Nebraska Extension 4-H Volunteer Newsletter - April 2021

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

In the April Spotlight!

  • How to Build a Foundation of Positive Youth Development in Young People
  • Using Demonstrations in 4-H Meetings
  • Next Chapter
  • National 4-H Conference
  • Attitude of Gratitude
  • The Three R's - Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle!
  • Smart Cents
  • Applied Science: A Degree That Adapts With You

How to Build a Foundation of Positive Youth Development in Young People - By Megan Hanefeldt

Big picture

Having a foundation to center youth development programming in 5 key areas aids in the growth and development of our children. The 5 C’s include: Connection, Confidence, Character, Competence and Caring. Let’s take a moment to uncover what each of those areas encompasses.

Connection: It’s important for a young person to feel safe and connected. Youth need positive relationships with parents, friends, coaches, and mentors. These positive relationships contribute to personal wellbeing and the wellbeing of others.

Apply: As an adult in a young person’s life – find a way to truly connect with them: sit down and play the video game with them, or go on a hike where you are both free from technology. Listen to their likes and frustrations, commit it to your memory and use it in the perfect moment.

Confidence: Confidence provides a sense of self-worth and perception that one can achieve their desired goals through their own actions.

Apply: Help a young person explore a new opportunity: engage in volunteer work, help them find a part-time job. Mastering a new skill helps them build confidence. Above all model confidence in yourself. Role model how to face new situations with courage. Let them know about the times when you were brave.

Character: Taking responsibility and showing respect for societal and cultural rules shows that youth are willing to declare a sense of independence and individuality.

Apply: When youth have the opportunity to make a decision, guide them to think through the ethical approach and watch the positive results in their daily life.

Competence: Competence is the ability to act effectively in academic, social and work situations.

Apply: Believe in the child’s ability to develop new skills. Encourage them and let them problem solve!

Caring: Feeling empathy and displaying sympathy based on one’s emotions allows youth to show they genuinely care for others.

Apply: Keep your word, be honest, write notes of encouragement. A simple compliment can completely turn their day around.

Youth who are devoted to active participation in each of the 5 C’s become adults who contribute to family, work, home and community, leading to a sixth C – which is Contribution.

Setting this foundation for our youth and cultivating these POSITIVE environments for youth allow for POSITIVE youth development to take place. This approach by Karen Pittman, an early advocate for positive youth development, led the charge to shift the paradigm in youth work from prevent and fixing behaviors to building and nurturing “all the beliefs, behaviors, knowledge, attributes, and skills that result in a healthy and productive adolescence and adulthood”. Initiatives around changing behavior are no easy task, but investing now in our youth will be an opportunity to invest in a brighter future for everyone!

This article comes from a series of resources developed by Nebraska 4-H Youth Development professionals. Learn more about 4-H at

Using Demonstrations in 4-H Meetings - by Tessa Reece

As 4-H club meetings continue to be the foundation for many 4-H programs, conducting a meeting members want to attend is key to the success of a club. 4-H club meetings provide youth the experience to grow life skills, learn together, and have fun. 4-H club meetings should have three components: fun, business, and learning. “Learning by doing” is one of the 4-H program’s unique strengths. This is the place for members to give demonstrations, complete community service, and other activities. Plan a variety of activities that involve members in program planning, self-esteem development, and decision making.

Demonstrations are an effective way of teaching projects or activities. Therefore, they should be worked into all 4-H meetings to make the club program more effective. Early in the year, plans should be made to include both individual and team demonstrations in the schedule of club meetings. It is suggested that each club member demonstrate at club meetings at least once during the year. 4-H club members give better demonstrations if they are particularly interested in the subject. Members might need help from their leader or parent in choosing a topic and a suitable way to present it. Encourage 4-H members to select demonstrations for club meetings that can be later given at the local and state public presentation contests.

Different demonstrations that could be given:

  • Something learned or experienced in a 4-H project
  • Steps in how to do or create something
  • Information people need

Potential people who could give a demonstration:

  • Club leaders
  • 4-H staff
  • 4-H members
  • Local volunteers or businesses who specialize in a project area

Example demonstration topic ideas:

  • How to enroll in 4-H
  • How to fill out fair paperwork
  • How to show an animal
  • How to measure ingredients when baking
  • How to make a craft
  • And so much more!

“Let me see you do it” and “I’ll show you” are heard often when 4-H members work and learn together. By preparing and giving demonstrations, youth learn new skills, increase their knowledge and express themselves well, develop poise and confidence, and develop initiative. “To make the best better,” is the 4-H motto!

Next Chapter - By Melissa Mracek

Are you the leader of a Teen Leadership or Junior Leader Club? Do you struggle with how to help your teen members prepare for their future, teach them leadership and work readiness skills, and keep them engaged in the 4-H program? For the past four years, Nebraska Extension has been developing the Next Chapter program to help address these issues. This program is directed towards middle school and high school students to help them think about their next steps after high school. Lessons and activities focus on interviews, resumes, personal statements for college applications, discovering careers, financials, appropriate communication, study skills, time management and more! With completion of the program and meeting admissions requirements, the youth participants will be fully admitted to the University of Nebraska. An additional benefit to bringing these lessons to your club is that participants of this program will have their application fee to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln waived when they apply as a Next Chapter student.

This program is set up to be spread over four years with four lessons a year with lessons normally lasting around 45 minutes. However, adaptations have been made to allow groups to customize what lessons they would like to cover if they cannot cover the four lessons a year. Out of youth who completed this program in 2020, 93% said 4-H had helped them make decisions about college and to explore future career options. When asked if 4-H helped them learn to act professionally, 97% agreed that it had. Demonstrating how effective this program has been in helping youth think about their future next steps and build important workforce development skills.

If the Next Chapter program is of interest to you, you can visit to find your Next Chapter representative. Your representative would be able to provide your club with the materials and lessons to complete the Next Chapter activities with your club. If you do not have a Next Chapter representative in your area, your club could participate in an online cohort version. The online cohort would have recorded videos you can watch together and work through the activities as a group or join during the live session on Sundays. If you are interested in registering for the online cohort contact Dawn Lindsley, the College and Career Readiness 4-H Extension Educator at

National 4-H Conference - By Jennifer Epp

Big picture

One of the rewards of a full and intentional career in 4-H is the opportunity to represent Nebraska on a national level. Each year in the past, Nebraska 4-H sends two delegates to National 4-H Conference in Chevy Chase, Maryland. This year’s delegates, who are still being selected, will attend the virtual conference from April 10-15, 2021.

National 4-H Conference provides youth the opportunity to make decisions and provide input to guide 4-H program development on a national level. These delegates will be exchanging ideas from one state to the next while networking with youth leaders from across the country. They will also have the opportunity to update elected and appointed government officials, national associations and donor groups on the developments in 4-H on a variety of levels. National 4-H Conference is the premiere national civic engagement opportunity for 4-H members.

This opportunity is open to 4-H members with a 4-H age of at least 15 and not over 19 years of age. To apply, the 4-H member must submit a state-level Achievement Application. The application is due January 15th for consideration by the committee.

Once the application is submitted, it will be judged by a statewide committee regarding experiences in 4-H leadership, experiences in 4-H citizenship and experiences in 4-H projects and programming. The committee will select eight individuals to participate in a virtual interview process. The committee will select the final two candidates based on communication skills and their ability to provide leadership in the development of a platform related to 4-H. Selected youth will have an opportunity to provide youth voice to governmental agencies on a variety of issues impacting American youth.

If selected, the delegates will be expected to meet a few expectations. First, they must represent Nebraska at the National 4-H Conference and share their conference experience with Nebraska Extension staff. Second, they must provide a brief report to the Nebraska 4-H Foundation board as the board covers partial expenses for the conference delegates. Finally, the delegates will have the opportunity to participate in the selection for future delegates.

To find more resources about becoming a Nebraska delegate at National 4-H Conference and specific details about application requirements, visit or contact your local extension office to start your application process.

Attitude of Gratitude - By Mary Loftis

Big picture

This past year gave 4-H members, leaders and the entire 4-H program a lot to consider. Many of us grumbled how our world was turned upside down with the pandemic. The focus was on what we’d lost…traditions, comfortable schedules and expectations of summer workouts, workshops, camps and of course county fair changes.

For the new 4-H Year we may need to encourage a “4-H Attitude of Gratitude” to get everyone started off in the right direction. Here’s a game that might work as an icebreaker for your 4-H group.

4-H Attitude of Gratitude Game

Supplies needed: Full sheets of paper (or game sheets) for each member, pencils or pens, corn kernels or coins as place markers. Bag of inexpensive treats for Gratitude prizes.

Method: Have members draw a 5x5 square Bingo type card on their piece of paper. Then have them pick words from the list and write them in their card to make their playing card. You can also add any words that are special to your county or club program. Consider having older members help younger members to make them feel part of the group.

To Play: Read through the Attitude of Gratitude story as the members put a piece of corn or coin on the words mentioned on their card (like Bingo). Then let members take turns naming one word they have on their card (so they and anyone else can mark it off) and tell a little how they are grateful for what this word represents. If someone gets 5 in a row they shout out “Gratitude!” Keep playing a few rounds if you have time and ask the members if there are words they would like to add to the gratitude list.

Suggested list of gratitude words:

  • Fun
  • Projects
  • Auction
  • Ribbons
  • Awards
  • Family
  • Encourage
  • Friends
  • Premiums
  • Support
  • Home
  • Relaxed Schedule
  • Good Health
  • Award Donors
  • Contests
  • Learn New Things
  • Animals
  • Success
  • Parade
  • Club Meetings
  • 4-H Leaders
  • 4-H Council
  • Safely Fail
  • Thank You Notes
  • Camp
  • Workshops
  • YQCA
  • Slower Pace
  • Creativity
  • Fair Food

Gratitude Story: (make up your own or adjust this one.)

“Being in 4-H makes me grateful for all the opportunities I have to take different Projects, to be with and make new Friends, and of course to have Fun! I’m also grateful for my Family for supporting me. My 4-H Leaders and the 4-H Council Encourage me to Learn New Things in 4-H. They also encourage me to write Thank You Notes to all Award Donors so they know how grateful I am for their Support. I know 4-H is a place to Safely Fail because everything I do won’t always be a Success and I need to learn to be gracious whether I win or lose. I can’t wait for this 4-H Year to get started!”

The Three R's - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle! - By Lori Swanson

Our world today is filled with one-use products. Look no farther than a quick get together to find these products: plastic water bottles, paper towels, aluminum drink cans, and over packaged snacks. Too often the convenient one-use products are simply thrown in the trash. Following a few simple rules and asking youth for ideas can curb our enthusiasm for the “toss it out” mentality.

The three R’s, reduce, reuse, and recycle, allow alternative solutions to combat one-use products. Recycling provides a route to keep used products away from the landfill. Most local recycling centers collect paper, plastic, cardboard, tin, and glass. Large or unusual item recycling locations are available through the Nebraska Recycling Council’s website Children in the home are never too young to learn what can be recycled. Designate a spot near the trash can for recycling items. Encourage youth to decorate the collection bins with pictures of the items your household chooses to recycle. Just like brushing your teeth, recycling becomes a daily habit.

Some items lend themselves to be reused. A common toilet paper roll may become a bird feeder. Run a piece of yarn through the empty roll. Spread peanut butter on the roll. Sprinkle birdseed on the peanut butter. Use the yarn to hang the feeder in a tree. Several paper rolls glued side by side may become a storage unit for toy cars. The reuse of an item is only limited by the imagination. Challenge youth to reuse an item in a new way.

Reducing the number of one-use products reduces the amount of purchased items brought into a home. Reducing the use of a one-use product means replacing it with an item that can be used numerous times. A dish towel can do everything a paper towel can do; however, a dish towel lasts for years with proper cleaning. Plastic water bottles may be refilled or better yet never purchased in the first place. A glass filled with tap water quenches the thirst in the same way. Pay attention to how much packaging remains after purchasing an item. The next time a purchase is made look for products with less wasteful packing.

The Three R Challenge

Challenge youth to look at a commonly used item.


  • Why is this item being used?
  • What other product might take its place to reduce the need of the product?
  • How can this product be reused after it has served its initial purpose?
  • What might this item become if it is recycled?
  • Invite youth to draw a picture of one of their ideas. Share the pictures on social media to encourage others to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Smart Cents - By Brett Kreifels

The Smart Cents Financial Literacy program is a partnership between National 4-H Council and TD Ameritrade. This program aims to teach primarily middle school youth about how to be smart with their money and how to manage it effectively. The program utilizes a number of peer-reviewed curriculum but one of personal preference is the My Financial Futures curriculum. This curriculum dives into several topics such as creating SMART goals regarding spending and saving, how banks work, writing checks and investing among other topics.

The 10-hour program aims to engage the youth with activities that inspire them to think about their future and how managing their money wisely now can have positive impacts later on in life. The program has been successfully delivered for school enrichment programming, after school programming, and use in the community club system. Additionally, family engagement is highly encouraged during this project. Having youth and their families learn together reinforces the concepts and may teach and inspire the adults to become more financially smart!

The program, while intended to be in person, is being modified currently for a virtual delivery. To date, the program has been delivered using both delivery modes with a high degree of success. The virtual program highlights the My Financial Future-Beginner Guide. This workbook is meant for the youth to fill out as the progress through the program. A Facilitator’s Guide and a Smart Cents Playbook is also available. The Playbook is especially helpful as it gives tips and tricks to engage the youth and offers additional activities to complete.

The My Financial Futures-Beginner program is broken up into 11 activities; one building on the next. The program first starts out having the youth create SMART goals around what they’d like to purchase, followed by Wants & Needs. Or in other words, having them think about “Do I Really Need This.” The program then works through having the kids think about how they save, spend, and use money. The full intent of the program is to create a behavior change and open their eyes into thinking about money differently, not just something to get and spend right away but something that can grow overtime and assist in making them more financially sound. Having taught this program, I can clearly see that adults too would benefit from taking this program.

The My Financial Futures curriculum can be accessed via Shop 4-H and you can purchase the series or individual workbooks. Additionally, there are also other great financial literacy curriculum pieces available such as Reading Makes Sense, The ESI series, and Money Fundamentals. All of which can be purchased on Shop 4-H. Be looking for the virtual Smart Cents Program coming soon!

To learn more about the program, feel free to reach out to Brett Kreifels & Tayler Wickham (Douglas-Sarpy Office) , Ann Dobesh (Seward Office) or Ashley Benes (State Office)!

Big picture

Applied Science: A Degree That Adapts With You - By Rachel Ibach

Are you unsure what you want to focus on, but know you want to be engaged in food production, agriculture, or agribusiness? The Applied Science program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln gives you flexibility to craft your own college experience and broaden your opportunities in a rapidly changing job market. Your course work is centered on science, agriculture, and natural resources with a wide range of options to enhance your educational experience including ecology, food genetics, entrepreneurship, economics, policy, animal science and plant science. This program is designed to leverage your individual interests and talents to apply them to your career.

The Applied Science program is offered in-person and online through the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. After completing the core and required courses, students select two or three courses in each of the four elective areas to complete their degree. These elective areas are Food, Animal, and Plant Science, Current and Emerging Technologies, Ecosystems Science and Management, and Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Economics. This degree gives students a well-rounded education, whether entirely in-person, online, or a hybrid of both, and greater control over their career preparation for what lies ahead after graduation.

Who knows what the world will look like in five, ten, or twenty years? It may bring new advancement opportunities, emerging technology, changes to the family farming operation or new environmental challenges. Graduates of the Applied Science program have entered a wide range of careers in the food, agriculture, and natural resources industry with the ability to adapt to future challenges as the world changes. These careers include agronomists, crop consultants, product management, feedlot managers, grain merchandisers, farmers and ranchers, sales representatives, farm loan officers, service technicians, and self-employment or entrepreneurship. Whether you are broadening your options or simply changing course in your career path, with a degree in Applied Science, you will be prepared for everything. A degree in Applied Science gives you the flexibility to adapt, change and position yourself for success.

If you are interested in the Applied Science program or would like to schedule a campus visit, please contact Rachel Ibach at or 402-472-4445 for more information!

Big picture