4-H Helps Youth Thrive Series

The next several articles I will be sharing will focus on the 4-H Thrive Model which focuses to ensure high quality 4-H programs for youth and positive youth development. In the 4-H Thriving Model this process of positive youth development is described by seven indicators of thriving: openness to challenge and discover, growth mindset, hopeful purpose, pro-social orientation, transcendent awareness, positive emotionality and self-regulation though goal setting and management. This first article focuses on volunteers which are the heart to a high quality 4-H program.

4-H Volunteers Help Youth Thrive   

Volunteers have been the long-time champions for the 4-H program, delivering 4-H experiences to youth across the nation for decades. Volunteers bring invaluable skills and resources to their role, dedicating hours to teaching youth new skills and helping them grow as leaders. It is certainly not difficult to visibly see a volunteer’s impact in this way.  

However, there are many other ways in which volunteers help youth thrive that are not as easy to visibly see. Volunteers, specifically 4-H club leaders, undoubtedly are a key part of the 4-H program and the impact on youth for years to come. But, how? This happens through developmental relationships, which are close connections through which young people discover who they are, cultivate abilities to shape their own lives and learn how to engage with and contribute to the world around them.   

Developmental relationships between youth and adults are important aspect of the 4-H program. Research shows that the relational quality between the 4-H leader, volunteer and member is connected to positive youth development. 4-H volunteers foster a developmental relationship with youth when they express care, challenge growth, provide, support, share power and expand possibilities.  

Some of the ways 4-H volunteers build a developmental relationship with youth is through a variety of visible approaches. Examples include, but are not limited to, showing youth they enjoyed spending time together, making youth feel known and valued, being someone youth can trust and praising youth for their efforts and achievements. Implementing these approaches to having a developmental relationship with youth encourages youth to know their 4-H club leader cares about them and their success.  

Healthy developmental relationships grow over time to move past a mainly adult-driven relationship to shifting the power to the youth. In addition, as the relationship between the 4-H leader and the youth continues to grow and foster a deeper connection, the impact on the youth deepens as well.  

Thank you, 4-H volunteers, for creating 4-H experiences for youth to experience new skills and helping them grow as leaders, and ultimately finding their spark in life!  

This article was written by Jill Goedeken, Nebraska Extension Educator.


Keeping Youth Safe in a Virtual Environment

Since early 2020 our world has changed greatly. You may find yourself reaching out to engage with youth virtually more than you ever thought you would. As many of you enter the world of online learning and meetings it is important to consider the safety and security of your participants. Remember to consider virtual programming in the same lens that you would for in-person programming. It is just as important to make participants feel safe and inclusive as they did when meeting in person.

As you prepare for your virtual learning experience think about the following. 

  • Use passwords and/or waiting rooms to protect from unwanted participants.
  • No one-on-one interactions. Have a second adult managing or participating in the virtual experience.
  • Notify parents that you will be using virtual platforms to connect with their child.
  • Keep conversational, professional, and focused on educational or meeting purposes.
  • Make sure your background is appropriate for audience.
  • Watch for outside party connections and be prepared to remove or close out of learning experience, i.e. hackers, unintended participants
  • Be aware of online capabilities of your club members. Do they ALL have access to technology? Do they know how to use technology safely?
  • Do not make video a requirement. Parents/Guardians may not be comfortable allowing video conferencing.
  • Create some ground rules for usage and participation in virtual environments.

It is also a good idea to remind participants how they can keep themselves safe. 

  • Do not provide identifiable details such as address, school, full names.
  • Remind that photos and videos shared online always have the potential for becoming a permanent part of history.
  • Never share passwords or links to join virtual experience with others.
  • Do not respond to messages that make you feel bullied, threatened, or uncomfortable.
  • Never post or say anything that could hurt others.
  • Be careful of what you are showing in the background that might identify where you are. This is especially important if meeting with people you may not know.

It is just as important to keep a safe online learning environment as it is to keep youth engaged by creating educational, active, and fun learning experiences. 

(This article was written by Kimberly Cook, Nebraska Extension Educator.)


Women in Ag Partnering with Farmers & Ranchers College to Connect Generations in Geneva

Adapting and connecting with different generations takes practice. The Farmers & Ranchers College, in partnership with the Nebraska Women in Agriculture Program, will host Becky Fouard to discuss this important topic. Join us at 5:30 p.m. at the Geneva Public Library in Geneva, NE.

One of the coolest parts about being in the professional space is the ability to work with people from all different generations and life stages. With that said, working with people who grew up in different circumstances and with different influences can cause differences in how we see the world, what motivates us, and how we operate. In this presentation, we will focus on a general understanding of the differences between key generations in the workplace today, and how to lead and engage with each of these generations for a thriving organization and business relationships. Registration is free but appreciated for prep purposes.

About the speaker

Becky Fouard grew up on a small farm in Kansas, and through 4-H and FFA found her passion for people, agriculture, and leadership. After graduating from Kansas State University in Agricultural Communications and journalism, with a minor in leadership, Becky stepped into an array of roles that eventually took her to Indianapolis Indiana.

Her first role out of college was with the Kansas State Department of Agriculture and focused on branding and marketing local products in the state as well as globally. Becky then took a role with Elanco Animal Health in 2013 in marketing. Since then, Becky has held roles in global marketing, corporate communications, corporate social responsibility, and today she leads two key leadership programs with Elanco through the Global Learning and Development team.

While Becky works at Elanco during the day, she also has two other key passions she puts effort towards. Becky acts as a life coach and leadership consultant through her On The Rise Group business, with her partner Ashleyne Seitz, and also co-owns a CrossFit gym with her husband in Indianapolis (M4G CrossFit). At the heart of everything Becky does is the passion and drive to help others live an authentic, fulfilled, and healthy life.  


Women in Agriculture Conference

During the conference, attendees can look forward to hearing from keynote speakers Kiah Twisselman Burchett, Paul Stoddard and Anne Meis. There will also be a special live performance of the one-act play, “Map of My Kingdom,” which tackles the critical issue of land transition. The work was commissioned by Practical Farmers of Iowa and written by Mary Swander, a recent poet laureate of Iowa.

The 38th Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference will be held Feb. 23-24, 2023, in Kearney at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, 110 Second Ave. New this year, a pre-conference workshop on the popular financial software, QuickBooks Online, will be held Feb. 22. This training will be provided by Mary Faber, a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor.

In addition to the keynote speakers and play, participants will select from over 20 workshop options that cover the five areas of agricultural risk management: production, market, financial, human, and legal. The conference will also offer continuing education credits for veterinary medicine professionals and certified crop advisors.

About the speakers

Kiah Twisselman Burchett is a rancher from California who is striving to inspire women to love themselves physically, mentally and emotionally — something she struggled with for years.

Paul Stoddard works in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also operates an ag real estate business and will provide the latest updates on regional, national and international events and their impact on farm operations now and in the future. 

Anne Meis is a farmer from Elgin, Neb. She previously served as the chair of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance and was involved in constructing the Decade of Ag vision statement. Meis is also currently treasurer for the Nebraska Soybean Board.  

Registration opens Jan. 3. The cost for a two-day registration is $150 for participants who register on or before Feb. 8. The two-day registration fee increases to $175 on Feb. 9. The pre-conference workshop has an additional registration fee and is separate from the two-day conference registration.   To see all the available registration options, visit the Nebraska Women in Agriculture website at https://wia.unl.edu/conference.

The Nebraska Women in Agriculture program will award up to 15 scholarships to students to attend the 2023 Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference. Any student attending a four-year college/university, two-year college, a vocational/technical school, or a 4-H or FFA member may apply for a scholarship to attend. Applicants will need to prepare an essay that answers the question: “Why do you want to attend the Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference?” The essay response is limited to 3,000 characters. Applications must be submitted online by Feb.1.

More information can be found at https://wia.unl.edu/scholarships.


UNL CropWatch Podcasts

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension has been sharing the latest information on crop production and research through a resource known as CropWatch since 1992. CropWatch originally started as a printed newsletter, but the newsletter could only be released a few times per season because of the logistics of printing and mailing new issues.

Katy Moore, a communications specialist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said that one of the missions of CropWatch is to share timely and relevant information with agricultural producers throughout the state. As such, the expansion of the internet was viewed as a tremendous opportunity, “CropWatch’s website was launched in 1996 to provide easier access so that farmers across the entire state could benefit from CropWatch’s resources,” said Moore.

While the website had the benefit of being easier to access, it also allowed for sharing information faster, “When farmers are dealing with a new or unknown crop issue, they need fast answers,” explained Moore, “Our goal is also to be as timely as possible.” Currently, the CropWatch website publishes a new issue of articles every week during the cropping season and shifts to every two weeks during the winter months.

Since its initial launch, the way that many consume information has changed. While reading articles is still an important way that many keep up with the latest information, many people now get their news from videos, podcasts, and social media. In fact, research from the Pew Research Center has shown that 23% of people at least sometimes get their news from podcasts.

To stay relevant, the university launched the Nebraska CropWatch Podcast in 2018. Now starting its fifth season, the podcast aims to highlight articles published on the website in audio form in a bi-weekly format. The host of the podcast, Nate Dorsey, interviews the authors of recent articles, often allowing them to share more information and stories than could be included in the original articles. “I try to keep the interviews as conversational as possible,” said Dorsey, “this hopefully makes the information and guests more relatable and easier to listen to.”

Podcasts are particularly useful in agriculture, said Dorsey, “Farmers and others in the agriculture industry spend a lot of time behind the windshield”, he noted, “whether that’s driving a truck or a tractor, podcasts are a great way to learn and stay up-to-date while working on other tasks.” Dorsey hopes that the podcast will be a valuable source of information to producers and others throughout the state.

 The Nebraska CropWatch Podcast can be found on most major podcast platforms, such as Apple’s Podcasts app, Spotify, iHeart Radio, and many others. A suggested best practice is to search for a show, in this case the Nebraska CropWatch Podcast, in your preferred application and click the subscribe or follow show button. This way, as new content is released, you can be notified of new episodes and have them download automatically to your device. Then, no matter where you are or what you’re working on, you can learn about the latest Nebraska crop production information.

Livestock, Programming

Cow/Calf College Beef Seminar

The 2023 Cow-Calf College Beef Seminar is set for January 19th at the Clay County Fairgrounds in the Activities Building. Registration starts at 9:00 am with programs scheduled from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm. This year’s program is focused on strategies to manage forage resources during drought, including eastern redcedar control and adjusting pasture stocking and rental rates. The hands-on format will allow participants to engage with specialists and peers throughout the day.

Dillon Fogarty, Program Coordinator for Working Lands Conservation will provide an in-depth look at eastern redcedar control and management. Woody plant encroachment by species like eastern redcedar threatens the productivity and profitability of Nebraska’s grasslands. Easter redcedar encroachment can result in up to a 75% reduction in forage production along with additional impacts to grassland resources. In the eastern redcedar control workshop, Dr. Fogarty will cover new guidelines for tackling woody plant encroachment. This will include the development of management plans, effective integration of management tools, and use of new rangeland monitoring platforms.

The afternoon workshop will be focused on 2023 Pasture Leases. Jessica Groskopf and Brent Plugge, Nebraska Extension Educators, will review the latest result from the Nebraska Farm Real Estate survey including cash rental rates and land values. They will also discuss leases, terminating verbal agreements, lease clauses, and landlord-tenant communication. Both landlords and tenants are encouraged to attend.

New this year: Lunch sessions will be comprised of three mini-workshops, including a Lunch and Learn with Dr. Becky Funk, GPVEC Extension Specialist, on calf resuscitation tips and an opportunity to practice assisting the cow during calving using a life-sized model. The Mobile Beef Lab will also be present, giving attendees the chance to reach inside the rumen of a fistulated steer and review the process of ruminant digestion.

A lunch will be provided to those who register, and the program will conclude with a coffee shop panel where participants can ask question directly to the specialists as well as the opportunity to win a variety of door prizes.

There is no cost for the event; however, early registration is highly encouraged to allow for proper planning. Pre-registration can be made by calling the Webster County Extension office at 402-746-3417 or online at go.unl.edu/frcollege.


New Year’s Resolutions

If you are like many nearly half of the American population, you probably have a New Year’s Resolution set for this year, while 38% of Americans absolutely never make New Year’s Resolution according to research by University of Scranton, 2016. A majority of those resolutions are self-improvement or education related resolutions (47%), weight related (38%), money related (34%) or relationship related (31%).  University of Southern California’s John Monterosso who is an expert on psychology and neuroscience of self-control offers insight on how to achieve setting those resolutions.

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

Monterosso suggests thinking of a resolution as a special kind of plan and visualizing your future-self. If you have already made that resolution or still working to tweak it, he suggested keeping the following in mind:

  • Failed resolutions are not harmless. Most people don’t like to fail; in fact, it hurts our confidence and can actually lead to worse behavior. Keeping this in mind and accepting the fact that one might not have accomplished all that was planned is important. If you get off track, you can always start again and don’t have to wait until a new year.
  • Resolutions work by linking single decisions to a bigger picture. For example, if you have a goal of quitting smoking or eating unhealthy foods and let a craving lead to poor decisions, you might think, “it’s just one cigarette or just one meal of fried foods” which may or may not lead to the continuation of a bad habit. If one takes a resolution seriously, think about the health consequences and the potential “relapse” that could occur.
  • Consider being less ambitious in your resolutions. We tend to be overly confident when making a resolution and think we can change our behavior overnight. While it is good to be confident with your goals, be careful not to make overly ambitious goals. For example, if you plan to work out one hour/day every day of the week and have an already packed life with a career, community obligations and a family, consider starting at 20 minutes/day and work up to more minutes if time allows. Setting a good resolution requires being realistic.
  • Resolutions should not be vague. If you set a resolution of “eating healthier.”  What does that mean?  Does it mean drinking 64 oz. of water/day?  Does it mean to include a fruit or vegetable at every meal?  Write down a SMART goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.
  • The New Year is a fresh start. Setting resolutions/goals at the first of the year helps us “clean the slate” and put past failures away. It gives us a sense of confidence and optimism. Capitalize on that.
  • Even successful resolutions can be mistakes. If you set restrict your diet to the point of starvation or over-exercise to the point of hurting yourself, you must be able to adapt, know yourself and use common sense and wisdom to correct the resolution.

In summary, Monterosso suggests that done correctly, “resolutions play a role in great human achievements.”

Extension’s Help with Resolutions
As stated above, almost half of resolutions made include education or self-improvement. If you need any educational resources or materials on nearly any subject, Extension has resources. Whether it is information on a website, talking with an extension professional, utilizing an app from your smart phone, attending a face-to-face program, participation in a webinar or many other avenues, Extension works to solve complex problems for clients. If you haven’t been to Extension’s website recently, I encourage you to go to extension.unl.edu. There you will find an abundance of resources on topics such as food, nutrition and health, cropping & water systems, community vitality, community environment, learning child, beef systems and 4-H youth development. Consider attending a program or utilizing a resource to help you achieve a resolution or goal you may have.

For a list of extension programs in the area, visit our websites at fillmore.unl.edu or clay.unl.edu or call your local extension office.


Making Contributions During the Holidays

The holiday season gives youth and adults an opportunity to stop and reflect on events of the past year, one’s beliefs and values, and what gives life meaning and purpose. As 2022 draws to a close, it is a wonderful time to reflect and act in ways that provide contributions to others.

Research has found when we feel we have made a difference in the lives of others, it often gives our own life meaning and purpose. Even small acts of kindness can provide great life satisfaction. By serving others in a positive way, one can gain a deeper sense of perspective. When considering ways to contribute, make sure to ask a few questions. Does this opportunity align with my values, budget, and time capacity? Below are some tips to help you and the young people in your life make meaningful contributions this holiday season.  

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com
  • Become a Volunteer – This requires giving your time, talents, and energy to a cause without receiving money. Volunteering can be an individual or family activity. It can be a great way to meet new people and strengthen existing relationships. Taking the initiative to address a need in your community can give you a sense of accomplishment. Depending on the task, volunteering can help you or a young person build self-confidence and improve one’s physical health. This holiday season, look for places to volunteer like a food pantry, school, animal shelter, or a youth program like 4-H Youth Development.
  • Raise Funds – Raising money can build momentum around a cause in your community. It is important to support something that aligns with your values. Many organizations rely on the generosity of others to assist them in their work through financial contributions. These funds go toward needed items, services, and programs. Raising funds for others can teach children, youth, and you to appreciate what you have and understand that at any age you can share your resources with others.
  • Be an Advocate – By bringing awareness to a topic you are passionate about helps other people learn more about an issue which, in turn, can lead to additional support now and in the future. For example, you might want to raise awareness about issues of hunger and poverty in your community or highlight the need for safe places for children and youth to gather. 
  • Express Gratitude – Gratitude is expressing a feeling of appreciation for something or someone that has added goodness to your life. It costs nothing and the advantages can be life changing. The benefits of gratitude can bring us happiness, reduce anxiety and depression, and strengthen our immune system. It can help us to sleep better, be more resilient, and strengthen our personal relationships. Showing appreciation can have a lasting impact on others. Take time to say “thank you” to a friend, neighbor, or family member for all they have done this past year.

Contributing this holiday season can lead to meaningful events throughout your life and have a lasting impact on you, your family, and your world. Remember to always ask the question, what can I do to contribute to others and in my community now and in the future?  

More information and resources about youth social-emotional development can be found on Nebraska 4-H’s Supporting Young People page or by contacting local county Nebraska Extension offices. 

Article written by Dawn Lindsley, Nebraska Extension Educator 

Crops, Livestock

Ag Today: New Era of Prosperity or Temporary Opportunity

Recently at a Farmers & Ranchers College program, Dr. David Kohl emphasized the importance of maintaining working capital or cash for businesses and families, among other important business principles. As always, his global knowledge of events and how they impact U.S. agriculture is fascinating.

One of the mega-trends for producers to pay attention to is the increased focus on healthy soil and water. Healthy soil and water quality creates healthy plants, animals, humans, and environment. Likely there will be paid incentives for producers who excel in these areas. Continuing to reassure consumers where and how food is produced, processed, and distributed remains important. It is also crucial to know your cost of production to plan best, average, and worst-case scenarios. Kohl also recommends overestimating capital expenditures by 25%.

His “Rule of 78” caught the attention of a lot of participants. When most people reach 78 years of age, usually health starts to decline unless you practice 8 habits. Those eight habits to have a quality of life included taking care one oneself physically by drinking water, exercising regularly, eating healthy and getting enough sleep.  Mentally, people should have a support network, life purpose, engage in mental activities such as reading or meditating and practice your faith/spiritual life.  He emphasized the importance of allowing oneself 2 hours per day with no technology.

Farmers and ranchers should also manage things that can be controlled and manage around those that cannot be controlled. He reinforced the idea that for a successful operation, you must plan, strategize, execute, and monitor. Examine monthly or at least quarterly financials to ensure you are on track. Those with a written business plan are four times more profitable than those without a plan. Also, the mental health of those with a business plan have two times the mental health as those without a written plan.

Kohl reminded participants of his business IQ exercise that ANY business should forgo. The areas in the business IQ included cost of production knowledge, cost of production by enterprise, goals (business, family, personal), record keeping system, projected cash flow, financial sensitivity analysis, financial ratio/break evens, those who work with an advisory team/lender, those whom have a marketing plan and execute, those whom have a risk management plan and execute, modest lifestyle habits, strong people management plan, transition plan, those whom attend educational seminars, and their attitude.

To determine what your cost of production is, a hands-on training will be held at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds on Thursday, December 15th from 1-3:00 p.m. This program is free, but registration is preferred for planning. Register at cap.unl.edu/abc/training. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own laptop or tablet to the workshop.


Land Leasing Strategies for Ag Women

The Power of Negotiation and Communication: Land Leasing Strategies for Midwestern Ag Women is coming to Geneva in January. The Nebraska Women in Agriculture program, in conjunction with Women in Agriculture programs at Purdue University and Kansas State University, will host a four-part extension workshop on the basics of land management, leasing, and conservation for landlords and tenants.

“The Power of Negotiation and Communication: Land Leasing Strategies for Midwestern Ag Women” will begin on January 18 at numerous sites in Indiana, Kansas, and Nebraska. The series will focus on writing agricultural lease agreements, landlord-tenant relationships, negotiations, and conservation practices. Workshops will be held on January 18, January 25, February 1, and February 8.

Photo by u00c1kos Szabu00f3 on Pexels.com

The workshop costs $50 per person and participants should plan to attend each session. A virtual option is available for those unable to attend a workshop site for $75 per person, although in-person attendance is highly encouraged to better network with other attendees and interact with speakers and includes a meal.

According to Department of Agriculture census data from 2017, there are over 90,000 women producers and over 51,000 female landlords in the three states.

“Women represent an important and growing demographic in agricultural land management and this workshop series will teach essential management information while providing women the chance to ask questions, connect with each other and share their experiences,” said Jessica Groskopf, director of the Nebraska Women in Agriculture program.

Each state will host several satellite workshop sites with local extension personnel. Keynote speakers will be simulcast to each location and each site will provide additional speakers and hands-on activities.

Groskopf said the program’s structure is intended to strengthen networks of women in rural areas, which can provide opportunities for building trust and sharing information. “Connections are so important to women farmers,” she said. “We have seen the benefits that come from knowing your peers, having a place to share difficulties and mitigate the isolation that so many of us in agriculture often feel.”

These workshops seek to help participants increase their awareness of local land values and cash rental rates and the factors that influence them. They will also cover the importance of having a written lease and the items that should be included in it to ensure an equitable agreement for all parties. Participants will learn negotiation strategies as well as best practices to improve relationships between landlords and tenants.

Conservation programs will also be covered, so that participants will have a greater understanding of compliance requirements and increase their awareness of voluntary conservation programs that are available to them.

Registration is required by January 13th. 

2022-23 Farmers & Ranchers College Schedule

  • December 8th -“Ag Today: New Era of Prosperity or Temporary Opportunity” featuring Dr. DaveKohl. Registration will start at 12:45 p.m. and the program will start at 1:00 p.m. at the Opera House in Bruning, NE.
  • December 15th – A hands-on training workshop will teach producers about Extension’s Agricultural Budget Calculator. This program will be held at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva from 1-3:00 p.m.  Re gister by December 13th at cap.unl.edu/abc/training.
  • January 19th -Cow/Calf College Registration will start at 9:00 a.m. and the program will start at 9:25 until 3:30 p.m. at the Clay County Fairgrounds in Clay Center.

Questions on the Farmers & Ranchers College can be directed to the Fillmore County Extension Office at (402) 759-3712. To participate and register, go to the website: go.unl.edu/farmersrancherscollege.