Have you ever thought about trying bird watching, kitchen scrap gardening, or making a calm jar with your family? Learn these and more by visiting the FLX 4-H Learning Launchpad, an online learning platform. Join 4-H educators and volunteers daily to learn about exciting topics and activities youth and families can do at home.
In New York State, 4-H is part of Cornell Cooperative Extension, connecting youth to research-based information through Cornell University. The mission of the New York State 4-H Youth Development program is to connect youth to hands-on learning opportunities that help them grow into competent, caring, contributing members of society. Today, more than ever before, that means providing learning opportunities to youth in our communities only now in a virtual environment.
Ontario County 4-H Educator, Sarah Bagley, came up with the idea for the FLX 4-H Learning Launchpad soon after the COVID-19 outbreak led to school closings and the suspension of in-person 4-H activities. The FLX 4-H Learning Launchpad is being “launched” amid the COVID-19 outbreak to offer the high quality 4-H experience that our families value in a safe online environment.
“When faced with the reality of having to switch 4-H programming completely online, I knew that there was strength in numbers,” Bagley said. “Collaborating as a district instead of focusing just on programming for individual counties allowed us to expand our program offerings and deliver content more frequently. My colleagues throughout the district bring a variety of talents and abilities to the virtual environment, and we have enjoyed connecting with our communities in this new way.”
CCE Livingston County Youth Development Team Leader Mark Wittmeyer said, “The collaboration by 4-H Educators in the Finger Lakes District exemplifies why Cooperative Extension and 4-H are at the forefront of youth development outreach education.”
The objectives of the Launchpad are to maintain a sense of connection with 4-H families across the nine county Finger Lakes Region, connect research based resources with new audiences, and complement at home learning. New information and activities are posted daily at 10am and additional content (offered in a variety of formats) is added frequently throughout the week.
Wayne County 4-H Team Leader, Jessica Spence, is also leading an ongoing video series where families can observe chicken eggs as they develop in an incubator. The process of chickens changing from eggs to chicks takes just about three weeks!
The Launchpad also recently challenged our audience to spread cheer by painting their windows with encouraging scenes.
Activities are on a wide range of topics. Livingston County 4-H Educator Renee Hopkins led a lesson on birdwatching and the Merlin Bird ID App. Likewise, Livingston County Ag in the Classroom Educator Bernadette Harwood has led lessons on ecosystems and soil.
Hopkins said: “When discussions turned toward lesson topics, I knew bird watching would be a great fit! It can be done anywhere – you can get outside as a family or watch from a window. Practicing bird identification helps strengthen your ability to focus and notice detail and if you do it regularly, you may begin to see patterns and even make predictions. And to top it all off, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has created some fantastic and easy to use bird identification tools and multiple Citizen Science Projects you can join – adding a great deal of value to your bird watching outings.”
To access the FLX 4-H Learning Launchpad activities, search for it on Facebook and follow the Launchpad page. Also, visit the webpage at http://ccelivingstoncounty.org/4-h-youth/flx-4-h-learning-launchpad to find links to each activity.
4-H is a worldwide youth development program open to all youth aged 5 to 19, who want to have fun, learn new skills, and explore the world. In return, youth who participate in 4-H find a supportive environment and opportunities for hands-on or “experiential” learning about things that interest them. Learn more at https://nys4-h.org/.