Washington County Weekly 4-H Update

January 8, 2021


  1. Virtual Retirement Celebration Honoring Tracy Behnken
  2. Welcome Mickayla!
  3. Nebraska Extension DHM Phase/Covid-19 Risk Dial Guidance
  4. New 4-H Year Begins! Enrollment is Open
  5. State Level 4-H Achievement Applications - Due January 15
  6. 2021 Special Garden Project
  7. 2021 Special Agronomy Project - Updated Info
  8. 2021 Spotlight On 4-H Newsletter
  9. Virtual Learning Opportunities - Winter Fun Pack
  10. 2021 Innovative Youth Corn Challenge
  11. 2021 Severe Weather Awareness Poster Contest
  12. 2022 4-H Youth in Action
  13. Nebraska Cattlemen's Classic Youth Judging Contest
  14. 2021 4-H Horse Stampede
  15. 2021 District 4-H Horse Shows
  16. Animal Science "Inspiring Your Future" Scholarship
  17. Fed Steer Challenge - Deadline Extended
  18. 2021 4-H Summer Camps
  19. Other Statewide Events and Resources



January 15.............................................State 4-H Achievement Applications Due

January 18.............................................Office Closed for Martin Luther King Holiday

January 29..............................................Deadline to Order Special Garden and/or Agronomy Seed

March 27................................................4-H Horse Stampede - East Campus-Lincoln

June 28 & 29...........................................PASE & Life Challenge Contests, East Campus-Lincoln

June 30...................................................State Public Speaking Contest, East Campus-Lincoln

July 30 - August 4, 2021........................2021 Washington County Fair

Dear Washington County 4-H Families,

I will be retiring from my position as Extension 4-H Educator/Lead Educator in Washington County on Friday, January 15, 2021. On January 18, I will be assuming the position as Farmer Relations and Communications Manager in Nebraska for Midwest Dairy.

I have been part of the Extension system for more than 32 years with the last five years serving in Washington County. I have truly enjoyed working with the 4-H members, parents and volunteers of Washington County. Your passion for the 4-H program and all of the great things you have to offer has been an inspiration. Although I will be leaving my position, I know that the Washington County 4-H Program is in great hands with our talented staff (Jaki, Mickayla and Mary) and the strong support of the 4-H Council and dedicated volunteers. I have confidence that they will continue “To Make the Best Better”.

I wish you all well and know that you will continue to great things because of 4-H!


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Virtual Retirement Celebration

Topic: Tracy J. Behnken Retirement Celebration

Time: Jan 12, 2021 03:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 965 7612 3551

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Welcome Mickayla!

Hi Everyone! My name is Mickayla Blender, the new 4-H Extension Assistant in Washington County! I am originally from Eustis, Nebraska. I participated in Frontier County 4-H for 12 years as a member. I attended college at Fort Hays State University where I earned my Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science this past December. While in college I was a summer assistant for Frontier and Phelps /Gosper Counties. After getting settled, I plan on pursuing a master's degree. In my free time I enjoy spending time with friends and family, being outside, and traveling. I am excited about joining the team here in Washington County, getting to know the families and joining the community of Washington County!

Nebraska Extension DHM Phase/Covid-19 Risk Dial Guidance

Nebraska Extension DHM Phase/Covid-19 Risk Dial Guidance

Follow Most Restrictive Guidance: State DHM or Local Health Department Covid-19 Risk Dial


4-H Clubs (events, activities, meetings)

Recommend meeting virtually; Facial coverings required for in person meetings; Follow additional local/county guidance.

Effective November 30, 2020

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2021 4-H Year - Enrollment is OPEN

Nebraska 4-HOnline Enrollment Link: https://ne.4honline.com/Login.aspx?403D4050364539525371705375593D

Please note that the 4-H project history has been cleared and you must enter the project name and the number of years you have participated in it. You will find your history by going into your Family Account and choosing Member Reports.

You might also notice that the Virtual Robotics project shows up in the project history but has been removed this year as the curriculum is no longer available.

4HOnline Technical Error

4HOnline is currently experiencing an error in processing payments. A team is working to address this issue as soon as possible, we will notify you when the system is functioning properly. In the meantime, users are still able to go into their account and update all info to the current year for 4-H Enrollment, but your payment will not be able to be processed at this time.

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Achievement Applications

    • Don’t forget! State-level 4-H Achievement Applications are due January 15th! The Nebraska 4-H Achievement Application is a standard application form used for the selection of county and state award winners, including delegates to National 4-H Congress and National 4-H Conference, as well as Nebraska 4-H Foundation scholarship award recipients. Learn more at 4h.unl.edu/achievement-application.

2021 Special Garden Project – The Tasty Hakurei Turnip

The Nebraska Extension Special Gardening Project lets 4-H members try their hand at growing unusual vegetables and flowers. The project allows experienced 4-H gardeners to grow something fun, new, and different while letting those new to gardening get their feet wet in this project area. This project is open to all youth of 4-H age and it will give them the opportunity to learn about growing, harvesting, and exhibiting a tasty vegetable; obtain the tools necessary to be successful gardeners, and learn about the wide range of plant-science related careers. The 2021 Special Garden Project is focused on the tasty Hakurei Turnip. These are not your grandmother’s turnips. Hakurei is a white salad turnip that is smooth, round and at its best when harvested under 2”. The roots can be eaten raw or cooked and the tops can also be cooked.

STEP 1 - Enroll in 4-H and from the project list select “PS: Horticulture (D) – Special Garden Project”. To enroll in 4-H, go to: https://ne.4honline.com. By enrolling through 4-H Online, youth will have access to the OneDrive folder with the educational materials including the growing newsletter & evaluation.

STEP 2 – Order your seeds by completing the Google form (https://go.unl.edu/4hspecialgardenproject-seedorder-2021). Seed packet are $0.50 per packet/youth and will be paid upon receiving. ORDER DEADLINE – Friday, January 29, 2021.

Shortly after the order deadline, the Washington County 4-H staff will contact those who ordered the Special Garden Project seeds to inform them how and where they will receive their seeds.

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2021 Special Agronomy Project

NEW: Special Agronomy Project

The Nebraska Extension Special Agronomy Project gives 4-H members an opportunity to experience a crop that is grown, was grown or has the potential to be grown in Nebraska. Youth participate by receiving seed and resources to grow the crop, research traits of the crop and determine the viability of that crop in the part of the state they live. The project allows 4-H members interested in agronomy to grow something fun, new, and different.

To kick-off the inaugural year of the special agronomy project, youth will explore teosinte. The plant looks and is very similar to corn, in fact it is believed to be the wild ancestor of today's corn!

For youth to participate:

Enroll for the 2021 Special Agronomy Project by enrolling in any of the Field Crop Project levels through 4-H Online.

Contact your local Nebraska Extension Office and let them know how many seed packets you need. If you do not contact your local Extension Office, seeds might not be available for you. The county office will order seeds as a county unit then distribute them to the members.

Seeds will be sent to the County Extension Offices. Pick seeds up from your local county Extension office when the county tells you the seeds are available (should be around March or April).

4-H members enrolled in the Special Agronomy Project will:

· Receive a ‘packet’ of teosinte seeds (one packet per youth) in March/April

· Grow their seeds in their garden or pots

· Receive written resource materials AND virtual, live or recorded videos/field trips

· Be eligible to enter an exhibit at both the County and/or State Fair in the agronomy project area:

o G750011 - Special Agronomy Project - Educational Exhibit (SF259)

o G750012 Special Agronomy Project -Video Presentation

o G750013 Special Agronomy Project (Freshly Harvested Crop)

Enroll for the 2021 Special Agronomy Project through 4-H Online by enrolling in ANY level of the field crop project area and contact your local Nebraska Extension Office to order packets of seeds. The local Extension Office will order and distribute the seeds.

Contact our office by Friday, January 29, 2021 to order your seeds.

Enrollment Change: Thanks to those who have emailed or called and expressed interest in this project. For youth to participate in 2021, they will need to enroll in any level of a field crops project in 4-H Online and let the extension office know if they’d like to participate. We aren’t able to get a special class added to 4-H Online for 2021. Thank you and sorry for the confusion.

2021 Spotlight On 4-H Newsletter

Find the January Spotlight Newsletter at:


Virtual & At-Home Educational Resources

Looking for educational resources you can use from home? We've got you covered! 😉

Nebraska 4-H is now offering a variety of virtual learning experiences, such as Living Room Learning and Boredom Buster Challenges. We've also collected some of our favorite activity guides that are perfect for hands-on learning at home.

Check out our virtual and at-home educational resources at https://4h.unl.edu/virtual-home-learning.

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4-H Winter Fun Pack

From the team that brought you Living Room Learning and the 4-H Summer Fun Pack, we are proud to announce a new resource for our 4-H youth during their winter break: The 4-H Winter Fun Pack! Copy and paste the information below to share with your counties. Attached is a graphic to share as well!

Looking for ways to keep the young people in your life engaged this winter? Check out the 4-H Winter Fun Pack - a collection of activities that youth can do on their own at home! Each recorded session of Living Room Learning is led by a Nebraska 4-H Youth Development professional. Getting started is simple: gather supplies, click the recording and let us do the teaching.

The materials required for this resource are all things you can find at home! This resource was created with all areas of 4-H in mind, including: Family Consumer Sciences, Environmental Education and Earth Sciences, Healthy Living, STEM, Communication and Expressive Arts and more!

Access the resources here and let the fun begin: https://4h.unl.edu/winter-fun-pack

Photography Showcase

    • Whether it’s your favorite photo you’ve taken this fall or one you took to the county fair, we want to see it! Submit your favorite photo for a chance to be showcased. The 4-H photography showcase offers members a project exhibition opportunity beyond traditional print media. 4-H’ers are invited to submit their favorite photo they’ve taken for a chance to have it showcased online for thousands of 4-H fans to admire. Learn more and submit a photo at 4h.unl.edu/photography-showcase.

Cat Science

    • Ever wonder how cats became domesticated? Interested in learning more about caring for a feline friend? How about showing a cat in 4-H or exploring careers related to cats? We’ve got answers to all these questions and more in our NEW Companion Cat Science online course! The course is free and open to all youth, parents, and leaders interested in advancing their knowledge of cats and the 4-H cat project. Youth do not need to be enrolled 4-H members to participate. Learn more at 4h.unl.edu/companion-cat-science.

Companion Animal Webinar Series

    • We’re excited to kick off our NEW Companion Animal Webinar Series next week! During our first webinar, we’ll be discussing basic small animal wellness. The Nebraska 4-H Companion Animal Webinar Series is great for leaders, parents, and senior aged youth who want to advance their knowledge in companion animal-related topic areas. Webinars will be hosted on the first Thursday of each month at 6:00 PM CT/5:00 PM MT. Learn more at 4h.unl.edu/companion-animal-webinar-series
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Innovative Youth Corn Challenge 2.0: Registration Open

The Nebraska Innovative Youth Corn Challenge is approaching its tenth-year engaging youth in crop science-based education. The Innovative Youth Corn Challenge (IYCC) was created as a partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Extension. Since the Innovative Youth Corn Challenge program’s inception in 2012, 74 teams have participated in the program with 37 teams successfully harvesting and analyzing their plot data. A total of 147 youth have participated.

This program continues to evolve and has exciting changes planned for the 2021 growing season with IYCC 2.0. A citizen scientist component will encourage youth to connect with researchers on a real problem facing corn growers and assist in collecting data or designing a tool to solve a real-world problem.

The IYCC 2.0 will also feature an agricultural literacy piece which will help others understand corn production practices and highlight teams’ efforts. This will allow youth to promote their own work through creative works such as a video or other multimedia tool. Nebraska Extension will execute this evolving, innovative and in-depth program in 2021, which will be the tenth year creating agricultural, science-informed graduates in the agricultural industry.

Prizes for participation in this project include 1st place - $1,000, 2nd place - $500, 3rd place -$250, “Extra Mile” Award $200, CORN Communications Award $200 and $50 for completion of the project. In addition, each team receives a crop scouting kit valued at over $200, plot sign and the opportunity to engage with UNL agronomic professionals through “ask an agronomist” sessions.

For more information about this program and to register, go to https://cropwatch.unl.edu/youth/cornchallenge. Registration is due March 15th. Contact Brandy VanDeWalle at brandy.vandewalle@unl.edu or (402) 759-3712 for details about this program.

2021 Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Poster Contest

The springtime severe weather season is quickly approaching and that means it’s time for the annual 2021 Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Poster Contest. The contest, sponsored by Nebraska Association of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service the Nebraska National Guard and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, is part of the annual Severe Weather Awareness Week effort produced by Emergency Management Directors/Coordinators across Nebraska.

This year, the poster contest is open to all third grade students in Nebraska public and private schools as well as home-schooled third students. Teachers are encouraged to have students participate while teaching them about hazards of severe weather in Nebraska. While not specifically designed to promote tornado awareness, tornadoes are the most common theme chosen for posters. Lightning and flooding, which are also products of severe thunderstorms, are also good topic choices.

The first-place winner in the state contest wins a $125 gift card. The second-place winner receives a $100 gift card and the third-place winner receives a $75 gift card. The Nebraska Association of Emergency Management provides the first, second and third place gift card awards. The fourth place poster winner receives a $50 gift card sponsored by the National Weather Service.

For more information on how to enter go to: www.naem.us

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2022 Youth In Action

    • Applications for the 2022 4-H Youth in Action awards are now open! This awards program, coordinated by National 4-H Council, recognizes four outstanding young people ages 15-19 making meaningful impacts in their communities. Winners receive a $5,000 scholarship, an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. for National 4-H Council’s Legacy Awards, a personal promotional video showcasing their 4-H impact story, and much more! Learn more and apply at go.unl.edu/4hyia.

2021 Nebraska Cattleman's Classic Livestock Judging Contest

2021 Nebraska Cattleman's Classic Livestock Judging Contest registration form can be found here:


We hope that you'll join us in Kearney, NE on February 13th for another great contest at the Nebraska Cattleman's Classic. One thing to note again is that it will be official dress and the entry deadline is February 5th.

2021 4-H Horse Stampede

The 2021 4-H Horse Stampede is scheduled for Saturday, March 27th on UNL’s East Campus. This is an outstanding opportunity for youth interested and a part of the 4-H Horse program. If you have questions, please contact our office.

The Horse Stampede includes:

  • Speech Contest: (Individual event)
    • Junior Division: (age 10-13 as of January 1)
    • Senior Division: (age 14-18 as of January 1)
  • Demonstration Contest: (Individual or Team of two)
    • Junior Division: (age 10-13 as of January 1)
    • Senior Division: (age 14-18 as of January 1)
  • Art Contest:
    • Elementary: (age 8-11 as of January 1)
    • Junior: (age 12-14 as of January 1)
    • Senior: (age 15-18 as of January 1)
      • Champion Senior Art will be retained for use on the cover of the State 4-H Horse Show program in 2021
  • Photography Contest:
    • Elementary: (age 8-11 as of January 1)
    • Junior: (age 12-14 as of January 1)
    • Senior: (age 15-18 as of January 1)
      • Champion Senior Photography will be retained for use on the cover of the State 4-H Horse Show program in 2021

-Categories include:

*Careers with horses

*Horse health and/or nutrition

*Good husbandry/grooming

*Training and showing

*Human-horse bond

*Horse service or citizenship

The 4-H Horse Bowl is also a part of this event.

The primary objective of Horse Bowl contests is to provide an opportunity for youth enrolled in 4-H horse projects to demonstrate their knowledge of equine-related subject matter in a competitive setting where attitudes of friendliness and fairness prevail. These contests will provide an educational experience for both participants and spectators.

Age Divisions

Junior: 10-13 years of age as of January 1 of the current year

Senior: 14-18 years of age as of January 1 of the current year

2021 District 4-H Horse Show Schedule

Monday, June 14......................Scottsbluff, NE

Tuesday, June 15.....................Burwell, NE

Wednesday, June 16...............Columbus, NE

Thursday, June 17...................Lincoln, NE

Friday, June 18........................McCook, NE

Animal Science: "Inspiring Your Future" Scholarship Contest - now live!

I wanted you all to be aware of a scholarship opportunity for high school seniors and transfer students who are admitted animal science majors looking to enroll in the Fall 2021 semester at UNL. This is the inaugural year for the Animal Science: Inspiring Your Future Scholarship Contest and we will be awarding ten $5000 scholarships. We want students to tell us their digital story about an individual or animal who has inspired them to pursue an education and career in animal science. This can be done via video, essay, pictures, a combination of those things, or really any medium that allows them to comfortably express themselves. The website link is below that lists out the contest details and link to apply and submit their digital story. All entries must be submitted by Noon on February 15th!

Find all the information at:


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Fed Steer Challenge

  • Miss the application deadline for the 2021 Nebraska 4-H Fed Steer Challenge? Well, we have good news for you. The application deadline has been extended! Apply now at 4h.unl.edu/fed-steer-challenge.
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Nebraska 4-H Summer Camps

We have exciting news! Registration for Summer Camp 2021 is now OPEN! Check out our exciting 4 and 5 day overnight camp offerings at the NEBRASKA STATE 4-H CAMP in Halsey! Charter bus transportation option offered select weeks from Lincoln (UNL East Campus) and Grand Island (Raising Nebraska)! Register by Jan. 31st to receive 10% off per session! Use code: EARLYBIRD21

See full camp descriptions and register online: https://4h.unl.edu/camps-centers/summer-camp/schedule

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Washington County Extension | 4-H

Tracy J. Behnken, Extension Educator - tracy.behnken@unl.edu

Jaki Zahourek, 4-H Extension Assistant - jaki.zahourek@unl.edu

Mickayla Blender, 4-H Extension Assistant - mblender2@unl.edu

Mary Larsen, 4-H Support Staff - mlarsen9@unl.edu