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Buckle up for an Indiana 4-H summer

In 1919, an influenza pandemic prevented youth in Indiana from participating in an annual Purdue event held for farmers and rural youth, forcing leaders to organize an event for youth in the spring that many now know as 4-H Round-Up. Just over 100 years later, 4-H leaders are once again reinventing programming because of a pandemic.

“No matter the circumstances, Purdue Extension continues to offer practical research-based information to our communities. As the needs in our communities change, the programs that are offered also change. The same is true for Indiana 4-H,” says Sam Williams, 4-H youth development educator and county extension director in Pulaski County.

With the COVID-19 pandemic changing needs for additional programming and education, Indiana 4-H looks forward to finding new ways to reach new and currently involved youth this summer.

2021 Indiana 4-H Road Show

Instead of bringing crowds together for annual summer events such as 4-H Academy at Purdue, State 4-H Junior Leader Conference and 4-H Round-Up, Indiana 4-H is inviting youth in grades 7-12 to participate in the 2021 Indiana 4-H Road Show, an 18-day event series.

Attending one-day sessions held at multiple locations throughout the state, youth will learn about topics varying from bees and wildlife to aviation, leadership and medical services. Participants do not need to be 4-H members, creating a great opportunity to explore 4-H programming.

“The Indiana 4-H Road Show will engage youth with Purdue University faculty and staff members as they have come to expect from our typical, on-campus events during the summer,” said Casey Mull, assistant director of extension, 4-H youth development. “We are excited to bring a little bit of the West Lafayette campus to our 92 counties.”

Madison Powell, Tipton County 4-H’er and 2021 State 4-H Junior Leader Council member, is assisting with developing and implementing the road show and is eager to share her love of 4-H with new and current 4-H participants.

“I’m most excited to get people pumped for this year. This roadshow is going to jumpstart everyone’s excitement about 4-H, learning and leadership,” said Powell. “I think the 4-H roadshow is going to open a lot of doors for kids to see what the 4-H program is all about.”

Session descriptions, location lists, and registration details can be found at purdue.ag/4hroadshow. Contact your local 4-H youth development educator for more information and registration help: bit.ly/contactIN4H.

“The great thing about 4-H is that it ties so many different communities together. I don’t own any livestock or live on a farm; I do inside projects. But my best friend lives on a farm, has livestock and is part of a rural community,” said Powell. “4-H tied us together. It can take people from all walks of life and teach them the same life skills.”

County Fairs

Indiana 4-H is also working closely with local health and safety officials in each county to plan in-person events including county fairs.

Amber Barks, Purdue Extension 4-H youth development educator in Hancock County, hopes to have as much of a “normal” fair as possible to celebrate Hancock County’s 165th fair.

“We plan on having in-person 4-H project judging, livestock shows with animals staying overnight, commercial booths, food vendors and a carnival. We have been in contact with our health department to ensure we are following county and state guidelines for our events,” said Barks. “Our goal is to be able to highlight the hard work of our 4-H members and bring the community back together.”

Pulaski County 4-H and Community Fair is also looking forward to planning an in-person fair while considering the safety of everyone involved.

“Collaborations are essential in preparation for an event like this in times like these. We are thankful for the many community partners who have claimed ownership in helping to make this coming fair a safe and enjoyable celebration of our 4-H youth achievements for all area kids and community to enjoy,” said Elaine Zeider, Pulaski County 4-H & Community Fair Association president.

“We understand that 4-H may look different this year, but when we think about the life skills youth learn through their 4-H projects it is worth the investment.  Youth learn by doing and 4-H fosters that growth and creates lifelong learners,” added Barks.

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