Clubs adjust to COVID-19 by going digital to showcase their work and raise money for charities such as food banks
Despite changes to their activities, 4-H members have adjusted fairly well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clubs have started showcasing their work and have undertaken fundraising efforts. Even though everything is digital, they’ve continued to be successful.
“Our motto is to learn by doing, and that is what we’re doing,” said Susann Stone, executive director of the 4-H Council of Alberta.
“We’ve had to adjust programming and a few things were cancelled, but members totally understand that things are different, and they’ve really embraced it, possibly better than the adults,” she said.
4-H is encouraging people to check out clubs’ online sales via its website. There are 22 steers and two lambs, as well as other items, being offered for sale.
Proceeds from fundraising efforts are going to charities that the youth have chosen to support. It’s part of their regular commitment to community service.
With COVID-19, many clubs have decided to provide proceeds to health-care facilities and food banks.
For instance, the Longview 4-H Beef Club has raised a steer named River, with proceeds going to the High River District Health Care Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund.
River was sold on May 18. The sale raised roughly $36,000, said Stephen Hughes, the general leader of the Longview club.
“It shows that a lot of people are willing to give, even though times are tough,” Hughes said. “It speaks well of the community.”
He said even though the pandemic has curtailed activities, it’s taught members the importance of farming and that everyone is in this together.
“We’re still safe as a family and we have to take care of our animals. None of that stops,” he said. “Those base things are really important, and we are lucky to live in a place where we can be safe and grateful for what we have.”
Other efforts include the Delburne 4-H Club’s charity steer, Sparky, being raised for donations to the Ronald McDonald House in Red Deer.
Mountainview district 4-H clubs have raised money for the local food bank.
As well, 12-year-old Eva Ketchmark from Lomond, Alta., has donated her steer to the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen, knowing many people experiencing homelessness would be affected by the pandemic.
The family is donating the meat processing costs and the meat.
Even though not all clubs have a charity animal up for auction, some clubs are providing a portion of their total sales to a local charity.
“These efforts are great to see,” Stone said. “It hasn’t been easy, but things are going great.”
She said members have learned they can complete their projects in different ways by using video and social media.
What’s important, she said, is they want to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by staying home or following physical distancing rules.
“We wanted to make sure the impact on front-line workers was minimized,” she said.
“Our youth and members deserve lots of credit. They are the leaders and the ones that make the decisions, and our volunteers are supportive of them. They deserve a shout out for respecting the rules and guidelines, and for doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.”