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Readers’ Views

An innovative solution

To the Editor:

Martin County 4-H provided its members an innovative way to showcase their hard work and project learning this year with its virtual Martin County Fair. The challenges of 2020 have caused many organizations to think creatively and provide programming in new ways. This is definitely the case with 4-H and the county fair experience.

The virtual Martin County Fair, held Aug. 3-14, gave 4-H members the opportunity to submit their project work online. The youth videotaped and took photos of their projects that were then uploaded into the online platforms, Flipgrid and SmugMug. The judges then reviewed the members’ videos and photos to make their ribbon placings. Judges also provided feedback either through a recorded video or live online sessions. Martin County 4-H provided cameras for its members to use if they didn’t have the necessary equipment or internet bandwidth to ensure the virtual fair was an equitable experience.

Though showing virtually may not have provided the same experience as showing at the Martin County Fair, it gave 4-H members the chance to develop new skills such as online marketing and how to present your best self in a virtual format, which are 21st century skills. The virtual option also gave 4-H members the opportunity to still showcase their exhibits, which are a product of year-round experiential learning.

Livestock is an integral part of 4-H and this was still the case in the virtual Martin County Fair. Martin County 4-H hosted livestock virtual shows using the online platform Zoom. It allowed judges to give their reasons and placings to the participating 4-H members. The virtual shows also provided opportunities for further engagement and learning as some of the judges turned their shows into a virtual judging workshop. Livestock interviews were also held via Zoom. The livestock interviews gave our 4-H’ers one-on-one time with an interview judge to really show their knowledge on the species of animal they have worked with all summer.

Martin County 4-H would not have been able to make this virtual county fair experience happen without support. Even though the judging may not have taken place on the fairgrounds, the Martin County Fair Board still supported 4-H by covering the costs of judges’ fees and providing ribbon premiums. This support is especially appreciated as Martin County 4-H will be without its two major fundraisers this year — the 4-H Food Stand and the 4-H Premium Auction.

Martin County 4-H is also appreciative of the volunteer support it has received. From planning and thinking through the unique challenges a virtual county fair presents, to offering assistance during the live virtual judging sessions, 4-H volunteers stepped-up to help.

Martin County 4-H would also like to extend its gratitude to the 4-H judges for being open to this new judging experience, the community for continuing its support, and especially to our 4-H members. Martin County 4-H appreciates the flexibility and patience its 4-H’ers exhibited in sharing their project-learning in a unique way this summer.

Martin County 4-H is a positive youth development nonprofit organization that opens a world of possibilities for area youth in kindergarten through one year past high school. all are welcome to join. Youth do not have to live on a farm to participate in 4-H. Martin County 4-H members live both in town and rural areas in our county.

For more information on Martin County 4-H, please contact: Kristie Gaalswyk-Pomerenke, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Martin County, by calling (507) 235-3341 or email: gaals001@umn.edu

Visit our website: www.extension. umn.edu/county/martin/

Kristie Gaalswyk-Pomerenke,

Extension Educator,

4-H Youth Development

Martin County

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