XENIA — Ohio State University Extension officials announced Tuesday that all in-person 4-H programming through Monday, July 6 has been canceled.
This includes all 4-H programs, club meetings, activities, and events, plus 4-H camps through Monday, Aug. 31.
“We know this is an incredible disappointment and recognize how much everyone looks forward to our cherished 4-H summer events,” Kirk Bloir, assistant director of 4-H Youth Development, wrote in a letter. “As 4-H professionals committed to providing positive youth development programming, we share your sense of loss.”
Despite the in-person cancellations due to the spread of COVID-19, OSU Extension offices are getting creative in offering virtual 4-H experiences.
“The current public health situation has allowed all of us to expand our learning and teaching methods,” said Trevor Corboy, agriculture and natural resources educator for OSU Extension Greene County. “Within OSU Extension, from an agriculture and natural resources prospective, programs and services may look slightly different, but we are committed to serving our farmers and clients.”
According to Rebecca Supinger, OSU Extension Greene County 4-H youth development educator, 4-H clubs, species committees and the 4-H Advisory Committee, have been meeting virtually. A virtual rabbit clinic was held this week, and the annual quality assurance training will also be held via Zoom starting this month.
Virtual programs, including those for master gardener volunteers and the public, can be found online at greene.osu.edu. An edible landscaping program will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 16. Interested persons can register online and will be emailed a Zoom link to log in to the session.
Additional information about horse PAS, skill-a-thons, judging, shooting sports and quality assurance will be shared as available.
“As we move into late spring, we will also be launching virtual farm tours as part of an upcoming breakfast on the farm event in years to come,” Corboy said. “This should be an exciting opportunity for individuals and families to engage in the food system and where their food comes from.”
Supinger said the office is looking at ways to host a virtual camp this year.
“We are making it work and learning is happening still through 4-H,” she said.
Decisions regarding whether county fairs will go on, Bloir said, will be deferred to “local decision-makers and Gov. DeWine’s administration on the events owned by others.”
“Our decision to cancel in-person 4-H activities and events through July 6 and summer camps, should not automatically imply that local county fairs are also canceled at this time,” he wrote. “This continues to be an evolving situation that will require some negotiation and monitoring depending on decisions. We will be ready should fairs move forward and to pivot if they are cancelled.”
Bloir stressed the importance of modeling safety-conscious behaviors and keeping families safe.
”We do not want to get to the other side of this pandemic and wish that we had done more to keep our future generation of leaders safe and healthy,” he said. “We know the experiences will be different than we had hoped, yet we remain committed to working together to grow future generations of true leaders.”