The 2021 PASE and Life Challenge contest results are now available. Contests at this year's Premier Animal Science Event included livestock judging, poultry judging, meats judging, livestock skill-a-thon, and livestock quiz bowl. Eligible winners of these state-level contests also have the opportunity to advance to national competitions. Opportunities for youth at this year's Life Challenge event included the foods and nutrition challenge, design challenge, and adulting challenge. Congratulations to all the 4-H members from across the state who participated in the state-level contests held June 28-29 at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Nebraska 4-H has selected 12 individuals, as well as one multigenerational family, as recipients of a new statewide awards program that honors outstanding contributions of 4-H volunteers.
The Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Recognition Awards program was developed in 2021 to honor adult and youth volunteers, as well as multi-generational families, who have provided meaningful contributions to Nebraska 4-H. One Outstanding Adult Volunteer Award winner was chosen for each of the state’s 11 Nebraska Extension Engagement zones. One statewide winner was selected in each of the youth volunteer and multi-generational family categories.
“All across the state, Nebraska 4-H volunteers do incredible work to provide opportunities for our youth,” said Jill Goedeken, 4-H Youth Development Extension educator. “These volunteers generously give their time, energy and creativity to help develop the next generation of leaders, and we are thrilled to be able to recognize their contributions.”
Nebraska 4-H will recognize these outstanding youth and adult volunteers during the Week of the Volunteer on April 23rd virtually and through statewide media outlets. An in-person recognition ceremony will take place at the 2021 Nebraska State Fair. Inaugural award winners are:
Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award
Brandon Mellick, Dixon County
Brandon Mellick has taken several leadership roles in Dixon County over the past years. He was actively involved in the Ag Innovator program, teaching youth audiences about agriculture topics to more than 250 youth. He served as a 4-H Ambassador in Dixon County for two years. He was a member of the Dixon County 4-H First LEGO League team and assisted with promotional events to educate and recruit new members with robotics. In addition, he was also a member of the Dixon County 4-H Teen Leaders program. He is an example of an active 4-H member in the Nebraska 4-H program.
Multi-Generational Family Volunteer Award
Ron and Barb Suing family, Lancaster County
Ron and Barb Suing have been involved in nearly every aspect of 4-H in Lancaster County since Ron was in 4-H himself in the 1950s. Over the years, various family members have worked as superintendents, judges, behind-the-scenes volunteers and mentors to hundreds of youth. First generation: Ron and Barb Suing; second generation: Marlo Yakel and Nikki Casburn; third generation: Marlo’s children, Kylee Schirmer, Taylor Yakel and Ryan Yakel; and Nikki’s children: Andrew Casburn, Daniel Casburn and Thomas Casburn.
Outstanding Adult Volunteer Awards
Zone 1: Carrie Child, Sheridan County
Carrie Child has served in almost every volunteer role possible. Over the years she has served as a board member, workshop volunteer, after-school teacher, club leader, fair event superintendent, and robotics coach. Through her continued support, the Sheridan County program has become stronger and more diverse, and she has had a positive impact on almost every aspect of Sheridan County 4-H.
Zone 2: Kathaleen Mead, Garfield County
Throughout her long career as a 4-H volunteer, Kathaleen has held many roles, beginning as an organizational leader when her own children, Paige and Kay, joined Garfield County 4-H. Eventually, she would also serve as project leader, state fair judge and financial supporter. She has been especially involved in the Garfield-Loup-Wheeler 4-H quilting program, which offers programming every week from the end of school until the start of county fair and has impacted generations of 4-H youth.
Zone 3: Sharla Willard, Lincoln County
Sharla Willard has been instrumental in many aspects of Lincoln County 4-H, including leading project areas, serving on the 4-H council and serving as a fair superintendent. When COVID-19 changed fair protocols in 2020, she helped with the check-in and placement of static exhibit items and worked to ensure that proper protocol was followed for the 4-H dog show. This past spring, she was an integral part of making the Lincoln County 4-H Council Garage Sale Fundraiser a success.
Zone 4: Kevin Oberg, Hitchcock County
Kevin Oberg has been instrumental in keeping a successful 4-H shooting sports program in Hitchcock and Hayes County for the last 17 years. He began as a 4-H shooting sports leader in the archery and today helps with all shooting sport disciplines. For the past several years, Kevin has led the Hitchcock and Hayes team of shooting sports leaders in preparing for practices and contests, caring for shooting sports equipment, gathering donations for the program, and making sure the youth have a safe and fun experience.
Zone 5: Kim Spence, Stanton County
Kim Spence is a positive force in Stanton County 4-H. She has served as 4-H council member and president; county extension board member; program leader and much more. She serves as a bridge between the Stanton County 4-H program and the fair board. She has the ability to motivate both youth and adults, and she prioritizes making time for 4-H, even as a mother of five who works full time.
Zone 6: Beth Sonderup, Nance County
Beth Sonderup is the club leader of the Trailblazers 4-H Club in Nance County, a club she started four years ago to encourage youth of all ages, especially the Clover Kids age group. The club has participated in several community service projects in its four years, including creating Valentine’s Day placemats for the food trays at Children’s Hospital; making goodie bags for patients at the Boone County Hospital; and playing bingo with residents of the Valley View Assisted Living Facility in Fullerton. She has also led many 4-H workshops focused on sewing, which is one of her passions.
Zone 7: Barb Mentink, Polk County
Barb Mentink has volunteered with the Polk County 4-H horse program for more than 30 years. During this time has served as superintendent, 4-H Council member, club leader and horse advancement level examiner. She pushes her many members to get the most out of their 4-H experience, not just through her club, but also by getting involved in district and state events. Barb is knowledgeable, provides great programing and most importantly, the kids have fun and enjoy being around her.
Zone 8: Linda Bisanz, Burt County
Linda Bisanz has been involved with the Flying Needles 4-H Club for over 26 years, in a wide variety of roles. She was the 4-H kitchen manager for many years, then became the homemade pie making coordinator. Each year for more than 20 years, her group of 4-H volunteers has made approximately 200 fruit pies to be sold in the 4-H kitchen during the fair. She is a big advocate of the 4-H speech and presentation contest and is always among the first to volunteer for clothing judging day and during the fair. She even puts on heavy coveralls to help at a winter 4-H fund-raiser concession stand. For many years she has been a source of endless help who has made a difference.
Zone 9: Rebecca Dunn, Douglas County
Rebecca Dunn has created a new 4-H club, engaged new 4-H families and worked with local 4-H staff to provide enriching, educational opportunities to club members. She has worked with the Ralston Public Schools district to have her education students lead as peer mentors in the Health Rocks 4-H Mentoring program. She also led the way forming a partnership with a Ralston elementary school where the 12 high school mentors would meet with their 30 mentees in grades 3-6. Rebecca is a stellar 4-H volunteer and has made a big impact on the families and future teachers.
Zone 10: Heather Mohling, Adams County
Heather Mohling has been a 4-H leader of the Blue Valley Blazers 4-H Club for over 20 years, and a leader in the Adams County 4-H Horse program providing instruction in horse knowledge and hands-on care of horses, along with horse showmanship and riding. She has helped prepare youth throughout the county for State Horse Quiz Bowl as well as county, district and state horse shows. Heather has been instrumental in implementing the therapeutic riding program within the Blue Valley Blazers 4-H Club including organizing and providing horses, volunteers, equipment, training, and an unlimited amount of patience teaching and working with youth that may not otherwise have the opportunity to ride and bond with horses.
Zone 11: Renee Thakur, Cass County
Renee Thakur has been a dedicated volunteer in Cass County and the surrounding area for many years. She has helped school enrichment and 4-H workshops in Cass County and has assisted with sewing workshops in Johnson and in Pawnee counties. In recent years she has helped with First Lego League competitions in Otoe County. She is enthusiastic, consistent and willing to help wherever needed.
National 4-H Congress is an award program that provides recognition to 4-H youth for their outstanding performances and achievements in 4-H. It is held annually in Atlanta, Georgia. Each year, Nebraska 4-H can send delegates to National 4-H Congress. Nebraska delegates are selected for a trip to National 4-H Congress by submitting their Senior Achievement Application for state competition. This year, 15 Nebraska 4-H delegates were chosen to receive a partial scholarship to attend the 2021 National 4-H Congress. An additional 4 alternates were selected who may attend at their own expense.
Nebraska 4-H is thrilled to announce the first-ever Project of the Year, focused upon Entrepreneurship and featuring the TEC Box Educational Kit! The Project of the Year provides the perfect 4-H Club project and is also a great way for new youth and families to get started in 4-H.
This year's Project of the Year educational kit introduces youth to the exciting world of entrepreneurship through the TEC Box curriculum! The kit includes the materials youth need to complete four hands-on activities that lay the groundwork for a county and state fair eligible exhibit: Class F531006 - Entrepreneurship Challenge. The activities help youth think for themselves, practice empathy and solve problems as they learn about entrepreneurship. Youth will invent their own product to make bicycles safer and develop a new game that can be enjoyed with family and friends.
The TEC Box Educational Kit includes a printed facilitator guide, a youth workbook, an inflatable 4-H kickball, sports cones, washi tape, felt, yarn, pipe cleaners, foam, and dice. Kits are only $25 plus shipping, but supplies are limited!
2020 is delivering more challenges than many of us have experienced before. The holiday season is quickly approaching and potentially could be more stressful than previous years given all of the events of the past year. As individuals and families plan holiday gatherings during a global pandemic, many will be modifying holiday traditions based on ensuring the safety and well-being of families and others. Breaking from rituals can be challenging and upsetting, however, with some planning and creative thinking these changes might help your family develop new traditions.
Children and youth often anxiously await the holidays which often mean a time to gather with family, share gifts, and participate in traditions such as baking favorite holiday foods, decorating one’s home, or attending religious celebrations. Changes to holiday traditions and routines might add to youth’s feelings of anxiety, sadness, or depression. Research shows that the social, emotional, and mental health of our youth have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The mental health impacts of COVID-19 and potential changes to a typical holiday routine can compound the feelings and emotions youth are experiencing.
Enrollment is now open for the 2021 program year! Enrollment is not required for many 4-H programs and events. However, club and independent members are required to officially enroll through 4-H Online each year to maintain membership. By enrolling, youth have the opportunity to participate in county fairs, the Nebraska State Fair, and additional statewide opportunities and events. Youth have the opportunity to enroll in specific projects which they plan to complete throughout the years. Club and project leaders must also enroll through 4-H Online each year.
There is no state-level fee for officially enrolling. However, some counties or clubs may implement their own annual fees. Please contact your local 4-H office for more information.
While enrollment is open year-round, youth interested in participating in their county fair or the Nebraska State Fair must complete the online enrollment process no later than June 15th.
Do you enjoy learning STEM and have an interest in learning about real-world medical problems? In this engaging hands-on program, youth will use the engineering design process to work through Biomedical Engineering challenges. Youth will get to participate in activities like:
- Nanotechnology in the Body,
- Laparoscopic Surgery,
- Biomedicine in Space, and
- Prosthetics and Pills.
Youth will also get to experience a Biomedical Career Day where they will listen and work with staff from UNMC. Youth won't want to miss it!
This virtual self-paced camp is offered in partnership with Imagine Science! Imagine Science is an unprecedented partnership between four leading national youth organizations to bridge the STEM gap by igniting the imagination of historically underrepresented youth. We believe in the next generation of problem solvers and innovators. By 2022 the U.S. will be short 1 million needed STEM professionals. Too few young people are pursuing STEM careers. We believe that prolonged, informal exposure to STEM increases a child's interest and builds a foundation for proficiency through high school and beyond. Nebraska 4-H is proud to partner with Imagine Science to deliver STEM programming to 4th-8th grade youth in and around Omaha, Nebraska.
Since 1976, when the initial group of 235 campers arrived at the Eastern Nebraska 4-H Center to enjoy a week of summer fun, our mission has been to serve the youth of Nebraska and provide opportunities for them to Discover, Learn, and Grow. Over the past 44 years, we have been successful in supporting our mission through a variety of program options, including adult and youth retreat, outdoor education, summer overnight camp, and day camp programs.
As you know, COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the world that we once knew, including having significant impacts to our camp program. In early April, we made the very difficult decision to cancel all of our in-person programs including spring outdoor education and summer camp events. As a primarily seasonal business where most of our operating revenues are collected during the summer months to support our operations year-round, this decision had a significant impact on our budget. Thankfully, as sound fiscal managers, we had a reserve revenue fund to continue to operate through this time to continue programming virtually and salaries for five full-time employees. Unfortunately, we have come to the end of this reserve fund and discussions have turned to our next steps.
As part of the process, we explored how the Nebraska 4-H camp program can better reach youth where they are with innovative programs, utilizing research-based curricula delivered with a hands-on experimental learning model by talented youth development professionals. We are pleased to announce a NEW environmental education program series that will include both virtual and place-based programs for schools, home-school families, and afterschool programs. Of course, current and future 4-H members will always be among our key clients. As part of our goal to reach more youth, and with thoughtful consideration of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, our state 4-H team, and the Nebraska 4-H Foundation, we have made the extremely difficult decision to cease all operations at the Eastern Nebraska 4-H Center in Gretna effective August 1, 2020.
While we may not have the same site presence, one thing that remains the same is our commitment to our partnership with you to help us work toward our mission to provide opportunities for youth to Discover, Learn, and Grow and we invite you to consider continuing your partnership with Nebraska 4-H in various ways.
Although we are disappointed in the closure of the Eastern Nebraska 4-H Center, we are hopeful that our renewed commitment to broader environmental education offerings for youth will bring a new era of Nebraska 4-H Camping.
Dear Friends of 4-H Camp,
We are announcing the cancellation of our summer 2020 programming. This decision was not taken lightly, and we tried every possible scenario to continue our programs this summer. After receiving guidance from a variety of sources, the decision ultimately came down to this question – can we carry out our mission, and can we keep our campers safe? The answer is we don’t know and that’s not good enough for us. We are committed to doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and being a part of the solution.
The summer of 2020 had much promise and excitement around it. Our registration was on track to be the largest camps we have held in the recent past and the program we have developed was spectacular. This is a huge testament to the trust that you have placed on the Nebraska 4-H Camping Program. For this, we say “Thank You”. Thank you for putting your trust in us as we work every day “To Make the Best Better” in all that we do at 4-H Camp. We look forward to the day when we can be together again enjoying uncontrollable laughing and silliness, learning new skills at one of your activity times, creating spaces to build new friendships and connecting with one another, and crying at the closing campfire after reflecting on our awesome week together at camp!
As we reflect and move forward, we are filled with hope for the opportunities to continue our mission and connect with you this summer. We will be providing NEW Virtual 4-H Camp experiences during June and July! Check out our self-guided experiences through our 4-H Camp in a Box and a week of real-time virtual summer camp June 1-5! Registration will open soon for numerous real-time, week-long, special interest virtual camps that you can join from anywhere! More information about these experiences will be made available at http://4h.unl.edu/camp.
Information about several other FREE, real-time educational experiences, as well as many self-paced opportunities, can be found at https://4h.unl.edu/virtual-home-learning. Nebraska 4-H looks forward to learning with you this summer in new ways – right from your home!
As you can imagine, this decision has also had a great financial impact on our program. Much of our operating revenues come from the summer camp experience. In these unprecedented times, if you are able, please consider a tax-deductible gift to support the Nebraska 4-H Camps mission. Give securely on the Nebraska 4-H Foundation Website or mail to NE 4-H Foundation PO Box 4500, Lincoln, NE 68504.
Thank you again for your trust and support of the Nebraska 4-H Camps! We hope to see you soon at one of our 2020 virtual experiences and can’t wait till the day we can be together at camp again!
The last month has been a challenging time, to say the least. It feels like it was a hundred years ago that we could high five youth in an afterschool program, get a haircut, or buy toilet paper whenever we wanted. No doubt you have experienced feelings of confusion, grief, disappointment, and loss over the past month. We know that it is the same for the young people that we educate. Indeed, our world as changed.
As a leading youth development organization in the state, Nebraska 4-H Youth Development is offering a series of articles addressing the social-emotional well-being of young people. The articles are designed to help youth development professionals and parents in this challenging time. The series, Supporting Young People Through Change, will include five articles:
- Comfort in a Changing World
- Connecting in Changing Times
- Coping in Changing Times
- Creating Your Plan in Changing Times
- Contributing in a Changing World
Articles will be released weekly throughout April and early May. Visit the link below to access all the available articles, and stay tuned for new releases.