Posted in Programming, Youth

4-H School Enrichment & More

With county fair being over and in the midst of state fair time, I often am asked, “What are you doing now that fair is over?” The answer to that question is, “A lot!” This week, I’m focusing on the delivery methods of 4-H which involves much more than fair!  In fact, in Clay and Fillmore counties, our small staff reaches 1 in 2 age-eligible youth and families in our respective counties. In Nebraska, 4-H reaches 1 in 3 age-eligible youth and families in all 93 counties with the support of over 12,000 volunteers. Nebraska 4-H strives to enable all youth to develop strong personal mindsets and the social skills necessary for successful futures.

The Nebraska 4-H Youth Development Program strives to empower youth to reach their full potential working and learning in partnership with caring adults. 4-H reaches youth through club, camp, afterschool, school enrichment, and special interest programs. The traditional 4-H club and camp experience are likely the familiar methods people are most familiar. Working with 4-H club leaders, parents and club members throughout the county fair is a very visible time. Youth can go to our state 4-H camp, area camps or participate in day camps or workshops which many people, again are familiar.

Our office coordinated a “Beef Day” with an area school to compliment the school beef booster program.

Did you know that extension staff work year-round to deliver programs to youth during the school year? School enrichment programs are learning experiences offered to students during school hours by local 4-H staff. These programs are designed to enhance the subject matter being studied in the classroom, provide hands-on education, introduce a new topic to students, or spark a new interest! The 4-H school enrichment program is a great way to connect and collaborate between your local Extension office and achieve school classroom educational goals. Locally, current programs focus on Career Development, STEM, and Agricultural Literacy.

Locally, some of the school enrichment programs include: Farm to the Cart, My Clothing & Weather, Beef Cattle from A to Z,  Soils is Not a Dirty Word, Plant Parts we Eat, How Did That Get in my Lunchbox, Pumpkin Life Cycle, Positively Popcorn, Hot House Detective, Bacteriology, Embryology, & GPS/Geocaching. We also have beef related topics that can be used in collaboration with local school Beef Boosters to provide the educational component to students. Most of these programs are at no cost or have a minimal fee. If you are interested; be sure to check out our website at

Embryology is one of the favorite programs that classroom teachers request every year.

There are some extension offices that provide after-school workshops or educational sessions for youth. Finally, there are special interest types of programs that extension staff provide. Locally, examples of these include the upcoming AgVenture Day which is a collaborative effort among the South Central Cattle Women and Extension. At this program, area 4th graders learn about agricultural products and how their food is produced. In the spring, Progressive Agriculture Safety Day reaches over 120 youth with presentations to keep participants safe.

To identify the impact that the 4-H Program is making in the lives of youth ages 5-18, various research studies have been conducted across Nebraska and the nation. For example, a nationwide longitudinal study by Tufts University (2013) found that compared to their peers, youth involved in 4-H programs are nearly 4 times more likely to make contributions to their communities (grades 7-12). Also, 4-H’ers are about 2 times more likely to be civically active (grades 8-12). The same study found that 4-H young people are nearly 2 times more likely to participate in science, engineering and computer technology programs during out-of-school time (grades 10-12). Finally, 4-Her’s are nearly 2 times more likely to make healthier choices (grade 7).

Youth plant our raised beds in front of the office in addition to a community garden with produce donated to the food pantry or senior center.

Next time you consider asking an extension staff “What are you doing now that fair is over?”, consider instead asking, “What programs or projects have you been working on?”  I’m sure you will hear about some of the school enrichment programs, in addition to the countless efforts related to foods, early childhood development, crops, livestock, horticulture, community development and other youth development programs. For more information about Nebraska Extension’s educational programs, research and initiatives, go to

Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Programming, Youth

Youth Learn Crop Scouting Skills

group 0On July 23, 2019, the sixth annual Crop Scouting Competition for Nebraska youth was held in which seven teams from across Nebraska competed. It was held at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead, Nebraska on July 23, 2019. Teams of students (those completing 5-12th grades) participated by completing a written knowledge test and seven crop scouting exercises in field plots.

The purpose of the competition w­­­as to provide students an opportunity to learn crop scouting and principles of integrated pest management (IPM) for corn and soybeans in Nebraska, to obtain knowledge and skills that will be helpful in future careers and to demonstrate newer crop scouting technologies.

Results from the 2019 competition were as follows:

First place- Colfax County 4-H (R. J. Bayer, Jestin Bayer, Austin Steffensmeier, Logan Nelson, and Brad Kratochvil)

Second place – Kornhusker Kids 4-H Club #1 (Payton & Levi Schiller, Matthew Rolf, and Kaleb Hasenkamp)

Third place – Kornhusker Kids 4-H Club #2 (Landon Hasenkamp, Ethan Kreikmeier, James Rolf, and Ian Schiller)

Also participating was

Humphrey FFA with Bryce Classen, Jacob Brandl, and Mikayla Martensen

Twin River FFA with Keaton Zarek, Kyle Kemper, Jacob Czarnick, and Landon Cuba

Auburn FFA with Kellen Moody, Austin Youngquit, Braden Gerdes, and Riley Stukenholtz

Wayne FFA with Justus Greves, Noah Lutt, Tyler Reinhardt, Elle Barnes, and Alyssa Carlson

Top-scoring teams won prizes: $500 for first, $250 for second, $100 for third place. The top two teams will represent Nebraska at the regional competition held in Iowa on August 26, 2019.

Teams were expected to know the basics of scouting corn and soybean fields. This included crop staging; looking for patterns of crop injury; disease, insect and weed seedling identification; etc.

corn growth staging, maturity, development 2
Kornhusker Kids team determine the corn growth during the program.

More information about the crop scouting competition are available online at Click on the link that says, “Crop Scouting Competition”.

This program was sponsored by DuPont Pioneer, the Nebraska Independent Crop Consultant Association and Farm Credit Services of America in collaboration with Nebraska Extension. If you know of a company or you would are interested in sponsoring the 2020 program, please contact me at

Posted in Livestock, Programming, Youth

Sportsmanship & Youth Development

My youngest daughter, Meredith has been learning responsibility with her first bucket calf.

Webster’s Third International Dictionary defines sportsmanship as “conduct becoming an individual involving fair and honest competition, courteous relations and graceful acceptance of results”.  Sportsmanship starts with parents teaching their youth how to accept a win or a loss, although in the 4-H youth development program, even if the youth receives a red ribbon, nothing is lost as long as some basic knowledge and skills were gained. Too often in our society we focus on the tangible results of a ribbon or trophy and don’t think about the process that youth went through to achieve the end results and what was learned from that process.

I often use the example that as a youth, I’ll never forget receiving a red ribbon for a market heifer; I was disappointed, but will never forget my dad asking me, what the judge said in the comments.  After we talked it over, I realized his reasoning and was able to understand the type of animal I should select the following year. That was a lesson I’ll never forget.  My parents instilled the value of hard work into my sister and I and any animal we showed we bought with our own money to build a small cow/calf herd or they came from our own herd. We rarely had the award-winning animal and were extremely excited to even receive a purple ribbon. The learning that occurred, memories and fun we had were just as valuable then if we would have received a trophy or plaque.

For these reasons, it is really rewarding to work with youth who are happy with any ribbon placing- white, red, blue or purple. It really is just one person’s opinion on one particular day!

The 4-H Program focuses on providing positive youth development and developing young people as future leaders. A ribbon or plaque placing does not achieve this; rather it is the process, skills and effort that went into the project.  It is also important to mention that the entire 4-H program extends beyond the county fair and is done through educational workshops, career portfolios, leadership experiences and much more and is a year-round program.

My oldest daughter, McKenzie added pigs to her 4-H project this year and has been having to learn lots more responsibility and patience.

Positive Youth Development

National 4-H reminds us that there are four critical components of a successful learning experience which include a sense of belonging, independence, mastery and generosity. During county fair and all 4-H programming, it is important that youth experience these.


Youth need to know they are cared about by others and feel a sense of connection to others in the group. As the facilitator, it is important to provide youth the opportunity to feel physically and emotionally safe while actively participating in a group. Create a safe and inclusive environment and foster a positive relationship with youth learners. Use discussion questions that encourage youth to learn from each other, synthesize and use ideas collaboratively.


Youth need to know that they are able to influence people and events through decision-making and action. They learn to better understand themselves and become independent thinkers. Throughout each curriculum, youth are given opportunities to develop and reflect upon thoughts and responses to the challenges, explorations, and investigations. Youth begin to understand that they are able to act as change agents with confidence and competence as a result of their learning.


In order to develop self-confidence youth need to feel and believe they are capable and they must experience success at solving problems and meeting challenges. Youth need a breadth and depth of topics that allow them to pursue their own interests. Introduce youth to expert knowledge and guide them toward their own sense of mastery and accomplishment.


Youth need to feel their lives have meaning and purpose. Throughout each curriculum, youth are encouraged to broaden their perspectives, find relevance in the topic area and bring ideas back to their community.

Adapted from 4-H Essential Elements of 4-H Youth Development, Dr. Cathann Kress, 2004.

Posted in Crops, Livestock, Programming

Good farmer or a great manager?

The difference between a good farmer and a great manager often comes down to knowing the true financial position of a farm. Good records make it possible to track an operation’s true financial position. Inaccurate records can lead to misguided management decisions.

accounting analytics balance black and white
Photo by Pixabay on

“Good Farmer to Great Manager” Record-keeping classes will teach farmers and ranchers to keep accurate records for their operations. These classes will be held at three locations:

  • Lincoln, July 18 – 19 at the Lancaster County Extension Office
  • Bridgeport, July 25 – 26 at the Prairie Winds Community Center
  • Grand Island, July 30 – 31 at the Hall County Extension Office

Each class will run from 1p.m. until 5 p.m. the first day, and 8 a.m. until noon the second day. The course fee is $50 per participant; class size is limited to 25 people per location. Register online at…

Keeping good records is less about using a certain software and more about gathering and organizing information, according to Tina Barret the Executive Director of Nebraska Farm Business Inc. and course instructor. “In this class, you will learn about what information you should have easily available as part of your farm or ranch records. When you have good records, everything from tax preparation, annual loan renewals, and financial analysis become much easier,” she said. “More importantly, it will allow you to make financial management decisions that improve your business.”

Posted in Crops, Programming

Weed Science Field Days

Recently I came across an article from Penn State Extension that started out, “No matter what definition is used, weeds are plants whose undesirable qualities outweigh their good points.” A basic definition I use, is “a plant that is out of place and not where it is intended to be”.  No matter how you define it, weeds continue to be a problem for many farmers across the country. Weeds usually have an abundant seed production, rapid population establishment, seed dormancy, long-term survival of buried seed, adaption for them to spread and the ability to occupy sites disturbed by human activity. Weeds reduce crop quality, interfere with harvest, serve as hosts for crop diseases or provide shelter for insects to overwinter, can limit the choice of crop rotation sequences and cultural practices and some can even produce chemical substances toxic to plants, animals or humans. For producers in the area, there are two field days approaching to help manage weeds.Screen Shot 2019-05-23 at 8.21.41 PM

Growers, crop consultants, ag professionals and extension educators are encouraged to attend Nebraska Extension’s weed management field day from 8.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 26 at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s South Central Agricultural Laboratory near Clay Center.

The field day will include on-site demonstrations of herbicides for weed control in corn, popcorn and soybean. An early morning demonstration will focus on weed control in soybeans followed by a demonstration of projects for weed control in corn and popcorn.

According to Extension Weed Management Specialist Amit Jhala, a number of projects will be demonstrated during the field day, including weed control in XtendFlex soybean, Enlist Corn, and Alite 27 Soybean. New this year for participants, is the opportunity to learn about a research project aimed at terminating cereal rye before and after planting soybean and control of volunteer corn in Enlist Corn.  Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) continuing education units are available.

There is no cost to attend the field day, but participants are asked to register at The South Central Agricultural Laboratory is 4.5 miles west of the intersection of Highways 14 and 6, or 12.4 miles east of Hastings on Highway 6.

Another field day for those interested in management of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth is a Nebraska Extension field day, supported by the Nebraska Soybean Board, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. July 10 near Carleton. Palmer amaranth is a member of the pigweed family and is one of the most troublesome weeds in soybean fields because of its resistance to glyphosate and some other herbicide groups. Greenhouse dose-response studies have confirmed resistance when glyphosate was applied even at higher rates.

At the field day, experiments will demonstrate how to control glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth in Roundup Ready 2 Xtend, Enlist and Alite 27 soybeans in Nebraska. Keynote speaker, Jason Norsworthy will share his experiences for management of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth. Norsworthy is a professor of weed science at the University of Arkansas. Three certified crop adviser credits will be available.

There is no cost to attend the field day. However, pre-registration is required before 3 p.m. on July 9. To register, visit

Directions to the field day: From Geneva, go south on Hwy 81 for 14.6 miles, turn west onto Hwy 4 for 5.3 miles. For more information, contact Amit Jhala at 402-472-1534 or

Posted in Irrigation, Programming, Youth

Irrigation Lessons for Youth

With my agricultural education degree, I enjoy creating lessons and activities for youth and often able to utilize that background by creating lessons for others. With Nebraska ExtensionScreen Shot 2019-06-07 at 2.36.33 PM.png as a leader in irrigation management and development of the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network, it is only fitting for Nebraska Extension to provide youth education related to irrigation.

With that in mind, a series of lessons have been created to accompany the recently developed Agricultural Water Management Guide. This online magazine-type resource introduces readers to irrigation and its use and benefits to Nebraska crop production. This guide serves as a resource for anyone wanting to learn more about irrigation management. It has embedded videos and links for further information, making it interactive. Teachers or informal educators can utilize the guide as an informative reference for themselves or encourage youth to read it themselves.

To compliment the Agricultural Water Management Guide, six lesson plans with activities have been created. Each lesson has learning objectives, careers associated with the topic, educational standards and hands-on activities related to irrigation. A basic ag water management lesson helps youth understand basics principles of soil and water management. Other lesson plan topics include: irrigation management planning & tools used, center pivot irrigation, furrow irrigation, subsurface drip irrigation, and variable rate irrigation. Extension has also developed YouTube videos to compliment these lessons in the classroom.

These materials can all be found on Nebraska Extension’s CropWatch website at and click on the irrigation lessons tab.