December 4-H Project of the Month-Food and Nutrition

Christmas is a wonderful time of year to sit down and celebrate the end of another momentous year and the holidays with our loved ones. In my family, we love to gather around a table full of food with our holiday tradition of oyster stew and chili on Christmas Eve. Christmas day, the family will come over, bringing with them desserts and salads, usually all old family recipes that have been enjoyed year after year. Food is a tradition that brings us together for every holiday or big event in our lives.

Once again, 4-H has many opportunities for those that love food and traditions as much as I do! The 4-H Foods and Nutrition project encourages youth to explore safe cooking practices and healthy eating. In this project, youth learn about many different cooking methods to improve their knowledge of cuisine. Youth can use this knowledge to compete at county at state fair with delicious homemade goods! Many of the classes include baked products but youth can also explore the art of food preservation with freezing, drying, and canning. There are also in-person cooking contests held at state fair, where youth can explore cooking proteins on a grill.

Food is something we need every day, but many people fail to really understand the complexity of the relationship food has with our body. By participating in the 4-H foods and nutrition project, youth are exposed to the raw ingredients they are putting into their bodies. They are able to understand the science and chemistry behind baking and preserving while also getting to know what the best choices or for fueling their body. We want to encourage youth to explore a healthy and fulfilling relationship with their food.

So, this Christmas, as you gather with your families, encourage everyone to share their love of food with the youth in your household. Cooking together is an incredible way to bond with each other and learn something new. For more information visit Project examples include baked products, family food traditions, candy, cake decorating, freezing, drying, boiling water canning, pressure canning, and many more.

If your 4-Her is interested in working on a foods and nutrition project and you want more information, please contact the 4-H Assistant Shaniya at

November 4-H Project of the Month- Quilts of Valor

November is here and with it comes Veterans Day. The 11th day of November is dedicated to all veterans who have served their country honorably during war or peacetime. One of the four Hs in 4-H stands for hands, and as some may know we 4-Hers pledge our hands to service. Service is something near and dear to many of our hearts. We respect and honor the sacrifices our military, firefighters, EMTS, and police make every day to keep us safe. Our 4-H program honors these people with programs like the Quilts of Valor.

Quilts of Valor is a statewide community service project that involves creating and donating quilts to the service men and women who are protecting our country and who are "touched by war." The quilts are collected and given through the Quilts of Valor Foundation or through direct donation to community members. These quilts can be completed by 4-H members and volunteers working alone or in groups to make the quilts. Donations of fabric, batting or machine-quilting may be located in order to complete the project. Service organizations or other donors in the community may help provide funds for the Quilt of Valor.

This service project is one that has really taken off in areas surrounding our four counties. Quilts of Valor are amazing service projects that allow our youth to get to know service members in their area. It also teaches our youth the value of civic engagement and service to a cause larger than themselves. Quilting is a fantastic skill to learn and share with others. It is also challenging work and takes time. Our youth can benefit from seeing their challenging work go to deserving people in their community.

If your 4-Her or 4-H club is interested in the Quilts of Valor project, and you want more information, please contact the 4-H Assistant Shaniya at You can also find more information on the Quilts of Valor guidelines at We cannot provide these project opportunities without amazing volunteers from our communities. If you are willing to share your knowledge of quilting with the youth in your community, please contact your extension office today! We would love to set up workshops with our local youth.

October 4-H Project of the Month- Clothing

As the weather gets cooler, we are all thinking about the perfect fall hats, sweaters, and comfortable clothes to wear to football games or just snuggling up on the couch. Sometimes it can be hard to find the perfect hat to buy or the perfect outfit. Nothing matches your vision! So... Why not make it? With 4-H, youth can learn how to sew, knit, and crochet their favorite clothing items.

Sewing, knitting, and crocheting have become a lost art in our communities. They used to be taught to us in school or through our grandparents but as each generation grows older, we find fewer and fewer people actually have these skills to share with others. Through 4-H, we hope to encourage youth to branch out and learn these skills so that we can help youth to build independence and nurture their creativity, while also opening new career pathways.

Participants in the 4-H clothing category demonstrate their knowledge of the creation of garments using STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) techniques. These techniques are fundamental to the 4-H mentality, as we encourage youth to explore every avenue they can. Whether it is using their math skills to calculate the fabric needed for a project or pushing the boundaries by using technology to sew LED lights into their favorite Christmas sweater, we want youth to explore every interest while focusing on hands on skills that will help them get further in life.

 Youth can explore many careers by developing these skills. They can start their own businesses in clothing, furniture upholstery, leathercrafting, bookbinding, and even becoming a hatter. These are just a few of the hundreds of things they could do! Sewing, knitting, and crocheting are skills that any youth, male or female, can nurture into a truly amazing and creative career.

We cannot provide these project opportunities without amazing volunteers from our communities. If you are willing to share your knowledge of sewing, knitting, or crocheting with the youth in your community, please contact your extension office today! The best attended workshops from this past summer were the sewing workshops. Our youth want to learn what you are willing to share! If your 4-Her is interested in working on a clothing project and you want more information, please contact the 4-H Assistant Shaniya at 

September 4-H Project of the Month- LEGO LEAGUE, ROBOTICS

As the fairs are winding down and kids are back in school, we are back to share with you the monthly 4-H project! This month, I am happy to introduce the FIRST LEGO League project through Nebraska 4-H. The FIRST LEGO League is an international not-for-profit organization that has partnered with 4-H to bring amazing STEM learning opportunities to youth in Nebraska and the United States.  

FIRST LEGO League introduces science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to children ages 4-16 through fun, exciting, hands-on learning. Participants gain real-world problem-solving experiences through a guided, global robotics program, helping today's students and teachers build a better future together. Our three divisions inspire youth to experiment and grow their critical thinking, coding, and designs skills through hands-on STEM learning and robotics. 

FIRST LEGO League guides youth through STEM learning and exploration at an early age. From Discover (prek-1), to Explore (2-4), and then to Challenge (4-8), students will understand the basics of STEM and apply their skills in an exciting competition while gaining productive learning habits, confidence, and teamwork skills along the way. 

FIRST has six Core Values that are consistently promoted throughout the program. 

  • Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas. 

  • Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems. 

  • Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world. 

  • Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences. 

  • Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together. 

  • Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do! 

One highly successful robotics program in our area is the Hyannis Sandbots led by Sara Brennemann and Susan Connell. All three of their teams qualified for the state competition last year and won awards at the Scottsbluff qualifier. These coaches and their volunteers put in a lot of time and work to help our 4-Hers gain new insight and experiences.  

These programs cannot thrive without support and volunteers from our local communities.  

If you are interested in starting or joining a FIRST LEGO League robotics club in your county, please contact the extension office at 308-645-2267 or email Shaniya at 

May 4-H Project of the Month- DOG

One of the most widely owned pets is a family dog. There are many benefits to youth taking an active role in pet care responsibilities. Pet ownership has been associated with improved emotional, physical, and mental health. Pets also teach youth valuable lessons in responsibility, trust, compassion, and respect. If you have a family dog, your child could greatly benefit from the 4-H Dog Program. 

At your local county fair, there are three classes you can show your dog in. There is showmanship, obedience, and agility. Showmanship classes are judged on handler's appearance (10%), grooming and conditioning of dog (20%), coordination of the dog and handler (50%), and general knowledge (20%). Classes are divided into age divisionsDog obedience participants are judged on several exercises performed by the dog and owner. The number of exercises varies depending on the division entered. Dog agility is performed with varying obstacles for each level. Youth may not enter this competition if they have not trained and practiced agility due to safety. The number of obstacles and leash requirements change based on experience level.  

The dog project also includes a Dog Achievement Program much like the Horse project. Youth are required to begin at level 1 and progress through level 4 if they choose to participate in the achievement program. More information on the achievement program can be found at 

The rules and guidelines are listed under the small animal section of our fair book. Notable rules include the vaccination requirements. All dogs must be immunized for distemper, hepatitis, parvo, and rabies. The Nebraska State Fair Dog Show Vaccination Record Form (SF 263) must be filled out and signed by a veterinarian and returned to the extension office with fair entries on July 1st. 

If you are interested in the 4-H dog project and want more information, please contact the 4-H Assistant Shaniya at or the local 4-H dog project leader. 


April 4-H Project of the Month- HORSE

The horse industry contributes approximately $50 billion to the U.S. economy and directly impacts more than 900,000 jobs, according to the American Horse Council. The 4-H Horse Project is one of the most popular projects in the Central Sandhills Area. Along with learning horsemanship and animal science, Nebraska 4-H members practice life skills, such as responsibility, self-discipline, personal safety, goal setting, and keeping records.  

Horsemanship Advancement Levels are the cornerstone of the 4-H Horse Project. The Horsemanship Advancement Levels are designed to serve as a guide for instruction and evaluation of each member's progress. The correct handling of horses is emphasized from the beginning to the most advanced level. Each level has a particular emphasis to assist in developing 4-H member's self-discipline, patience, self-reliance, responsibility, and pride of accomplishments. To pass each level, a 4-H’er must complete a minimum of a demonstration, written examination, and skills (riding) test. To show at District and/or the State 4-H Horse Show, 4-Her’s must pass Level 2, with some classes requiring Level 3. Beginning in 2022, 4-Her’s exhibiting in Blaine, Grant, Hooker, and Thomas counties must pass the Level 1 skills (riding) test to show at county fair. 

If interested in the 4-H Horse project, enroll in 4-H before June 15. Identify any and all horses you plan to show using the horse IDs from the local extension office by July 1st, earlier if you plan to show at districts and/or state. No horse IDs will be rolled over from past years. The Nebraska 4-H Horse Show & Judging Guide can answer most questions about horse shows and other 4-H horse project contests. 

For more information on the Nebraska 4-H Horse Project, Horsemanship Advancement Level information can be found at 

Horse Id’s can be found on our website 

If interested in the 4-H horse project and want more information, please contact the 4-H Assistant Shaniya at, T.L. Meyer at, or the local 4-H horse project leader. 


March 4-H Project of the Month-Public Speaking

Communication is important in every aspect of our lives. We use communication to form connections, motivate change, and influence decisions every day. We want youth to be confident in their ability to communicate with the world and develop these important life skills. The 4-H public speaking contest is a great way to do this.

            The Public Speaking Contest consists of two different events. Youth can enter their local county event and then, if chosen, have the opportunity to move on to the state contest. The local contest typically takes place in April, and the state contest will be held in Lincoln June 24th, 2022. Categories for the state contest include Public Service Announcements (PSAs), Public Speaking, and Presentations. The top 5 youth in Public Speaking and PSA (must receive a purple ribbon) are eligible for the state contest. Presentations must receive a purple and will have additional guidelines for state fair. Local contests may have extra classes that are not eligible for state.

            Rules and guidelines vary per contest, but common themes are as follows; all speeches and presentations must be related to 4-H, include an introduction, body, and conclusion and all references used, and be original. Local contest ages divisions are clover kid 5-7, junior 8-10, intermediate 11-13, and senior 14-18. State contest age divisions are intermediate 10-13 and senior 14-18.

Local contest dates have not been set yet but will be soon.

For more information on the state public speaking contest please visit

If your 4-Her is interested in the public speaking contest and you want more information, please contact the 4-H Assistant Shaniya at 

February 4-H Featured Project-Horticulture

These cooler months have many of us yearning for spring when the plants begin to bloom and life resumes outdoors. This month’s featured project is horticulture! The purpose of the horticulture project is to encourage youth to cultivate and grow vegetable gardens and participate in planting, growing, and caring for flowers. This project helps youth learn more about healthy living and eating by giving them the responsibility of tending their own vegetables and flowers. Research shows spending time outdoors surrounded by nature can boost youth’s ability to focus and concentrate. It has also been known to help relieve stress.

Horticulture can be found in the state fair book, along with a list of all the classes. There are classes for Floriculture with many varieties of cut and potted flowers, as well as posters and notebook exhibits. The same is true for vegetables, fruits, and herbs grown by the 4-Her. There are also state fair classes for the special gardening project that is introduced each year.

The Special Garden Project is a way to offer 4-H members the chance to grow unusual and fun projects in their gardens. The 2022 Special Garden Project is focused on the Rubenza Cosmos. The flowers of the Rubenza are unique, the petals change color as they age. Pollinators and beneficial insects are attracted to the blooms all summer long. These cosmos make great cut flowers. Be sure to enjoy a bouquet of Rubenza indoors.

Youth should enroll for the Special Garden Project through 4-H Online. Once enrolled through 4-H Online, youth are then to call their local office to let them know they enrolled for the project. By enrolling through 4-H Online, youth will have access to the OneDrive folder with the educational materials including the growing newsletter & evaluation.

Seed orders for the special gardening project are due February 17th. Please contact the office before then if you are interested in participating or we cannot guarantee seeds will be available for your 4-Her.

For more information on the horticulture classes please visit

If your 4-Her is interested in working on a horticulture project and you want more information, please contact the 4-H Assistant Shaniya at

January 4-H Featured Project- Leathercrafting

Happy New Year! When I think of these cold and chilly January days, I am reminded of the hours I spent on new hobbies the weeks after Christmas while waiting for school to begin again. Learning a new craft or skill is a terrific way to set the tone for an awesome year. This month’s featured 4-H project is Leathercrafting!

Leathercrafting is a great project for all ages. Leather is one of our oldest natural resources; it has helped shape civilizations for over 34 centuries! By working with this medium, 4-Hers are taking part in a rich heritage of creativity and resourcefulness. This project focusses on the fundamentals of preparing leather and creating pieces that are used in our everyday life. Youth will learn where leather comes from and how its uses have changed over centuries. Youth will also learn a skill they can use to create a lifelong hobby or even a career. There are leather workers all over the world and many opportunities that come from knowing this skill.

This project is different in terms of how it fits into State Fair. We have county level classes you can show in at your local fair, or if you want to take it further, we can help you place your item into clothing classes at the state level. Classes C221007- Beginning Fashion Accessory and C221008- Advanced Fashion Accessory would be good for projects such as leather earrings, shows, belts, bracelets, necklaces and so on. 4-Hers could also turn this skill into an entrepreneurship project where they learn how to market and sell the items they create!

December 4-H Featured Project- Consumer Management

As we near the end of this year, the one thing on everyone’s mind is Christmas. Parents are hoarding the presents their children have asked for and children are looking forward to new toys, books, clothes, and so on. Many families will set a budget for their Christmas giving, but most children don’t understand why this is necessary or why a $500 iPad is not what Santa hands out to all good boys and girls. This is where the 4-H project of Consumer Management comes in.

Consumer Management is a great project for kids of every age. This project focusses on the fundamentals of money and improving financial literacy. Obviously, Christmas is a good time of year to think about smart financial decisions, but this is also relevant in the 4-Hers everyday life. Whether it is managing their wages from their first job in the hay field, making smart decisions with their premium check from fair, or creating a financial plan for raising their market steer, consumer management is here to help each 4-Her build financial goals and learn more about saving their money for the future. Improving financial literacy will help our youth plan ahead to college and beyond when they participate in the 4-H Consumer Management project.

According to the Nebraska State Fair Book, “Consumer management helps participants learn more about how to make smart fiscal decisions and how to improve financial literacy. The different exhibits provide a variety of learning experiences for 4-H'ers. Participants in this category will emphasize setting smart goals and keeping a spending plan.” Exhibits can include writing 3 smart financial goals, income inventory, tracking expenses, interviewing adults about their career and jobs, understanding credit scores, and the shopping in style class “best buy for your buck”. These are just some of the many exhibits you can do in Consumer Management. For more information visit

November 4-H Featured Project- Citizenship

“Citizenship is the chance to make a difference to the place where you belong.” -Charles Handy

Citizenship is the relationship we foster between ourselves, our community, and country. Some would refer to this as patriotism as well. Being a part of something, involved and willing to participate, is something many of us feel strongly about. Our communities rely on the citizenship of their members to function and improve. So, what does it mean to be a good citizen and why is this important to your local 4-H club?

One of the key elements in 4-H is fostering civic responsibility within our members. By promoting this project, we are hoping that youth will learn and understand the value of exploring how they fit within their community and how they can be of service for the greater good. By focusing on the active citizenship project students will:

  • Develop skills in decision making, critical thinking, and contributing to group efforts.

  • Develop a personal relationship and commitment to their community and country.

  • Increase their confidence on their ability to participate and be of service.

  • Understand concepts associated with citizenship.

  • Become creators, producers. And owners within their communities and country.

This project has many possibilities for activities and exploration that can in turn be entered in county fairs as exhibits. Youth can participate in creating care packages, patriotic arts, service learning, citizenship essays, interviews with public leaders, creating services items to help their community, and many more. As stated in the 2021 Nebraska State Fair book, “the purpose of these citizenship exhibits is to foster civic responsibility and action within the diverse areas of citizenship including community service, service learning, government and policy making.” For more information visit

October 4-H Featured Project- Heritage

“The heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the harvest of the future.” -Wendell Phillips

Heritage, a noun, meaning something that is handed down from the past, as a tradition, or something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth. Heritage is important to us because it is our history, how we came to be here in the Nebraska Sandhills. This month’s featured 4-H project is, you guessed it, heritage. This project was developed so that 4-Hers might learn about themselves, their family, and their communities. By promoting this project, we are hoping that youth will learn and understand the value of their history and heritage of family and community. Noted objectives of the heritage project include:

  • To help youth become familiar with family history and traditions.

  • To stimulate interest in local history and Nebraska history.

  • To develop a sense of responsibility for preserving heritage.

  • To help youth recognize who they are through gaining appreciation of their heritage.

“The purpose of the 4-H Heritage project is to acquire knowledge, develop a connection to the past and share the story of a 4-H member's heritage and history around them. An exhibit may include items, pictures, maps, charts, recordings, drawings, illustrations, writings or displays that depict the heritage of the member's family or community or 4-H history.” (2021 Fair book)

Project examples include heritage poster, family genealogy, local history scrapbook, framed family photos w/ written explanations, other exhibits depicting heritage, 4-H history, story or illustration about historical event, and the list goes on. For more information visit