Nebraska Extension 4-H Newsletter - February 2016

In the Spotlight for February!

  • 4HOnline

  • Creating Dynamic Leaders

  • 4-H Career Connections

  • FLL and 4-H Robotics

  • MyPlate for MyHealth

  • Reaching Underserved Audiences

4-H and Positive Youth Development

Positive youth development is a purposeful, pro-social approach to youth development that focuses on engaging youth in their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups and families by recognizing and utilizing youths’ strengths. It supports positive outcomes for young people by offering opportunities, encouraging positive relationships with peers and adults and providing the supports needed to build on their strengths. Youth who are engaged in positive youth development programs like 4-H will develop confidence, competence, compassion/caring, connection, and character, also known as the 5 C’s of positive youth development.

As a 4-H leader and volunteer you play an important role in helping our youth develop the 5 C’s. Here are some ways you can encourage positive youth development:

  • Encourage youth input – When youth feel they are being heard and taken seriously they are more likely to engage in programs and reap the benefits of that program. As a 4-H leader you can encourage youth to have a voice by listening, responding positively, and frequently using ideas brought to you by your club members.
  • Provide guidelines and structure – Structure and guidelines allow youth the freedom to complete tasks in their own way while still allowing for adult guidance. As you monitor activities and provide help when needed ask purposeful questions to encourage youth to think about practical issues and to think critically about the projects they are working on.
  • Empower youth – To empower youth provide an inviting environment where youth are encouraged to take on new leadership roles, express their ideas, and feel support through success and failures. Give youth a chance to share their skills and recognize and praise their work. These environments will inspire youth to reach their full potential.
  • Be intentional - To promote and support positive youth development and the 4-H mission, you must be intentional in your work with youth. Encourage a mutually caring and respectful relationship with youth, be sure to have your club meetings and activities well planned and organized, and understand your role in supporting the 4-H mission – empowering youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.

4HOnline Steps to Enroll a NEW member in Nebraska 4-H

Visit 4hOnline at, please use Google Chrome.

Select I need to set up a profile if you have not done so yet. Each household will have a profile, in which the 4-H youth for the household will be added. Individual youth will not have an individual login name.

Select the correct County of 4-H participation. If you are enrolled in more than one county, select your primary county here.

The email address will be used as the user/access id. Enter an email address you use and a password you will remember.

Last Name - Please enter the household last name

Select Create Login

1. Family Information (Profile Information)

Complete the required profile information.

Select whether you would prefer to receive the newsletter via email or mail.

*You do not need to change your password*

2. Additional youth/members to the Family/Profile

You may now add the youth in your household. Select Youth from the drop down option and select Add Member

If you have an adult volunteer in your household who is not listed iny our family already, you may add them as well.

3. Youth Personal Information

Now enter information for one specific youth in the household.
You may choose to change the email address to the youth’s email if so preferred.
The *asterisk areas are required, all other fields are optional.

Although not *asterisked, the following fields are required: Race, Ethnicity, Residence, Military Service, and Grade. This data contributes to Nebraska’s Federal report.

4. School Information

School information is not required however it does help the Extension Office with statistics and data driven program evaluation.

5. Additional Information - Code of Conduct and Waivers

The following page consists of the waivers we ask you to sign. Youth are required to electronically sign for one, and a parent or guardian as well.

6. Health Form

The health information is optional. However, if the 4-H members goes to a 4-H camp or participates in state or national events, we highly recommend you fill it out.

7. Add a Club

Please select a club from the drop down menu. If you are in more than one club, add them all. Select one as your primary club.

8. Add a Project

The next step is to choose the projects you wish to enroll in. Projects are all listed in the drop-down box. Choose one, select Add Project, then you may add more.
Once all your projects are entered, select Submit Enrollment.

9. Enrolling More Members of Household

You will then have the ability to enroll another youth for your same household/family following the same steps when you select Add Youth.

You may copy the parent information from the first youth you registered. Follow the same steps until all youth in your household are enrolled. The enrollment status will show pending until the information is confirmed by your local County Extension Staff. You will receive a confirmation email when the enrollment has been approved.

Once complete with everyone’s registration, log out in the upper right corner of the screen.

Creating Dynamic Leaders

Many of you may be asking yourselves, “What is a dynamic leader? If I am not already a dynamic leader, can I become one?” To best answer the question of what is, let’s break down the definition. Merriam Webster defines dynamic as “always active or changing, and or having or showing a lot of energy.” In relation, the source defines a leader as “a person who has commanding authority or influence.” So essentially, a dynamic leader would be a person who influences, is always active or changing with times, and/or has or shows a lot of energy. The answer to the second question is obvious – YES YOU CAN!

Nebraska 4-H is a youth organization that is ever changing and constantly striving to be bigger and better. As volunteers for the organization, you are committed to helping lead the organization in a positive direction. Being a dynamic leader and embracing the changes and advancements is one way to stay committed and connected. When thinking about how to be the best dynamic leader you can be, five dimensions of leadership ring true – Information, Attitude, Communication, Decision Making, and Stress Management.

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Being successful in these dimensions may seem like a stretch, but it is possible. Utilize your groups and volunteers to help spread information and keep communication open. Develop a plan that may use updates on social media or snip-its in the county newsletter to keep your unit up to date. Make decisions with confidence and carry an attitude that you want others to possess. You ARE a dynamic leader and you help “Make the Best Better.”

Career Connection to 4-H Projects

Nebraska 4-H encourages youth to explore a variety of careers to help them discover a potential career for themselves. To help fuel this career exploration or give them different opportunities to learn about new careers it is a great idea to connect the activities with their 4-H projects to a career.

There are several ways to have the youth think about their 4-H project as a career. One way would be to have a guest speaker come to the club meeting and talk about how they use the same skills in their job as the youth did in their project. It would also be beneficial if they would talk about their educational background as well. If a speaker is not available another option would be to have some of the participants job shadow a career related to their project. This would give them firsthand experience of what that job would entail.

To relate careers to different projects really think outside of the box. For example for electrical projects youth could learn about a career in fixing power lines, an electrician, or maybe someone that works with installing internet, television or phone lines.

New careers are always being created so you can encourage youth to utilize the skills they have gained from their projects to create a new career or business. One activity to do with a club would be to have them list different careers that utilize the skills that they learned in their project. Record keeping from an animal project could be used in a career such as a veterinarian, a banker, a journalist, and more. Another activity would be to have the youth think of different jobs that start with each letter of the alphabet staying within their 4-H project area such as Communications and Expressive Arts, Consumer and Family Science, Environmental Education and Earth Science, Healthy Lifestyles, Leadership, Citizenship and Personal Development, Plant Science, or Science, Engineering, and Technology.

Children love to get up and move around so to help connect jobs related to their projects write out a short job description that they have to act out like charades. This helps them to think about jobs in a different yet fun way. This activity can take as short as ten minutes or as long as thirty minutes. No matter what activity is selected, remember to always help the youth think about the future and how they can utilize what they enjoy now to select a future career.

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FIRST for 4-H!

So you’ve started a robotics program during your club meetings or afterschool programs, now what? The next step is to participate in a FIRST robotics competition! FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a not-for-profit organization devoted to helping youth discover and develop their passions for science, engineering, technology, and math. FIRST has partnered with the LEGO Group to create what they call the Ultimate Sport of the Mind, FIRSTRobotics. In Nebraska, FIRST robotics programs are arranged by Nebraska 4-H.

Every year Nebraska 4-H works to provide FIRST robotics competitions for three age levels through FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competitions. Jr. FLL, for youth in kindergarten thru third grade, show their knowledge by completing four tasks. Completion of the tasks prepares them to complete challenges at the Jr. FLL Showcase. FLL competitions, for youth in grades 4-8, challenge youth to build a LEGO-based robot and complete themed challenges each competition year. Completing a challenge with the LEGO-based robot is only one part of an FLL competition. The other two comonents of the competition are focused on team work and a team project centered on the yearly competition theme. Teams of 4 to 10 youth have the opportunity to compete at a qualifying competition in hopes of qualifying for the Nebraska State Robotics Expo, typically held in February. The third age level of robotics competitions in Nebraska, is FIRST Tec Challenge (FTC), for grades 7-12, where youth are in charge of creating their own robots and compete in an alliance format with other teams. FTC robot kits are designed to be reused from year to year and to be programmed using several different computer languages. Nebraska 4-H holds an FTC scrimmage and competition for teams in Nebraska. Each level of competition challenges youth through different tasks and obstacles.

The robotics competition season in Nebraska starts in December with FLL qualifying competitions and ends in February with the State robotics competitions. A great way to learn about the FIRST competitions is by getting involved with them. Lending your time to helping at a competition or going to watch is an excellent way to understand how the competition works and a glimpse into the preparation needed to participate. For more information about robotics competitions in your area contact your local Extension Office or

It's Time to Innovate Your Plate!

When it comes to eating, we think we have it all down pat, right? Well, from time to time it is good to reflect on the choices we are making. Sometimes, habits have developed over time that may not be the best for us nutritionally.

Let’s start with what is on your plate. Is it half full of fruits and vegetables? Many times, we are not getting enough fruits and vegetables. Think of using fruit and vegetables in new ways. You might incorporate vegetables as salads, combine vegetables with whole grains or add vegetables to your soup. Make vegetables taste great by using culinary techniques like roasting or grilling for caramelization. Use soy sauce, garlic, onion, small amounts of flavorful cheeses, olive oil, fresh herbs and spices for great flavor in your cooking.

Are there new ways you could incorporate additional fruit in your diet? How about fruit for dessert? Consider the “dessert flip” with more fruit and smaller pieces of indulgent favorites. Try to eat whole fruits most often. According to USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, 8 ounces of orange juice has 110 calories and no fiber. Eating an orange will give you 60 calories and 3 grams of fiber.

When you are looking for grains, choose whole grains most often. How do you know if it is whole grain? The first ingredient listed needs to be whole wheat, quinoa, barley, oats, bulgur wheat or brown rice. Look for the 100% whole grain stamp. Buy the whole grain version of foods you already love. Try white whole wheat flour, whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, old fashioned oatmeal, whole grain crackers and brown rice. Choose cereals containing bran or add unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite meal.

When consuming protein, use a variety of protein foods. This helps to create interest and variety and also provides cost savings. Check the unit price to make sure you are getting the best deal. Also, buy in bulk if you can use or freeze by the date on the package. To complete your meal, enjoy milk or water and limit sugary beverages.

As the seasons change, take an opportunity to change the foods you use. This adds new colors and textures to your plate. Examples of how you might help your 4-H members learn about innovating their plate are to model good habits, take a grocery store tour or to have an activity where youth get to see and taste different types of whole grains. For additional information and great resources, go to:;

Reaching Underserved Audiences

Let’s spread the good news of 4-H to as many youth as possible. Volunteers make it possible to reach underserved audiences within the community. This article addresses how 4-H volunteers can reach out to underserved audiences in the community. It includes quick tips for integration of underserved youth.

Underserved audiences are youth currently not involved in 4-H programming. These youth may also be referred to as first generation 4-H members. The first step in reaching these youth is to identify who and where they are. Identifying these youth is not all up to you! Begin by asking 4-H staff to identify who and where these youth are. Tip: Tap into your enthusiasm and confidence in the benefits of the 4-H program to motivate you to share the experience with underserved youth!

Introducing these youth to 4-H can be done with a welcoming event. Set up your event to allow youth to “sample” aspects of 4-H in general. Be prepared to follow up with youth following their attendance at this event. Tip: It may take multiple follow up contacts to encourage youth previously unfamiliar with 4-H member to feel connected with the organization.

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4-H has been in existence for over 100 years. An organization with such sustainability has its own culture, traditions, and language. 4-H members may not understand the words and acronyms we use in 4-H. Introducing these may take time and extra effort. They require teaching in addition to teaching project content. Tip: Create a short list of frequently used words or phrases with definitions for youth and their families new to 4-H.

When reaching new audiences, it may be beneficial to have an experienced adult or youth helping with new transitions. These mentors can become the go-to person for answering questions and fostering a warm, welcoming relationship with the first generation. Tip: Have the experienced individuals commit to specific individuals as they transition to the organization. Give them a list of suggested ways to connect with new persons during this time.

Once underserved audience members become a part of the 4-H program, fully engage them. Identifying content areas of interest and a road maps for participation is helpful. This work is not exclusively the work of the singular volunteer. It is a collective effort. Tip: Many individuals new to 4-H may not have a clear understanding of opportunities available. It may be helpful to have a short list of popular options for engagement in your county to offer.

Passion and commitment to sharing the benefits of 4-H can enable more Nebraska youth to experience positive youth development.

UNL's Campuses are Growing

If you haven’t been on UNL’s campus recently, there are changes happening everywhere. Both City and East Campuses are experiencing growth with new facilities being added to expand student learning and living opportunities. Also, Nebraska Innovation Campus, UNL’s third campus, has opened with exciting new spaces for students.

The Food Innovation Center at Nebraska Innovation Campus was completed in July 2015. This complex houses the Department of Food Science and Technology and includes state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, teaching kitchens, and enhanced student collaboration spaces. The Food Processing Center also relocated their pilot plant so students may get hands-on experience developing new food products. Students majoring in Food Science and Technology and Food Technology for Companion Animals began taking classes in the Food Innovation Center in the fall of 2015.

Also, in the summer of 2015, the newly renovated East Campus Recreation and Wellness Center opened. The updates on this all-university recreation center began five years ago with facility space being approximately double the amount previously available. The renovation features 56 cardio machines, a golf simulator room, group exercise studios, two indoor gyms and a walking/jogging track. A full service Scooters Coffee shop opened in the fall.

Nebraska 4-H Clubs are always encouraged to visit UNL campuses to learn more about these and other exciting projects. To schedule a group visit, contact Micaela Rahe in the UNL Office of Admissions at or 402-472-4471 or Sue Ellen Pegg with the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at or 402-472-0615.

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