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University of Minnesota Extension

Youth development program report: Spring 2021

Map of 4-H in Minnesota broken down into these puzzle pieces: Northern Minnesota: Creative and performing arts, science and engineering, leadership and civic engagement and summer camp. Central Minnesota: animal science, agriculture and horticulture and photography and video. Southern Minnesota: Outdoor adventures, good and nutrition and college and career pathways.

Empowering all Minnesota youth to thrive

Minnesota 4-H continues to empower all Minnesota youth to thrive. In spring 2021 we adapted to new challenges. We created new digital and in-person opportunities to engage youth deeply in learning and leadership. We remained committed to helping youth grow through hands-on learning and to connecting youth to supportive volunteers.

Our mission did not change, but the ways we have reshaped our programs did. No matter where or what the environment is — from computer to farm to home — 4-H is there for youth and communities. 

In 4-H, learning has no bounds.

Kids in the woods snowshoeing.

In nature

Because of pandemic restrictions, 4-H took to the great outdoors to safely build youth learning and leading opportunities. More than 35 outdoor programs around the state got nearly 1,200 youth active in their natural environments. From fishing to snowshoeing, 4-H’ers learned more about the natural world and the health benefits of being outdoors. 

More than 90 new 4-H members joined the Choose Your Own Outdoor Adventure program, focusing on outdoor skills, wildlife, habitats and the importance of protecting Minnesota’s natural resources. Youth explored topics like outdoor photography and fishing. 

“When I made the hand-over-fist rod, the first thing I wanted to do was get on the ice and use my rod with my dad.  I was very excited and proud of myself when I caught my very first fish on it.” - 4-H youth fishing participant



Kids showing off the outerwear they collected for a drive.

In communities 

Minnesota 4-H youth learned more about issues affecting their communities and set out to solve issues as a group. Statewide service projects engaged youth to make a difference in their community. Youth conducted 67 projects around the state, such as creating care packages for nursing home residents or cleaning up local parks and roads.

A coordinated winter outerwear drive had youth  collecting necessary winter gear for all youth to safely explore and play outside. They gathered over 2,000 articles of winter clothing at 17 collection sites around the state to help kids in need.   

“It can get really cold waiting for the bus outside in the morning and I could not imagine what it would be like without warm winter gear.”- 4-H youth winter outerwear participant


In the home

In 4-H, youth built life skills — like learning how to cook tasty treats and meals. Statewide, 20 cooking programs involved 540 youth to bake, grill and saute in the kitchen. Youth pre-purchased cooking supplies and met online to put the ingredients together. 

Southeast educators debuted two new programs — 4-H Baking club and 4-H Breakfast club — as interest in cooking programs continued to build. Youth in the breakfast club made pancakes, egg bake and breakfast burritos. Hands-on learning never tasted so good.

“They are learning how to follow a recipe, not just make something from a box or frozen bag!" - Parent of a 4-H cooking participant

Spring 2021 programming at a glance

Green circle that says 292 4-H programs from January-June 2021
Green circle that says 8,540 engaged 4-H'ers
Green circle that says 3x increase in 4-H programming
3 kids playing milk the goat game

On the farm 

4-H provided 39 animal science programs, engaging over 2,000 youth from cities, towns and farms. No matter where youth lived, they were able to learn about animals and meet area farmers. Our youngest 4-H’ers learned about raising bunnies with the 4-H Bunny Barn program and about different animal species with the Down on the Farm program. 93% of participants learned more about animals. 

“Different people have different skill sets and strengths and it is for the betterment of all if you learn how to incorporate everyone's strengths.” – 2021 Project Bowl youth participant

Older 4-H youth tested their knowledge and deepened their learning in Project Bowl. 615 youth from around the state competed in teams of three to five youth to test their knowledge in these 4-H areas: dairy, dog, general livestock, horse, llama/alpaca, poultry, rabbit and wildlife. 98% of youth learned to work together with other youth and 95% of participants learned more about their project topic. 

Youth on computer

On the computer

Online learning isn’t boring. 4-H staff worked hard to innovate programs, and youth showed up online because it was fun, engaging and meaningful. 4-H staff mixed online with in-person learning to keep excitement and interest high. 

4-H STEM programs creatively used technology to connect youth around the state. 46 STEM programs were offered, with more than 1,000 participants. The Green Superheroes of Science program challenged K-3rd grade youth to think like scientists and engineers. Youth explored ways to care for the environment by exploring properties of materials, like plastics, as they created a bio-plastic toy and used plastic trash to create art sculptures. Youth completed activities at home and met online to share their discoveries with teen 4-H science leaders and science friends. Teen leaders set the tone for curious exploration, reinforcing how youth were doing the things scientists and engineers do. 

“As a mom, it's been really cool watching her mind work and talking through things while doing the activities. But it's been more exciting watching her try to get her 3-year-old sister to ask questions on the experiments that they're making up.” – Parent of a 4-H Green Superheroes of Science participant

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