Youth

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 

Youth

Tips for a Healthier Halloween

For many, autumn events like Halloween are a time to wear costumes, go trick-or-treating, go to parties with friends, and eat sweet treats. Celebrations such as Halloween are a chance to not only have fun, but also provide healthy snack options and be physically active with friends and family. Make your Halloween season healthier this year by getting plenty of physical activity to balance food intake and help children choose wisely and eat their treats in moderation. Below are tips to make your Halloween healthier for trick-or-treaters and guests.

Hand out healthier treats. 

  • Give out healthier treats for trick-or-treaters and party guests this year. The calories in all those bite-size treats can add up quickly. There are lots of options when it comes to healthier food treats.
  • Examples include cereal bars, packages of dried fruit, baked pretzels, trail mix, animal crackers, mini boxes of raisins, graham crackers, sugar-free gum or hard candy, snack-sized pudding containers, individual applesauce containers or squeeze pouches, sugar-free hot chocolate or apple cider packets, individual juice boxes (100% juice), or fig cookies.

Try out non-food treats. 

  • If you want to steer away from handing out food this year, children will also enjoy non-food treats, such as things you would put in birthday goodie bags. Some non-food items are suitable for all ages, but small items should be limited to kids over age three.
  • Examples include small toys, pocket-sized games, plastic costume jewelry, glow sticks, tiny decks of cards, pencils, pencil toppers, fancy erasers, stickers (including reflective safety stickers), bookmarks, bottles of bubbles, whistles, coloring books, or small packages of crayons.

Promote physical activity.

  • Use party games and trick-or-treat time as a way to fit in 60 minutes of physical activity for kids. You can encourage and pump up the enthusiasm for being more active by providing small and inexpensive toys that promote activity.
  • Items could include a bouncy ball, jump rope, sidewalk chalk for a game of hopscotch or foursquare, or a beanbag for hacky sack.

Moderation is key.

  • Halloween is a great time to discuss and demonstrate the importance of moderation. Keep track of children’s candy so they don’t go overboard in one sitting. Let them pick out a few treats on Halloween night and then let them have a few pieces each day after that.
  • Show kids treats can fit into a healthy eating plan in small amounts. Combine a treat, such as fun-size candy, with a healthy snack like a piece of fruit. Be sure they eat the fruit first, so they don’t fill up on the candy.

Survive sweet treats at work.

  • Snack- or fun-size candies are small and easy to eat but eating several throughout the day can add up to extra calories. Keep the wrappers where you can see them, so they don’t accidentally pile up.
  • If you can’t just eat a few treats at work, start bringing healthier alternatives with you. Stock your snack bag or desk drawer with fruit cups, dried fruit, lightly sweetened whole grain cereal, graham crackers, low-fat pudding cups, popcorn, or granola bars.
  • Remember that friends or co-workers may also be struggling to stay motivated to make healthy changes. Lean on each other and be there when others need encouragement. This year make an effort to bring healthier treat options to work.

Find recipes and learn more at https://food.unl.edu.

Youth

Youth to Celebrate National 4-H Week: October 2-8

Every year, National 4-H Week sees millions of youth, parents, volunteers and alumni come together to celebrate the many positive youth development opportunities offered by 4-H. The theme for the 2022 National 4‑H Week is “Opportunity for All”. National 4-H week runs from October 2-8, 2022.

National 4-H Week

With so many children struggling to reach their full potential, 4-H believes that young people, in partnership with adults, can play a key role in creating a more promising and equitable future for youth, families and communities across the country. In 4-H, we believe every child should have an equal opportunity to succeed. We believe every child should have the skills they need to make a difference in the world. 

Fillmore and Clay County 4-H will observe National 4-H Week this year by highlighting some of the inspirational 4-H youth in our community who are working tirelessly to support each other and their communities. Check out the fun activities being done on the Fillmore County website at fillmore.unl.edu, including a pumpkin decorating contest. Wear a 4-H shirt on Wednesday and post on the Fillmore (https://www.facebook.com/fillmorecounty4h) or Clay County (https://www.facebook.com/UNLClayCounty) FaceBook pages!

In both Clay and Fillmore Counties one out of two, age-eligible 4-H youth from the community are involved in 4‑H. One of the most anticipated events of National 4-H Week every year is the 4-H STEM Challenge, formerly known as National Youth Science Day. Designed by Rutgers University, this year’s 4-H Challenge, “Explorers of the Deep”, focuses on the mysteries and adventures of ocean exploration—with robots! Young people learn how to use science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to explore Earth’s Ocean and how it relates to all life on the planet.

The 2022 Challenge helps young people develop observational and critical thinking skills while exploring the interconnected nature between the ocean and humans, regardless of where they live. They will learn about the incredibly complex relationship between Earth’s oceans and the global climate. According to a recent survey, 84 percent of teens would like to be involved with shaping the future of our environment. Explorers of the Deep can help empower young people to innovate and take action to drive positive change.

To learn more about how you can get involved, visit http://www.4-h.org/.

About 4-H

4‑H is delivered by Cooperative Extension—a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing. For more than 100 years, 4‑H has welcomed young people of all beliefs and backgrounds, giving kids a voice to express who they are and how they make their lives and communities better. Through life-changing 4‑H programs, nearly six million kids and teens have taken on critical societal issues, such as addressing community health inequities, engaging in civil discourse, and advocating for equity and inclusion for all.

In 4‑H programs, kids, and teens complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and civic engagement in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Kids experience 4‑H in every county and parish in the country through in-school and after-school programs, school, and community clubs and 4‑H camps.

4‑H’s reach and depth are unmatched, reaching kids in every corner of America – from urban neighborhoods to suburban schoolyards to rural farming communities. Our network of 500,000 volunteers and 3,500 4‑H professionals provide caring and supportive mentoring to all 6 million 4‑H’ers, helping them grow into true leaders today and in life.

Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/4-H and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/4H.

Crops, Youth

Youth Crop Scouting Competition Results

Nebraska Extension strives to recruit the next generation of agronomy professionals by annually conducting the Nebraska Youth Crop Scouting Competition. On August 3, 2022, held at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, teams were able to talk with Extension staff and scout actual plots at the Research Center. This competition is a great experience for those wanting to work in many different fields of agriculture. This competition provides a fun competitive environment where teams can receive hands on learning about all aspects of crop scouting.

Receiving first place and a cash prize of $500 was Kornhusker Kids team coached by Chris Schiller. Team members were James Rolf, Logan Consbruck, Isaac Wooldrik, Levi Schiller and Ian Schiller. Second place went to Colfax Co. 4-H Team #1 coached by Steve Nelson. Team members were Josh Eisennman, Mic Sayers, Rylan Nelson, & Hayden Bailey and they received $250. Third place with a $100 cash award was Colfax County 4-H #2 team also coached by Steve Nelson. Team members were Callen Jedlicka, Cody Jedlicka, Daphne Jedlicka and Justin Eisennman.

Also participating were two teams from Johnson County 4-H coached by Jon Schmid. Team members from Johnson County #1 included Wesley Schmid, Sophia Schmid, Bo McCoy and Elliot Werner. Johnson Co. #2 team consisted of Levi Othmer and Cameron Werner. Arlington FFA also competed with Kali Agler as the coach and Aaron Fuchs, Braden Monke and Ethan Hilgenkamp competing.

An in-person regional competition will be held among Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Missouri teams at the Beck Agricultural Center near West Lafayette Indiana on September 15th hosted by Purdue Extension. Participants from Kornhusker Kids 4-H and Colfax County #1 can compete representing the state of Nebraska.

For more information on the Youth Crop Scouting Competition, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at brandy.vandewalle@unl.edu or go to https://cropwatch.unl.edu/youth

Youth

Youth Crop Scouting Competition – Connecting Youth with Crops

Looking for a fun club project? Want to unite your club members? Running out of ideas for club meetings?  If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, help is on the way!  Nebraska Extension is pleased to present the 9th annual Crop Scouting Competition for Nebraska youth. Youth interested in crops can learn about crop growth & development and basic crop scouting principles. 

Don’t know a lot about crops?  Ask a local agronomist to assist by providing a short lesson on crop production. You can have the agronomist meet with youth a little during each meeting or outside of the meeting. This is one way to engage those youth interested in crops. 

This contest will be held at the Eastern Nebraska Research & Extension Center near Mead, Nebraska on August 3, 2022. The event will include both indoor and outdoor events. Teams of junior high and high school students (those completing 5-12th grades) from across Nebraska are invited to participate. This event is limited to the first ten teams who sign-up! 

Clubs or other organizations may enter a team composed of three to five participants. An adult team leader must accompany each team of students. Team leaders could be FFA advisors, crop consultants, extension staff, coop employees, etc. 

Top-scoring teams win prizes: $500 for first, $250 for second, $100 for third place. Top two teams will be eligible for regional competition held virtually this year.

Teams will be expected to know the basics of scouting corn and soybean fields. This includes crop staging; looking for patterns of crop injury; disease, insect and weed seedling identification; etc. Other topics many include but are not limited to, pesticide safety, nutrient disorders, and herbicide injury. 

More information about the crop scouting competition and instructions on how to register a team are available online at cropwatch.unl.edu/youth. Register at: https://go.unl.edu/cropscoutingreg

Teams must be registered by July 15. This program is sponsored by Nebraska Independent Crop Consultant Association, Ward Laboratories and Nebraska Extension.

Crops, Youth

Tractor Safety Training

Federal law prohibits children under 16 years of age from using certain equipment on a farm unless their parents or legal guardians own the farm. However, certification received through our course grants an exemption to the law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and to do field work with certain mechanized equipment. Teens 14 or 15 years of age who work on farms or others who are interested in learning about safe farming practices are encouraged to register for the course.

Photo by Nicolas Veithen on Pexels.com

Students will:

  • Register for their driving exam date (Tractor and Equipment Safety Course for Young and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers), which costs $25, and
  • Register to complete the Hands-On Safety Day (or opt to complete the Online Module) prior to completing the driving exam. Individuals can opt to attend just the Hands-On Safety Day but will not receive certification.

Once a student is registered, they will be sent the course materials and online module link (if applicable). The $25 fee for the driving exam will be collected on site the day of the exam. The onsite driving training and exam will include a driving test and equipment operation and ATV safety lessons. Students must demonstrate competence in hitching and unhitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer through a standardized course.

Instructors will also offer education about safe behaviors and laws for ATVs, utility-task vehicles (UTVs), and other off-road vehicles (ORVs). These trainings are sponsored by University of Nebraska—Lincoln Extension and Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health.

Schedule:

Hands-On Safety Days

  • May 24 – Lincoln County Extension Office, 348 West State Farm Rd, North Platte
  • May 26 – Raising Nebraska, 501 East Fonner Park Rd, Grand Island

Tractor Certification Driving Days

  • May 25 – Lincoln County Extension Office, 348 West State Farm Rd, North Platte
  • June 6 – AKRS Equipment, 49110 US Hwy 20 in O’Neill
  • June 7 – Legacy of the Plains Museum, 2930 Old Oregon Trail #8500 in Gering
  • June 8 – AKRS Equipment, 44098 Hwy 2, Broken Bow
  • June 9 – Adams County Extension, 2975 South Baltimore Ave, Hastings
  • June 10 – Cass County Fairgrounds, 8400 144th St, Weeping Water

For more information and to register, visit go.unl.edu/tractorsafety or contact Ellen Duysen at ellen.duysen@unmc.edu

Crops, Uncategorized, Youth

Youth Crop Scouting Winners

Nebraska Extension has worked hard to push through the struggles of 2020 and 2021. From moving everything online suddenly to slowly brining in person events back the past two years have been roller-coaster. This year’s Youth Crop Scouting Competition was able to be held in person at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center. Teams were able to talk with Extension staff and scout real plots at the Research Center. This competition is a great experience for those wanting to work in many different fields of agriculture. This competition provides a fun competitive environment where teams can receive hands on learning about all aspects of crop scouting.  

Five teams competed in the 2021 competition.

Receiving first place and a cash prize of $500 was Kornhusker Kids team coached by Chris Schiller. Team members were James Rolf, Ethan Kreikemeier, Kaleb Hasenkamp, Levi Schiller, and Ian Schiller.  Second place went to Arlington FFA team coached by Kali Agler. Team members were Braden Monke and Aaron Fuchs, the team received $250. Third place with a $100 cash award was Colfax County 4-H #1 team coached by Steve Nelson. Team members were Hayden Bailey, Josh Eisenmann, Eliza Bailey, and Mic Sayers. 

Also participating was West Elk Creek 4-H Club coached by Jon Schmid. Team members include Wesley Schmid, Cameron Werner, Levi Othmer, Reese Badertscher and Sophie Schmid. Colfax County 4-H #2 team was coached by Steve Nelson. Team members were Daphne Jedlicka, Cody Jedlicka, and Callen Jedlicka.  

Continuing this year was an online session of “Ask an Agronomist” where Nebraska Extension agronomists and specialists presented basic information that could be as part of the competition which allowed more interaction between the judges and participants.  

An online regional competition will be held among Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky teams. Participants from Kornhusker Kids 4-H and Arlington FFA will compete representing their county and the state of Nebraska in September. 

The 2021 Youth Crop Scouting Competition was sponsored by the Nebraska Independent Crop Consultant Association and Ward Laboratories in collaboration with Nebraska Extension.

For more information on the Youth Crop Scouting Competition, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at brandy.vandewalle@unl.edu or go to https://cropwatch.unl.edu/youth.   

Youth

Back to School Tips

With the school year starting, this means the busyness of afterschool activities and homework assignments will be here soon. As families are pulled in different directions for school, work and practices, time as a family comes at a premium. Making efforts to build the focus of your children could decrease time spent on homework to free up more time for family activities. Creating a permanent, designated study space is one way to build your youth’s focus. Here are a few items to keep in mind when creating the study space:

text on shelf
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Make It Work For You – Every child is different and has different needs. Some prefer a quiet corner in their room while others may prefer to be close to a parent for help at the kitchen table. Just make sure that the traffic and noise of other family members do not become a distraction.

Manage the Senses – Lighting and noise issues are very common distractions. Tired eyes have more difficulty transferring knowledge into memory. To keep sharp, make sure to provide adequate overhead lighting to limit squinting. Also, check that electronic devices like laptops and tablets are set at a comfortable level.

Make It Comfortable – Temperature and seating can make a difference in a youth’s ability to concentrate. Make sure that the study space keeps the child relaxed, but alert. It is also important that he or she has adequate space to spread out books, papers and materials to make the space efficient. While a bed may make a great space for spreading out, it may prove too relaxing. Consider a cushioned chair with generous table space. Also, it is important that the chair fit the youth. Dangling legs and hunched shoulders can create distractions as well.

Keep It Organized – Another way to increase the efficiency of the space is to keep all supplies and materials readily available and easy to find. Any time spent looking for the lost blue marker is time spent away from the task and an opportunity for further distraction. Organized space provides a launching pad for organized study. Keep clutter at a minimum using cubbies, canisters and boxes. A calendar, planner or to-do list can also keep homework assignments and activities prioritized and on track for on-time completion.

Limit Distractions – While the computer and television can be excellent sources of educational content, they also provide limitless distraction. If the child believes they can focus better with a little background noise, try some recorded music and save the favorite show as a reward when they can spare his or her attention.

Make It Your Own – If the child is expected to spend considerable time in the study space, let him or her decorate the space with posters, pictures or artwork. These items could provide creative inspiration for the child’s next essay or art project.

This article comes from a series of resources developed by Nebraska Extension, 4-H Youth Development Professionals. Learn more about 4-H at 4h.unl.edu, follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Nebraska4H/ or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nebraska4h. For more information, contact the author – Jennifer Schoen (jschoen4@unl.edu), Extension Educator.

Youth

Back to School – COVID Style & Impact on Mental Health

As August is on the horizon, that means kids will be going back to school and families will be settling into new routines. As a parent of two girls, I completely understand the disappointment of summer coming to a close, but also the excitement of what a new year at school will bring. The year 2020 has provided everyone with many challenges and doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon. As students and teachers prepare for the 2020-2021, things will certainly look different. Whether it is kids, teachers and staff wearing masks in the classroom or changing the way classes are done and extra sanitization, it will take a while for everyone to develop these new habits.MentalHealthSocialGraphics2

With any change, there is usually some who suffer from anxiety. I can certainly attest to the anxiety experience this spring with the uncertainty around spring/summer programming and county fair. A new survey commissioned by National 4-H Council and conducted by the Harris Poll, finds that 7 in 10 teens are struggling with their mental health in the wake of COVID-19. This survey conducted in May 2020 was among the first to examine the impact this unprecedented health crisis has had on U.S. teens. In 2019, the World Health Organization announced suicide as the third leading cause of death in teens 15 to 19. With today’s added stressors of a global pandemic, economic downturn and recent conversations on racial injustice, teens are seeking out new ways to cope.

This survey polled over 1,500 youth between 13-19 years of age from across the United States and key findings include:

  • 81% of teens say mental health is a significant issue for young people in the U.S.
  • 55% of teens say they’ve experienced anxiety, 45% excessive stress and 43% depression
  • 71% of those surveyed say school work makes them feel anxious or depressed
  • 65% say uncertainty about the future makes them feel anxious or depressed
  • Teens also reported feeling more pressured to hide their feelings rather than do drugs.
  • 67% feel pressure to keep feelings to themselves
  • 67% pretend to feel better to not worry anyone
  • 65% deal with feelings on their own

46% of teens reported social media as their most common outlet for learning about coping mechanisms for mental health and 43% follow or support someone on social media who openly talks about their mental health issues.

MentalHealthSocialGraphics3.jpg

82% of teens are calling in America to talk more openly and honestly about mental health issues in this country. 79% of teens surveyed wish there was an inclusive environment or safe space for people in school to talk about mental health. Finally 70% wish their school taught them more about mental health and coping mechanisms.

This important information is working to be addressed by 4-H, powered by Cooperative Extension which features a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation. 4-H has helps youth develop good decision-making and strong interpersonal skills which are key to holistic well-being and aims to help young people build a firm foundation on social-emotional health.

In addition to keeping youth safe by social distancing, disinfecting, etc. it will be important for parents to consider how youth might be dealing with the pressure of catching up. Some students might have lost a lot of progress and not have had adequate support at home for a variety of reasons. The American Academy of Pediatrics also reminds parents to ensure your child has had their annual exam, is caught up on immunizations and students at a higher risk medical conditions might need to continue distance learning or have other accommodations.

With the previous statistics discussed providing youth adequate behavioral health and emotional support will be very important. Children rely on parents and trusted adults for their safety and reassure that you are there for them and your family will get through this together. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also suggests to answer questions about the pandemic simply and honestly. Talk with kids about how people are getting sick buy emphasize that hand washing, wearing a mask and limiting large crowds of people will help them stay healthy. Also recognize and acknowledge your child’s feelings. Keep in touch with friends and family; many people got very creative this spring with video chats. Also, look to the future and tell them scientists are working hard on a vaccine and ways to treat those who get ill.  The AAP suggests offering extra hugs and saying “I love you” more often.

As a parent, school administrators, teachers and staff are working hard to make the school year a positive and safe one for youth. As adults, it is important to model good behavior for your children and be flexible. Everyone is learning how to navigate through this pandemic together and remaining calm and keeping a positive is best for everyone.

For more information on strategies for returning to school during COVID-19, go to healthychildren.org and for more information on the Harris Poll commissioned by the National 4-H Council, go to: https://4-h.org/.