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The hallmark of any 4-H program is its educational component. Now Arapahoe County 4-H is making the most of the current COVID restrictions by developing a 4-H Virtual Exchange Program with Maury County, Tennessee, near Nashville.
The weekly program uses the Zoom application on smartphones, computers, and tablets to allow its students to take “trips” to each other’s home counties. The 4-H staff members conduct an icebreaker activity before having the teens—two per week from each county—describe projects they’re working on. So far the teens have experienced farm and ranch tours; seen work in clothing construction, quilting, and photography; met many project animals, and learned about how project books and portfolios differ between the two states. They also do fun and interactive activities such as a trivia contest and an interactive virtual scavenger hunt. The 4-H staff members are currently figuring out the best way to turn over leadership to their teens by having them pair up with a member from the other state to plan an activity for each trip.
The Virtual Exchange Program has been receiving inquiries from eight other Colorado counties and staff and volunteers from ten other states from all corners of the country. Colorado State University and the University of Tennessee will also be working with the program to interview its youth and staff.
“This program has allowed these teens the opportunity to get a glimpse into other programs, states, and locations they may not have ever visited before,” said Claudia Meeks, 4-H Outreach Program Supervisor for Arapahoe County Community Resourses. “We have been very pleased with how the program has taken off. It has been a pleasure watching our youth interact with new 4-H members, with many of them stepping out of their comfort zone. It’s also provided them with a chance to socialize in a positive manner, rather than on social media.”
For more information, visit Arapahoe County 4-H.