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Local 4-H Students Remain Busy

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

Even though schools have been closed for two months, Upper Cumberland 4-H students have remained busy.

Nicole Marrero serves as the UT Extension Agent for 4-H in Overton County. She said the COVID pandemic hasn’t slowed down the program.

“We’ve been doing the family consumer science program,” Marrero said. “It’s where kids are cooking, sewing, and learning a lot of in-the-home skills online. We’ve been doing that twice a month. We’ve had livestock judging also twice a month where our teams are learning about cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs.”

Marrero said 4-H’s online programs give the students to continue activities virtually.

“We’ve been doing some different challenges and contests on line,” Marrero said. “We’ve done some virtual exchange trips with England, Italy, and Kentucky. We also have a pen-pal program where kids are writing to other kids across the state.”

4-H is a network of youth organizations founded in 1902. As of 2016, it had over 6 million members. With the way 4-H programs work, Marrero said, the students are learning through experience.

“I would say the kids don’t realize they are learning some of these skills,” Marrero said. “Sometimes we’ll have some of the high school realize it as they are applying for college. While we’re teaching the students how to cook, sew, or properly care for an animal or even to prepare for disasters, they learn resilience skills, communication skills, leadership, and positive self-esteem. They learn how to work toward common goals in a team.”

Although the 4-H program in Overton County hasn’t slowed down, Marrero said there have been some challenges with social distancing.

“For a lot of the kids, they’re the kids that want to be away from the screens,” Marrero said. “They don’t always like to be on the computer, so we can’t wait until we get to see them in person again.”

A big concern Marrero said she has is the technology gap for some students. She said some of her students in rural areas of Overton County do not have adequate internet access.

“In Overton County, we have a lot of kids from the Alpine and Monterey side of the county,” Marrero said. “That up in that area of Overton County that participate that don’t have great internet connection. They might be able to email, but they certainly won’t be able to video chat.”

Marrero encourages anyone with questions about 4-H programs to contact their local office.


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