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,

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Actions I Can Take Activity Page Social Media post

Daily Dose- Let’s Go on a Hunt…for the Good Stuff

When things are changing and out of our control, it is easy to focus on the negative. But even when things are unpredictable and not going the way we planned like with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still a lot of good things going on. Being resilient, or having the capacity or ability to recover from difficulties, is a life skill that we can work on all the time. One way to develop this skill is to challenge ourselves every day to “Hunt the Good Stuff.”

Hunting the good stuff is seeking out the positives in every situation. It might be difficult to find them sometimes, but they are there! Often our first reaction is to focus on all the negative things. That just means we have to look harder to find the good stuff. Hunting the good stuff is easy when life is going our way. But it’s just as important when we find ourselves in situations that where we don’t have control. We may not be able to change the situation, but we can change how we think of it.

Have you heard the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade?” That’s hunt the good stuff!

Focusing on the positives and analyzing them helps you see the light in each situation. In turn, it helps build your resiliency and trains your mind to look for the positives even in stressful situations.

Hunting the good stuff requires us to stop and think about what’s going on. It’s another way to practice mindfulness, which we wrote about in an earlier post that you can find here.

Hunting the good stuff helps you to be more positive, leads to gratitude, and helps you mentally and physically. So even though life is a bit unpredictable right now, and we are facing change and disappointment, focus on the good! To help you with that, we created a Hunt the Good Stuff 4-H Bingo! Use this card to seek out the positives that are going on right now. If you haven’t done something yet, use it as a way to seek out positive activities to expend your energy or use it to help you come up with some other fun ideas!

Download PDF Version Here

Today’s Guest Post and BINGO game was brought to you by Christy Clary, Educator in 4-H Youth Developed located in Brown County, Ohio.