Nebraska Extension 4-H Volunteer Newsletter - February 2019

In the February Spotlight!

  • Volunteer Screening Process

  • A Commitment to Youth Safety

  • Grab & Go: Leadership

  • Contest: Dairy Judging Offers Additional Opportunity

  • Crop Programming Opportunities

  • Will you accept the challenge?

  • Heritage-Every family has their stories

  • UNL-Forensic Science

Volunteer Screening Process - By Melissa Nordboe

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In 2018, the volunteer screening process changed to an online process in order to make it easier for receiving and reviewing information as well as make it more convenient and timelier for 4-H volunteers. This new online process also eliminated the need for the local Extension Office to view personal information in the verification.

All volunteers who work directly with youth are required to complete the Nebraska 4-H volunteer screening process. It is done in order to assure a safe, positive and nurturing environment for all youth involved with the Nebraska 4-H programs and provide protection. The volunteer screening fee is currently being covered by the State 4-H Office.

There are several steps involved when completing the Online Volunteer Screening:

1. Request an Invitation

Contact your local Extension Office with name and e-mail

2. Complete the Online Screening Application

You will receive an email from Department of Health and Human Services to the email address you provide. You must complete all sections within 30 days of receiving the email. Must complete in one sitting.

3. Check your E-mail for Response

You will receive an email from DHHS Central Registry within 24 hours.

Once you have completed your volunteer screening, you are good for five years. When it is time for re-screening, volunteers will receive an invitation once again from DHHS.

Club Management: A Commitment to Youth Safety - By Chandra Giles

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Since the early 1900’s American parents have been trusting 4-H Clubs to protect and help their youth develop their Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. The positive youth development concepts taught and practiced through 4-H have resulted in the positive youth development of young people throughout the nation for generations. There is a longstanding tradition of keeping 4-H youth safe as they participate in 4-H activities. This leads to a more effective learning environment and more positive impact.

The University of Nebraska in cooperation with Nebraska Extension 4-H is committed to continue this tradition of positive youth development through keeping Nebraska youth safe in 4-H programming. Nebraska Activity Worker Guidelines can be found at:

All 4-H volunteers should review these guidelines regularly and follow them at every activity.

4-H volunteers are encouraged to think through the risks, dangers, reasons, and benefits of activities they are planning. There is a comprehensive list of questions volunteers should ask themselves as they are planning an activity. Youth and adult volunteer interaction guidelines are also covered in this policy. All Nebraska adults are mandatory abuse and neglect reporters. This includes Nebraska 4-H volunteers.

Our Nebraska 4-H volunteers are the valuable resource that enables such a timeless impact of positive youth development through 4-H. Please help us continue this tradition as you carefully review and implement the youth activity guidelines in your teaching and leading activities. It is your commitment and involvement that results in such a great positive youth development impact every 4-H year.

Grab & Go: Leadership Lesson - By Julie Kreikemeier

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Leadership is a key quality we look for in others. 4-H provides youth with several leadership opportunities as they participate in a variety of different projects and activities. A strong component of good leadership is being able to listen and talk to others as part of a team or group. Teamwork Tightrope is a great activity for youth to find a way to increase communication while working as part of a team!

Preparation Before the Activity:

Each group will need a ring, or cardboard circle, that has twelve pieces of yarn tied to it. Each piece of yarn should be the same length. Yarn pieces should be able to move around the whole ring for participants to spread out.

Materials Needed:

Ring or cardboard circle with strings attached

Tennis ball

Bowl or cup



How easy is it to work on a team? How do you include everyone in the decision making process when working on a team? How important is communication when working on a team? Today we are going to discover how important communication is to working on a team.

Activity Instructions:

Split the youth into groups of six. Have each member of the group pick up one, or more, of the strings attached to the rings.

The goal of this activity is to have the youth lift up the tennis ball with the ring and walk across the room and drop the tennis ball into the bowl or cup.

Have the youth practice working together and listening to each other to accomplish the task.

The facilitator could change up the activity by:

Having a few youth hold closer to the ring

Having a few youth be blindfolded

Not allowing youth to talk

Having a few youth hold the string closely to the ring and some youth holding the string as far from the ring as possible.

Reflection Questions:

Was your team successful the first time? Why or why not?

How did you make changes to become successful?

Was it hard listening to everyone at the same time?

Applying it to real life:

What leadership skills did you use during this activity?

How can you utilize the skills you developed during this activity in everyday life?

Contest: Dairy Judging Offers Additional Opportunity - Tracy Behnken

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Pictured above - 2018 Nebraska 4-H Dairy Judging Team and coaches at the National 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Contest at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.

More than likely, the majority of you reading this article are not familiar with dairy judging. Regardless, certainly most know that providing judging opportunities for 4-H youth can help increase self-confidence and develop good character. And as a result of learning how to judge, youth gain life skills such as communication, decision making and the art of defending their own decisions.

For Nebraska 4-H members there are several opportunities to be involved with judging. The Nebraska 4-H Program offers several state contests during PASE (Premier Animal Science Event) in June. Those contests include Livestock Judging, Poultry Judging, and Meats Judging, as well as Livestock Skill-a-thon and Livestock Quiz Bowl. In addition, Life Challenge is a two-day event designed to help youth learn about issues related to family and consumer science and offer competition in the Foods & Nutrition Challenge, Human Development Challenge, Design Challenge, and Entrepreneurship Investigation Challenge.

So what about dairy judging? The state contest is the Nebraska 4-H Dairy Judging and Nebraska FFA Dairy Evaluation Contest that is held on the first Saturday of the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island. This contest is unique in that youth may participate in both the 4-H and FFA portions of the contest as long as they meet both 4-H and FFA eligibility requirements and enter in both (twice) contests to compete in both.

In addition to judging competitively on a local and state level, 4-H members have an opportunity to represent Nebraska on a national level. Most contests are designed that 4-H’ers will compete in the state contest as part of a local team and if selected will compete on a national level as part of the same team. The dairy judging contest is a bit different as it supports youth who might not be part of a team. In Nebraska, the top four highest scoring Senior Division individuals at the state contest are selected to represent Nebraska at a national 4-H dairy judging contest and those four individuals form the state team.

Although many Nebraska 4-H youth are much less familiar with dairy cattle judging, it does create an additional opportunity to those 4-H and FFA members who are knowledgeable in basic judging and giving oral reasons. To support efforts of learning how to judge dairy cattle, 4-H leaders, FFA advisors, Extension staff, parents and youth should reach out to their community to identify volunteers with a dairy judging background who could help support them. Additional resources to assist in learning are available on the Nebraska 4-H Dairy Judging website at

For more information about the state contest, go to: or contact Tracy J. Behnken, Extension Educator and 4-H Dairy Judging Contest Superintendent at

Crop Programming Opportunities - By Brandy VanDeWalle

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8th Annual Innovative Youth Corn Challenge

Do you enjoy being outside? Learning new things about crops? Considering a career involving crops, insects, diseases, soils, water or more? Do you want to help figure out how to feed our world’s growing population in a sustainable way?

Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board are offering the eighth Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. This contest, open to 4-H members (age 10 & older as of Jan. 1st) or FFA members (in-school members), guides participants through all aspects of corn production, as well as agricultural careers related to corn production.

As a team (2 or more participants), youth will be challenged to implement a production practice different than normal to determine if they increased their yield. Economics and sustainability of the practice will also be considered. Yields, cropping history, and production information will be collected in the Corn Yield Challenge management summary.

Cash prizes and plaques are given. First place receives $1,000, second place receives $500, and third place receives $250. Sustainability, crop scouting and “extra mile” awards are also given as cash awards.

To participate in 2019, youth must complete and return an entry form by March 15th to the Fillmore County Extension Office in Geneva, NE. Forms can be downloaded after January 1st at For more information, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at

Youth Crop Scouting Competition

Nebraska Extension also offers the 6th annual Crop Scouting Competition for Nebraska youth. This contest is at the ARDC near Mead, Nebraska on July 23, 2019. The event includes indoor and outdoor events. Teams of junior high and high school students (those completing 7-12th grades) are invited to participate.

Clubs or other organizations may enter a team composed of three to five participants. An adult team leader must accompany each team. Team leaders could be FFA advisors, crop consultants, extension staff, coop employees, etc.

Top-scoring teams win prizes: $500 for first, $250 for second, $100 for third place. Top two teams are eligible for regional competition in August at Nebraska.

Teams are expected to know basics of scouting corn and soybean fields. This includes crop staging; looking for patterns of crop injury; disease, insect and weed seedling identification; etc. Other topics may include but are not limited to, pesticide safety, nutrient disorders, and herbicide injury.

More information about the crop scouting competition and instructions on how to register a team are available online at

Teams must be registered by July 15th. This program is sponsored by DuPont Pioneer, Farm Credit Services, Nebraska Independent Crop Consultant Association and Nebraska Extension.

Will you accept the challenge? - By Tayler Wickham

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Is there anything more fun than working with your hands to create something cool or seeing a great idea come to life? We don’t think so, and entrepreneurs would agree.

The dictionary defines an entrepreneur as someone “who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks” of a new idea. But in Nebraska 4-H, we know being an entrepreneur is more than that. It is questioning the reality of your ideas but going for them anyway. It is the ability to see potential growth and make things happen. It is finding a friend with a common interest and talking about your dreams. It is all of that and so much more.

Do you have 4-H’ers in your club or community who genuinely love to create, talk about ideas or cannot stop asking questions? We see entrepreneurship potential in not only those youth, but every youth. We believe everyone has the potential to be an entrepreneur. And this article will easily show you how to build onto those skills.

Nebraska 4-H supports entrepreneurship programs for youth of all ages. For information about all that is available to you, visit But the easiest way to build on entrepreneurship skills or provide opportunities for the development of those skills is to host an entrepreneurship challenge!

Here are 5 steps to implement a fun entrepreneurship challenge!

· Locate the problem. What is something you want fixed? Is there something lacking in the 4-H program? What is a tool that could make life easier?

· Gather supplies. In order to open the doors to creativity, providing various supplies for the youth to work with makes creating more fun. Once they know the problem, give them all of the tools they’ll need to create. (This is also a great way to use miscellaneous craft supplies!)

· The challenge. Be sure to present the challenge in a way that sounds fun! Give youth a time limit, allow them to work in teams and encourage friendly competition.

· The pitch. When youth are done creating, host a pitch competition! All ideas should be shared and celebrated.

· Tie it together. Discuss what they learned about entrepreneurship & how they can continue this way of thinking.

So next time you need to find new ideas for club meetings or need a solution to a common problem, look to your 4-H youth to help you build those new ideas. You never know what life-changing idea can come from a simple conversation.

Heritage-Every family has their stories! - By Rhonda Herrick

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Every family has their stories. They have their unique traditions or their moments of pride that should be shared from generation to generation. The 4-H Heritage Project is a 4-H project to help youth learn more about their genealogy and their family roots. Whether it is telling the story of an ancestor that is famous or tracing the lineage on the family tree, there is so much to learn in the 4-H Heritage project.

4-Hers can use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, pictures or historical items to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its family members. 4-H’ers then may use that information to develop exhibits to depict the heritage of the member’s family, community or 4-H history.

Exhibits may include…

· Heritage Poster or flat exhibit-may be pictures, posters, items that depict family heritage.

· Family Genealogy/History Notebook-may include pedigree charts/family group sheets, with documentation for two-three generations of one family line.

· Local History Scrapbook/Notebook-depicts history of local community or Nebraska.

· Framed family groupings-pictures showing family history.

· Other exhibits-can be exhibits of historical value that do not fit into another class.

· 4-H History Scrapbook-a scrapbook relating 4-H history of local or county 4-H.

· 4-H History Poster-poster relating 4-H history of a club, county or individual.

· Story or illustration-about a historical event.

· Book review-about local, Nebraska or regional history.

· Family Traditions Book-scrapbook depicting family traditions of the past.

· Family Traditions Exhibit-depicting family traditions of the past.

· 4-H Club/County Scrapbook-relating to 4-H History of local club or county compiled by the 4-H club historian.

· 4-H Member Scrapbook-relating to an individual 4-H’ers history.

· Special Events Scrapbook-relating to a 4-H special event.

4-H’ers enrolled in the Heritage Project for 5 or more years may also consider developing these exhibits….

· Nebraska Exhibit-depicting the importance of a community or Nebraska historic landmark.

· Community Report-documenting something of historical significance from past to present.

· Historic collection-depicting a collection of historical significance.

· Video/DVD-a documentary of an individual, family or community event.

Each exhibit must include Supporting Material. The supporting material is a written statement showing the historical significance of each exhibit. It is very important to include in your description birthdates, marriage dates, death dates and complete names whenever possible. All pictures should be identified with individual names. This includes large group photos and photos in scrapbooks. Supporting material may include stories of the exhibit or people in the exhibit. Youth should ask themselves, what significance does this exhibit have to the history of a member’s family? What makes this exhibit unique or important to them personally? Exhibits should not be larger than 22” x 28” wide. If you have an exhibit that is larger, special permission must be granted from the State Fair Superintendents.

The 4-H Heritage project allows young people to explore, discover and to gain insight into their family history. By doing so, history is preserved and shared for future generations.

“I wish I had realized that family history is a perishable commodity. It disappears with time, as memories fade and as loved ones pass on. I wish I had known the most important aspect of family history is preserving a record of the present for the future.”

Guy Black

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Forensic Science - By Carly Horstman

Forensic science is the use of multiple sciences, such as chemistry, biology and physics, to help analyze physical evidence at a crime scene. Every crime scene and every scenario is different. If you love science and have a passion for solving problems, UNL’s Forensic Science degree program may be for you.

All faculty in the Forensic Science program continue to conduct research in their specific fields, and many maintain close ties to law enforcement and investigative agencies on a consulting basis. That means they stay current on the latest fieldwork, discoveries and advancements—and you will, too. Better yet, smaller class sizes in the program give you the opportunity to establish closer relationships with these forensic science professionals. These aren't simply teachers. They are mentors and leaders who are devoted to helping you join them one day as a professional colleague.

Graduates from UNL’s Forensic Science degree program tend to seek careers in law enforcement, crime laboratories, the office of a medical examiner, or other government agencies. You can also be qualified to attend graduate school, medical school, or law school if you choose to further your education. The requirements for students in this degree program help prepare you for real life situations you may encounter in your profession. Each student is required to complete a Capstone course where they will analyze a staged crime scene and present their findings in a mock trial with UNL’s Law students. Students are also strongly encouraged to do one or more internships to gain experience in different forensic science career fields.

With your forensic science degree from UNL’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR), you'll have the technical know-how, the hands-on experience and the intellectual flexibility to adapt to virtually any criminal investigation. You will be able to apply your science knowledge and your skills to interpret the evidence and arrive at sound conclusions.

If you are interested in the Forensic Science degree program or would like to schedule a UNL campus visit, please contact Carly Horstman at or 402-472-4445.

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