Marla Lowder

Marla Lowder

These past few months and even now our world has changed. We don’t know how long it will last, but one thing is for sure — 4-H has kept going. It may not look like it has, but we have kept moving.

When the pandemic hit, the Tanana District started doing daily challenges to keep our youth involved. A Zoom was provided for clubs to conduct virtual meetings. Our district also hosted a “Get Moving” challenge in which anyone could do an activity, log it and be entered for weekly prizes valued at $10. All entries were put back in for the grand prize in each age division of a $200 gift card to a local sporting goods store. We also did a GPS picture hunt in which families went around and took pictures at the locations and submitted them to win prizes.

We hosted a number of activities open to all youths, regardless of 4-H affiliation. As a state, we did a “Learn by Doing” series, with mini activities. It is still up on our state 4-H page at  www.alaska4h.org if you have youth that want to do some fun activities. When summer came, 4-H provided salad garden kits to youth who registered to receive one. We planned to hand out 75 kits but ended up doing 110. All kits were put together following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and with approval of UAF. In mid-August we handed out chalk coding kits that teach kids about computer coding. If they do certain things, they will be able to receive a “level up” project to keep on coding. We are always looking for the next activity.

In July, I submitted a plan to the university to be able to do a one-on-one show, a 4-H Exhibition for the youth at the fairgrounds. Toward the end of July with changes happening at the university, I was able to submit a plan that allowed us to have small classes during our exhibition. These shows were not open to the public and only those youth and their families were allowed to come. It was so good to see them in person after all this time and to see the progress they had made with their projects. Our home ec, personal development and miscellaneous projects were entered and were taken to a location to be judged. We are working on a webpage to highlight all the youth and their hard work. I would also like to thank the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner for covering our 4-H Exhibition.

Our livestock auction was virtual this year. It was hosted by Last Frontier Auction, and a big shout-out goes to them for their help. It was like eBay where people could go on and bid throughout the week. We know it was not ideal, but we appreciate all who went on and signed up and helped to raise the prices for the youth and/or were the winning bidder.

We are now able to start meeting in groups of 10, and leaders are being trained with the protocol to keep everyone safe. We are so excited about this.

I want to thank all of the 4-H members and leaders for all of their hard work these past five months to keep the program going. You all are awesome. 4-H may look different, but we will keep 4-H’ing on and as our motto says, “We will learn by doing.” We have had to change our way of thinking and accomplishing things, but we have made it!

4-H is a youth organization for youth K-12 that helps youth learn about certain items of interest to them, but also teaches them life skills. 4-H has a club structure with leaders who are adult volunteers with current background checks. To learn more about the local program, contact Marla Lowder, Tanana District 4-H agent, at 474-2427. You can also check out our web page at www.alaska4h.org/fairbankstanana-district.html. 4-H is a part of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.