ONTARIO — The novel coronavirus COVID-19 may have brought on the shut-down of businesses, schools, and a lot of other activities, but it has not shut down 4-H.
How 4-H Club members show their projects this summer and fall may change, but for now the normal activities surrounding 4-H are ongoing, but the ways they are being carried out may not be normal.
Marilyn K. Lesmeister, associate professor and Oregon 4-H Program Leader, said currently 4-H activities are being conducted at home, and club members are being creative at how they conduct meetings and interact with their leaders and work with their projects.
In fact, by being at home, club members with animal projects are finding success in being able to spend more time with their animals, getting more comfortable with them and getting them ready for show.
Club meetings are no longer gatherings, but are being done over the phone, cellphones or by utilizing other technologies, Lesmeister said.
The 4-H year begins every year in October and while the final numbers are not in, Lesmeister said that the number of 4-H members appears to have increased this year over last.
Another issue being discussed goes beyond 4-H, but 4-H is a major part of county fairs and a tradition. Depending on circumstances that may preclude having a traditional fair are suggestions including having virtual livestock shows and having a virtual livestock auction.
With the departure of Melissa Sherman, former 4-H program director in Malheur County, hiring a replacement is under consideration and is part of the plan, Lesmeister said, but it may be matter of timing.
“The entire state is looking at budget challenges,” she said, “The date has yet to be determined [for hiring].”