The University of Minnesota Extension Service recently announced a decision that the best option related to the current situation was to cease all of its face-to-face events and gatherings through the month of June.
That decision impacts the Redwood County 4-H program, as the activities that were part of the calendar through that date have been cancelled.
According to Stacy Johnson, Redwood County 4-H program coordinator, that decision was not an easy one for Extension and Minnesota 4-H leadership to make, but it was the right one.
The intention is to abide by the current stay-at-home order from the state and to observe social distancing recommendations as a way to be part of the solution that helps to keep 4-H members and their families safe.
Work on Redwood County activities as part of 4-H and Extension is now being done remotely, explained Johnson.
The county office is open by appointment only. All calls are being answered, and appointments can be made by calling the Extension office in Redwood Falls at (507) 637-4025.
According to Johnson, 4-H efforts are continuing in Redwood County, but they are being done on a different trajectory and through different methods.
“We have multiple teams working on developing and delivering project spotlights, virtual 4-H programs and recorded online learning opportunities,” explained Johnson.
Teams are also working with 4-Hers to develop online programs, and other efforts are being made to help support the network of Redwood County 4-H clubs.
There are also people working with 4-H members through the learn and lead programming.
For the time being virtual programs continue to be the way activities are being offered to Redwood County youth, and that will continue at least through the end of June. If necessary, that will continue beyond the June 30 date.
Johnson added, camps, school based programs and guided independent projects opportunities will continue virtually.
When asked what decisions have been put in place regarding the 2020 Redwood County Fair, Johnson explained the decision to hold or not to hold the fair is a decision that is made by the Redwood County fair board.
According to Johnson, 4-H youth are encouraged to continue project work because part of our 4-H time is spent with experiential learning. Part of that learning must include the economics of their project work and decisions youth are making when choosing how to proceed with their project work.
According to Johnson, if the Redwood County fair cannot be held the 4-H program is working on contingency plans for youth and their showcase event for their project work.
“Minnesota 4-H is working hard to ensure our youth have the opportunity to showcase their projects. As you are aware much of the decisions made will be determined by the situation at the time in regard to public needs due to COVID,” added Johnson.
Youth and families have experienced a tremendous change with moving school to online learning. The opportunity exists for 4-H clubs to meet virtually.
Some clubs have chosen to move forward with virtual meetings, while other clubs have chosen to wait based on the input of club members. Redwood County 4-H has been promoting several online learning opportunities as well as 4-H fun challenges.
To learn more about these 4-H opportunities follow Redwood County 4-H on Facebook. Families also have the opportunity to learn more through a weekly update as well.
“I am excited to start more direct time with them when the opportunity arises,” added Johnson. “In the meantime, the work we are doing in our 4-H program development is exciting and can meet 4-H needs into the future. I am excited to see where the direction we are working takes our 4-H programs into the future.”