COVID-19 Message

Dear 4-H families, volunteers and community partners,

The situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve rapidly in New Jersey, as do associated measures to slow the spread of the virus. Late last week, Rutgers University announced restrictions to in-person courses and activities over the summer months.

In line with this directive, all in-person NJ 4-H events, classes, programs, club meetings, camps, and other group activities organized by or under the auspices of Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) are suspended through at least August 31, 2020.

Clearly this presents a huge challenge for 4-H programming. Many of our most celebrated and beloved 4-H traditions occur during summer months including but not limited to fairs, camps, and shows. The NJ 4-H team is working to design innovative ways to continue 4-H programming during this situation. Please join us in thinking creatively. We welcome your ideas and suggestions! Please reach out to your county staff.

It is important to acknowledge that suspension of many 4-H summer programs, even if offered in an alternative format, may be a source of great disappointment to our community and especially for our 4-H members. We understand and share in that disappointment. While these adjustments are difficult, protecting the health of the community is a responsibility we each share with one another. Remaining safe at home is the priority we must all observe at this time.

Over the past few weeks, 4-H members and volunteers have worked to continue 4-H programming by offering virtual meetings and updating websites and social media with current information and resources. We launched a new webpage, 4-H From Home, to provide resources and opportunities while social distancing guidelines are in place. Hundreds of youth have participated in 4-H From Home weekly webinars and virtual 4-H STEM special interest clubs. Our 4-H Camp team also launched a series of tech-free, camp-themed challenges and inspirational vespers video series on the camp blog. I have seen countless examples of 4-Hers finding creative ways to serve their communities from a distance. I could not be more proud of the willingness of the NJ 4-H community (members, volunteers and staff alike) to handle this challenge and seek ways in which to keep 4-H programming alive and well.

RCE and 4-H will continue working together to support our 4-H members, families, volunteers and local partners, including associations, fair boards, classroom teachers, county agencies, etc. as we navigate this health emergency. We are in this together and we will get through this together!

We thank you for your continued patience and support as we learn more from our health officials and educational partners, and determine the best way to continue serving young people during this time.

Rachel Lyons, Chair
Department of 4-H Youth Development

Rutgers New Jersey 4-H Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station