4-H Responds to COVID-19 and Allegan County Fair Decisions
By Gari Voss
How will the MSU Extension 4-H Staff work to not disappoint the many 4-H members who have spent the past year preparing animals and projects for the Allegan County Fair 2020?
When the coronavirus COVID-19 required staying-at-home and social distancing, the MSU Extension Office closed its doors which affected 4-H members and leaders across Allegan County and brought more questions than answers. 4-H Clubs were unable to have face-to-face meetings which affected instruction for projects.
As the weeks progressed, clubs found ways to have online meetings, creative online options for learning and completing projects, and fun activities. But, how would they show their work once the Allegan County Fair be cancelled?
Dian Liepe, Allegan County MSU Extension 4-H Program Coordinator, shared, “Our 4-H Livestock leaders held out hopes for a “normal” Fair in September. MSU and 4-H statewide groups came together to develop a Virtual Showcase complete with Auction that could be held instead of the traditional Fair. They worked with other Fairs to hold virtual showcases. Since our Fair is a late fair, beef, sheep and swine were the market animals affected – beef the most because youth purchased them last fall. Fair representatives met with me and the 4-H Livestock Executive Committee to discuss options. Proposals were developed to present to all 4-H Livestock Leaders.”
She added, “The Fair Board approved having a show (from the trailer) for market beef, dairy steers, market swine, market lambs and market goats over the 2 weekends of what would have been the Fair. CDC and Health Department guidelines would need to be followed. Each exhibitor could have only 2 guests (parents) and the shows would NOT be open to public. Depending on Executive Orders, these shows could be cancelled. The 4-H Livestock Auction was discussed, but because of COVID-19, there was a back log at slaughterhouses. Normally, slaughterhouses make room for Fair animals, but this year was different. Slaughterhouses are booked into February 2021. In addition, many businesses have been impacted by the shutdown. With these two main issues, the 4-H Livestock Leaders decided NOT to hold the 4-H Market Livestock Auction. This means that youth would need to make private arrangements with buyers of their animals and arrange for transportation to the slaughterhouse.”
Jeff Dwyer, MSU Extension Director and Jake DeDecker, State 4-H Leader, announced to all 4-H families that “virtual 4-H programming would continue indefinitely.”
Liepe shared that “the 4-H Pledge and the 4-H motto ‘To Make the Best Better’ still ring true.” For 2020-21, 4-H has waved the individual and family fees for members. Information to join can be found at https://www.canr.msu.edu/allegan/allegan_county_4_h/ and addition activities such as the Movie Series, Science Friday, Build and Protect Your Credit, Connections Through Signing, and Virtual Showcases can be found on Allegan County 4-H’s Facebook page. 4-H and the Allegan County Fair have a different look, but the opportunities to create and share are alive and well.
For full story, pick up a copy of the MONTH XX issue of The Allegan County News/The Union Enterprise/The Commercial Record or subscribe to the e-edition. https://www.etypeservices.com/Kaechele%20PublicationsID459/