New ways keep 4-H alive in Oneida County
By Oneida County 4-H
ONEIDA COUNTY – Although the COVID-19 virus has disrupted life for most youth in Oneida County, there is still fun activity families can look forward to, says Anne Williams, Oneida County 4-H Program Coordinator.
Oneida County 4-H – a program for kids and teens that offers citizenship, leadership, responsibility, and life skills through hands-on learning experiences – has adapted to changes by offering new ways of safely delivering programs. New to 4-H is take-home boxes or bags, where a child receives a learning kit, has fun learning about a topic that has caught his or her interest, and guidance is given through 4-H. Nearly 400 households have signed up to receive a regional Camp-in-a-Bag, after the traditional 4-H camp experience of Camp Susan was cancelled.
“‘Learn-by-doing’ appeals to kids in 4-H,” Williams said. “Right now, there is a lot of interest from families in animals, science, robotics, crafting, and exploring the outdoors.”
Jason Orloff of Minocqua, a newly certified 4-H volunteer, is preparing to lead a 4-H poultry project group and a junk drawer robotics 4-H group in the Minocqua area. Orloff feels 4-H can meet some needs of Northwoods families. With parents keeping house, earning a paycheck, assisting aging parents, and teaching children at home, they are searching for help for their children to stay motivated and excited about learning, while having fun, he emphasized.
“For food security, it’s hard to beat a chicken,” he said. “These amazing creatures recycle food scraps and are one of the fastest growing sources of protein. Raising chickens can teach us everything from genetics to small business, and it’s also fun to raise and show them.”
Orloff said he is willing to helping 4-Hers build an incubator or a moveable coop, called a chicken tractor.
Another certified 4-H volunteer, Casey Rustan of Rhinelander, will be working outside with youth interested in furbearer ecology and trapping projects.
“With COVID-19, everyone’s lives have changed,” Rustan said. “Many people are looking to become more self-sufficient by growing gardens or raising animals. We live with wildlife every day in the Northwoods. Understanding what they eat, how they affect the ecosystem, how we can manage conflicts with humans, and what resources we can utilize from them gives them greater value and helps us co-exist.”
Williams emphasizes that today’s youth are tomorrow’s future.
“The best gift we can give them is empowering them with skills that will last for a lifetime,” she said.
Williams added adults are encouraged to call the office by phone or online, to offer their skills and help with mentoring our county’s youth.
Oneida County 4-H is free to join and is open to youth ages 5-19. Parents can enroll their child online at www.4honline.com or by emailing Anne Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also call 715-365-2750. Visit www.fyi.extension.wisc.edu/oneidacounty4h/ for more information.