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4-H members connect with others across the country

4-H had humble beginnings in 1902 in rural Ohio to teach youths farming and homemaking skills.

It has since grown to be the largest youth development organization in the United States with more than 6 million members and offers so much more than farming and homemaking.

4-H youths are given a unique education on life skills through fun, hands-on, youth-led learning. Programs cultivate a sense of belonging and empowerment through partnerships with adult volunteers and community members. Its goal is to enable youths to grow into confident, compassionate, resilient adults.

When youths, between 5 and 18 years old, join 4-H, they pick a project that is anything from baking cookies to building a robot to making an outfit to breeding and raising an animal. 4-H members work on their projects throughout the year and ultimately show them at the La Plata County Fair. These projects allow them hands-on experiences where they learn by doing, improve from mistakes and create new ideas.

This year has presented new challenges to our 4-H members. For the last two months, we have moved to virtual programming in place of face-to-face workshops and camps. Our members have been resilient and continue to work hard on their projects while juggling many other changes in their lives, such as online school and not being able to physically spend time with their friends.

However, like all challenges, there is room for new beginnings and growth. Because we are doing all of our 4-H programming virtually, we have been able to reach across county lines and state lines and participate in fun, educational virtual events with other 4-H members from across the country. This not only has broadened the educational opportunities for our local youths but has opened the door to continuing these kinds of programs well into the future.

An intriguing opportunity for growth has come from our La Plata County Fair Board. This past week, the fair board met and decided that without a doubt, they will have a fair. They all acknowledged that we will not have our same beloved fair as it has been over the years because of social distancing and smaller group sizes. But they are looking at many different options that include everything from a smaller version of our normal fair, all the way to a fully virtual fair.

But rest assured, we will have a 2020 La Plata County Fair! I believe the 2020 fair theme reflects resiliency, determination and dedication to our youths – “The Show Will Go On.” We all look forward to seeing what our 4-H members have created and learned over this past year as we celebrate their successes and achievements.

If you have children who are interested in joining our virtual educational programs or if you are interested in teaching a virtual program, call me at the La Plata County Extension Office, 382-6460. This is a unique opportunity to expand our horizons as we continue to make our best even better.

Angela Fountain is the La Plata County 4-H youth development agent. Reach her at angela.fountain@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6460.

Angela Fountain