Nebraska 4-H members from across the state will showcase their designs during Omaha Fashion Week runway showcase. Omaha Fashion Week is highlighting themes of reckless self-expression during their Spring 2024 AUDACIOUS Season. As they focus on fashion-for-good they are honoring the audacity it takes to use our voices to create meaningful change in our communities.
Amongst the seven groups that will be presenting their designs on the runway during student night, Nebraska 4-H youth will be modeling their designs on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, during the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Night at 8:00 pm.
Youth across the state were invited to apply with the design they have sewn for 4-H in 2023. Thirty-two 4-Her’s were chosen from 17 counties in Nebraska. They have been practicing their walk for the runway, will be getting their hair and makeup ready by the SOHO hair academy, and will have family and friends in attendance!
Participating youth are:
Emily Barfknecht – Adams County
Ayvrie Waldron – Box Butte County
Danica Romshek – Butler County
Macie Koch – Cedar County
Kate Cox – Cherry County
Morgan Schommer – Dawes County
Karla Herrarte – Dawson County
Maya Soria – Dawson County
Melissa Montano – Dawson County
Sydni Ringenberg – Dawson County
Ava Caldwell – Douglas-Sarpy County
Coralee Schurr – Frontier County
Amelia Dieckman – Gage County
Audrey Diekman – Gage County
Cora Novacek – Gage County
Alison Schimmer – Hall County
Carmin Gramke – Kearney County
Alexa Smith – Lancaster County
Clara Johnson – Lancaster County
Dayton Jons – Lancaster County
Josie Johnson – Lancaster County
Lauren Johnson – Lancaster County
Piper Pillard – Lancaster County
Tenley Bauman – Lancaster County
Vanessa Peterson – Lancaster County
Josie Williams – Nance County
Delaney Cheloha – Platte County
Karis Kersting – Platte County
Maura Tichota – Saunders County
Abigail Nelson – Sheridan County
Emily Nelson – Sheridan County
Zayling Ott – Washington County
Doors open at 6:00 pm. To purchase tickets, visit https://omahafashionweek.ticketleap.com/ofw-spring-2024-student-night/.
Every year, Nebraska 4-H Month brings thousands of young people, parents, volunteers, and alumni together to celebrate all the ways in which 4-H helps youth find a place where they belong. Across the state, Nebraska 4-H invites community members to celebrate:
- 4-H Spirit Day - Tuesday, February 1, 2024
- Wear green, the 4-H emblem, or your favorite 4-H T-shirt!
- Share your 4-H spirit on social media using #NE4HMonth, #iBelong, and #Opportunity4All
- 4-H Volunteer Appreciation Day - Thursday, February 8, 2024
- Send handwritten thank-you notes or make and deliver 4-H-themed treats or goody bags to your club and project leaders.
- Shout out your club and project leaders on social media using #NE4HMonth.
- Nominate your favorite 4-H volunteer for a Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Recognition Award.
- 4-H Supporter Appreciation Day - Thursday, February 15, 2024
- Ask your local Extension office for the contact information for a 4-H donor and sponsor. Send them a handwritten thank-you note.
- 4-H Give Back to Your Community/Service Day - Thursday, February 22, 2024
- Coordinate your own community service project, such as picking up trash, holding a food drive, collecting items for a local shelter, or making care packages. For more inspiration, check out these 4-H civic engagement ideas. After the project is complete, be sure to submit your community service project for a chance to see it showcased by Nebraska 4-H.
- Contribute to other groups' community service projects.
- Volunteer your time with a local non-profit organization.
- Leap Into 4-H Day - Thursday, February 29, 2024
- Enroll in 4-H for 2024! Youth are invited to join 4-H and complete the annual enrollment process during February. By becoming enrolled members, youth have the opportunity to join a club, exhibit projects at the county and State Fair, participate in contests, and apply for special awards and recognition. Enroll now at 4h.unl.edu/enroll.
Nebraska 4-H Month Photography Contest
Capture moments and showcase your creativity. Submit your photos weekly based on exciting themes. Open to all enrolled 4-H members. Explore your passion for photography and make memories that last a lifetime!
Many local celebrations and events will also be hosted throughout the month of February. Contact your local Extension office for more information about local celebrations.
Thirteen Nebraska 4-H members traveled to the 102nd National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, GA, held November 24-28, 2023. This year’s conference theme — “Unforgettable Past, Innovative Future” — focused on leadership, citizenship, global awareness, and inclusion.
National 4-H Congress is the premier leadership event for 4-H members between the ages of 15 and 19 years of age. Nebraska delegates are selected for the trip to National 4-H Congress by submitting an Achievement Application for state competition.
Nebraska 4-H members joined youth from across the nation which brought together over 800 young people from across the country. Youth participated in service-learning projects; international education, including an international night; and a variety of workshops to expand their skills, while being inspired to make an impact on their club, community, and country.
"My favorite part was the community service that we did -- there were a bunch of community service projects that everyone at the conference did," shared Kaylee Powell, a 4-H participant in Hall County. "I was able to go with a bunch of other 4-H'ers, and also another Nebraska 4-H'er, and we went into a local elementary school and taught 4th grade math. So that was cool to bring skills that we had, here from Nebraska, and take it to students there."
The group, made up of high school students and a few college freshmen, attended numerous educational workshops, cultural events, and completed service-learning projects while in Atlanta. Attendees heard nationally known speakers, including Amberly Snyder, motivational speaker and barrel racer; Dan Clark, New York Times Best Selling Author; Chris Boleman, CEO & President of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo; and Dr. Dionne Toombs, Associate Director for Programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture; among others.
"At 4-H Congress, I learned a lot about community and leadership skills. We did a lot of workshops together -- a lot of team building and practicing communication skills," said Austin Kamm, a 4-H participant in Cuming County.
Highlights of the five-day trip included a tour of Atlanta, visits to the Atlanta History Center, Georgia Aquarium, World of Coke, the College Football Hall of Fame, and other attractions. Youth were accompanied by Nebraska 4-H Extension Educator, Dawn Lindsley, and Martin Wiese, a 4-H volunteer from Dodge County.
For more information National 4-H Congress, please visit 4h.unl.edu/congress.
Twelve Nebraska 4-H members traveled to the 2023 North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky, to participate in national 4-H livestock competitions. In addition to the memories of a once-in-a-lift experience, youth brought home top awards.
Nebraka's livestock judging team included Jaylea Pope from Revenna, Breanna Bosshamer from Amherst and Hannah Herrick from Amherst. The team earned ninth place in hogs, 10th place in sheep, and 10th place in goats. Jaylea Pope earned first place overall, first place in reasons, first place in sheep, first place in goats, second place in hogs, and 10th place in cattle.
The team was coached by Lauren Miller.
Nebraska's Livestock Skillathon team members included Bart Beattie from Sumner, Jacie Wolfinger from Lexington, Jaelin Wolfinger from Lexington, Parker Walahoski from Overton, and Spencer Walahoski from Overton. The team earned fourth place. Spencer Walahoski earned eighth place overall individual. Jacie Wolfinger earned 13th place overall individual.
The team was coached by Taryn Vonderschmidt.
Livestock Quiz Bowl
Nebraska's Livestock Quiz Bowl team included Gracie Wagoner from Shelton, Justine Pope from Revenna, Mason Janda from Revenna, and Skyler Summers from Gibbon. Mason Janda earned ninth place overall individual.
The team was coached by Jeanne Pope.
Nebraska 4-H members earn opportunities to compete in national 4-H livestock contests through the Nebraska 4-H Premier Animal Science Event held in June each year. To learn more, visit 4h.unl.edu/pase.
With the goal of re-invigorating rural communities following the pandemic, STEM CARES addressed the needs of communities across the state, provided paid jobs and professional development for teens, and delivered high-quality learning experiences to children. STEM CARES engaged young people across 21 counites through after-school programs, day care centers, summer school programs, 4-H clubs, and libraries. The program was provided at no cost to parents or program providers through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic (CARES) Act funding.
STEM CARES implemented a multitiered model of education that engaged young people of all ages as learners, instructors, and leaders.
In seven seasons of programming, STEM CARES engaged nearly 1,500 children in high-quality, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math experiences. 92% of children said they learned new things about science, and 81% said they learned new things about engineering. STEM CARES offered four curriculum options consisting of six lessons each. Curriculum options included Garden Engineering, The Power of the Wind, Mechanical Engineering, and Slime Engineers. The program providers selected the curriculum topic based on their community's needs.
Teens, hired as instructors, facilitated all the programming. Before engaging with learners, teens participated in approximately six hours of training to grow their skills working with elementary students in informal settings. Teens developed a greater sense of community and explored potential careers. They gained real-world experience in child development, child care, or STEM-related careers, and many expressed an interest in teaching or working with youth as a significant part of their future career goals.
“Having this teaching experience and time working with youth were very beneficial to me as I am pursuing a degree to be an art teacher,” shared a program instructor from Hamilton County.
University of Nebraska–Lincoln undergraduate students served as mentors to the teen facilitators. As instructional leaders, the college students provided ongoing support, guidance, and reflection opportunities for the teens. Instructional leaders also participated in training and received continued support from Nebraska Extension 4-H Youth Development faculty. The undergraduate students developed their skills around facilitation, STEM-related content, and communications.
"My instructional leaders were very helpful in many ways, but I think the most helpful thing they provided for my learning was the way they taught," shared one teen instructor. "They made sure we understood the lessons they were teaching us, and if we didn't, they would explain it in a way that could help us understand it."
STEM CARES was developed by Nebraska 4-H in collaboration with Beyond School Bells. For more information, visit 4h.unl.edu/stem-cares.
We all know about the 4-H livestock, cooking and sewing projects. But with nearly 50 projects to choose from, there are likely some you aren’t familiar with. These five often-overlooked projects offer real-world skills and unique experiences.
1. Special plant science projects
The Special Garden Project and Special Agronomy Project offer unique introductions to plant science. Members are given seeds and guided through growing and harvesting. If all goes well, members can exhibit a cut flower or harvested vegetable. Otherwise, they can share their experience through a poster, story or video. Even with all these options, there were only 38 exhibits at the 2023 Nebraska State Fair.
2. Financial (consumer education) projects
Financial projects may sound boring, but they can pay dividends. Young people learn money management by creating income inventories, tracking expenses or completing money personality profiles. For all their value, only 38 financial exhibits were entered at this year’s State Fair.
3. Safety projects
With 53 exhibits at the State Fair, the safety project can be easily overlooked. The practical benefits are not. Fair exhibits include items every family should have, like first aid kits, disaster kits, and home fire safety plans.
4. Citizenship projects
Citizenship projects help youth become well-informed citizens and active community members. Fair exhibits allow members to document a community service activity, make a care package or donate a Quilt of Valor to a veteran. Despite their meaningful impact, there were 83 citizenship State Fair entries this year.
5. Veterinary science projects
Veterinary science projects are great for those who love animals, whether they own one or not! Despite this, there were less than 100 entries at this year’s State Fair. Members are challenged to research an animal care, health or safety issue. Fair exhibits allow youth to present their learning through a poster, notebook or display.
While they tend to see low participation numbers, these projects offer practical benefits and unique opportunities. They might just spark a lifelong passion!
Outside the York County Fairgrounds 4-H Building stands a historical marker titled “Nebraska 4-H Clubs Began in York County.” Tuesday evening, 15 4-H volunteer club and project leaders walked past this marker. They gathered, not for a 4-H Club meeting but rather for the Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Road Show.
The evening started with a session titled “The Magic of 4-H.” It introduced volunteers to the “4-H Thriving Model.” It laid the groundwork for the following sessions. Tanya Crawford, Nebraska Extension educator, explained how 4-H helps youth thrive by providing a place for them to belong, matter and explore their personal spark.
Igniting sparks through 4-H projects
To help youth discover their spark, volunteers were introduced to various entry-level projects and bite-sized activities that can lead to fair exhibits.
During the environmental education session, Molly Brandt, Nebraska Extension educator, led volunteers in making molds of animal tracks. Volunteers saw firsthand how this activity could be conducted in a club setting. Brandt also shared ideas for forestry projects, including club projects, community service activities and fair exhibits.
Many young people come to 4-H to explore a spark for animals. The poultry and rabbit projects were showcased as ideal entry-level animal projects. Brandt shared how she found her spark through the 4-H rabbit project. Her passion for rabbits came through as she covered basic care, breeds and fair classes.
“Chickens are great for kids,” Rachelle Staehr, York FFA adviser, said. She explained that bantams and docile breeds, like Cochin, are easy to handle. With a bantam Cochin hen in hand, Staehr gave a poultry showmanship demonstration. She shared tips for preparing, handling and presenting poultry during showmanship.
Many young people find their spark through creativity. Jill Goedeken, Nebraska Extension educator, led volunteers in an activity they can use to teach kids about color schemes. Goedeken described how this activity can be used in visual arts, home environment and consumer management projects.
Fostering belonging through club projects
Club projects bring youth together and foster a sense of belonging. Throughout the evening, Goedeken reminded volunteers of the opportunities for club or group projects. During the final session, volunteers learned how to guide clubs in selecting those projects. They practiced using basic parliamentary procedures in the “Let’s Make Trail Mix” activity.
Strengthening local support networks
The face-to-face and interactive nature of the event fostered an engaging environment. The room was often filled with laughter, conversational chatter, idea sharing, and informal discussions throughout the evening. During the parliamentary procedure activity, the room erupted in laughter when a motion was made to add an entire bag of M&M’s.
The event strengthened relationships between volunteers and Nebraska Extension staff. Some local staff even attended as participants. Volunteers represented nearly every experience level and background. One individual was in their second year of volunteering, and another had 60+ years of experience.
The Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Road Show is a training and development opportunity offered each fall at various locations across the state. To learn more, visit 4h.unl.edu/volunteer-road-show.
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln Loft Gallery is featuring 4-H’ers artwork selected from over 600 entries at the Nebraska State Fair.
The 4-H visual art projects included in the show were completed this year but demonstrate mastery developed over many years in the project. The works were selected based on creativity, originality, and attention to detail. The show features a variety of mediums and techniques.
Young people with artwork in the exhibition include:
- Rylee Ward, 14
Valentine, Cherry County 4-H
- Hayden Minchow, 14
Seward, Seward County 4-H
- Taylor Honeyman, 14
Omaha, Douglas County 4-H
- Sofia Schoeneck, 15
Cedar Bluffs, Saunders County 4-H
- Isabelle Soden, 13
Ceresco, Saunders County 4-H
- Emily Greenquist, 15
Hastings, Adams County 4-H
- Faith Rasmussen, 18
O’Neill, Holt County 4-H
- Piper Dather, 17
Bloomfield, Knox County 4-H
- Mandy Sandoval, 17
Wayneta, Chase County 4-H
- Mya Zohner, 17
Battle Creek, Madison County 4-H
- Brooklyn Hightree, 14
South Sioux City, Burt County 4-H
- Caydence Schumacher, 15
Clearwater, Antelope County 4-H
The exhibit is in the Loft Gallery through December 2023. The Loft Gallery is located on the third floor of the East Campus Union. It is open to the public from 6:45 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to midnight Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to midnight Sundays.
The purpose of the 4-H visual arts project is to help youth develop life skills like critical and creative thinking, confident communication, decision-making, problem-solving and goal setting. 4-H is America’s largest youth development organization–empowering nearly six million young people nationwide and 140,000 across Nebraska with the skills to lead for a lifetime. Learn more at 4h.unl.edu.
In 2023, Nebraska 4-H lowered the age limit for participation in the Nebraska State Fair for all in-person events to nine years of age. That change increased participation and provided more opportunities for youth to engage in learning experiences.
Based on feedback and program objectives, the age of eligibility in 2024 will be eight years as of Jan. 1 of the current year for all in-person State Fair events as well as the Fonner Park State 4-H Horse Expo, Premier Animal Science Event and Premier Communications Event.
Note: Some events will maintain different age eligibility requirements due to program-specific rules, such as shooting sports and FIRST robotics events. Always consult specific event information for age-eligibility requirements.
Starting in 2024, youth will be encouraged but not required to select projects during enrollment. Youth must still complete enrollment by June 15 to participate in their county fair or the Nebraska State Fair. Youth who complete enrollment will be eligible to exhibit in any project. Members are only eligible to exhibit in one county per project.
Note: Horse and shooting sports projects will continue to require enrollment due to parental consent requirements.