By Justin Seward
The Cactus Country 4-H District’s clubs have not been able to do their usual in-person meetings this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The clubs are forced to do activities more spread out and if any events occur outside, they have to be timed where a family shows up at a certain location and they leave before another group shows up.
“We’ve kept rotations and almost had more structure probably to our gatherings in order to keep the numbers down,” said Shirley Elliott, the district’s spokesperson.
The members are allowed to attend cattle demonstrations if they are masked and a limit of 10.
Some members are also back riding their horses.
“We’ve got a little bit smarter about how we can do things this year versus last year— but we were really struggling how we could do anything,” she said.
“Having that 10 rule has kind of helped us a little bit and 4-H Alberta approached Alberta government and said that 4-H was up there with all the other types of things that could operate right now. We’ve got a little bit of help here and there.”
Clubs have not been able to start some indoor projects due to the current health restrictions.
“We’ve had to do a lot independently—so talking on the phone, texting, doing things like that” said Elliott.
“More one-on-one talking and helping people through it (and) not having that socialization is missing. It scares me that everybody is going to start lacking social skills in the next little while.”
Each club is different as far as having their own motivational strategies when it comes to keeping members engaged.
“I think everybody kind of has their own little tricks that they’ve learned,” she said.
“It’s just because the projects are so diversified, it’s working within the projects and the types of members that we’ve got and the facilities that we’ve got so we can start doing these things. A lot of the leaders were struggling to begin with and a lot of the leaders now have become very proficient in creativity.”
Elliott said it came from one of the judges when they did public speaking for their club that the Zoom Meetings and Google Meets were going to become our future.
“We had a 14-year-old member run a meeting with over 30 members on it (recently) and she was amazing,” she said.
“She kept everybody going and moving forward and got some decisions made. I think these are going to be skills that these members had to learn this year, but I think we’re going to develop them into the rest of their lives.”
With the weather becoming warmer, the local 4-H District is hoping to start their archery projects because 10 members can participate at a time.
Pig projects began a few weeks ago and lamb projects are expected to start in three to four weeks.
Elliott said, “not really a whole lot,” when it comes to expectations or goals changing.
“The goal is to complete projects and most of those can be done independently with over the phone or through different video platforms,” she said.
Members were able to still hold their public speaking days over the last month over Zoom.
A plan is in the works for the annual beef sale in June.