Nebraska Extension 4-H Newsletter - June 2016

In the Spotlight for June!

  • Including All Youth In Meetings

  • 4-H Meetings that ROCK

  • The Power of Positive Thinking

  • Engaging Youth as Entrepreneurs

  • 4-H Outdoor Skills

  • 4-H Goat Showing Skills

  • Nebraska Summer Reading Program

  • Studying Mechanized Systems as a Career

Including All Youth In Meetings

Starting with the traditional 4-H motto, “learning by doing” is the best method for engaging children in their own learning. Experiential learning happens when a child thinks about what was learned during the activity, looks back at it critically, determines what was useful or important to remember from the activity, and uses this information in doing something else.

Leaders must to be organized and excited about what is happening during each meeting. This means intentional planning, providing age appropriate activities, organizing community service projects and crafts that will keep everyone’s attention. For example, if recycling is the topic of the meeting, have the younger children separate and hold the paper while the older 4-H members use the shredding machine. If planting flowers, allow the Clover Kids to put the plant in the hole and have older youth assist with covering the roots.

Develop opportunities for self-expression by having older 4-H members share stories about their favorite projects and 4-H experiences. Then allow the Clover Kids to bring and share something they are interested in. For example, they may bring their dog and share something about their dog.

4-H members need to know they are cared about and feel connected to the others in the group. Learning children’s names and greeting children warmly is especially important. Introduce their family or care givers to the entire club and create T-shirts or other identifying items that identifies belonging to the group.

Encouraging children to interact with each other during the meeting is also important. Start by having an older 4-H members be mentors to Clover Kids. The mentor can help explain parliamentary procedure to the younger member and help them when it’s time to vote by understanding their choices. Encouraging members to take time to listen to younger youth and help them share their ideas with the group when appropriate.

The challenge is keeping everyone’s attention during meetings. One way is to keep everyone involved.

4-H Meetings that ROCK!

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4-H is a positive youth development organization in which programs and activities are aimed at being purposeful towards the development of each youth participating in the program. And, we know our 4-H club members are busy youth. This means our 4-H club meetings need to be purposeful too!

As a 4-H club leader, how do you create a 4-H club meeting that rocks?

  • Give advance notice of meetings.
  • Have a set agenda and provide copies for members.
  • Give individual youth and/or families responsibility over certain aspects of the meeting (demonstration, host).
  • 4-H is “learn by doing” organization; incorporate a fun, educational activity or speaker. Hands on activities are the best options.
  • Plan a community service activity before, during, or after the meeting.
  • Announce plans for future plans
  • Set plans for the next meeting or activity.

Still have some questions about making your club meetings rock?

  • Ask for help! Parents, Extension staff, other community members to provide an education program, activity or lesson during a club meeting.
  • Utilize youth as officers and committee chairs. At the beginning of the 4-H year, elect youth officers and ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and/or resources they need to run the meetings.

Implementing these steps will ensure a successful and purposeful meeting for your 4-H club. Youth and families will continue to be involved if their time is well spent during club meetings!

Inspiring Gratitude in Our Youth

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Who ever thought that the way we think has such a big impact on our lives? Positive thinking sounds useful, and we have been taught since a young age to “be positive.” But it is more than a useful thought. Positive thinking is an emotional and mental attitude that focuses on the bright side and expects positive results. A positive outlook is an incredibly powerful asset to have, as positive thoughts breeds positive results. Benefits of a positive attitude include success, happiness, health, and believing you can overcome any obstacle.

Think of the people you know. Do you enjoy spending time with those that are positive, believe in themselves and others, and don’t give up? Or is your preference for someone who is a “negative Nancy” and doesn’t believe something can be accomplished? You tend to feel happier around someone who thinks positively rather than negatively. But how do you encourage and increase positive thoughts and actions?

There are countless ways to increase positive actions. Everyone will have a method that works best for them. Generally speaking, anything that sparks feelings of joy, contentment, and love create positive thoughts. As a 4-H leader, find things that you enjoy, your hobby or passion for example. Share it with your club. Youth will sense your joy and love for it and feed off your positive thoughts. However, that is not the only way.

Here are some other ways to increase your power of positive thinking.

  • Consciously replace negative thoughts with a constructive one. If the negative thought returns, replace it with a positive one.
  • Use positive words with both inner dialogues and to others.
  • Smile a little more, as it helps to think positively.
  • No matter what your circumstances currently are, think positively and expect only favorable results and situations.
  • Use your imagination to visualize only favorable and beneficial situations.
  • Give affirmations, to both yourself and to others.

In “The Power of Positive Thinking”, author Norman Vincent Peale said that the way to happiness is to “Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, and think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”

Take what Norman said, and give it a try. You might be amazed by the impact positive thinking has on your life!

(Sources: Sasson, Remez “The Power of Positive Thinking”,; Lejuwaan, Jordan “The Power of Positive Thinking”,

Engaging Youth as Entrepreneurs

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What did you want to be when you grow up? A Doctor, Lawyer, Firefighter, Fashion Designer, or Astronaut? Those are all viable options, but really, how many opportunities are there for these occupations within Nebraska? Probably not many. Why not think about a career in a broader sense? It doesn’t matter what field you are interested in, you can be an Entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship is oftentimes overlooked as a career option for most students in high school and college, but is considered the heartbeat of our urban and rural Nebraska communities. In order to change the way our youth view entrepreneurship, we must change the way WE view it. Take for example, how many of the Fortune 500 Companies were started by entrepreneurs? The answer is ALL of them! No matter if we are talking about starting a business, or social entrepreneurship, our world is changed by entrepreneurs every day.

Who are these young entrepreneurs? They range from the student in second grade standing behind his lemonade stand, to the college senior ready to begin their own business venture following graduation. They have a passion to create. In adults, 1 in every 10 Americans are entrepreneurs. However, the percentage may be slightly higher in youth, they are still a minority among their classmates. They may not be straight A or B students. Ever heard the saying “smart people work for visionary people”?

Entrepreneurship is best learned by doing it! The secret to creating world class entrepreneurs in Nebraska, is to provide youth with opportunities to be entrepreneurial, think creatively, and problem solve as often as possible. This could be done as simply as asking them to come up with a solution to a household problem, or as complex as creating their own business. Connect youth to the idea of entrepreneurship as a potential career. Visit successful entrepreneurs in the community, or encourage youth to gain work experience through local entrepreneurs. Develop strong interpersonal, professional, and technological communication skills. Allow youth to take personal ownership in their ideas. Don’t get hung up on the end-result, for the process is the most important part – teaching them the skills they need for future success.

There is no cookie-cutter method for engaging youth as entrepreneurs. Each entrepreneur is as different as their life experiences and interests. Always scan the horizon for creative problem-solving youth because: entrepreneurs are not born, they are made.

4-H Outdoor Skills

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Have you ever walked through the Science and Wildlife Project Areas at a county or state fair and thought to yourself, “I bet the youth in my club would enjoy this project.” However, you do not feel comfortable teaching the topics? We have a solution for you…The Outdoor Skills Program. In 2009, the Nebraska Game and Parks and Nebraska Extension initiated the Outdoor Skills Program with the overall goal of aspiring youth to be more involved in outdoors. Across the state, youth involved in the program are having fun learning new outdoor techniques, as well as science through fun activities, projects, exploration, games and songs. The program is designed to be taught by volunteer instructors with all levels of outdoor experience….YOU!

The current curriculum is divided into four sections with a variety of topics to influence difference interests. While the curriculum is divided by grade levels, the lessons are easily adaptable for all ages.

Kindergarten-2nd Explore the Wetlands, Frog & Toad Calls, Scents ID, Texture Scavenger Hunt, Birding and Be An Animal

3rd and 4th Camouflage, Elements of Habitat, Fishing, Hiking, Insects, Mapping and Wildlife Identification

5th and 6th An introduction unit with a Jeopardy game, Biodiversity complete with tracks and scat, Birds, Camping, Fishing, Geocaching, and Turkeys.

7th and 8th Boating, Deer Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Cooking

Each of the grade levels can be improvised and used in a variety of settings. Lessons range from 10 minutes to a full day of activities. There are even fair projects associated with most of the lessons.

With each topic comes a “kit”. A kit would involve most of the items needed to successfully teach a lesson. For instance, in the Birding kit, you would find a lesson plan, 12 sets of binoculars, laminated pictures of birds, bird ID books, and a bird song player. Some topics will need you to provide one or two items, but the items are minimal and clearly noted in the curriculum so you have a chance to prepare.

There are several curriculum kits located throughout the state. Kits are FREE for volunteers who have been successfully trained with the curriculum. If you have not been trained to use the curriculum, but are interested, please contact your local Extension Office for the next available training. Extension staff, if trained, in your county may be interested in partnering with you as well.

The Outdoor Skills Curriculum is an easy and fun way to teach your youth about the outdoors and you don’t have to be a wildlife biologist to do it!

4-H Goat Showing Hints, Tips & Tricks

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The season for goat shows will come up quickly so here are some hints on starting your project off right. Keep in mind the breed of your goat and whether it is a meat or dairy animal as they have different expectations.

Animal Health

Be sure to vaccinate all goats, especially new goats brought into your program. Check regularly for signs of fungus, ringworm, sore mouth and other problems and administer medications as needed. Keep all medications on hand for when necessary and work with your veterinarian on a herd health plan. Also make sure you keep detailed and accurate records to ensure proper care for your animals.

Feed and Nutrition

All goats should have access to fresh, clean water and quality feeds. Use a balanced ration specifically formulated for goats (meat goats 15-18% protein and only 10-15% fiber) rather than a general livestock or sheep feed. A good rule of thumb is 2 lbs of feed per head per day. For meat goats, most of the feeds have a higher concentrate with less roughage and while using these complete feeds, families showing goats often try to get them to eat as much as they can. This causes the goats to get a touch of acidosis and go off feed. Be aware of this and adjust accordingly. Dairy goats that are lactating or growing should have access to high quality alfalfa hay and an adequate amount of grain depending on their lactation. Goats on a maintenance diet should have access to a pasture or good quality grass hay.


When washing use a mild soap and rinse and dry the animal thoroughly. A stiff brush is important to have your tack box. Brushing removes all of the dead hair and dirt. Clipping should happen 3-5 days ahead of the show. It allows the hair time to even out giving the goat a fresher look. A pair of electric clippers equipped with either a 20-- 23-tooth comb work best. Small animal clippers may be needed to clip delicate areas. For dairy goats, a standard hair head works well for clipping the body and a 10 blade clipper works best for clipping heads and legs. Dairy should have their whole bodies clipped including udders to show off shape and structure.


Presentation means a lot in showing goats their full potential so prepare for the show by working with your animal daily. Exercise is important for both toning muscle and as practice working with your animal. Start out by halter breaking to start the gentling process. After it begins to calm down, you can start leading and eventually progress to a chain, collar or no lead. A standard chain collar placed behind the jaw works great. A meat goat should be taught to brace, or naturally tense it’s muscles, when handled. With dairy and other goats bracing is not necessary. Goats should be presented with their head up high and neck at a 90 degree angle to their shoulders, feet set square under their body, forming a box like figure.

The most important tip for any livestock project is to ask questions. Many volunteers and educators are happy to help you succeed in your projects. For more in depth information go to to find goat showing resources to help you along the way.

Nebraska Summer Reading Connections

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The Nebraska 4-H Summer Reading Connections program is in its 3rd year and aims to connect 4-H curriculum to the Collaborated Summer Library Program theme. The primary goals of the program are to provide 4-H youth development opportunities for youth, educational resources to volunteers, and to spark an interest in 4-H programs. The program reaches out to youth where they live and interact to engage them in life skill development through the framework of 4-H and positive youth development.

This year’s summer reading theme is On Your Marks, Get Set, READ! and lessons have been developed that tie directly to 4-H Healthy Living. There are a series of 4 lessons created to reach youth grades K-2 and grades 3-6. They can be used in their entirety or can be customized to meet the needs of the youth that volunteers work with.

These lessons are all highly engaging and tie directly to 4-H curriculum and projects that can be exhibited at the fair. Each lesson features books to enhance learning and physical fitness activities to get youth up and moving.

This year’s lesson themes are:

Ready, Set READ a Recipe featuring healthy snacks

Along with following a recipe, during this session youth will learn how to read a label and use that information to build a healthy snack which contains two food groups and a limited number of fat calories.

Ready, Set Think Your Drink featuring healthy beverages

Sugar is in many of the beverages that youth consume on a daily basis. During this lesson they will discover the amount of sugar in many of their favorite beverages and also why sports drinks are not as good as water in replacing fluids lost in your body.

Ready, Set Fill Your Plate featuring MyPlate

During this session youth will gain an understating of the digestive system and the way that the human body digests food. After learning about MyPlate they will practice creating their own healthy menus.

Ready, Set Use Your Senses featuring Sensory Science and Tongue Mapping

Your senses play an important role in the decisions you make in regards to food. Youth will practice being food scientists as they conduct various experiments using their senses.

Although these lessons are designed to work in partnership with local libraries, 4-H volunteers are strongly encouraged to use them as educational lessons at club meetings. These lessons can be taught at any time during the year. To learn more about the 4-H Summer Reading Connections program and how you can be involved, contact your local Extension office.

Mechanical Systems Management

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Do you know students who enjoy working with tools, machinery or technology? Is taking something apart and putting it back together a hobby for them? Do they get excited to build, create or improve mechanical objects? Then the Mechanized Systems Management program might be for you!

The Mechanized Systems Management program at UNL includes hands-on course work in power and machinery systems, processing and handling, and sensors and controls. These classes are combined with business and agriculture courses to manage equipment systems in a variety of industries related to food, fuel, and water. The program also helps students develop problem-solving skills including managerial, business, mechanical, and systems analysis skills. Management skills can be applied to managing machines, natural resources, people and money in engineered systems in Nebraska and throughout the world. Businesses thrive when the whole system of equipment is optimized, not just individual machines, and there is a growing need to manage the increasingly complex and sophisticated technical systems along with personnel issues in agriculture and agribusiness. At UNL, practical courses emphasize management skills and efficient use of our soil, water, and energy resources.

The Mechanized Systems Management program provides access to modern, well-equipped laboratories, and real life situations. A demand for graduates who can work in these areas is high—and salaries are too! Equipment testing, plant operations management, technical support and product marketing are just a few career possibilities for students in this program.

To learn more about UNL’s Mechanized Systems Management program, contact Deepak Keshwani at or 402-472-6714.

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