Actions You Can Take: 4-H’ers in Times of National Crisis

All the recent events and how people have responded have me thinking about a lot of things. I wondered what 4-H’ers had done during other times of national crisis, and how what happened in the past might help us learn how young people can take control in our present time of pandemic. First let’s take a look at what 4-H’ers did during World War II.

A Look at the Past

The 4-H History Preservation webpage documents how 4-H’ers supported the war effort during World War II.

Girl with corn plant

4-H member with corn plant in her Victory Garden

They sold war bonds and grew victory gardens. To raise money to buy war equipment, planes, ships, and ambulances, they collected and sold scrap metal, rubber, and phonograph records. They even collected milkweed pods, collecting enough to stuff 1 million life jackets – no small effort!

There’s even a reference to efforts of Ohio 4-H members on the 4-H history page:

“Winding up 1943 outstanding war services, Ohio 4-H members and leaders purchased $510,041 in War Bonds for which a four-motored flying fortress heavy bomber aircraft was purchased and christened “Buckeye 4-H” at Lockbourne Air Base [now Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base near Columbus] in a special ceremony at which Ohio Director of Extension H. C. Ramsower presided. Junior Stuckey, Circleville, and Betty Brandt, Rushville, spoke for 4-H members. Lt. Dick Brandt, brother of Betty and a former 4-H’er, also participated. He was on furlough after having completed 50 bombing missions over Africa, Sicily, and the Continent.”

From these examples, we see that 4-H’ers were asked to do things, things that involved something outside themselves. They felt like they we doing their part to contribute to the war effort. They could see the tangible results of their efforts. These efforts could be measured – in pounds of scrap metal collected, number of planes sponsored, or amount of vegetables grown. I am sure that if asked, today’s 4-H’ers would do the same.

The Present Pandemic

Enter the coronavirus pandemic. What’s the difference compared with other times of national crisis? It seems like we’re being asked to stop doing things – stay home; no group activities like club meetings, graduations, or birthday parties; stop seeing friends. If we’re going to help, we think we should be doing something more active. We are being asked to do things, but they are more self-focused, at least on the surface. But if you look deeper, we’re being asked to do these things to protect not just ourselves, but to protect others. It’s harder to measure these things. But it’s part of our collective responsibility to our community, country, and world.

What can YOU do?

At times like this, it’s easy to feel out of control. But you have control over your behavior. Here are actions you can take:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. (See Callia’s hand washing video here.)
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover sneezes and coughs.
  • Wear a mask or face covering over your nose, mouth, and chin when out in public. (Go to the Ohio Department of Health for a mask checklist.)
  • Keep a physical distance of 6 feet from others when out in public, even if you’re wearing a face covering.
  • Stay at home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands or after touching surfaces.
  • Keep high-touch surfaces clean (e.g., doorknobs, light switches).
  • Stay connected to others virtually.
  • Spend time in outdoor recreation.
  • Keep a positive attitude and practice self-care (see our recent post on this topic).

There are other things 4-H’ers can do. In one of our previous posts, we featured 4-H’ers using their sewing skills to make masks to donate. Others are making signs or videos to thank essential workers in their community or writing cards to residents living in senior centers. Camp counselors are working on ways to do virtual camps this summer. These things are important too.

many children holding letters to spell thank you

4-H’er’s from Morgan County did a photo collage to thank essential workers

Handmade cards

Cards made by 4-H’ers from Columbiana County

4-H'ers with signs to thank essential workers

Brown County 4-H’ers displaying their signs thanking essential workers

3 4-H'ers with beef cattle and signs thanking essential workers

4-H’ers and friends from Wood County thank essential workers

Some day in the future the coronavirus pandemic will be behind us, part of history, a story to tell your grandchildren. As with other times of national crisis, what will be the story others will read about what 4-H’ers did during this time of pandemic? YOU can be part of writing that story. You can commit to using your head, heart, hands, and health to keep yourself and others safe.

Today’s 4-H Journal page helps you think about actions you are already doing and action you can take.

Yours in health,



Actions I Can Take Activity Page Social Media post

Daily Dose- Superheroes – Ordinary and Extraordinary

teenagers in a line wearing capes

Camp counselors wearing capes at a superhero-themed camp

Although they have their beginnings in mythology, many trace the rise of superheroes in the U.S. to the late 1930s. This was a time when the U.S. was suffering from the fall-out of the Great Depression and before entering World War II.

What makes a superhero? Superheroes have some kind of extraordinary power. They fight crime or use their talents to do some good. They try to make the world a better place. They are clever in how they use tools and technology (think Superman’s cape, Spiderman’s webs, and the Batmobile). Another part of the appeal of superheroes is that they give us someone to look up to. And they wear costumes! Now every year at Halloween there are bound to be children (and adults) dressed up as the classic Superman and Batman, as well as the popular superhero of the day.

In the book titled Superhero Ethics: 10 Comic Book Heroes, 10 Ways to Save the World, Which One Do We Need Most Now?, author Travis Smith floats the idea that it is not their superpowers that make them so super. Instead, it is their character and qualities, which guide what they do with their power. He said that superheroes represent “the qualities that human beings must cultivate in order to confront the quandaries of ordinary life.” In other words, they point out the qualities that will help us to be better people.

As super as they are, superheroes aren’t perfect. After all, Superman has his kryptonite. Through these characters we can learn to turn our weaknesses into advantages. In that way, they are a symbol of hope, that you can overcome challenges and make yourself into a better person.

3 girls wearing Superman costumes

Camp counselors are superheroes!

Who are our modern-day superheroes? Perhaps today we have a new idea of superhero, a time when ordinary people are doing extraordinary things. They don’t wear capes – they wear scrubs and lab coats and the uniforms of police and firefighters. They work in schools and hospitals and homes. They are “disguised” as the ordinary people who drive trucks with needed supplies, stock shelves in our grocery stores, and drive public transportation. They work long hours to fight an invisible enemy. They are the essential workers of the coronavirus pandemic.

In Spider-Man 2, Aunt May reminds Peter Parker that “there’s a hero in all of us.” Today, my heroes are 4-H teen leaders sewing masks and matching 4-H members as pen pals. It’s families using 3D printers to make personal protective equipment for medical staff. You are a superhero when you stay home, even when it’s hard, and when you wear a mask to keep others safe.

Download Today’s 4-H Journal Here!

Yours in Health,




Daily Dose- Normalize the Mask

COVID-19 has in fact changed out world. As we prepare to be slowly released from our stay-at-home orders we must be vigilant in protecting ourselves and others. Social distancing, proper handwashing, and wearing a facial covering are just three things we can start with.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has posted information regarding facial coverings that you can find by going to the following webpage: Anyone over the age of 2 should strongly consider wearing a facial covering. But where?

Places suggested include:

  1. Pharmacy
  2. Grocery Store
  3. Public places (walking, hiking, outdoors)

It is important to recognize that this effort is in addition to 6 foot social distancing. They should work together, no as one. It can however be very uncomfortable to adjust to wearing a mask. Here are a couple of suggestions that I have.

  1. Try wearing your mask around the house to ensure it fits. You should be able to move your head without it slipping off your face or having the ear loops slip off.
  2. Do your best to keep your glasses from fogging. This Forbes article suggests that you try rubbing your glasses with a tissue, washing your glasses with soapy water, or ensuring that you find a mask with a better fitting nosepiece to keep the moisture from moving through your mask. Personally, someone has suggested that I wash my glasses with shaving cream, but I don’t have any reliable sources saying that this works (feel free to share if you find one).

I chose this topic because of an experience I had yesterday. I went to a store to get groceries. I was very anxious about wearing my mask in public. I have a beautiful mask from Kam Manufacturing here in Van Wert, Ohio (home of Stephanie Dawn).  I put it on, sat in the car for a few moments, and pep talked myself to go into the store to get my groceries. I noticed about 30% of the people around me were wearing masks. I found myself adjusting quite quickly to wearing the mask, even almost forgetting I was wearing it from time to time.

As I was putting my groceries in my car, a man walked past me (heading into the store), and then past me again (walking back to his car). I shrugged it off thinking maybe he forgot something in his car. He appeared next to me (appropriately distanced) and told me that because he saw me wearing a mask, he felt less self-conscious about going into the store wearing a mask. When I saw him walk away, he was going back to his car for his mask. He was of the age that he should have a mask on….and I was so glad I gave him a little boost to “don our masks” much like we have “donned our capes” for Dr. Amy Acton.

Today’s 4-H journal is artistic! Design your own mask. Be fashionable,  be unique, and make it fun! I would love to see your designs! Click this link for the PDF version of this journal.

Don’t just wear the mask for yourself. Wear it for others. Normalize masks for the time being. After all, #weareinthistogetherOhio


I posted a similar statement on the Dr. Amy Acton Fan Club Facebook page last night. It has received over 6,000 (yes, SIX THOUSAND) likes, almost 300 Shares, and over 600 comments! I suppose it goes to show I’m not the only person who was a little nervous about wearing my mask in public! If helping normalize a mask if my 15 minutes of fame…I’ll accept it with honor.

While I am not a paid advertisement for Stephanie Dawn, I can tell you that you can order a mask at 

In Great Love,