutdown and have increased in popularity. As a result, we will continue our 4-H project kits for the coming year. Nearly every month a new 4-H project area will be highlighted with a hands-on activity. During months with an extended school holiday, we will offer Boredom Buster Kits, with multiple projects suitable for the entire family. Past topics have included bread in a bag, recycled cork pumpkins, homemade soft pretzels, bottle rockets, marshmallow architecture, and more. Kits are low cost and come with directions and supplies for a fun, hands on, project. Kits can be ordered on-line or by contacting our office.

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 an active, staff led, 4-H Teen Group for youth 13 years and older. Members focus on community service, leadership development, and fun teen centered activities. Contact for 4-H office for additional, current 4-H club opportunities.

Community Workshops – Through strong partnerships with each of our area libraries, we will continue providing youth development program opportunities throughout the year at Dundee, Penn Yan, and Branchport Libraries. Check out event calendars at your local library, as well as on our website for upcoming opportunities.

Virtual Programming – While virtual programming hasn’t been as popular in Yates County as it has been for other New York counties, we will continue to work with families to offer virtual workshops and opportunities either via a virtual only or hybrid option, depending on participant needs and current health trends. During the COVID-19 shutdown, Yates County was part of the establishment of the FLX 4-H Learning Launchpad, a virtual Facebook platform for sharing 4-H project ideas and programs. While this platform isn’t used as regularly as it was in 2020, it is still a great resource for youth friendly hands-on activities ranging 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.

On-line Resources – 4-H has drastically increased its online resources over the past year and a half. While we are doing our best to increase in person programming, these resources are still available and may just provide the perfect weekend or rainy-day activity. It is also a great supplemental resource for homeschool families. Click on our “4-H Virtual Learning” link on our website to view a wide array of resources. We’ve compiled a variety of on-line links for activities in topics 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 and Twitter @Yates County 4-H. For more information on the Yates County 4-H Program, visit us on-line 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.