March 27, 2020 - 4:39pm -- keller.85@osu.edu

Dear Harrison County, 4-H Families, Volunteers, and Supporters,

It is incredible to think that just a few weeks ago, we were immersed in school programming, club meetings, and preparation for enrollment deadlines and tag-in. We know much has changed since that time for all of us, but what hasn’t changed is the commitment of Extension professionals to the youth in Harrison County.

I want to give you a brief update with information that has been passed down from our state leaders with regards to how the 4-H program is moving forward during this global pandemic. As you may recall: one week ago, county OSU Extension offices temporarily closed to help reduce opportunities for the virus to continue to spread. 4-H professionals and their OSU Extension colleagues worked quickly to transition their materials and resources to be able to continue working from their homes. In just a few short days, we in Harrison County Extension began to communicate  with you via email, began the process of planning  virtual meetings, maintained steady contact with Senior Fair Board and Camp Boards to stay up to date with summer programming,  and regularly updated web sites and social media with current information and resources. It is with these continuous efforts to maintain contact that aids in keeping our 4-H programming alive and well in stressful times.  I want to personally thank you for showing the amount of patience and positivity during this time—it is an act that does not go unnoticed from our end.

For many of our families, virtual (or online) meetings will work as an answer to problems that traditionally would require face-to-face interaction, however I recognize it doesn’t work for everyone due to accessibility issues in parts of the state and within our county. We are continuing to explore options and will share solutions in the next few weeks. In the meantime, there are tip sheets for club leaders with options and ideas for holding virtual club meetings at go.osu.edu/4hadvisorinfo. Keep checking this site, because we will continue to add information to help you.

We know the spread of coronavirus also presents great uncertainty about upcoming 4-H events like fair, camp, and exhibiting projects on county and state levels. With all of these questions asked—we understand the level of frustration-- and the answer is that right now, we just don’t know what the future entails. At this point, all 4-H activities, club meetings, events and programs must be held virtually or cancelled until May 15. The situation is dynamic and changes daily, so we will continue to monitor conditions and reevaluate as needed. This ban may need to extend beyond May 15. During this time of unprecedented health concerns, we will work together to keep you updated and informed.

In the meantime, we are working to send emails pertaining to: (1) online Quality Assurance Opportunities, (2) Camp Counselor Zoom Meetups and trainings, (3) Generalized Updates regarding State news.  

We understand concerns that some fairs may not be able to take place this year due to the global pandemic health emergency. Any decision to cancel a local fair, festival, parade or other large group gatherings will be made by those authorized to protect the health and wellbeing of all Ohioans. 4-H members and their families should consider a number of factors as they make their decisions to purchase 4-H market livestock projects. Risks and rewards must be taken into account. For example, we encourage families to consider their overall available budget, space to care for livestock, availability of alternative markets, availability of local processing, family freezer space, and needs of local food pantries.

OSU Extension and Harrison County 4-H will continue working together to support 4-H members, families, volunteers and local partners, including senior fair boards, classroom teachers, and magistrates, as we navigate this health emergency. As Governor DeWine shared earlier this week, we are “in this together Ohio.” Thank you for your continued patience and perseverance.

Yours in service to 4-H,

Kirk Bloir                                                                                                                                   Caitlyn Romshak

Assistant Director, OSU Extension 4-H Youth Development                                           Harrison County 4-H Educator