It hasn't been an easy year for 4-H Clubs. If we use Oswego County as a baseline, engagement has been tricky. In previous years, they usually worked with about 12,000 kids across their programming, but the COVID-19 pandemic has slashed that number by about two thirds.
That dip in engagement is due to the pandemic in two ways: One is the cancellation of county fairs and the New York State Fair; the other is the need to conduct programming virtually.
Community group leaders have gotten creative to keep members involved in programming. Typically, a community club would meet after school in a leader's home, but now those have to be done virtually.
PDF-based classrooms are used to teach about animals, and virtual workshops show off skills, like how to geocache. Those skills have been particularly important because students can put to use on their own, safely distanced from other people while getting outside.
Virtual game nights and escape rooms are helping to keep kids socializing with their peers, even though they can't do it face to face.
Linda Brosch, the coordinator for Oswego County, says while none of this is ideal, being able to adapt and change with situations is what 4-H is all about.
"In 4-H, we make the best better," Brosch said. "We take whatever situation we're given, and we find the positive and we make it better."
More information about 4-H will vary by county. Visit the links below for more information on your local club.