Nebraska Extension 4-H Volunteer Newsletter - June 2021

Published & Edited by: Nebraska Extension - Thurston County Jennifer E. Hansen, Stacey Keys, & Samantha Beutler

In the June Spotlight!

  • Opportunity 4 All!
  • State 4-H Public Speaking Contest
  • Importance of Service Learning for the 4-H Club
  • YOU Can Start a 4-H Rabbit Project!
  • Improve wellbeing by Being Outside? There's an App for That!
  • Cameras, Phones, and Drones...Oh My!
  • Quilt Other Than Fabric
  • C.Y. Thompson Library Renovations Provide New Facilities for the Campus Community

Opportunity 4 All! - By Stephanie Thorson

In 4-H, we believe that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. Fifty-five million kids face a widening opportunity gap in America. Some of the primary causes of this gap are race, parents’ earnings, and where youth live. Unlike the “achievement gap,” which refers to disparities in what youth accomplish, the “opportunity gap” is based on inequities or differences in how resources are distributed, and therefore impacting a youth’s ability to succeed. These inequities can lead to less investment in schools, afterschool programs and community services, leaving youth with unequal access to education, technology, healthy foods, and mentoring relationships. Youth today are especially struggling in the areas of mental health, education and employability.

With the recent pandemic increasing the challenges that so many youth face, your role as a 4-H leader or volunteer is all the more important! As a caring and responsive adult in the lives of youth, you can make a difference that will help narrow the gap in opportunities and positively impact the outcomes for all youth. According to a report titled “Beyond the Gap” from the National 4-H Council, “Engaging youth in defining their experiences of equity and opportunity, and authentically including them in creating solutions, is the most powerful demonstration of PYD [Positive Youth Development] in action.” (National 4-H Council, 2020).

One effective way that you can help is to promote and facilitate youth voice. Youth voice is the power that youth have to give input and make decisions that affect themselves and others. Promoting youth voice is not just letting go and giving youth full control of the situation. It is a process of intentionally listening to youth, being invitational, building relationships, assisting their development of decision-making skills and supporting them in their efforts to reach their goals. A great way to intentionally listen is to ask youth for their input and to work with them in deciding how to improve authentic youth engagement.

Try this survey tool with some thoughtful questions to get the discussion started with youth:

Here’s 2 more practical ways that you can help:

#1. Take the pledge. Join us at and take the pledge to make every kid’s potential count.

#2. Be informed. Click connect at to stay up to date with the National 4-H Council and your state 4-H on the efforts to help eliminate the opportunity gap for all youth.

State 4-H Public Speaking Contest - by Debra Walnofer

Public Speaking is an amazing skill and through the 4-H Public Speaking Contest, youth have an opportunity to write a Speech or a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that incorporates the topic of 4-H and deliver it to an audience. The 4-H Public Speaking Contest helps youth develop skills for communicating about current issues to real audiences, learn how to organize and prepare a speech, develop speech delivery skills, learn how to present themselves to others, and develop self-confidence.

In 2020 as UNL extension moved away from districts the state 4-H program also moved away from district/regional contests. Instead of regional speech contests a statewide Speech Contest was held in Lincoln as part of the PASE/Life Challenge experience in June. County public speaking contests continued to operate as they had in the past.

For this year after participating at the county level, five contestants in age divisions (intermediate and senior) both in speech and PSA categories will be selected to advance to the State Public Speaking Contest held in Lincoln on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Following the state contest, winners will be invited to showcase their speeches at the Nebraska State Fair.

Eligibility to participate in the State Public Speaking Contest:

  • Youth must be currently enrolled in 4-H.
  • Youth must be selected at their County Public Speaking Contest to compete in the State Public Speaking Contest.
  • Youth may participate in both the speech and PSA categories.
  • Previous state winners in speech or PSA’s are no longer eligible to compete in the state contest.
  • Only individuals may compete in the speech or PSA competition at the state level.

Age Divisions

(4-H Age: the age of the youth as of January 1 of the current year)

  • Intermediate: 4-H Age 11-13
  • Senior: 4-H Age 14-18

Recognition and Awards

Youth participating in the intermediate age division will receive a ribbon placing. The top five competitors will be awarded medals.

All youth participating in the senior age division will receive a ribbon placing. The top five competitors in each of the four groups will advance to the final round. Finalists will deliver their speeches again and the medalists will be named along with an overall state winner. Following the contest, winners will be invited to showcase their speeches at the Nebraska State Fair.

For more information and resources regarding the 4-H Public Speaking and PSA Contest go to

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have your 4-H voice heard!

Importance of Service Learning for the 4-H Club - By Jaki Zahourek

Big picture

Pre-pandemic many 4-H clubs were active visiting nursing homes or volunteering at their local humane society. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic our 4-H Clubs are still active in sewing facemasks, writing cards for shut-ins, or creating hygiene bags for their local homeless shelter. In other words, 4-H Clubs across the nation are participating in community service projects. As we know, 4-Hers learn-by-doing. So, are our 4-H clubs also involved in service learning? What is service learning?

Service learning is a type of experiential learning where youth complete or participate in a project and then reflect or learn from the experience. Many 4-H Clubs have worked together to sew facemasks and donate them to their local health department, hospital, or any organization in need. This project would be an example of community service. 4-H Clubs could have an expert speak to them about what PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is, the importance of wearing it, and explain to them why there is such a demand during the pandemic. Combining the sewing and donating of the facemasks with an expert speaker prior to the project would be service learning. By adding a learning value to community service projects, 4-Hers can connect lessons to real world applications which allows them to explore the community and world around them.

By allowing your 4-Hers to be the center of their learning they can see the needs of their community and understand how important the value of giving back is by learning from their experiential project. Try adding these components to your next club service-learning activity:

  • Youth Voice—Include youth in the complete planning process. Youth will be able to take more away from the experience when they are actively taking lead.
  • Community Need—Take a scope of your community for needs that your project/group may be able to meet. Youth and adults will be able to learn more through the service-learning experience when they are meeting a need in the world around them.
  • Learning—Determine learning objectives for the project and plan a lesson/experience to meet the objective.
  • Service—Once planned with youth voice and adult assistance. Youth and adult participants should engage in the service experience. Ensure that you have acquired all supplies you may need for the day, that all goals are set up and each participant has a clear understanding of their role in the experience.
  • Reflection—Carve out time to reflect on the “WHY” of your service-learning project and reiterate what was learned.
  • Recognition—It is important that we celebrate the successes of our youth and adult volunteers. Recognition can be a simple thank you to all those involved or a celebration for the successes of the service-learning experience.

YOU Can Start a 4-H Rabbit Project! - By Kate Pulec

The rabbit project is a great animal project to start with in 4-H! Rabbits are versatile animals and there are many different breeds that can fit various living situations. Whether you live in an urban or rural setting, want to keep your rabbits indoors or outdoors; rabbits are flexible to what might work best for your 4-H family.

Life Skills Through Rabbits

The 4-H Rabbit project and contests can also be used to learn various life skills, including:

Public speaking and communicating with others

  • Through contests like showmanship and judging contests, youth can discuss and display their knowledge with the judge.
Planning, organizing, and decision making
  • Whether it is building a nesting box, making an educational poster or other rabbit related static exhibit, youth have the opportunity to plan and organize their projects.
Record keeping, observing and comparing alternatives
  • Through nutrition, health care and basic animal husbandry, youth will learn how to read and understand a feed tag, compare products and observe and record the results of what works best for their project.

What you need


  • There are currently 49 different recognized rabbit breeds! So the first task will be to study the different rabbit breeds and consider what rabbit size and temperament would work best for your project. Talk to a local reputable breeder, or visit a local rabbit show. Another great resource for rabbit breed information and recommendations is the American Rabbit Breeders Association website (
Housing and Supplies:
  • While the size and type of cage or housing might look different depending on what breed of rabbit and where they are being kept, most of the supplies needed for rabbits can be found at local farm supply stores, pet supply stores, farmers cooperative or even Walmart.
  • The basic supplies needed include: a cage or housing unit, bedding, water bottle, food dish, pellet food and/or hay and grooming supplies including a nail trimmer.
Looking for more information on how to complete this project but don’t know where to start? Contact your local Extension office and see what local opportunities and contests they might have for your area.

Additional learning resources: The Nebraska 4-H program and National 4-H curriculum also offer online learning and project books to help guide both youth and leaders through the rabbit project including:

Improve wellbeing by Being Outside? There's an App for That! - By Tracy Ensor

Did you know? Spending time outdoors is one simple way to improve our overall health and wellbeing. Studies have shown that time spent outside in nature is linked to increases in self-control, mental attention, and physical activity. With such great benefits, getting outside should be an easy choice.

But with increasing amounts of time spent indoors and on screens for school, work, and fun, finding ways to incorporate outside time into our lives can be difficult. American youth are spending an average of 7.5 hours per day in front of a screen. With so much time spent online, finding simple ways to be outdoors is important.

To entice screen-loving youth to get outside, try incorporating apps into your explorations. There are so many to explore! From treasure hunting to citizen science, there is an app to inspire you (and your youth) to head outdoors to play. Listed below are apps to help you get started.

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunting adventure where you try to find hidden items or “caches” hidden by fellow geocache enthusiasts. Use the app to choose a cache, search for and locate your chosen cache in the real world, then share with the global community by logging your find. Keep your eyes open for intriguing plants, wildlife, or habitat while you search to increase the learning during your game.

Nature scavenger hunts are always fun and can be designed to help scientists. When you use apps to identify the things you find, scientists can combine your observations with others to form data sets that are used to inform conservation and management decisions. Using these apps to help you to identify what you find increases your knowledge, and helps scientists increase theirs too. Try eBird for birds, the iNaturalist app for general plant and animal ID, or search out other existing citizen science projects available on butterflies, bats, bumblebees, salamanders, and more.

Finally, using apps to encourage outside time can easily translate into 4-H projects. The Conservation and Wildlife project area contains guidelines on how to design a project to demonstrate learning in this area. Displays can be designed to show any aspect of wildlife, wildlife habitat, or related conservation in categories such as mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles/amphibians. For specific project ideas, refer to the Wildlife Conservation project booklets found at the UNL Marketplace:

Which app will you use to get outdoors and enjoy the benefits of being outside?

Cameras, Phones, and Drones...Oh My! - By Amber Willard

Do you have a 4-H’er who loves taking pictures? Or maybe they are interested in learning to use a camera, whether that be a digital camera, cell phone camera, iPad, or drone. Then the updated 4-H Photography Curriculum is the perfect guide for you to easily help them learn about photography. Like the previous Photography curriculum, the updated curriculum is divided into three units, each contained within its own project book. One of the pretty cool things about this updated curriculum is that it is meant to cover all types of photography: digital cameras, film cameras, cell phones, tablets, and even drones!

All three project books are designed for youth to explore and complete under the guidance of a Project Helper. This can be a parent, relative, knowledgeable adult, project leader or family friend. Each book is divided into project areas, then there are multiple activities within each project area. Learner outcomes and a background section are also provided for the project helper in each activity section. The information and activities in each of the books is arranged to follow the experiential learning model. The project helper begins by helping the child create and carry out a project plan. This is followed by helping the child focus on each activity in his/her project plan through a photoshoot. The project helper provides support and feedback for the learning taking place and conducts debriefing sessions to determine what was done well, what could have been done differently, and where to go from there. This debriefing session is an opportunity for the youth to share what they did with their project helper and process the experience through questions that allow the learner to generalize and apply their knowledge and skills gained in the activity. The project leader is also encouraged to help the learner extend the experience by following one of the Challenge Yourself activities in each activity section.

When leading youth of different levels, the project helper can show all the youth several groups of one to three photos and have the youth discuss them, based on the skills they are focusing on. The leader is then able to discuss each youth’s project plan with them, then turn the child loose to go take pictures based on their plan. After taking pictures, the youth will come back to the group and their leader for feedback and debriefing. This feedback can come from the other youth in the group, not just the project helper. The leader can then walk the child through the Challenge Yourself activities and turn them loose again to take pictures.

Another simple idea for project helpers is to encourage youth to create a photo journal or scrapbook to help the learner celebrate what they did well and see what could have been done differently. This will help the learner become better at assessing their own work without the volunteer needing to do a lot of the work.

Finally, there is information in the Unit 1 project book about how to set up a photo judging contest prior to county fair. This could be done to celebrate the work of many youth across the county, at all levels, and allow them to put their evaluating skills to the test to help them evaluate their own photos prior to fair. You could have each youth contestant submit 1-2 of their best photos from the year, retain photos from the previous year’s fair, or find your own photos to use. However this contest gets setup, there are a lot of learning benefits for the youth who participate.

Quilt Other Than Fabric - By Sonya Glup

As a club leader, you play an important role in educating members. Coming up with an activity for your members doesn’t need to be stressful, time consuming or involve a lot of supplies.

In 2020, counties were faced with the cancellation of in person activities. To accommodate, many counties provided 4-H families with virtual opportunities. Not all adults feel comfortable with virtual activities, so another option to provide learning opportunities is the Grab and Go concept. Grab and Go has been around for many years, but definitely grew in popularity in 2020.

As a club leader, providing a Grab and Go option for your families can be fun and affordable. One area of 4-H with limited enrollment is Quilt Quest. Many people see Quilt Quest and think you have to sew to exhibit in this area. No sewing experience is needed for the class, “Quilt other than fabric”. This class can allow youth of all ages and skill level the opportunity to learn and exhibit a project at the fair.

Quilt other than fabric is a class where youth can research the many quilt blocks and use their creativity to construct a quilt block out of materials other than fabric.

At a minimum, youth would need one piece of 8.5x11 white paper (cardstock would be best) and some sort of art medium (colors, paints, markers, etc) to make a four square quilt block. Youth can use the medium of their choice to design their own “fabric” (paper). Youth will cut the paper into four squares (4”x4”). Two squares will be one print and the remaining two squares will be a different pattern to resemble the four square block.

You can also take advantage of using scrapbooking paper to complete this project. Give each member two different pieces of pattern or colored paper. Instruct them to research different quilt blocks on the internet or by interviewing a loved one who quilts and create their own quilt block pattern. Youth will need to cut their paper accordingly depending on the quilt block they chose to make. To finish the project, youth will want to frame and add appropriate supporting information to their project. Paper is only one option, challenge your youth to think of other materials to make their quilt blocks.

This Grab and Go project is perfect for all youth. Youth who love the arts can challenge themselves to using patterns with triangles. Youth who aren’t as comfortable in this area can chose simple square patterns.

Big picture

C.Y. Thompson Library Renovations Provide New Facilities for the Campus Community - By Rachel Ibach

The C.Y. Thompson Library on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus opened on January 25th after completing a $22.5 million renovation to increase student access to advanced technology, enhanced learning experiences, and modern facilities. Named in honor of brothers Roy and John Dinsdale, the library is home to the Dinsdale Family Learning Commons on the main floor of the building. The learning commons includes open study spaces, group study rooms, a fireplace lounge area, and the learning stairs where lectures and programs can be hosted. A café will open in the summer of 2021.

A new digital kiosk in the learning commons will be the home of the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement, Inc. (NHAA). Formed in 1916, the NHAA has honored nearly 140 individuals dedicated to preserving and improving Nebraska agriculture. The kiosk will include a search function to browse past honoree portraits, biographical information, date of induction, a personalized tribute, and much more.

The library includes a new entrance on the east side of the building into the lower level. The vast C.Y. Thompson Library Collection will be moved to their new home on this level in the summer of 2021. A new testing center in the lower level of the library makes it convenient to take exams on East Campus with safe lockers for students to store items and a private testing room for students with accommodations to utilize. Open study areas and group study rooms on this level provide a comfortable and quiet environment for a long study session.

The Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship program, a UNL Libraries active learning classroom, and more study spaces and rooms will be located on the top floor. Students and staff of the Engler program will have exclusive access to Engler’s classrooms, a kitchen, collaborative work areas, and Engler staff offices on this level. An after-hours access door for Engler facilities will be available for the program’s students. Open study areas and the UNL Libraries active learning classroom on this floor will be accessible to all students, faculty, and staff of the university.

Prospective students visiting the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) and East Campus receive guided one-on-one tours with a current student to explore the new library and other facilities on campus in addition to a personalized academic visit with the degree program of their choice. To schedule your visit to CASNR and East Campus contact Karen Francis at or 402-472-2942.

Big picture