Nebraska Extension 4-H Volunteer Newsletter - February 2017

In the Spotlight for February!

  • Growth Goals & 4-H Grows Here (Alumni)

  • Introducing New Families to 4-H

  • Club Activity: Engineering a Hovercraft

  • Speech & Presentations

  • Youth for the Quality Care of Animals

  • Social/Emotional Needs of Youth

  • Youth Roles on 4-H Council

  • East Campus Recreation & Wellness Center

Growth Goals & 4-H Grows Here (Alumni)

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Nebraska 4-H currently reaches one in three youth through 4-H programming. Considering the amazing benefits youth experience through participation in 4-H programming, Nebraska 4-H anticipates reaching one in two youth by the year 2020. In order to achieve this goal, leadership of Nebraska 4-H asked counties to establish growth goals for their local 4-H programs beginning in 2014. These growth goals were meant to encourage and challenge 4-H programs to think of creative and innovative ways to engage more youth in 4-H programming. While reaching one in two youth may initially seem overly ambitious, fifty four counties currently reach one in two youth through their 4-H programs. This is due, in large part, to the great work of our 4-H alumni and volunteers.

Recently, the National 4-H Council announced their own growth goal of reaching ten million youth through 4-H programming by 2025. They asked all states to begin setting growth goals to help them achieve this. It is great to see Nebraska 4-H setting the standard for growth and leading the way as we work to give as many youth as possible the opportunity to make their best, better.

How can you be a part of Nebraska 4-H reaching one in two youth by 2020? Invite new members to join 4-H clubs, perform community outreach projects in the county, or invite your 4-H member’s teacher to utilize school enrichment programs in their classroom. Are you on social media? As you share great accomplishments of your 4-H program and use the hashtag #4Hgrowshere and #NE4H. Even if you are not directly involved in 4-H programming, share great 4-H memories or experiences that helped you make the best better. Growing the reach of Nebraska 4-H begins with volunteers and alumni sharing their stories and shining the spotlight on the life changing moments experienced in 4-H. Help Nebraska 4-H continue to lead the way to reaching one in two youth in counties of our great state and ten million youth nationally.

Introducing New Families to 4-H

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Being new to a group is something we have all experienced in the past or will likely experience in the future. Many times those new to a group have feelings of nervousness, worry or confusion. When first joining 4-H, members and their families may experience some of these feelings as they dive into learning new skills, experiencing new things and learning all the 4-H lingo. One of the benefits of being a 4-H member is having a sense of belonging to a 4-H club. As leaders, there is role you can play bridging the feeling of newness families feel when they first join 4-H and/or your club to them feeling a sense of belonging to the club.

Doing get-acquainted or ice breaker activities is one of the ways to welcome new families into your club and to encourage current members to get to know the other members better. Consider adding an activity of this nature to your club meeting agenda for each club meeting. Focus on activities that really encourage each member to talk and highlight what they like/don’t like, experiences they have had and generally get the youth up and moving.

It is equally as important for new families to talk with Extension staff as it is with leaders as they begin their 4-H experience. Leaders should consider the following when meeting or talking with new families.

  • Club meeting dates/times.
  • Expectations for families involved in 4-H and in their club.
  • How information is shared through the Extension office and the club. i.e. newsletters, email, text, others.
  • Plan a get-acquainted or ice breaker activity for each meeting.
  • Encourage family involvement in the club.
  • Consider assigning a new family to an experienced family in your club to further encourage a welcoming environment.
  • Encourage the new family to read their 4-H newsletter each month and ask questions if they have them.

Leaders should be cautioned not to overload families with more information than they can digest for one meeting. Consider giving them the information that is needed for the time of year you are meeting with them.

Inevitably, leaders play an important role in creating a welcoming environment for members, both new and experienced. Purposefully creating a welcoming environment will increase members’ and families’ sense of belonging.

Club Activity: Engineering a Hovercraft

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Two, Four, Six, Eight, let’s get this thing to levitate! Hovercrafts, 4-H, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and more, all in this activity for your club!

This activity focuses on the engineering of hovercrafts. So what is engineering? Engineering is the application of mathematics and science in order to invent, innovate, design, research and improve the process! As you are creating this project, share these engineering concepts and integrate these words often!

Hovercrafts are a vehicle or craft that travels over a surface of land or water on a cushion of air provided by a downward blast. The use of aerodynamics, science and engineering is taught when doing this experiment with youth! This is a fun experiment where the youth are the engineers.

Materials you need:

  • Styrofoam Plate or old CD
  • Plastic Bottle Cap
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Glue
  • Balloons


To create your hovercraft start by poking a hole in the center of the Styrofoam plate with the ballpoint pen. Then make another hole in the bottom of the bottle cap. (This will need to be done by an adult and with scissors and/or other cutting utensil.) Glue the bottle cap to the plate lining up the holes. Blow up a balloon and twist the opening so that the air doesn’t come out. Stretch the opening of the balloon over the cap making sure the opening of the balloon lines up with the hole in the bottle cap and plate. Place your hovercraft on a smooth-flat surface and let go of the balloon. What will happen? Will the hovercraft glide across the surface on a cushion of air? Will it rise in to the air? Remember the air in the balloon has to go somewhere. So, it flows out of the balloon and goes under the plate. The layer of air under the plate takes up space to it keeps the plate and table from rubbing on each other. When objects rub against each other, they create friction. Friction drags on each object and slows it down. The hovercraft has very little friction because it rests on air.

If something fails encourage the youth to keep trying, re-designing and adjusting until they are successful! Change one thing at a time, like the size of the balloon, the kind of plate or flat object, (plastic plate, paper plate, old CD) that is used, or even the glue.

Engineering is all about learning new things, experimenting, and innovating the perfect design! This is the perfect project to integrate 4-H STEM into your club meeting!

4-H Contests: Speech & Presentations

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Need a quick activity for your club meeting? Try incorporating public speaking and demonstration activities into your meeting by having a few members give a short presentation. This is a great first step in preparing 4-H members for county and State Fair speech and presentation contests. Just like other contests, county speech and presentation contest classes mirror State Fair contests; making the contests easy to prepare for. Presentations can be one of the most valuable skills learned in 4-H; both speaking in front of people, but also demonstrating what you’re trying to communicate.

There are three contest areas for youth to enter: illustration presentations, teaching presentations, and digital video- 4-H film fest. All three areas can be done as individual presentations or as a team presentation consisting of two youth.

Illustration presentations give youth the opportunity to give a formal presentation, using visual aids, that shows the audience how to do a task. These presentations should have a general 4-H theme such as a project area, 4-H experiences, favorite things about 4-H and many others! Participants can use posters, PowerPoints or other forms of digital media as visual aids as they present to the judge.

Teaching presentations give youth the opportunity, as an individual or a team of two, to actively engage a moving audience for thirty minutes, by showing or telling, the audience how to do something. This happens while the participant is answering questions from the audience as they pass. This area of the contest is meant to be portrayed like a trade show exhibit presentation, meaning up to six different presentations will simultaneously be presented.

Digital video-4-H film fest is a great opportunity for youth to showcase their digital video displays that showcase a recording, reproduction, or broadcasting of images put together in a short video. This area can also be for individual or a team of two participants. Digital videos can be entered in the areas of a video public service announcement (60 seconds in length), a narrative that tells a story (3-5 minutes), a documentary (3-5 minutes), or animation (3-5 minutes). All digital videos are displayed at the State Fair for the public to see.

Public speaking and presentation skills are abilities that never go out of style. For more information on your county speech and presentation contests, contact your local Nebraska Extension office or the website

Introducing: Youth for the Quality Care of Animals

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Nebraska 4-H will be making a transition in 2017 to the new Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) course. This new course will fulfill the livestock quality assurance requirements for eligibility to exhibit livestock at any 4-H show and will also fulfill the Youth PQA requirement set by National Pork Producers.

This multi-specie (beef, dairy, dairy goat, meat goat, poultry, rabbit, sheep and swine), science-based educational program, offers access to every youth exhibitor ages 8 to 21, nationally. Annually, youth food animal producers raise thousands of food animals that contribute to the U.S. food supply. This contribution measures in the millions of pounds of consumable food animal products. Understanding how to produce a safe wholesome food animal product can only come from a comprehensive educational program focused on proper care and welfare of food animals.

YQCA will provide a common framework for youth food animal quality assurance programs that will enhance the educational experience of youth, improve the care of food animals and provide a higher level of food safety to consumers. This program will embrace the founding principles of food safety that all quality assurance programs cover, with added information address­ing animal welfare, such as daily health observations, proper use of medications, and establishing a valid Veterinary Client Patient Relationship (VCPR), to mention a few.

The national YQCA program will launch March 2017. The Nebraska Livestock Quality Assurance course will be available to youth who wish to complete their QA requirements prior to March. Youth who have enrolled in the Nebraska QA course prior to the launch of the new YQCA course will continue to have access to the course following the launch of the national course; however no new enrollments will be accepted following the March launch.

To enroll in the new YQCA course, youth will complete their enrollment through their personal account in 4HOnline. There will be an enrollment fee for YQCA which will be paid when youth enroll. Coupons are available to defray the enrollment expense to youth and may be purchased in any monetary increment counties prefer.

The Goals of YQCA:

  • Ensure safety and well-being of animals produced by youth for showing and for 4-H and FFA projects.
  • Ensure safe food supply to consumers.
  • Enhance the future of livestock industry by educating youth on these very important issues so they can become more informed producers, consumers and/or employees in the agriculture and food industry.

To learn more about the YQCA course, visit their website at

Understanding Social and Emotional Needs of Youth

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Social and emotional learning skills help to make good citizens, good learners and successful people. 4-H has integrated life skill development into content specific youth projects with the intent of helping youth develop skills that will influence multiple aspects of their health and well-being.

Social-emotional health and well-being involves the social, mental, and psychological aspects of an individual’s life. With the support of caring adults, youth can actively contribute to and enhance their social-emotional health and competence within the following areas:

  • Self-awareness—accurately assessing one’s feelings, interests, values, and strengths
  • Self-management—regulating one’s emotions to handle stress, control impulses, and persevere in overcoming obstacles
  • Social awareness—being able to take the perspective of and empathize with others
  • Relationship skills—establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation
  • Responsible decision making—making decisions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, appropriate social norms, respect for others, and likely consequences of various actions

So, can participation in a 4-H club make a difference in a young person’s social-emotional life? The answer is YES! One of the greatest benefits of 4-H clubs is the cross-age teaching that takes place. This occurs when 4-Hers share their skills and knowledge with youth who are either younger or older than them. Older and younger youth both benefit from cross-age teaching. Younger children respond enthusiastically to their peer’s behavior modeling, so rapport is established very quickly. Cross-age teaching is an effective way to support high impact social and emotional learning, both for the younger and older 4-H youth.

This is why it works:

  • Older youth form an identity around the role of being the teacher. Younger youth feel "at ease" with the older youth and display heightened participation in emotion-based activities.
  • The smaller age gap in cross-age teaching emphasizes social-awareness, as both the younger youth and the youth teachers tackle each other's strengths and limitations.
  • The younger youth observe positive role-model skills that they can immediately apply to other aspects of their lives.
  • Enriched relationship skills are created between younger and older youth.

In 4-H, social and emotional learning is not something that we have to work hard to embed into our programming. It is the nature of what we do -- it's already happening. How can you purposely incorporate cross-age teaching in your 4-H club?

Youth Roles on 4-H Council

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4-H Councils are known for providing support to Extension staff, 4-H families, and volunteers. 4-H Councils also assist in determining the direction of the local 4-H program and advocate for the 4-H program. Most 4-H Councils are made up both adult and youth volunteers who work together to accomplish the above mentioned goals. A couple questions that may come to mind when thinking about Council membership are what role to youth members entertain and what are some of the benefits of these youth/adult partnerships on 4-H Councils?

Being involved on the 4-H Council provides a great leadership opportunity for youth members. It is an outlet where youth can hold officer positions and can volunteer to head certain committees appointed by 4-H Councils. Youth have opportunity to take on additional responsibilities that they feel fit into their passion areas. Youth are a part of the decision making process and have guidance from adults who genuinely care and have the same goals in mind. By serving in this role it is hoped that youth will enhance their communication skills both with adults and also with their peers, perceive themselves as someone who matters and can make a difference, and use their creativity and uniqueness to bring a new perspective to 4-H Councils and the local 4-H Programs.

It’s not always easy to engage in youth/adult partnerships and may take some patience and practice, but the end result may be something bigger and greater than what already exists. Montana 4-H gives the following five tips for working with youth as partners:

  1. Make sure that you don’t hold the young person to a stricter standard than the adults. All members should be treated equally and be on a level playing field.
  2. Treat youth as individuals. Everyone has their own opinions and are entitled to them.
  3. Be careful about interrupting. Let youth finish their thoughts to defray from discouraging them to speak up.
  4. Remember that your role in a partnership is not to parent. This is an opportunity to give adults a different way to relate to youth and vice versa.
  5. Do not move to fast. Give youth time to figure things out and understand what is going on around them.

Take these tips as food for thought and remember “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future,” Franklin D. Roosevelt.

East Campus Recreation and Wellness Center

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Whether it is for a stress-relieving workout, a yoga class, a nutrition class in the demonstration kitchen or something as simple as grabbing a coffee, the newly renovated Recreation and Wellness Center on UNL’s East Campus has seen an increase in traffic.

The facility opened on July 13, 2015 with renovations expanding on the existing Activities Building constructed in 1926. The improvements not only doubled the amount of space available for students to use, but also brings an increase in options for students to fully utilize during their college experience. The nearly $15 million renovated space contains more new upgrades then one can count on both hands, to the delight of students, staff and faculty. There are 56 cardio machines arranged on two levels and free day-use lockers on three levels along with a centrally located elevator. Other features include: A Synrgy BlueSky 360 workout station which allows patrons to execute multiple body weight workouts outdoors, a new strength training area, group exercise studios and stretching areas. New, larger additions include two indoor gyms for pickup play, practice, or intramural competitions, a two-lane indoor walking/jogging track, and a golf simulator.

Many personal training options are available for students, as well injury/prevention care and massage therapy sessions. A coffee/smoothie corner operated by Scooters Coffee is also included.

The East Campus project is part of the "Yes 2 Better Rec Centers" referendum that was approved by UNL students in October 2010, which appropriated student fees to improve the quality of campus recreation facilities campus wide. The Recreation and Wellness Center on East Campus was the last of a five-year, $23 million renovation of campus wide recreation facilities that included the construction of the Outdoor Adventures Center as well as the renovation/expansion of cardiovascular and strength areas within the Campus Rec Center on City Campus.

If you would like a tour of this or other facilities on East Campus, contact Mike Cooley at or 402-472-4445.

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