When COVID-19 caused schools to close quickly in the spring, 4-H staff realized teachers would need time to adapt to online remote instruction. To help bridge the learning gap, 4-H stepped in with daily virtual youth enrichment programs for kids of all ages. Monday through Thursday, they dedicated an hour to programming designed to foster structure and continuity. Through synchronous, real-time engagement, young people not only explored new topics, but also made friends and maintained social connections during a time of unexpected physical isolation.
Distance Learning Socials Each Monday, youth “met” to learn about birding, photography, tree identification, community service, and more. Those who joined received a take-home challenge, then regrouped on Thursdays for an informal share-out of their findings and experiences. By going beyond a “watch this video and discuss” format, participants gained a real sense of belonging within the group and curiosity surrounding the topic. The nine sessions offered engaged a total of 103 young people, 25% of whom attended more than once.
QuaranTeen Time On Tuesdays, students in grades 7-12 explored college and career pathways, skill building and leadership opportunities. Ten sessions reached 125 individual teens exploring topics including “How to Advocate for Yourself,” “How to Match Your Interests with a Promising Career,” and “Youth Voices Matter: A Conversation with Lt. Governor David Zuckerman.”
QuaranTeen Virtual Science Cafés On 12 Wednesdays, 208 students in grades 7-12 explored science, engineering and technology by connecting with real scientists, learning about their work, and asking questions.
Cloverbuds Connect Challenges This activity is designed for the youngest 4-H audience (K-2, ages 5-7). Participants watch a video demonstrating an activity and are then challenged to try it themselves, record the action, and post the video on the secure “Flipgrid” portal - all with adult supervision. New activities are distributed each Friday, covering topics like butterflies, dairy, recycling, trees and more. Since June, there have been 721 views of 21 videos, equaling 40.8 hours of shared learning.
Out of the Box-es In Rutland and Addison Counties, 2,000 youth received free activity boxes from 4-H. A direct response to the gap created by COVID-19, 22 organizations collaborated to design, build and distribute themed positive youth development activities every other week during the summer. Themes included Dairy Month, food, exploring nature and more.
Animal Scoops Fun, interactive sessions provide learning on bees, wildlife, domestic animals and more through trivia, videos, books and recipe activities for youth ages 8-18.Gardening & Nutrition From garden to kitchen, youth in grades 6-12 explore harvesting and learn how to prepare and preserve crops.
For more information about current youth opportunities, visit go.uvm.edu/4h-at-home.