Nebraska Extension 4-H Volunteer Newsletter - January 2020

In the January Spotlight!

  • 4-H Experiential Learning "Process over Product"

  • More than Just a Club Meeting

  • Leadership Begins with Knowing Yourself

  • Communication, Me & 4-H Youth - How to Talk Positively with Youth

  • 4-H Horse Judging Opportunities

  • Handwashing

  • Creating Opportunities for Leadership - at All Ages

4-H Experiential Learning "Process over Product" - By Ashley Benes

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Positive Youth Development or the effort to provide youth with opportunities to enhance their interests, skills and abilities is the building block of 4-H Youth Development. One of the ways we accomplish this is through utilizing experiential learning. This article will focus on the background of the experiential learning model, the steps of the model and what this looks like in practice.

4-H Youth development and the curriculum we utilize in our project development is based on the experiential learning model developed by David Kolb in 1984 which was based on Dewey’s (1970) principles. Experiential learning is a learning theory which refers to a process during which young people learn skills and develop knowledge through real-world, hands-on experiences. This model has been adapted over time, and the model used by 4-H Youth Development today has five basic phases as illustrated in the image.

When using this model, youth are able to both experience and process the activity. The experiential learning model allows youth to participate in engaging, stimulating activities that have a real-world basis. The experiential activities help the learners to connect what they are learning to prior knowledge and apply it to new situations or problems. They learn from thoughts and ideas about the experience and each of the five steps are important to contribute to the learning. We know benefits for youth participating in the experiential learning process include:

  • Learning from each other by sharing knowledge and skills
  • working together and sharing information learned
  • taking responsibility for their own learning
  • relating experiences to their lives

How can you provide experiential learning to the youth in your club or program? Some examples are: Play a game, experiments, youth lead activities, presenting, problem-solving, interviewing, and making models or products. Just as importantly, engaging in shared learning experiences creates social and cultural bonds that influence identity, relationships, goals, and success.

No matter what club, workshop, Afterschool or School enrichment 4-H project your youth are working on, remember it is the learning process rather than the end product that remains the most important. Utilize the experiential learning model to EXPERIENCE real-world problems, SHARE their experience, PROCESS their thoughts and ideas about that experience, GENERALIZE and relate it to their lives and APPLY what they learned to future situations.

●Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Princeton,JN: Prentice-Hall. ●National 4-H Learning working Group. (2016). Experiential Learning Model. Retrieved from

More than Just a Club Meeting - by Tessa Reece

4-H club meetings provide youth the experience to grow life skills, learn together, and have fun. Many clubs meet 9-12 times a year holding meetings. 4-H club meetings should have three components: fun, business, and learning. Typically a 4-H Club Meeting agenda includes:

  • Call to order
  • Pledge of Allegiance and 4-H Pledge
  • Roll call
  • Minutes of last meeting
  • Unfinished business
  • New business
  • Adjournment

Below are four tips on how to mix up your 4-H club meetings to further education and keep interest:

  1. Planned Recreation – Allowing 15-20 minutes at every meeting for recreation this adds enthusiasm and enjoyment. The planned recreation could be at the beginning or end of a meeting. Recreational games might include ice breakers, team building activities, or project related games. Encourage parents to occasionally participate to provide an opportunity for youth-to-adult interaction. Youth have a tremendous amount of energy, so they have a great need for activity!
  2. Demonstrations or guest speakers – Adding demonstrations or guest speakers is an easy way to enhance learning. If club members give project demonstrations, they will develop self-confidence and enhance their public speaking skills. Local business owners, health professionals, law enforcement, older 4-H members, Extension staff, or volunteers could be invited to club meeting to speak or provide a demonstration.
  3. Activity Days – Offer opportunities for youth to “learn by doing” by holding your meeting in connection with a project day, tour, party, or over-night trip. The 4-H members will enjoy planning this and may want to invite others to participate.
  4. Community Service projects – “I pledge…my hands to larger service…for my club, my community, my country, and my world.” It is important to plan community service projects into 4-H club calendars to strengthen positive youth development. Quick community service project ideas might involve; local senior center, environment clean-up, homeless, schools, special needs, arts, government, and the military.

All of the tips may not be part of every meeting, but should be included throughout the year for a well-balanced program. Contact your county extension staff or other volunteers for learning and recreational activity suggestions.

Leadership Begins with Knowing Yourself - By Kimberly Cook

Leadership begins with knowing yourself and understanding your talents and strengths. Helping youth realize their talents and strengths is the beginning to discovering themselves. Before they can lead others, they must be aware and confident of their own leadership abilities. Knowing and recognizing their personal qualities and talents helps them to take on the leadership roles for which they are best suited and can build self-esteem and confidence.

Help the youth get a head start on discovering themselves to begin unlocking their leadership potential.



A Bag of Candy (enough so each youth has 7 pieces), Paper, Pencils, Flip Chart Paper, Markers


Place 7 pieces of candy in a bag for each participant. Write these seven statements on the flipchart: "What is... 1. Something you do well physically? 2. Something you like about your appearance? 3. Something you like about your personality? 4-7. Four other positive attributes of yourself?"


Pass out the bags of candy, a sheet of paper, and pencils to each participant. Tell youth not to eat the candy. They must earn it first by sharing talents and strengths.

Have them write the answers on their paper to the questions listed on the flip chart. Give examples of possible answers to each question. (Possible examples: 1. I am a very good artist. 2. I have nice hair. 3. I make friends easily. 4. I play the piano well. 5. I am good in history. 6. I keep my locker clean. 7. I am a good softball pitcher.) These can include sports, arts, music, household, leadership or work-related tasks. Make sure the participants do not use modifiers such as "sort of" or "for my age."

Have participants read their lists to the rest of the group. After they say each positive thing, they may eat a piece of candy.


  • Was it easy or difficult to identify nice things about yourself? Why or why not? Is it okay to feel good about yourself?
  • What are the negative effects of always putting oneself down?
  • Did you have similar or different attributes than others in the group? What positive attributes are similar? Discuss why being different is okay.
  • How can you help someone attain a positive self-image?


  • How can you improve your self-image? How can an improved self-image affect one's life?
  • How can you use your positive attributes to make your club or community better? Which attributes relate to leadership?

Communication, Me & 4-H Youth - How to Talk Positively with Youth - By Jane Esau

What do children need to help them learn? To grow up happy? They need to know that adults care, in general, and certainly in 4-H. Caring through communication makes a difference, helping to bring out the best in them. Positive communication has a dramatic effect on strengthening relationships. Positive communication will increase understanding, kindness and cooperation with friends, family and community.

Effective communication drives all aspects of day-to-day life. In our own unique way, we communicate with others throughout every day. As a 4-H volunteer, you are in a unique position to guide youth through projects and activities. By using positive communication skills, you will motivate, encourage, and validate progress. Positively communicating with children shows your acceptance and support.

Have you noticed how you present your thoughts or listen when you communicate with someone? You probably use different modes, such as gestures, facial expressions, words, notes, e-mail, or phone conversations. As you communicate positively with youth, you will determine which ways are most effective for you.

How can you best communicate with youth? Be yourself. Be honest. Learn their names. Meet their parents. Give them your undivided attention, as much as possible. Introduce them to people. Include them in conversations. Kneel, squat, or sit so you’re at their eye level. Notice when they’re absent.

Tell them what you expect, in 4-H projects, club activities, and in general. Give clear directions. Introduce them to new experiences. Show your interest by asking questions. Encourage them to think big. Inspire their creativity. Make decisions together. Encourage win-win situations and solutions. Share their excitement. Suggest better behaviors when necessary.

Expect their best; don’t expect perfection. Respect the choices they make. Give them immediate feedback. Give compliments. Cheer their efforts and applaud their success. Encourage them to help others. Thank them. Have fun together.

Here’s a novel communication tool… use your ears more than your mouth. Listen. Welcome their ideas. Learn what they have to teach. Follow them when they lead. Answer their questions.

Communication goes a long way beyond what you say to youth; your words are important, but your actions speak loudly, as well. Remember your role as a 4-H volunteer to nurture youth with good words. The best communication is an avenue for adult volunteers to share your skills, while equally as important, to learn what they have to teach. Positive communication can bring about desirable outcomes and generate good feelings, improve self-esteem, increase motivation, inspire productivity, increase happiness and success. Your communication in 4-H and life can help make a child’s dreams, big and small, feel possible and become a reality.

4-H Horse Judging Opportunities - By Kate Pulec

State 4-H Horse Judging Contest

Do you have youth looking to improve their self-confidence and public-speaking skills while demonstrating their knowledge on horse conformation and performance?

The goal of the 4-H Horse Judging Contest is to provide youth with an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and public-speaking skills on horse conformation and the performance of a horse and rider in a class. This team contest takes place during the State Horse Expo in Grand Island in July. Each team consists of 3 to 4 participants. Junior teams are participants between the ages of 10-13 as of January 1. Senior teams are participants between the ages of 14-18 as of January 1.

The Horse Judging Contest consists of up to four halter classes and four performance classes. Contestants will give oral reasons on two of the halter classes and two of the performance classes. Fifty points shall constitute a perfect score on placing and on their reasoning.

The highest placing purple ribbon senior team will qualify as the Nebraska representative to the designated national or multi-state event.

There are many great horse judging resources and activities for leaders and youth online. A few can be found at:

Entry forms for the State Horse Judging Contest are completed and submitted by local Extension offices. Please contact your local Extension office by June 15 to enter. Entry fees are $10. For more information about the Horse Judging Contest, visit

Horse Judging School

The UNL Horse Department is also offering a great horse judging learning opportunity - Horse Judging School, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., March 7, 2020, at UNL Animal Science Complex, East Campus.

This school is for horse show judges, aspiring judges, judging team coaches and youth! They will have classroom demonstrations, as well as live classes to judge. The main classes will cover: Western Pleasure, Western Horsemanship and Speed Events.

This is a great event to practice your horse judging knowledge and skills for 2020. Leaders, coaches and youth are encouraged to register!

The early registration deadline is February 29, with an early-bird discount: Youth $30, Adults $40 (lunch provided). Registration at the door will be: Youth $40, Adults $50

Register at:

Handwashing - By Brenda Aufdenkamp

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Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.

How do germs get onto hands and make people sick?

Feces (poop) from people or animals is an important source of germs like Salmonella, E. coli O157, and norovirus that cause diarrhea, and it can spread some respiratory infections like adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease. These kinds of germs can get onto hands after people use the toilet or change a diaper, but also in less obvious ways, like after handling raw meats that have invisible amounts of animal poop on them. A single gram of human feces—which is about the weight of a paper clip—can contain one trillion germs. Germs can also get onto hands if people touch any object that has germs on it because someone coughed or sneezed on it or was touched by some other contaminated object. When these germs get onto hands and are not washed off, they can be passed from person to person and make people sick.

Creating Opportunities for Leadership - at All Ages - By Ann Dobesh

Quite often, we think of leadership as something that is reserved for older 4-H’ers, perhaps serving as an officer or a committee chairperson. While leadership may look different at eight than it does at fifteen, there are indeed many occasions for youth to discover leadership at all ages. As a volunteer or parent, you can have a hand in creating those experiences.


Create opportunities for youth to develop confidence and communication skills. Some simple ways to do this include:

  • Serving as a pledge leader. Consider rotating this role so that more youth can be involved.
  • 4-H Workshop reports– invite all youth to report on an educational experience that they took part in since the last meeting. You could make this a permanent addition to the agenda.


Club decision making is important to helping youth learn problem solving skills. Find a project that is appropriate to the age level of your members and invite them to share their ideas. Writing an idea down on a sticky note can be a way to invite their participation in the planning process.


Have a welcome committee for each meeting. Members can work together to welcome others as they arrive. Not only does it provide a leadership role, but it helps everyone get to know each other.


In the 4-H project, “Step Up to Leadership – Mentor Guide for Grades K-5”, there are several lessons that draw upon leadership skills, such as collaboration, communication, relationship building, teamwork, and goal setting. Choose one or more of these for a club lesson. Consider having one of your older 4-H’ers help lead it.


When it comes the time of year to report on what 4-H’ers have done, it may be helpful to work together as a club to recognize where leadership has occurred. Have your members share ways that they have been a leader. The following are some ideas that may show up on your list:

Served as a pledge leader; helped clean up after every meeting; gave a report at the meeting; shared ideas for the club project; nominated a member for an officer; made a motion; welcomed members to the meeting; ran for an officer role; hosted a meeting; lead an ice-breaker; learned about the qualities of a good leader.

By taking small steps early, youth of all ages can develop skills to be True Leaders in 4-H and in life.

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Is a Career in Food for You? - By Carly Horstman

There are so many degree programs out there that ready students for almost anything you could ever want a career in. Among over 150 majors at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, there is one that prepares you for careers working with food. This degree program is called Food Science and Technology and is part of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. This specific major, along with Food Technology for Companion Animals, is housed on UNL’s Innovation Campus.

If you have many different interest areas and like being challenged in the fields of science and math, this major is a great option for you. Combining biological sciences, physical science, food science, math, social sciences, and humanities, this program covers it all! Classes for this degree may include Food Composition and Analysis, Advanced Nutrition, and Fruit and Vegetable Processing. You can also select classes in this major to allow you to focus on specific interests such as food engineering, food safety and microbiology, and processing electives. Students may also participate in an internship program that provides summer employment in the food industry to gain valuable experience in the industry.

Food Science and Technology graduates find career opportunities with food processing firms, government agencies and educational institutions. Types of positions available include product development, quality assurance, food plant management, food research, food marketing and sales, education, and extension. Food Science and Technology graduates can also pursue careers in medicine, pharmacy, and other health-related careers.

If you are interested in this degree or any of the 30 majors in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, please contact Carly Horstman at 402-472-4445.

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