(06/22/20) BATON ROUGE, La. — During a “normal” year, more than 1,500 4-H’ers from around the state would be invading the LSU campus this week to compete, learn and have a good time.
Because that is not a possibility this year, it was questionable whether the 106th annual event would happen at all.
Determining how 4-H U could be held in a virtual environment was a challenge, but it didn’t take very long for those involved in the LSU AgCenter youth development program to develop a set of plans to conduct the event remotely.
Robert Easly, 4-H event coordinator, said the hard work of individuals from around the state has come together after some long planning hours.
“We worked as a team to make sure that we covered as many of the possible obstacles that could challenge the production of an event of this size,” he said.
The event consists of competitions such as public speaking, tractor driving, food identification and a virtual fashion show among many others.
Leadership activities include the election of the state executive board and the other leadership boards.
What seemed at the beginning to be a daunting task became more doable after all involved had unknowingly been gaining the necessary technical skills during the past three months to make it a success.
4-H agents, volunteers and students have been getting lots of experience in working remotely, so it seemed only natural to put that experience to some expanded use, Easly said.
Some events just cannot be done remotely, but a number of the usual events will happen, he said.
“There will be students around the state using their smart phones, computers and other technologies to present speeches, compete in photography and a number of other activities,” Easly said.
AgCenter 4-H regional coordinator Karen Martin said it took a lot of planning with virtual meetings to make this year’s event a reality.
“The theme for 4-H U this year is Ignite Your Vision,” Martin said. “We had no idea when we announced the theme last summer how this pandemic would affect the vision of how it would be conducted.”
Some of the activities that can be held later will be conducted during the state horse show in August, Martin said.
Each year, one of the highlights of the four-day meeting is the nightly dance. And this year, it also will be done virtually.
The 2020 virtual 4-H University will begin on June 22 and end on June 25.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture