A “Dear 4-H’ers” letter this week from Purdue Extension to Indiana 4-H families and volunteers was profoundly sad and unprecedented, but it wasn’t unexpected. The letter announced the current ban on face to face events is extended through the end of June, and that effectively sets the stage for “alternate plans” for 4-H fairs held in June.
Among those saddened by the news is Indiana State Department of Agriculture director Bruce Kettler.
“To me, especially in Indiana, the significance of 4-H and the 4-H fairs for our youth, it’s so prevalent,” he said. “That’s what makes me sad, that we may have some youth that don’t get the opportunity to be able to show what they done. I know they’ve spent time on those projects. And in our rural communities in a lot of cases the county fair is a great gathering of rural folks and a celebration of what rural Indiana is about.”
State 4-H staff and county 4-H educators are examining ways to still deliver 4-H programming in June, but in-person 4-H events, camps, activities, and experiences through the end of June will be postponed or converted to non-face-to-face experiences.
No determination has been made for July 2020 events, and then August brings the Indiana State Fair. Kettler said options for that huge event are being explored.
“I know that Cindy Hoye and team are continuing to work like the state fair will go through, but I also know that they’re working on different plans and alternate plans about what they may need to do,” he told HAT. “If they need to shut it down, obviously that would be worse-case scenario and don’t want that to happen, but they are working on alternative plans about how they may need to adjust and what could be adjusted at the fair to be able to still make it happen. It’s too early to say exactly what that would look like, other than I know they’re working on alternate plans.
Over 20 county fairs are impacted by the extension, some running in June and some crossing over into July.
Here’s the letter from Purdue Extension:
Dear 4-H’ers, Families and Volunteers,
Due to the continued spread of COVID-19 and the important need to slow this spread, this week Purdue University and Purdue Extension announced the decision to extend the existing ban on face-to-face events through June 30, 2020.
During an outbreak such as COVID-19, the CDC recommends cancelling large meetings and events. The state 4-H staff in collaboration with county 4-H educators are exploring alternative delivery of our 4-H programming for the month of June. For the health and well-being of our 4-H families, volunteers, and professionals all in-person 4-H events, camps, activities, and experiences that were scheduled to take place before July 1, 2020 will be postponed or converted to non-face-to-face experiences. This includes in person events and activities led by local 4-H volunteers.
Virtual 4-H programming will be created and offered at no cost to families to replace the following statewide face-to-face 4-H events that were scheduled to take place in June of 2020:
– 4-H Academy @ Purdue
– Indiana 4-H Round-Up
– State 4-H Junior Leader Conference
– State 4-H Band and State 4-H Chorus
Our 4-H Youth Development Extension educators and state specialists will continue their incredible efforts to create and adapt learning opportunities to meet 4-H families where they are and fit the social distancing guidelines we must abide by. Visit purdue.ag/4hhomeactivities for a collection of at-home activities for kids created by Purdue Extension and 4-H programs across the nation. We would especially like to highlight:
– World Changers Online Hackathon April 20-22
– Animal Science Web Series every Tuesday since March 31st (recordings available)
– Live, Virtual Cake Decorating Workshop April 16 at 7:00 p.m. EDT
Likewise, if your county fair falls within the dates affected by this decision your local Purdue Extension office will be in touch with you regarding alternate plans for your 4-H fair or the 4-H events at your county’s fair. Please know county Extension educators are working in partnership with local fair boards and the state 4-H office to provide alternate opportunities for youth to showcase and celebrate their 4-H achievements. Please exercise patience and give your local Extension office the time they need to communicate the plans to you.
We do not take this decision lightly. The health and well-being of our 4-H’ers, families, volunteers, employees, and communities is our top priority. Our hearts break in your disappointment. Right now, and always, 4-H Youth Development will continue to provide opportunities for youth to learn, grow, develop skills, and showcase and celebrate their achievements. We will try new things and relate to each other in innovative ways. We will harness the resilience and determination 4-H has taught us, and we will stand in awe of the individuals and communities 4-H has built.
Jason Henderson, Director of Purdue Extension
Casey Mull, Assistant Director and 4-H Program Leader