The Steuben County 4-H Program has been thinking outside of the box with their programming during the pandemic’s lack of in-person educational time – or should we say, “Inside” the box? Jenny Groen, Steuben County 4-H Program Leader, has helped initiate several boxed kit programs that can be sent to youth to do at home or school.
The monthly Boredom Buster Kits, an activity kit targeted for youth ages 8-12, were first made available in December. Each kit offers 5 different activities involving STEM, Agriculture, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living, and general craft projects. Outside funding sources enabled costs to be kept low with kits offered for just $5 for 4-H members and their family members and $10 for non-4-H members. Boredom Buster kits will continue to be offered through April.
“We’ve found the kits have enabled us to serve our local community by offering new projects and programs while engaging youth who have not traditionally been a part of our 4-H Program,” says Groen.
A Monarch Butterfly and Milkweed Kit, locally made in Dundee by IDEA Collective, was recently added to the mix that includes a 16-piece wooden monarch puzzle with markers to decorate the project, instructions, educational activity booklet and seed packet. To help reduce the cost of the kit for our 4-H families, Steuben’s 4-H Program discounted the price by $10 and was able to reduce the cost to the general public by $3.
On the heels of the Boredom Buster Kit success, CCE Steuben was approached to offer 100 monthly afterschool kits to fill the gap created by limited in-person programming. For the past seven years CCE Steuben has provided afterschool programming to local youth in grades 2-8 in multiple school districts. CCE Steuben will supply 20 kits to each of this year’s five school sites for the remainder of the school year. The activities in the first monthly kit included a popsicle stick catapult, origami frog, protein peanut butter balls, snow volcano, and bird seed treat.
In addition to the boxed kits, Steuben’s 4-H Staff are also providing activities for Catholic Charities’ 250 Community Easter Baskets as well as 500 bags being distributed as part of ProAction Inc.’s Spring Family Fling Thing the end of March.
Groen says that the interactive box kits are helping stimulate interest and engage kids in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and other hands-on activities while providing a small glimpse into the vast programs and projects available through Steuben County’s 4-H Program.