WORTHINGTON — Youths from across southwest Minnesota took part in a variety of 4-H opportunities provided this fall by University of Minnesota Extension educators. All series consisted of six virtual sessions, building on knowledge for youths to dive deeper into the content area of their choice. The free programs were open to all youths.

Fuel Up, Tune Up, Groove Up!: This healthy living program for youths in grades K-3 focused on the MyPlate model of balanced eating. The program incorporated physical fitness and activity, as well as learning strategies for tapping into mental well-being through mindfulness practices. Thirty youths and their families registered for the weekly 30-minute lesson, with an average of 15 participants each week.

Youth participants shared that “because of the ‘Vigorous Veggies’ lesson, our family learned to try new things. We would never have tried spinach but in a green smoothie it was good!” Parents also raved about the sessions, saying their children are excited to try new foods — even if hesitant at first.

Find the Leader in You: Youths in grades 7+ were given the opportunity to find and nurture the leader within themselves, examining leadership styles and qualities, exploring community and service leadership, and speaking with local leaders. A Minnesota 4-H State Ambassador and a service-focused 4-H member shared their insight and experiences in stepping into 4-H leadership and service roles at the local and state level.

Participants ended the series with the understanding there are many ways to be a leader and an action plan to use their style of leadership in developing a service learning project in their own community.

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Animal Science 101: A hands-on and interactive program, developed for youths in

seventh grade and above, featured a variety of topics including reproduction, genetics, animal behavior, nutrition, health, and marketing animals. During the session, youths created their own animal models and diagrams and applied their new knowledge to their own animals.

Tracks, Scat & All That: This series focused on environmental science with youths in grades 4-6. Content experts covered topics such as trees and leaves and why and how they turn

colors. While connecting from their homes, participants completed a hands-on science

experiment using colors of fall. They learned more about native grasses, seed harvesting

and the habitat our seeds create, animal tracks, and looking for scat of different animals.

Other session topics included bats, birds of winter and making bird feeders, and conservation efforts for turkeys. Youths were encouraged to visit local parks to see what they can find and enjoy nature.

Down on the Farm: Youths discovered the world of animal science through hands-on activities, educational lessons and guest speakers. Youth in grades K-3 focused primarily on sheep, goat, poultry, swine, beef, horse and dairy. Participants explored the hatching process, the differences between sheep and goats, and what food products come from dairy cows.

To learn more about 4-H opportunities or program series, contact the Nobles County Extension office at 295-5314 or mwolf@umn.edu or visit extension.umn.edu/4-h/4-h-home/.