Cocoa is one of Lilly Reininghaus’s favorite goats.

What You Need To Know

  • Last year, more than 400 students participated in Onondaga County’s 4-H program

  • 4-H clubs are holding virtual meetings and offering activities in a bag to keep kids involved

  • The clubs mix hands-on backyard experience with online learning and friendship

“She’s just really sweet and affectionate and since I feed them every day, she loves me a lot,” said Reininghaus.

It can be hard to pick a favorite animal, because 10-year-old Reininghaus cares for more than 50.

"I was lactose intolerant, so we got goats and started showing them and these are really good goats," explained Reininghaus.

She has award-winning goats and chickens, too. Reininghaus learned how to show animals through 4-H. With dozens of ribbons clipped to the chickens' pen, it's clear, she’s pretty good at it.

“That one right there is mine,” said Reininghaus's neighbor Billy Whittaker, while pointing to a gold trophy.

Whittaker is pretty good at showing chickens, too. Though, he's pretty new to raising chickens and 4-H.

“I had to name every part of the chicken," said Whittaker, explaining what it takes to earn a trophy.

With the help of zoom — Whittaker, Reininghaus, and their 4H clover club get together a lot. Because of that, 4H enrollment is growing rapidly during the pandemic.

“It adds lot of stuff like stem projects, science, and a mars activity, and bunnies,” Whittaker said.

Last year, more than 400 students participated in Onondaga County’s 4H program. The clubs teach responsibility and public speaking. They foster unlikely friendships.

“You spend so much time with them for the shows and stuff and you earn their trust so then you can do anything you want with them,” said Whittaker about his relationship with his chickens.

Whittaker's favorite part is holding them upside down to show off their wings and cleanliness. Plus, 4H gives Whittaker and Reininghaus a reason to keep kidding around.