For National 4-H Week, running through Oct. 12, millions of youth, parents, volunteers and alumni across the country are celebrating everything 4-H. Columbia County 4-H, a part of UW-Madison–Division of Extension, will observe National 4-H Week this year by showcasing the incredible experiences that 4-H offers young people, and will highlight the remarkable 4-H youth in our community who work each day to make a positive impact on those around them.
The theme of this year’s National 4-H Week is Inspire Kids to Do, which highlights how
4-H encourages kids to take part in hands-on learning experiences in areas such as health, science, agriculture and civic engagement. The positive environment provided by 4-H mentors ensures that kids in every county and parish in the country ̶ from urban neighborhoods to suburban schoolyards to rural farming communities ̶ are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles and are empowered with the skills to lead in life and career.
In Columbia County, more than 350 4-H youth and nearly 200 adult and youth volunteers from the community are involved in 4‑H. These 4-H youth and their families will be telling their 4-H stories to their friends via social media posts and personal conversations at school. They will be sharing images of their 4-H club work in the newspaper and they will be creating 4-H displays in local businesses and libraries.
According to Pat Wagner, 4-H Positive Youth Development Educator, “For more than a century, Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development has worked to engage youth participants throughout the state in leadership, training, community-building experiences and experiential-learning opportunities to better their own lives and the lives of the people around them. For many youth, 4-H is the first class they take at the UW. This year, on October 12th, Columbia County 4-H youth from the New Directions 4-H Club of Portage will meet and greet the public during National 4-H Week at the Portage Tractor Supply Company. 4-H members and adult volunteers will create a display to share their 4-H stories with patrons at the Tractor Supply store. The 4-H families will bring in examples of their 4-H project work as well as animals for the public to learn about. The youth will be sharing what they have learned through participating in 4-H here in Columbia County.”
4-H isn’t just for farm kids. In fact, a new program to Columbia County 4-H is “Cupcake Wars.” This program, loosely based on the television series of a similar name, allows groups of young people to work together as a team and create a display following the assigned theme. In 2019, youth incorporated a “Wisconsin” theme into their displays. Each team had to create one or more cupcake recipes from scratch. Then, they had to work together to make a display with their cupcakes. On the day of the Cupcake Wars program, teams of youth brought their cupcakes, frosting, special decorations, and display pieces to the venue and were allowed 45 minutes to frost and decorate their cupcakes and create their final displays. Cupcake experts watched the assembling of the displays and then visited with each team at the end of the time. Special awards were presented to the participant teams with an emphasis on participation rather than competition. A “bite-ability” testing was included in the program to give the youth bakers a chance to receive feedback on the cupcake recipes they had created. From this simple process, the youth participants worked on the development of a number of life skills (without even knowing it) including, but not limited to, the following: teamwork, self-motivation, self-esteem, sharing, empathy, creativity, communication, cooperation, sharing, nurturing relationships, leadership, problem solving, critical thinking, goal setting, and so much more. See included here a picture of one of the 2019 Cupcake Wars displays.