Nebraska Extension 4-H Volunteer Newsletter - January 2017

In the Spotlight for January!

  • 4-H Volunteer Screening

  • 4HOnline Enrollment

  • Club Activity: Communicating

  • Horse Stampede

  • Special Garden Project

  • Quilts of Valor

  • Building Officer Teams

  • UNL Campus Visit

4-H Volunteer Screening

The 4-H program in Nebraska supports the Positive Youth Development model for delivering youth programs. One of the core principles of Positive Youth Development is creating a safe environment, where youth have a sense of belonging. To help foster a safe environment, volunteers are required to pass a back ground check by Health and Human Services through the completion of a confidential Volunteer Screening Form.

A volunteer screening must be completed for all persons working one-on-one or in a non-public setting with 4-H youth who are of legal age, which is 19 years old, in Nebraska. The form can be found within the registration information completed by volunteers through the 4honline portal. It is important to note, the Volunteer Screening Form will need to be printed out, completed, and mailed to Health and Human Services.

A volunteer will initially be screened when they sign up as a volunteer and then be re-screened every four years by Extension districts. All current volunteers will be required to participate in the re-screening process regardless of when they completed their initial screening. It is possible for a volunteer to completed their initial screening in 2016 and then be asked to complete the district wide re-screening in 2017. It may seem redundant, but this re-screening rotation ensures that volunteer records are kept up-to-date and the program environment remains safe. Notifications will be given to volunteers with instruction on how to complete the re-screening processes.

Just a reminder, UNL reserves the right to limit or reject an individual’s participation in the 4-H program. Any misrepresentation or omission of facts requested on the Volunteer Screening Form is cause for denial as a 4-H volunteer. Failure to cooperate in such screening will disqualify any volunteer from service.

If you are a volunteer, you will be asked to complete this form, we hope that you understand why we are screening and will help us keep the youth of Nebraska safe. If you have any questions about this our screening policy or need help completing the requirement, contact your local extension office.

4HOnline Enrollment - Tips & Tricks

Big image

So you want to be involved in 4-H but are not sure of where to start. One of the easiest things to do is to get enrolled with The process is completely simple and very similar to setting up any other online profile.

To begin:

  • Create one profile per HOUSEHOLD
  • So that means even if your children have different last names but they all live within the same household all their information can be kept in the same spot. But this also means that cousins or any extended family members need their own household profiles.
  • Pick a county
  • Where you are planning to participate in 4-H, not necessarily the county in which you live.
  • Email address
  • Make sure it’s one that you use often because for email use this will be how your county office contacts you. If you do not have an email address, simply type in an imitation one with an ending similar to
  • Password
  • Don’t worry, you can always reset it if you forget or the local extension office can reset it for you.

Contact information:

Please put in the most accurate contact information you have for your family. You also should designate what is your preferred mode of communication. Usually this is an indicator of how you will receive the county newsletter but you will often still get information in both forms for different occasions.

Member Enrollment:

  • Can be a youth or an adult
  • You can repopulate the contact information for multiple family members.
  • The contact information remains the same for easy re-enrollment.
  • Code of Conduct
  • It is HIGHLY important that the child and parent are the ones reading this information and typing their names, as if they were actually signing a hard copy.
  • It is recommended that you fill out the health form section but it is not required unless you are attending specific activities.
  • Choose the club or clubs to which you belong. Or simply choose independent if you are not affiliated with a club.
  • For each club, select the projects you are planning on taking throughout the coming 4-H year.
  • You may be asked to pay county dues or enrollment fees at this time with a credit card.

You are officially enrolled either as a youth or an adult volunteer in the system. Just remember that you can change any of the contact information at any time throughout the year. Continue to check back on this site if your county posts important information, such as their newsletter.

Congratulations and welcome to another year with Nebraska 4-H.

Club Activity: Communicating & Public Speaking

Big image

The ability to speak in front of others is most often a long term benefit of 4-H according to Alumni surveys. Todays’ 4-H member has so many chances to sharpen their speaking skills through 4-H Speech/PSA contest, Presentation Contest, Job Interview Contest, Oral Reasons, Club Officer, and Interview Judging opportunities.

Several simple techniques to introduce the concept of sharing ones thoughts and opinions without the 4-H member dreading the idea of giving a speech can be your club meeting project, and a great introduction to the world of speaking.

One might be called the Brown Bag Speech. You start with a paper grocery bag (paper helps hide the contents) and gather a variety of items from your house. These might include a hairbrush, roll of tape, cup or glass, clothes pin, rubber ball, paperclip, etc. When the time comes at the meeting, have each member grab one item by feel only, from the bag. After everyone has their ‘subject’ instruct them that they are to make a list of at least 5 positive and 2 negatives associated with this item. They can write these in sentence form if they wish. One by one go around the room and have them stand and recite the attributes they thought of. Depending upon the age of the members you can instruct them to make this a short speech using the list to tell us about the item selected. With younger members you may wait until the next meeting to go the next step with making the lists into a speech, with a new item of course.

A variation of this may be some pictures from magazines, of things, or places. A collection of scenery pictures, can also create the extended speech. Youth might share thoughts of where the picture they selected was taken, why might they visit this site, and how they could get to this place.

These are simple introductory steps to introduce the 4-H’er to gathering thoughts (both pro and con), and sharing them in an organized way to their friends and peers.

The same method might be used with everyday items to begin the first presentation for your members. Have them share ways (both conventional and abstract) the items could be used. For example a hairbrush can help remove the tangles, but used with a hair dryer styles the hair, and even become a back scratcher for that hard to reach itch. (Haven’t we all used masking tape as a clothes lint remover?)

Like all skills and abilities, youth will have varying levels of success, but all will gain a degree of comfort to help them gather their thoughts and share them in front of the neighbors, City Hall, or other groups or situations.

4-H Contests: Horse Stampede

Big image

The Horse Stampede is an annual event held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus in the spring. This year the 4-H Horse Stampede will be held on Saturday, April 1st. This event is designed for horse enthusiasts that may not own horses. The contests include public speaking, demonstration, quiz bowl, art and photography. The youth have the opportunity to compete as an individual or as a team. The contest allows youth to learn more about proper horse care, while having fun. The top purple in the senior division of the Public Speaking Contest, the Demonstration Contest, and the Quiz Bowl may then attend the national or multi-state competition. This event is held in conjunction with the Companion Animal Challenge. The Companion Animal Challenge includes the Demonstration Contest, Art and Photography Contest, Skill-a-thon Contest and Quiz Bowl.

As a club leader you may be thinking there is no way I have enough time to help my members prepare for this contest. Below are some simple tips to incorporate them into your monthly meetings. One great way to help your members get started on with the public speaking contest is to take a meeting to help the youth write their speech or demonstration. There are some great resources at

Maybe you want to start with the Photography or Art Contest. As a leader you could have your members bring cameras to a meeting. At the beginning of the meeting you could go over a few camera tricks and then take a field trip to a horse farm or one of your members’ houses that have horses. If your group is artistic, you could have an art party where they could create horse related images.

The most popular event at the Horse Stampede is the Horse Bowl. This event also takes the most time to prepare. As part of your club meetings you could incorporate hands on games that would help the youth to remember facts. One example would be to create a giant horse picture and make labels for the different horse parts, some of your Extension Offices might have this already. Then have the youth participate in a relay to see who can correctly name all the parts. Another example is to create jeopardy games that cover a variety of topics. One last idea would be to borrow the feed kit from your Extension Office. With this kit you could allow the youth to smell and feel the different feeds and then create this into a relay game as well.

Special Garden Project

Big image

The Nebraska Extension Special Garden Project is a way for youth from across the entire state with an interest in gardening to try growing new and unusual vegetables and flowers, obtain the tools necessary to be successful gardeners, and learn about the wide range of plant-science related careers.

Each year the Special Garden Project focuses on a different flower or vegetable. 2017 will focus on the Sunburst Summer Squash. Sunburst squash has yellow, scalloped shaped fruits with bright-green blossom ends. The squash is as attractive as they are tasty. The plants are very productive and are an All-America Selection winner for its early fruit production and for producing a large number of fruits per plant. On average it will take about 52 days from seeding date until the squash is ready to harvest.

Interested in participating? Youth enroll in the project through 4-H On-Line, then contact their local Extension office to let them know the number of youth that are interested and to get more details. Be sure to enroll youth in any gardening project (Gardening A, B…) and ‘Special Garden Project’ in order to exhibit projects at fair.

4-H’ers enrolled in the Special Garden Project will:

* Receive a ‘packet’ of Sunburst Summer Squash (one packet per youth) in March

* Receive a newsletter about:

  • Planting & growing squash
  • Squash problems & insects
  • Harvesting & using squash
  • Exhibiting squash

* Be able to enter this unique vegetable at County and State Fair

  • Fresh cut Sunburst Summer Squash must be entered in the ‘Yellow Summer Squash’ Class G-773-235
  • State Fair Special Garden Project Class G-775-001* (Eligible for State Fair)
  • Be on the lookout for other fun county only ways to exhibit this unique vegetable like a story, poem, or poster. Each county is different so be sure to check with your local Extension Office.

* In order to improve the program, please remind youth to participate in the evaluation either by hard copy or at: Youth who complete the evaluation are entered into win a gardening prize.

Questions? Contact Elizabeth Killinger at or 308-385-5088.

Quilts of Valor

“Today this quilt becomes YOUR story. Keep this quilt as a reminder of the thousands of men and women who are forever in your debt; it is our pleasure and privilege to honor you with a Quilt of Valor. Thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor.” With these words, Quilts of Valor are awarded to military personnel as they are wrapped in their quilt.

Quilts of Valor (Q of V) Foundation began in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, whose son was deployed in Iraq. She felt a panic for the dangers her son faced and dreamed of wrapping soldiers in a quilt. The mission of the Q of V Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. Nationally, over 151,000 Q of V have been awarded.

Nebraska 4-H Quilts of Valor began in 2011. 4-H youth and volunteers have created and donated an estimated 500 quilts, some awarded locally and some donated to the Q of V Foundation - and the program continues to grow. State Coordinator is Sara Kenny, with Eileen Krumbach, Phyllis Schoenholz and Judy Fletcher serving as area coordinators.

Nebraska 4-H youth, families and volunteers are invited to participate in this important community service effort. 4-H Quilts of Valor Guidelines give introduction to Q of V, size, batting, backing, binding, machine quilting, labeling, documentation, pillowcase (required for packing if going overseas), and your fair exhibit. Basic Requirements sheet is found at: .

4-H members and families can work independently or as a club to make a quilt. Find a skill-level appropriate pattern. When cutting fabrics, determine those youth who can safely cut with a rotary cutter. Club workdays are fun times to work together to complete the sewing. Stitch the official label to the back, available from Nebraska Q of V Foundation. Donations of fabric, batting or machine-quilting may be sought. Network with Legion or Auxiliary officials. Please report each Q of V that is awarded:

Quilts may be entered in a county fair and the Nebraska State Fair in the Citizenship, Quilt Quest, or Design Decisions projects. How about featuring your Quilts of Valor prior to the fair at the County 4-H Fashion Show.

Comments from recipients include, “I will treasure this quilt as long as I live.” “This quilt is so beautiful and so much love went into it.”


Civic engagement is an important piece of the 4-H experience. Please continue to make a difference and “make the best better” by sewing and awarding a Quilt of Valor.

Big image

You Have Elected Your Officer Team...Now What?

Big image

Electing officers in our 4-H clubs is a routine step to starting off the 4-H year. Now, it is important to build a strong bond between these members, especially in 4-H clubs who have officers that spread the gamut on age and interests.

How can you help your officer team understand that each of them brings unique strengths to the team?

“Pitfall” is an activity that allows you an opportunity to do just that. Club leaders can complete this activity with 8-40 participants, depending on the size of your tarp. You can determine the length of the exercise with different questions or adding in challenges (i.e. blindfolds on some participants, more holes, etc.)

Props: Tarp with holes cut in it, 15-20 Tennis Balls, Bucket

Objective: To transport the tennis balls to the bucket via the tarp.

Set Up: Set the tarp on the ground about 15-20 feet from the bucket.


  • Participants must hold the tarp with both hands throughout.
  • If a tennis ball falls through a hole, and not into the bucket, the group starts over from behind the start line.
  • A group cannot move to the next round unless all tennis balls from the current round are placed into the bucket at the same time.
  • The group has 15 minutes to complete this activity.
  • The group has a mandatory 2-minute planning period before the 15-minute timed period starts.

The tennis balls must start from the corner of the tarp.


The group picks up the tarp, holding only the edges as the facilitator places one tennis ball on any corner of the tarp. The group must then transport the tennis ball to the bucket via the tarp. If the tennis ball drops into the bucket before it falls to the floor the team gets one point. After each successful round, the facilitator adds a tennis ball to the tarp, increasing the team’s chances of scoring points.


Explain to the participants that the tarp is like working in a group and sometimes it can be difficult if there is no communication. Everyone has their own “pitfalls” and strengths and it is the responsibility of the team, to help balance those. Either way, if they work as a team and openly discuss their goals and communicate them effectively, they will have a much higher chance of achieving them.

To follow up ask the participants to relate their observations during the activities to their own experiences working with groups or their family. It is during these times that powerful stories and revelations are discovered.

*This activity was found at, retrieved on December 9, 2016.

UNL Campus Visit!

Big image

Contemplating which college to attend is a stressful decision that can impact your future. School is one thing, with teachers reminding you of deadlines for this and to study for that. You are constantly trying to calculate your GPA in your head or determining what ACT score you need for that scholarship. Mom wants you to stay close to home, Dad wants you to attend his alma mater, and your siblings don’t care, they just want your room when you leave.

Of all of the hints, tips, and tricks I have ever given a student about how to pick the school that they feel is right for them, one stands out above the rest.

Take. A. Campus. Visit.

I know what you just told yourself, trust me, I’ve heard them all before! There’s the “My sibling went there, so I’ve already seen campus.” The classic “we went to (high school extracurricular event) there when I was a sophomore, I feel like I know what it’s about.” It’s great that you have had experiences on college campuses before actually being in college, but all the answers on why they haven’t taken a visit miss the point of actually taking the visit. The visit isn’t about actually stepping on the property and seeing how pretty everything is. Although, yes those things are nice too. The campus visit experience is only about one thing…you.

During a campus visit, you not only see the campus itself, but YOU also get to discuss things you may be excited for (and see if those opportunities are available there) or things you are worried about (and see if those worries will be handled accordingly). You get to interact with current students that detail their experience on campus and hear it on a level you understand. Most importantly, however, you get to meet with professors in the area you want to study and see if that major truly is the one for you.

Taking a campus visit is about envisioning yourself at a school and spending all that time (and money) at a place that really cares about you as a student. Do yourself a favor, before investing your scholarships and loans at a school, invest your time and see if that school is right for you.

To set up your University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus visit, contact Mike Cooley at or 402-472-4445.

Big image