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Minnesota 4-H news archive

2015 News

Despite ban, State Fair's Poultry Barn won't be empty

State fair chickens

(August 2015, Pioneer Press) The namesakes of the Poultry Barn at the Minnesota State Fair will be absent this year, but that doesn't mean their presence won't be felt. The Poultry Barn won't be empty, however. Filling the space where fairgoers would usually find chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese and pigeons will be a large number of poultry-related educational displays. The Minnesota 4-H participants with poultry projects, who would usually be competing with their birds over the first four days of the Fair, are instead presenting science fair-like projects on issues relating to avian flu and the poultry industry.

Read the full story.

Get the new 4-H at the Minnesota State Fair app

State fair app.

(July 2015) Our NEW 4-H at the Minnesota State Fair app offers everything for the state fair goer and for those at home, too. Get this free app for yourself and please recommend it to your 4-H families, volunteers and anyone who cares about 4-H activities at the state fair! It’s particularly useful for people who can’t be there to keep up with what’s going on:

  • Judging results
  • 4-H Cam – Watch our expanded live stream every day of the fair! (see livestream schedule)
  • Public schedule, linked to an interactive map
  • Photo sharing
  • Exhibitor alerts for beef, dairy, sheep and all other fair exhibitors
  • More!

Download the app!

Ag wins with science challenge

Danielson Hustlers

(July 2015, Agri News) Months of work culminated June 17-19 for a dozen teams of young scientists who participated in Minnesota 4-H's first-ever Science of Agriculture Challenge. The challenge was put forth to interest young people in the more technical aspects of agriculture by having them address real-world ag problems.

Winners received scholarship money to use at the higher education institution of their choice.

At the end of the three-day event, 4-H hosted an awards ceremony to name the top team projects. Freeman thanked participants for putting a face to an idea and celebrated finding a way to emphasize "blue ribbon kids" in addition to blue ribbon animals.

The first place team, the Danielson Hustlers, hailed from Meeker County and was comprised of Kayla Kutzke, Ryan Peterson and Daniel Williamson. They took on the difficult topic of hay waste. Through their observations and research, they concluded if animals can remove their heads from the eating area, they are likely to drop and waste hay.

Read the full story.

4-H and the Science of Agriculture Challenge

Bee keeper

(May 2015, Source) Sixteen-year-old Justin Weeldreyer always thought bees were the coolest miracles of nature, living off the honey they make and building intricate hives. He put his interest to work by conducting research with four other Washington County 4-H youth as part of the new 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge.

The new 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge provides a hands-on learning experience to inspire the next generation of agriculture leaders in Minnesota. Teams will present their results at a two-day event June 17-19 on the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus. An awards celebration and challenge fair will showcase their work and connect them with agribusiness community representatives who are eager to meet the next generation of ag leaders. The event will also include judging presentations, career workshops and campus tours.

Read the full story.

Challenge preps 4-H'ers for ag science careers

Science of Ag youth

(May 2015, Four Dakota County teenagers spent the evening of April 20 digging around in a field. These high school students weren't just fooling around. They were studying the affects of different tillage methods on soil, looking at temperature, compaction, corn roots and soil's water-absorbing capacity.

These kids aren't experimenting just for the fun of it, or even for school, but for their project that is part of a new Minnesota 4-H initiative called Science of Agriculture Challenge. This year, 72 youth are working in 18 teams around the state to answer real-world agricultural questions with serious research.

Read the full story.

4-H Youth Teaching Youth puts teens in the classroom

Julie Deshler

(April 2015, Star Tribune) For the past few weeks, Julie Deshler and Alex Pendar, 16, juniors at Park High School in Cottage Grove, have taught teacher Amber Harre's fourth-graders at Pine Hill about negative peer pressure, Internet safety and the dangers of alcohol and tobacco. Lessons included strategies on how to survive peer pressure and how to stand up for your beliefs without fearing rejection from others. A few of the tips: Listen to your inner voice; talk to someone outside the group; and ask, "Is it worth the risk?"

Julia said she remembers an anti-drug and anti-tobacco presentation in the auditorium of Hillside Elementary in Cottage Grove when she was a grade-schooler. The 4-H program is better, she said. The 4-H Youth Teaching Youth program, which includes three hourlong sessions, was begun five years ago. The 60 teenage teachers who signed up this year will work with more than 2,000 elementary students in Washington County, said Emily Fulton-Fischer, 4-H program coordinator.

"It is a service-learning project in its very truest form," Fulton-Fischer said. "The teens are not only recognizing their own potential, but they are also being given the opportunity to remind themselves of the healthy lifestyle choices that they are making and how they can influence other youth. "What it comes down to is, they can make a change in their community, and it starts with making a change in themselves, and that is so huge for them."

Read the full story.

Soaring Eagles 4-H Club receives outstanding Blue Ribbon Club Award

Barbara Frederick and kids

(March 2015, Forest Lake Times) Members of the Soaring Eagles 4-H Club received the Outstanding Blue Ribbon Club Award at the Minnesota 4-H Adult Volunteer Association’s annual conference held Feb. 19-21 in Willmar, Minnesota. The award was presented to the Soaring Eagles’ club leader, Ann Rinkenberger, at the awards ceremony at the Saturday luncheon. Of the eight clubs throughout Minnesota that received the Blue Ribbon Club Award for excellence in quality, youth-focused programming, the Soaring Eagles 4-H Club was chosen as the most outstanding club. This was an honor considering that the Soaring Eagles 4-H Club began in Oct. 2014, and hadn’t even had a full year of programming.

Read the full story.

Youth teaching youth: High-schoolers teach Internet safety at elementary schools

(February 2015, Stillwater Gazette) Amy Peterson, 4-H program coordinator with in Washington County, organizes a program to protect Stillwater Area elementary students from some of the dangers of Internet use. The school district is teaming up with Washington County 4-H program, Youth Teaching Youth, to provide training to fourth and fifth graders about staying safe online. Peterson said the teachers have found the Internet safety program helpful for their students.

Read the full story.

Backus woman makes a big difference for Cass County 4-Hers

Barbara Frederick and kids

(January 2015, Pine and Lakes Echo Journal) Barbara Frederick isn't your ordinary 4-H volunteer. She has made it her mission to make sure kids are able to participate in the Minnesota State Fair even if they can't afford it by creating the "Friends of 4-H" scholarship fund. For the past 2 years, money was raised by writing letters, fundraising and campaigning. Because of this scholarship, 50 4-Hers were able to go to the fair last year. Barbara has been a 4-H volunteer for 60 years and is hoping this scholarship will continue for years to come.

Read the full story.


2014 News

4-H youth demonstrate ‘Learning Unleashed’

Lego robotics team(December 2014, Grand Rapids Herald Review) Two Itasca County 4-H LEGO robotics teams participated in the MN First Lego League's Regional Qualifying tournament on Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Northome School. Fourteen teams, both 4-H and school/Community Education based, from across Koochiching, Beltrami, Itasca, and northern St. Louis counties participated in the tournament.

Interest in the robotics project area is growing. Last year one Itasca 4-H team participated. This year participation had to be capped at two large teams due to the limited availability of equipment and LEGO League licenses. This is the fifth year Itasca County 4-H has sponsored a robotics team to participate in the First Lego League program. FLL is an international program for 9- to 14-year-old children created in a partnership between First and the Lego Group in 1998 to get children excited about science and technology, and teach them valuable employment and life skills. Children work alongside adult mentors to design, build and program autonomous robots and create an innovative solution to a problem as part of their research project.

Read the full story.

4-H club collects over 500 toys for Toys for Tots program

Toys for tots(December 2014, Chisago County Press) The Soaring Eagles 4-H club collected over 500 toys and stuffed animals for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, which fulfilled this year's goal. Master Sergeant Crismon and Sergeant Hatfield visited the 4-Hers, parents, and grandparents at their Dec. 4 meeting at the Scandia Community Center, and shared information about the Toys for Tots program and its impact on children who otherwise would not have received toys this Christmas.  

The Soaring Eagles 4-H club has members from Chisago, Washington, and Ramsey Counties in Minnesota; and Polk County in Wisconsin; and all the families homeschool their children.

4-H opens new doors

4-h opens new doors(October 2014, Source magazine) Youth across Minnesota, from families who have been a part of Extension 4-H for generations to first-generation 4-H'ers, are engaging in 4-H in new and vibrant ways. Today, 4-H programs are as diverse as the interests of the youth they serve.

Krista Lautenschlager, 4-H program coordinator in Kandiyohi County, has witnessed Minnesota's changing demographics right in her own community. "I also noticed that many youth from the growing immigrant population didn't attend quality youth programs," she says.

That had to change.

Read the full story.

Youth come together to create radio programming

Andrea Ruesch(August 2014, Brittany Lynch) KFAI radio in Minneapolis, Urban 4-H, and YouthCARE came together to create The Fresh Air Institute (FAI), a young voices collaboration that allows youth from across the Twin Cities to be on the air. The summer Urban 4-H program coordinator Brittany Lynch, who also hosts KFAI's, Soul Tools Radio, led three groups of youth from 4-H and YouthCARE in creating radio programming at KFAI. They participated in community service projects, content development activities, and recording sessions to be broadcast on Aug. 12 for International Youth Day. This experience was called The Fresh Air Institute--the first of what we hope to be many summer capstone projects in cooperation with the KFAI radio station. After weeks of experiential learning in the studios, the FAI participants went live on the air to be interviewed about their experiences in the program. All of their pre-recorded content was aired on this day as well. FAI participants were involved in every step of their broadcasting process--from selecting music, to creating on-air personalities, to writing and editing their shows' content. Listen to the final product.

Watch 4-H state fair events live online

(August 2014) We will be webcasting several 4-H events live during the Minnesota State Fair:

  • Dairy goat show, 8 a.m. Friday, Aug. 22 (approx. 6 hours): Ask questions about dairy goats, about 4-H, what judges are looking for, and what’s going on in the Ag Star Arena that morning. 
  • Arts-in performance, 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26 (30 minutes): Watch 4-H’ers from across the state perform this year’s original production, “Dare to live”. Ask questions about the theme, the experience of putting on an original show, and what the 4-H’ers are learning during their state fair experience.
  • Lama costume competition, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27 (approx. 1 hour): Ask questions about lamas, the costume competition, and what 4-H’ers learn from doing it.

Each show will have a live chat hosted by a 4-H youth. You will be able to ask questions about the judging, the animals, the show, and being in 4-H. This is a great way for family members who can't be there to watch, and to learn more about what they are doing and learning at the fair.

Watch all three shows on the same page on our website. They will be recorded and the recordings will be housed on the Arts-in and Lama Project web pages after the fair. Thanks to our sponsor, Broadband Corp.

Get the app! 4-H at the Minnesota State Fair

4-H app at the State Fair

(August 2014) This year we have a smartphone app for state fair visitors and 4-H exhibitors! 4-H has invested in this technology to reach all of our audiences during the fair -- especially those who are on the fairgrounds, and carrying smartphones in their pockets. It brings together two other things we've developed over the past few years: livestock show and project exhibit messaging on Twitter; the 4-H online database of members and state fair judging results. 

Download the app now!

Use it to:
  • Get 4-H judging results by class or by county
  • See the public schedule of 4-H events
  • Find these events easily with an interactive map
  • Read all our Twitter streams: 3 channels are for 4-H exhibitors, such as livestock show staging announcements -- plus the MN4H news and conversational channel

To get the Twitter announcements as alerts from MN4HBeef, MN4HDairy or MN4HAnnounce, go to the settings and turn on alerts. To participate in the conversation on MN4H, use the Twitter app instead.

You can still get all tweets by text message as in previous years -- find instructions for that here.

We think this app is a great investment -- it's a way to make 4-H events more visible and easier for fair visitors to find. Please share it with your networks.

Brokenhearted, farmer donates $4 million farm to 4-H

Andrea Ruesch(June 2014, KARE-11) To a farmer there is no love, like the love for his land. True for Curt Chergosky, until love landed him. It was the talk of Lakefield, when pushing 50, one of Jackson County's most entrenched bachelor farmers fell for the newly-hired county 4-H coordinator.

Andrea Ruesch was a bubbly bundle of energy, still in her mid-30's, when she started her job in Jackson County. She was a tireless advocate for her 4-H kids. Chergosky loved that about her. When he popped the question after seven months, the venue was no surprise. "I asked her in the parking lot of the extension office," he laughs. "And she said 'yes.' Three months before their wedding, Chergosky and Ruesch were together weaning calves. Not feeling well, Ruesch went into the house. When Chergosky joined her a short time later, she told him to call for an ambulance. By the time Chergosky made it the hospital, the doctor was standing by the door. Ruesch had died. The autopsy showed a pulmonary embolism, a blot clot in Ruesch's lungs. Now Chergosky was back to sowing his seeds alone. No soul mate, no promise of children, no 4th generation to whom he could pass on his farm.

When he finally figured it out, Chergosky moved forward in a very big way. Greeted by a standing ovation, this spring Chergosky announced at a gathering in St. Paul, the donation of his entire farm to 4-H. Four hundred acres of prime Jackson County farm land is no small gift. At current prices, it could easily fetch $4 million.

The money will be split three ways, between 4-H programs at the state and Jackson County levels - and a scholarship in Ruesch's name that's already issued $1000 checks to 35 4-H members, finishing high school and starting college.

Read the full story

It's a llama-o-rama for 4-H kids in Sauk Rapids

llama-o-rama(May 2014, St. Cloud Times) With warm weather, sunshine and blue skies, Saturday seemed perfect for a stroll. At the Benton County Fairgrounds, more than 100 people did just that with an added caveat — they made sure their llamas had some outdoor fun, too.

A llama training clinic was a welcome opportunity for 4-H members from near and far to shake off any remaining rust from winter and prepare themselves and their animals for the summer event circuit.

Aitkin County Rippleside Helping Hands 4-H Club receives 2014 AMC Community Leadership Award

Rippleside Helping Hands members (April 2014) The Rippleside Helping Hands 4-H Club of Aitkin County recently received the 2014 Association of Minnesota Counties 4-H Community Leadership Award.

Each year the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) recognizes outstanding 4H Community Youth Leadership projects in Minnesota. The AMC is a voluntary statewide organization of Minnesota's 87 counties that helps provide effective county governance to the people of Minnesota. The AMC Extension Committee awards the youth-led projects that respond to real community needs.

The Rippleside Helping Hands 4-H Club was selected for their "Students Using Their Time, Talents and Kindness to Make Their Community Better!" The 12-member after school club of 4-6th graders is dedicated to service learning "using their time, talents and kindness to make their community better". In 2013, the club's projects included performing skits at the nursing home, serving a free community meal, a "Rippleside Pride" teacher appreciation effort, community planting with a master gardener, a garbage/recycling walk, and raising awareness and money for the Red Cross.

Several members of the club and its leaders attended an awards banquet in St. Paul on Feb. 26 to receive the award, and gave a presentation about their club's work, and what it means to club members and their community to an audience of the nearly 300 county officials and staff from across Minnesota during the AMC's annual Legislative Conference.

Glenwood's Abigail Luetmer receives  President's Volunteer Service  Award 

Abigail Luetmer (March 2014, Pope County Tribune) Abigail Luetmer, age 13, has been honored for her exemplary volunteer service with a President’s Volunteer Service Award.  The award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country, was granted by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program on behalf of President Barack Obama. Pope County 4-H nominated Abigail for the national honor this fall in recognition of her volunteer service. She was also named the local Prudential Spirit of Community Award winner and advanced to the state competition.

Minnesota 4-H awards 2014 outstanding lifetime volunteer

Cornelia Kryzer (February 2014, Winona Daily News) Minnesota 4-H staff and volunteers gathered at the Best Western in Plymouth to honor Cornelia Kryzer of Winona County, the 2014 Minnesota 4-H Salute to Excellence Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award winner.  The award is presented to acknowledge the critical role that volunteers play in providing positive learning experiences for youth in the 4-H program. Research shows that volunteers and the mentorship they provide are key to positive youth development.  Each year, state 4-H programs are invited to select one outstanding lifetime volunteer who has served for more than 10 years and has contributed significantly to the 4-H Youth Development program. 

Read the full story

2013 News

4-H clubs are no longer sole domain of farm kids at county fairs

(December 2013, Star Tribune) In the teen center at the Franklin Library in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, it doesn’t take long to figure out that this isn’t your typical sheep shearing and quilt-making 4-H Club. No longer the exclusive domain of rural kids and county fairs, the new 4-H is as likely to deal with robotics as it is roosters.

Read the Star Tribune's full story

Educator receives national award for volunteer development

(October 2013) Extension educator, Heidi Haugen, has received the “Excellence in Volunteerism (individual)” award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) for discovering and responding to volunteer needs and strengthening Minnesota’s volunteer systems.

A comprehensive needs assessment in 2008-2009 revealed that Minnesota 4-H needed better volunteer screening process renewal, standardized volunteer orientation and comprehensive volunteer management staff development. Since 2009, Heidi has made significant contributions to these areas of need and strengthened Minnesota’s state and county volunteer systems in part by leading a team to renew the state volunteer screening process; co-developing a state volunteer orientation; and preparing, coaching and supporting county-based staff in their volunteer management roles.

Minnesota 4-H now has a shorter volunteer application process; a stronger, web-based background check; and a new, standard, online orientation. 4-H staff in Heidi’s service regions report they are much better equipped volunteer managers than before because of Heidi’s contributions. Other impacts of her work include annual increases in volunteer enrollment, significant increases in numbers of clubs and project development committees, increased participation in training events, and fewer volunteer issues with other 4-H volunteers and staff.

Haugen won this award at the state level, at the north central states regional level, and then at the national level. There were 24 applicants at the state level and 4 applicants at the national level.  Haugen provides leadership to volunteer systems development for Extension’s Center for Youth Development and the Minnesota 4-H program in the northeast region of Minnesota. She works in the Brainerd office.

Minnesota 4-H staff recognized for outstanding contributions

(October 2013) The following north-central states regional winners (includes 12 states) were recognized for outstanding effort by NAE4-HA members in youth development.

  • Anna Gilbertson, program coordinator - Excellence in Natural Resources/Environmental Education (individual)
  • Brian McNeill, Extension educator; and Shelley Vergin, program coordinator - Excellence in Camping (team)

Ann Church, program coordinator in Washington County and Jill Grams, program coordinator in McLeod County received the Distinguished Service Award (DSA), which is given to a NAE4-HA member nominee who has served seven years or more in Extension 4-H youth programs. 

Amanda Sommers, program coordinator in Blue Earth County received the Achievement in Service Award (ASA), which is given to a NAE4-HA member nominee who has served more than three years but less than seven years in Extension 4-H youth programs. 

Minnesota 4-H partnering with ICI on a youth project

(March 2013) Minnesota 4-H is partnering with The Institute on Community Integration (ICI) on a project that brings together youth as partners in improving their communities through inclusive service learning.

The project titled  “Together We Make a Difference: Inclusive Service Learning as Part of 4-H Youth Development Programs,”equips teachers and youth leaders with research-based activities to help high school youth who are at risk of dropping out of school and disengaging from their communities, to become partners in planning and carrying out service learning projects. The goal is to instill hope, a sense of purpose, self-confidence, and a positive vision of the future. 

Center for Youth Development’s Jessica Russo and Anita Gilbertson, along with ICI staff lead this one-year project, delivered through four 4-H clubs in Ramsey and Anoka counties.  The project began July 1, 2012 and is funded by a $38,000 grant from the University’s College of Education and Human Development and Extension.

Read the full story

Putting a face on 4-H at the state capitol

(January 2013) Paula Mohr blogs for The Farmer about 10 4-H State Ambassadors who were chosen to participate in a pilot program in which they shared their 4-H experiences with their legislators. The pilot program was envisioned by Nicole Pokorney, Extension educator. Nicole has attended Extension legislative events in the past and noticed that youth voice was missing from the experience, so this was a great opportunity for youth to get involved.

Read the full story

4-H National Mentoring Program in St. Paul and the Fond du Lac reservation

(January 2013) Minnesota 4-H received $82,000 this year to continue its 4-H National Mentoring Program in St. Paul and the Fond du Lac reservation. Jessica Russo, Becky Meyer and Susan Beaulieu are the co-PI's and this is the third year for this funding in Minnesota.

The 4-H National Mentoring Program is recognized for implementing effective mentoring strategies with goals of improving family relationships, increasing social competencies, increasing school attendance, reducing juvenile delinquency, youth unemployment, and school failure while incorporating core principles of positive youth development to improve the well-being of at-risk youth ages 8-17, especially underserved populations of Latino, African American, and children of incarcerated parents.

The funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) supports these initiatives that assist in the development and maturity of community programs providing mentoring services to high-risk populations under the 4-H National Mentoring Program. The goal is to reduce juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, truancy, and other problems and high-risk behaviors. The program objective is to provide direct one-on-one mentoring, group mentoring, or peer-mentoring services to under-served youth populations.

Identified objectives are:

  • Improved outcomes for at-risk youth;
  • Improved mentoring program administration; and
  • Improved organizational capacity.

In St. Paul, Jessica Russo manages two programs, Kid Power, which is a group of 4th - 8th grade kids focused on digital media, and the McDonough 4-H Club, which is located at McDonough housing. Youth and mentors meet weekly using a group mentoring model (ratio of 4 youth to 1 adult) to explore STEM, engage in service learning, and develop goals and leadership skills for overcoming barriers to higher education. Trips to campus, leader retreats, fairs, and businesses help connect and apply learning and establish long-term commitment. Family empowerment sessions engage families with youth educational goals.

At the Fond du Lac Reservation, Becky Meyer and Susan Beaulieu manage the matching of youth and mentors based on career interest. The participants take part in monthly group mentoring sessions focused on gardening, archery and cooking, and co-develop field trips to facilitate deeper career exploration. Youth also participate in weekly 4-H club programming and monthly family night out events. Facilitated by 4-H staff, Brookston Center staff, and other community partners, these events are co-developed with youth.

2012 News

Testing the watersaquatic robotics

(January 2012) A new 4-H project offers youth a chance to be hands-on citizen scientists by monitoring water quality in their local areas. In the Aquatic Robotics Project, 4-H’ers build and program a remote-operated underwater vehicle to collect water samples, then test the samples. Aquatic robotics, a joint project between Extension and the US Navy, is being rolled out across Minnesota and will contribute to knowledge of watershed quality in 67 counties.

Read more in Source magazine.

2010-2011 News

Minnesota 4-H stories: Then and now

(June 2011) How does being a member of University of Minnesota Extension 4-H shape youth - both today and in past generations? Did they find a passion for the outdoors that led to a career? Or a lifelong interest in photography?

Read the full story.

4-H delivers

(October 2010) Four years ago, Extension 4-H program coordinator Tracy Ignaszewski began working on a way to help youth without funds or transportation participate in 4-H. Today, the 3-year-old Steele County "4-H on Wheels" program, developed in partnership with county commissioners and community housing representatives, provides 450 youth with learning experiences and life skills to help them succeed and give back to their communities.

Read the full article

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