By Jenna Scanlan
Like much of Houston County, COVID-19 has impacted the county 4-H program.
Since March 23, 4-H events across Minnesota have gone virtual. Here in Houston County, things have gone as smooth as possible with minimal challenges, according to Houston County Local Extension Educator Rebecca Paulson.
“It was impossible for anyone to know how COVID-19 was going to sweep across the world and affect every aspect of our lives the way it has,” Paulson said. “Despite the sharp pivot that was made, 4-H has continued with planned programming and has seen a lot of success. It hasn’t been easy for everyone, but we will continue to move the work forward,” Paulson said.
Instead of canceling, things just look a tad bit different. All events in Minnesota 4-H have been moved virtually until further notice.
This doesn’t mean canceling, it means adapting.
Many events in Minnesota and Houston County 4-H are still happening despite the challenges. Some of these virtual events include state-wide Yello-ish camp (a virtual three-day camp focusing on leadership, service and just having fun), a virtual agronomy workshop or Houston County Clover Bud day camp.
The cake decorating contest, an event where 4-H’ers are judged on how well their cake is decorated as well as their knowledge is one of the events that has gone off without a hitch.
The regional project kits have also been sent out to 4-Hers wanting to know more about a given topic. Both activities have seen a high number of participants.
The regional project kits had around 300 kits sold in 20 counties and the cake decorating contest had an increase in participants from previous years, Paulson said.
“Engagement has been relatively high,” observed Paulson. For instance, during the cake decorating event, the interaction between 4-Her and judge was similar as you would see in a face-to-face situation.
Some clubs in the county have also been holding virtual meetings to keep kids engaged in 4-H while at home.
While in other 4-H events, such as 4-H federation meetings, numbers have been down a little and interaction between speakers and audience members is difficult when not held in person.
While there is no way of knowing just when programming will go back to normal, Paulson as well as 4-H families around the county are hoping to start again soon.
“Houston County 4-H has been here for youth for 100 years and hopefully will be here for another 100,” Paulson said.
And because it is the 100th year of 4-H in Houston County, people are more ready than ever to get back to normal. Events are still being planned to have special county fair activities, 100-year celebration items for sale such as t-shirts, special 4-H Spring Grove Soda Pop, crocks and mugs and a celebration ceremony.