Nebraska Extension 4-H Volunteer Newsletter - April 2019

In the April Spotlight!

  • Flood Response

  • Club Recognition

  • Grab & Go: Careers

  • Horticulture Judging Contest

  • State Fair Livestock Nomination/ID

  • Natural Disasters & Family Stress

  • Growing Leaders in 4-H

  • Turfgrass and Landscape Management

Flood Response - By Nebraska 4-H

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Nebraska is a True Leader. The state has more miles of river than any other state in the nation and is home to the largest aquifer. Due to recent rain, snow, and natural snowmelt occurring on top of frozen ground, our state has recently experienced historic flooding in numerous counties. The need for assistance is growing.

4-H, America's largest youth development organization, empowers young people to be true leaders who can endure through challenges, who know how to work well with others, and who will stick to a job until it gets done.

Nebraska 4-H calls all True Leaders to use their confidence, independence, resilience, and compassion, to assist in the flooding recovery efforts that are currently taking place across the state.

Below you will find resources to help you, your family, and community members, as you recover from the flood, assist with the recovery efforts, raise funds for disaster relief, or inspire kids to do more during the time of need.

Recovering from the Flood—The Flood's Impact On You

Find flood recovery information from Nebraska Extension: Flood Resources. New resources will continuously be added.

4-H'ers Helping 4-H'ers

4-H’ers Helping 4-H’ers funds are available to any Nebraska 4-H family who has been impacted by a disaster and has been recommended for support by a 4-H parent or guardian, 4-H volunteer, or 4-H alumni. Grants are limited to $100 for an individual and $500 for a family. There is no deadline to apply. Applications must be submitted electronically.

Assisting with Recovery Efforts

There will be a long road to recovery and many 4-H'ers will want to contribute to the flood recovery. As you consider what can be done to assist with recovery,

  1. Make a plan. Gather support from others before you begin. As you develop your plan, review the 4-H True Leaders in Service Toolkit. Numerous resources for 4-H Club leaders are available as they assist young people in developing community service projects and service learning experiences.
  2. Support relief organizations. One rule for disaster response is that individuals and organizations should never self-deploy. Don't just show up to help. The best way to help in disaster areas is to support relief organizations that are already established in the area. Contact local organizations to see what support they need. You can also check with your county Emergency Manager to check for assignments.
  3. Raise funds. Not all organizations need unsolicited donations of used clothing, food, or household items. It takes time to organize these items and they may not meet the needs of the survivors. Money is often the most useful donation.
  • Donate: We have had numerous 4-H clubs across the country requesting to support Nebraska 4-H youth, clubs, or families in specific program areas. The best way you can help a 4-H youth, club, or family, is by contributing funds directly to the 4-H'ers Helping 4-H'ers Fund. This fund fulfills requests that are specifically designated to 4-H program areas and allows the option to give to the area of greatest need.

Club Management: Club Recognition - By Kimberly Cook

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4-H is about more than just taking a project to the fair. It is about teaching life lessons and improving the world around us. Many times this happens through a 4-H Club. 4-H Clubs often incorporate community service and educational programs to make a difference in the youth and community around them.

Did you know that the Nebraska 4-H and the Nebraska 4-H Foundation offer awards and recognition programs to celebrate outstanding 4-H Clubs across the state? These award opportunities were put in place to recognize the great work of 4-H clubs and share the impact they make on their communities and youth each day.

Nebraska 4-H Club of the Month

This award is given monthly to 4-H Clubs. Any 4-H Club may nominate themselves. The club who is chosen to be Club of the Month will receive a $50 cash card from the Nebraska 4-H Foundation and their story will be showcased on the Nebraska 4-H Foundation’s Facebook, Twitter, and website along with the State 4-H website and Facebook and in their local newspaper.

The Governor’s Agricultural Excellence Award

The purpose of this award is to recognize 4-H clubs for the work of the individuals in the club and the community service work they do around awareness of agricultural careers and help 4-H members expand the career possibilities they are considering. Recognition is in the form of $500 to the 4-H Club. Examples of programs include: conference or workshops for club or community members, community improvement projects in the club’s hometown, intergenerational programs, etc.

Nebraska 4-H Club of Excellence

The overall goal of 4-H Clubs is to develop enthusiastic young people who boldly take action to demonstrate life skills as capable, caring, competent kids of character thus contributing to the improvement of themselves, their family, their club, their community, and their world. To receive the designation as a Nebraska 4-H Club of Excellence, clubs must meet the following:

  • Have at least five members from at least three different families.
  • Recite the 4-H Pledge at meetings.
  • Meet at least six times per year.
  • Choose/elect youth officers.
  • Have youth serve in leadership roles.
  • Have one club project, related to curriculum, which they do together.
  • Have an adult role model involvement.
  • Have members who perform a presentation or public speaking at the club level or above.
  • Complete one community service project.
  • Have members who participate in county, district or state events.

Celebrate member and club achievements.

For more information or application forms go to:

Grab & Go: Careers - By Kim Bearnes

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Soft Skills Are the Key!

Youth will identify skills and behaviors that will make them more marketable to employers.


  • Identify qualities employers seek.
  • Discuss and analyze workforce behavior and professionalism.
  • Identify personal soft skills strengths and weaknesses.

Target Age: 13- 21


Time-frame: 45 min

Materials: Flip chart, markers

Background Info

A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers revealed the top attributes employers are looking for are not skills learned in the college classroom. They are soft skills or interpersonal skills: leadership, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and having a strong work ethic. Mastery of these skills will contribute to their marketability and workforce success.


  • Introduce the lesson using the background information and opening questions.
  • Ask the youth to define professionalism. Record their answers on a flip chart so that you can refer to it later. Utilize a flip chart to record the generated dos and don’ts of employee behaviors. Youth should brainstorm skills that they would want their employees to possess. Discuss the traits generated and how they contribute to professionalism.
  • Break into small groups of 3-4 youth and evaluate appropriate workplace behaviors.
  • Ask each group to present a scenario using their do’s and don’ts.
  • Allow the groups to discuss alternative responses.

Activity Discussion

There is nothing more exciting than landing your first job and receiving your first paycheck. For a teenager or young adult, this is a step towards independence. However, securing a job is not
always easy.

This lesson strives to provide the youth with the knowledge of skills employers currently desire in their employees. These skills are not necessarily learned in a classroom, but instead are termed soft skills. These are skills such as teamwork, problem solving, adaptability and communication. These skills are transferable from one job to another and are not linked to one specific job classification.

Opening Questions

  • What do you believe important soft skills would be?
  • Why would employers target soft skills versus technical skills?
  • Have you ever observed an employee utilizing soft skills effectively?
  • Have you ever utilized these soft skills in a job or volunteer setting?
  • What do you think professionalism means?


  • Which soft skill do you feel you currently possess?
  • What soft skills do you think are most critical?
  • Why are these skills important to employers?
  • Can you identify any of these soft skills that are a strength of yours? Are any a noted weakness?

Contest: Horticulture Judging Contest - Elizabeth Killinger

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Do you know what it takes to pick the best fruit and vegetables out at the grocery store? Or do you know what judges are looking for when they judge your plants at the county fair? Have you ever wondered, what plant is that!?! We are excited to offer the opportunity to learn these and other important horticulture skills through the Horticulture Judging Contest.

Horticulture judging contest consists of three parts. The first is identification of plant material. Participants identify the plants by common name from a plant list. Specimens may be alive or preserved plant parts like stems, twigs, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, roots, bulbs, tubers, or plant products.

The second is a knowledge portion, usually in the form of a true/false or multiple choice quiz. Questions will test the contestant's knowledge of cultural practices for horticultural crops, plant science, pesticides, horticultural careers and other topics related to the production, processing and consumption of horticultural crops.

The last portion is judging or placings. This is where four different plants, plates of vegetables, or containers flowers are ranked from best to worst based on a set of criteria. Classes are judged on the basis of condition, quality, uniformity, true-to-type, and size.

More information about the Nebraska State contest along with a list of study materials can be found in the Fairbook Here you can find the written study materials for the knowledge portion, follow links to plant pictures for help with identification, and read how judging of plant material is done.

Practice, practice, practice. Practice identifying plant material by looking through books, seed catalogues, garden centers & nurseries, the grocery store, or websites to view the plant material as many ways as possible. The more times you see it, the more likely you are to remember it. Get to know the plant list. Some plants are listed under names that aren’t common for us to use around here (like basswood for linden or nectarine/peach). Lastly, take time to read the study materials for the knowledge portion.

The Online Horticulture Contest is another way to practice. The online contest will be made available June 7-17, 2019 at:

When completing in the contest, focus on what you do know. Fill out what you know first. If time allows, then go back and make an educated guess on those you aren’t 100% sure about. It doesn’t hurt to guess.

In no time you will be wowing your friends with your knowledge and identification skills as well as picking through the vegetable bins at the grocery store in search of the perfect piece of produce.

2019 4-H State Fair Animal Nomination/Identification Requirements - By Brandy Schulze

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1. Nomination Requirements for all Species

You will find an attached livestock identification guide that shows the requirements for all 4-H animals at the Nebraska State Fair. We will send out the more in depth 2019 Animal Guidelines page at the beginning of the year with family and county responsibilities. For 2019, there are no changes for animal identification. All market and breeding sheep and goats must have a scrapie tag. All market hogs and market beef must have an 840 EID tag and breeding heifers must have a tattoo. The 2019 FFA State Fair Animal Identification Requirements have also been attached for your reference.

2. DNA Envelopes for the Nebraska State Fair

For all youth planning on exhibiting market livestock at the Nebraska State Fair, Nebraska Extension Staff and FFA Advisors will continue the process of distributing the DNA envelopes to youth. Aksarben Stock Show is still managing the DNA envelopes for the Aksarben Stock Show, South Dakota State Fair and the Nebraska State Fair. Aksarben has requested exhibitors use the new 2019 version of DNA envelopes and have asked to no longer use older envelopes

NEW in 2019:

  • For any DNA envelope sent to the Aksarben Stock Show office from an Extension Office or FFA Advisor, Nebraska 4-H and Nebraska FFA will be billed. Before submitting any envelopes to the Aksarben Stock Show office county staff and advisors will need to be confirm that payment was received in Show Stock Manager.
  • DNA nominations will be $7.00 per envelope. Any DNA nomination sent in from an Extension Office or FFA Advisor will also be eligible for the Aksarben Stock Show.
  • All breeding nominations will have a fee of $2.00 per online entry. Exhibitors will be able to dual nominate an animal as breeding and market if selected and paid for in Show Stock Manager. Families will now receive a receipt that they entered in a breeding nomination.
  • Aksarben Only Note: If you have an exhibitor who would like DNA envelopes for only the Aksarben Stock Show, please guide them to the website: ( Nebraska Extension Staff and FFA Advisors should not be receiving Aksarben Stock Show DNA envelopes or handling money.

3. Submitting Animal Information into Show Stock Manager Livestock Database

For 2019, exhibitors will still be responsible for submitting their animal information into the Show Stock Manager Livestock Database prior to the nomination deadline. We found this online system to be successful for most Extension staff and families and both 4-H and FFA and will continue to use this system for 2019. The County Extension Office/FFA Advisors will continue to mail in the DNA collectors to the Aksarben Stock Show office by the respected deadline. You will also have the ability to see what your families have submitted and you will still be validating those nominations throughout the nomination process. Once the information is in the database and has been validated by the County Extension Staff/FFA Advisor, it will then be available for exhibitors to make State Fair entries. Please note, any animal entry not in the database or that does not have submitted DNA will not be considered nominated and eligible for State Fair.

4. Aksarben Stock Show Contact Information and Questions

With the Aksarben Stock Show transitioning to a junior livestock format in 2019, youth nine to 19 years of age are eligible for the competition with no prerequisite of youth organization affiliation. While we will continue to support our 4-H youth, we always want an exhibitor to have the correct and current information. For questions families may have about the Aksarben Stock Show, please recommend the Aksarben Stock Show website ( or to contact Shelby Leonhard

Natural Disasters Often Bring Family Stress - By Nebraska Extension Learning Child Team

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Natural disasters such as the recent severe storms and flooding in Nebraska often lead to extreme stress for families.

It is common for people to feel irritable, anxious, helpless and overwhelmed.

Tempers may flare during times of stress, affecting relationships in the family. You may feel that you are losing not only material things, but also the support of your family as well.

Problems between couples are typical during times of great stress. No two people are likely to have the same reaction to a situation, so it’s not surprising that tension may result from their differing reactions.

When you start to feel overwhelmed it can be helpful to practice deep breathing. Count to 10 — or to 100 if necessary. . Let your family know if you feel near the breaking point emotionally. Family members who can ask for and accept help from others will be better able to deal with extreme stress and help in supporting the family.

Children may also suffer from the stress of a natural disaster. They may see their parents and other adults feeling overwhelmed. Even though it may not make sense, young children can feel that they are to blame for the stress. Infants may become clingier and irritable. It is important to tell children that they are loved and that they will be taken care of.

Other willing listeners and services can be found by calling

  • Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a--year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Nebraska Family Helpline – 1-888-866-8660
  • Nebraska Rural Response Hotline – 1-800-464-0258
  • The Boys Town National Helpline -1-800-448-3000

Growing Leaders in 4-H - By Sarah Polacek

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Leadership is defined as the ability to influence and support others in a positive way to meet a common goal. 4-H offers many leadership opportunities in many capacities to help each member reach their full potential. Every child is capable to become a leader! Leadership with youth participants help create an environment that encourages all members to develop skills, imagination, and creativity so that they can contribute to a project or vision of the goal and purpose they are trying to achieve. 4-H is an organization that can help give leadership opportunities to youth who have a desire and crave these skills. Youth who build these skills along with all contributing members will become successful adults. As a 4-H leader, you must play that role in encouraging kids and offering them many different hands-on experiences to help build confidence and grow those necessary leadership skills! Youth need to be given experiences to use strategic thinking, problem solving and decision making skills on their own! Win or lose; success or failure these opportunities will help mold the leaders of tomorrow.

4-H provides an environment to “try” their leadership skills in many different roles such as club officers, committee chairs and members, event planners, mentors, role models and other roles during their 4-H career. With the assistance of adult volunteers, they can complete these roles and work towards using the skills gained in many different levels of 4-H as well as other youth organizations they participate with. In addition to leadership opportunities within the club, consider your community. Have members do a needs assessment of the community and see what their skills can be used for. Whether a book drive for local youth, a food drive, highway clean up or simply visiting home-bound residents, youth will not only be developing leadership skills, but also making a difference in their community and making connections with leaders in the community that can help support and maybe even fund future endeavors.

Building leadership skills in 4-H can lead to accomplishments and the success that youth will carry with them into their future careers and lives. Developing communication skills, conflict resolution skills, teamwork, confidence, public speaking skills, and the ability to standing up for what they believe in, setting goals, being creative, and making to a decision are skills youth will use for the rest of their lives.

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Turfgrass and Landscape Management - By Carly Horstman

Golf courses, private and public gardens, streetscapes and commercial buildings, sports fields, and parks all require trained professionals to help keep them looking beautiful all year long. If you enjoy being outside and have a passion for plants, look no further than UNL’s Turfgrass and Landscape Management degree program.

Turfgrass and Landscape Management is a degree program within UNL’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) that provides a wealth of knowledge to help prepare you for a career as a turfgrass and landscape management professional. The turfgrass and landscape management industry is a part of one of the fastest growing segments of the nation’s agricultural economy. In this profession you will blend your knowledge of turf, ornamental plants, soils and hardscapes to create, plant, build or manage landscapes that enhance and sustain our quality of life. There are two options within this major that allow you to focus on important aspects that are distinct to your selected career path: turfgrass management and landscape design and management.

Students that specialize in turfgrass management will learn from our 81 award winning faculty members and have access to state-of-the-art technology. You can also receive hands-on opportunities from our turf plots located right on East Campus. This option prepares our students for internships and careers at some of the most famous sports stadiums and golf courses around the world, such as Pebble Beach golf course and Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies.

Students that specialize in landscape design and management will take classes that teach them the holistic approach to managing a landscape. Every student is required to take Landscape Design, which gives you the opportunity to create a landscape project for a real client. If you chose this option you can either work for a landscape design company or become an entrepreneur and start your own landscaping business.

If you would like more information about the Turfgrass and Landscape Management degree program offered at UNL or want to schedule a campus visit, please contact Tai Pleasant at or 402-472-2827.

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