(OnFocus) 4-H groups are sharing their talents with each other from a distance by joining virtual Art and LEGO clubs.
The online clubs, spearheaded by 4-H teen leaders, are open to any youth who want to participate, not just 4-H members. The meetings are held every Sunday afternoon via Zoom.
“It is very difficult to create a program that meets the needs of such a wide age range. I think both Art Club and LEGO Club are doing a fantastic job of doing just that,” said Laura Huber, 4-H Program Educator, Wood County. “These clubs are bringing youth with similar interests together. Right now, we have youth from five counties participating.”
“I wanted to start a LEGO club so that kids with common interests can talk and find friends in this time of separation,” said Elliot Huber, a Marshfield High School freshman and member of Wood County’s Richfield 4-H Club. “The first meeting went very well for an online club. There were 11 kids in total and we all had a lot of fun. One of the most memorable builds was a LEGO Millennium Falcon.”
The first meeting was held on March 29, and Elliot plans to continue the club as long as possible.
Samantha Budtke, leader of the Art Club, wanted to help connect youth while clubs are unable to meet in person.
“We need human contact, and this a good way to get that. Also, I know that people like to share art projects they work on so this is a great way to combine both,” said Samantha, a freshman at Stratford High School and member of Wood County’s Webster 4-H Club. “After I saw how well the LEGO club that Elliot set up went, I decided to just go for it and talk to Laura.”
Samantha plans to continue the club at least through the Safer at Home period and possibly beyond that.
“I think the first meeting went very well. I think I was most surprised by the diversity of the projects that people brought to share,” she said. “We had everything from wood burning to drawings to string art among the eight people that shared.”
“Every member is given a chance to share their work every week. Club members have been so supportive and enthusiastic during those shares – I can’t stop smiling during the meetings!” said Huber. “Samantha and Elliot have set up a great, safe environment for their club members. Many of these young people have never met in person, yet you can watch friendships form week to week.”
A number of security measures are taken to protect those who participate in response to reports of “Zoom bombing,” a term for strangers who infiltrate virtual meetings and wreak havoc in numerous ways.
“I attend and monitor every meeting and have the ability to shut off cameras, microphones, and remove people from meetings. We require youth to register for these clubs,” said Huber. “Each week, I send an email to members that includes the new link to join the meeting.”
Families interested in joining either club can email Huber for more information at [email protected]