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Crop Science Investigation

Youth interested in Crop Science Investigation are welcome from York and surrounding counties.  Please also click to view:  Crops Monthly Meeting Ideas 2018-2019.


Youth Crop Scouting Competition — Views from VanDeWalle

Connecting Youth with Crops… Looking for a fun club project? Want to unite your club members? Running out of ideas for club meetings? If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, help is on the way! Nebraska Extension is pleased to present the 3rd annual Crop Scouting Competition for Nebraska youth. Youth interested in […]

via Youth Crop Scouting Competition — Views from VanDeWalle

National 4-H Week!

UNL Extension Office in Clay County Wearing 4-H t-shirts during National 4-H Week.

Did you know that more than 6 million young people across the United States are celebrating National 4-H Week October 6-13, 2013?!  Research has proven that participation in 4-H has a significant positive impact on young people. Recent findings from the Tufts University 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development indicate that, when compared to their peers, young people in 4-H are:

1)      Nearly 4 times more likely to contribute to their communities
2)      Two times more likely to pursue healthy behaviors
3)      Two times more likely to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs in the out-of-school time.

4-H is the largest youth development organization in the world!  It’s a community of seven million young people across the globe learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills.  In the U.S., 4-H programs are implemented by the 109 land grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System through their 3,100 local Extension offices across the country. Overseas, 4-H programs operate throughout more than 50 countries.

To learn more about 4-H locally, contact our office at 402-762-3644 or on our webpage.  We would like to visit with you about the program and how you and your youth could become involved!  We’re always looking for potential volunteers and program ideas.  You can also learn more about 4-H at the State and National levels.

Challenge-Wear a 4-H Shirt and Post it on Facebook or Twitter:

When to Post: October 6 to 12, 2013.  Post your pictures then check back to “like” your favorite photos!  Official voting ends October 13th at midnight.
How to Enter: Post your picture via:
1)  Facebook: post to the event titled: 2013 Wear A 4-H Shirt
2)  Twitter: use hash tag #weara4Hshirt

Be sure to tag your photo with your category entry!  The picture categories:

1)      Most People in One Photo
2)      Nebraska Landscapes
3)      Fun and Food

The best picture from each category will receive a prize!

Rural Futures Conference

Do you have a passion for building strong and resilient rural communities? Do you think about the future and what is in storeYouth Panel at Rural Futures Conference 2012 for rural people and places? If so, I’d encourage you to plan on November 3-5, 2013 at The Cornhusker, A Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska for the 2013 Rural Futures Conference and participate in the dialogues around these very issues.

The theme for the 2013 Rural Futures Conference is Beyond Boundaries, which encourages all of us to step beyond our typical boundaries and work together to create positive rural futures. While moving beyond boundaries can be challenging and even ominous, it also provides the unique opportunity to implement a foundation of collaboration that can impact the future of rural people and places. The upcoming conference will celebrate the importance of rural and create energy and enthusiasm for new and innovative ways to address complex opportunities and challenges.  From University faculty, staff and students to community citizens and organizational partners, don’t miss the opportunity to transcend boundaries and collaboratively make a difference.

One of the greatest resources in any organization or community is its people. When we think about rural places, there is no doubt that the people and leadership in rural America is a driving force for progress.  There are several opportunities for you to be involved in and even contribute content to the 2013 Rural Futures Conference. We encourage you to share your knowledge and expertise at the conference to help us explore new ideas, discover synergies, and facilitate partnerships. Please consider being involved in one or more of these opportunities during the conference, and encourage others to become involved as well.

Quick Pitch Spotlight: Conference participants rapid fire their “big idea” for rural people and places.
Community Questions: Communities of place or interest pose questions that stimulate collaboration and potential research opportunities.
Faculty and Partner Poster Session: Participants display current work or research relevant to the rural futures.

Registration opens September 1, and will remain open until the seats are filled. Registration closed early last year because maximum capacity was reached, so register early to ensure your spot.  For more information or to register, visit

For the latest information on the 2103 Rural Futures Conference, follow Rural Futures on Twitter at (hashtag: #RFC2013) or Facebook at

County Fair Time!

This year marked my 10th Clay County Fair.  It was bitter-sweet in a way as I have watched this group of youth from their pre-4-H Clay County Extension Office shows our Patriotic spirit!  Jenny, Deanna, Rachel, Holli, Cindyyears through graduation this year.  It’s neat seeing the young men and women they’ve become, ready to take that next step in life towards college and careers!  Rachel and Kristen, our interns, helped us greatly in different ways which was a blessing; it was another smooth fair overall!

Also bittersweet is the fact that this was Cindy Strasheim’s last Clay County Fair as a UNL Extension Educator as she plans to retire in December.  We will miss her and if you see her around, please thank her for her 29 years of dedication to the Clay County Fair and serving our constituents here!

I realize I say this every year, but we wouldn’t have fair if it wasn’t for all of our 4-H and FFA leaders, families, and youth-so thank you all for your hard work and efforts with your projects and the many ways you volunteer at fair!  Thank you to our awesome fair board who we greatly enjoy working with and who keeYouth showing meat goats; judge appreciated the quality of their meat goats.p our fairgrounds looking great!  Thank you to Deanna, Holli, and Cindy for the long Greatly enjoy working with these guys and all our Fair Board members! hours of preparation and also during fair in ensuring everything ran smoothly!  Thank you to our 4-H Council and all our Superintendents for working so hard in various capacities during fair and throughout the year!  Thank you to Tory, Kris, Teri, Karla, and Megan with the Clay County News for sticking out all the shows in the heat to cover the fair for us; we truly appreciate your support!  Thank you to Lonnie Stripe for auctioneering, all our auction buyers, plaque and award sponsors, and donors for supporting our 4-H and FFA youth!  Thank you to everyone who made the 2013 Clay County Fair a success!

Dusk at the end of entry night of fair.

Blurry pic but youth competing in Beef Team Fitting Contest.  So cool how youth from different clubs throughout the County are brought together to work together on teams!

Adorable kitchen set made from recycling a tv stand by a 4-Her!  Would love to make something like this sometime!

Roasting marshmallows for smores at Family Fun Night :)Family Fun Night at the Fair-beautiful evening and lots of activities for kids of all ages!

Youth Discover Crop Science

An excellent opportunity for youth to become detectives and have fun while learning about crops and science! Consider having a youth you know attend this Big Red Camp and learn more about agriculture careers!  There are also scholarships available to attend!

Views from VanDeWalle

Are you interested in science, agriculture, plants, crops, insects, or diseases? If so, join our team of detectives to solve crop-related problems in the Crop Science Investigation (CSI) Big Red Camp! Become a detective while participating in hands-on sessions to learn about and increase your knowledge of crops, science, and agricultural careers. Youth detectives will interact with agronomic professionals across Nebraska to solve experiments in: nutrient management; managing disease, insect and weed problems; water management; crop production, and much more! Do you have what it takes to become a CSI detective?


There are a variety of careers related to plant sciences such as:Agricultural Communicator; Agronomist; Crop Consultant; Crop Insurance Adjuster; Educator; Co-op Manager; Farmer or Rancher; Farm Credit Banker; Field or Lab Researcher; Plant Breeder; Soil or Water Conservationist; Seed, Fertilizer, or Chemical Sales; or Technical Representative.

Scholarships are available in the amount of $300 to participants who…

View original post 243 more words

Farming Fun

Future of Rural America

Sunsets over rolling hills of green pastures and straight corn rows.  Barely seeing above soybeans I was walking to remove weeds.  Attending a small school that provided an excellent education with opportunities to participate in a variety of activities to become more well-rounded.  These are a few of numerous memories of growing up on the farm and in a rural community that I hold dear.   While I enjoy hearing my grandparent’s stories of what life was like for them farming 60 years ago and even enjoy watching the Nebraska State Cornhusking Contests held each year, I also realize times have changed and don’t have a false sense of nostalgia about what rural means today.  While technological advances allow our farmers to produce more food for more people with less inputs and less water than ever before, what hasn’t changed about rural communities is the hard work ethic, dedication, risk, determination, and reliance on Faith and family to get through each year.   

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the Rural Futures Conference held in Lincoln.  For me, it was the best conference I’ve attended; the energy and enthusiasm from 450 people gathering from a variety of backgrounds all to discuss the future of rural America was refreshing to say the least.  My favorite part of the conference was the first evening.  The key note speaker Joel Sartore, a Nebraska native who is also a National Geographic photographer, challenged us to maintain a positive attitude and to look for the opportunities that were available in our small towns.  For example, one town in Kansas was all about a certain sparrow where they would take people out on field trips to “listen”-they didn’t even get to “see” the sparrow-and people paid money for that!  There was also a town in Oklahoma where all they had was rattlesnakes…so they made the most of that too and created a huge attraction around snake handling, pics with snakes, snake skinning, etc. 

My favorite part of the conference occurred after that during the youth panel.  A panel discussion with Caleb Pollard, Executive Director of Valley Co. Economic Development in Ord, NE; Amanda Crook, Graduate Student; Anne Trumble, Executive Director of Emerging Terrain in Omaha; Jim McClurg, University of Nebraska Board of Regents; and University of Nebraska Med Center’s Bob Bartee answered questions moderated by Dr. Ronnie Green, IANR Vice Chancellor.  The young people struck a chord with me-most likely cause we were of similar age.  Some key take-away quotes:

  • Vibrant organizations identify strong leadership.
  • Failure can be a good thing as it can lead to the next innovation.
  • To go some place and change the trajectory of history is exciting!
  • We need to change the way we place young people into jobs….we don’t offer young people jobs; we offer them opportunities.

These young people were so excited about living in Nebraska!  Some of them had spent time elsewhere before choosing to move back to Nebraska and eventually choosing to find a small town to raise their families or have the rural way of life.  Another theme that emerged throughout the conference was the need to get young people involved in the local community such as youth representatives on city council, etc. even as early as when they’re in high school.  Some people think small town communities in Nebraska are dead…but that’s not necessarily the case.  It mostly depends on leadership-a strong leader will rally the town around an idea to grow it or create opportunities.  That’s what’s happening in Ord, NE with Caleb Pollard.  Another example comes from Fairfield Iowa.  Sometimes it just takes the right person to ignite a spark and help the rest of the town see the possibilities.  Nebraska has so much to offer!

Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect, was also a phenomenal speaker!  He spoke about creating breakthrough innovations by thinking outside the box and working at intersections of different disciplines/cultures, etc.  Key points I obtained from him include:

  • New ideas are combinations of existing ideas.
  • People who change the world try FAR more ideas.
  • Diverse teams can unleash an explosion of new ideas.
  • Find inspiration from fields/cultures other than our own.
  • Look for the smallest executable step-essentially don’t eat the elephant in one bite.
  • Stepping into intersections isn’t risky-it’s risky to do the same thing over and over again.

Maybe these aren’t earth-shattering new concepts, but good reminders for a task as large as creating a Rural Futures Institute…and frankly for anything in life.

There was much discussion about the role of a University/State/Community Colleges in trying to save rural communities…how is this done…how build partnerships and trust…how to provide incentives to faculty working in creative/innovative ways in a structured academic setting when it comes to promotion and tenure…and even if the University changed its incentives, how does that bode if a faculty member moved on to another University?  How are incentives provided to teams and excellent team work?  We are standing at the crossroads…maybe an intersection right now in academia which can shape the future of creatively rewarding innovative work while still maintaining needed structure in the promotion/tenure process.  I remain positive that we’ll find a way to work through this!

There were discussions in small groups regarding the meaning of rural.  What does it entail?  Often we think of agriculture-and I would argue that’s a strong part of rural-but it’s also much more…health care, infrastructure, industry, schools, broadband, etc.  Some were saying we need to use the term non-metro instead of rural in order to get away from the ag connotation.  Yet others felt the discussion was too focused away from agriculture on other components of rural and missing ag as a key component.  Needless to say, the entire conference provided interesting discussion, dialogue, and a chance to meet people from a variety of backgrounds.  It truly provided an opportunity to look for intersections with which to create innovative ideas for the future.

There was also the reality that hit during focused group conversations that there are also problems that need to be addressed in rural communities that weren’t touched on at this point: poverty; crime; infrastructure; food deserts; building trust and interfacing with university, college, and other partners, etc.  Overall it was a thought-provoking conference and has the feel that several small steps can be achieved in the coming year.  I would encourage you to check out the Web page and follow the Facebook page.  You can also check out the Twitter Conversation at #RFC2012.  This conference was also not just focused on Nebraska as the focus was the Great Plains and people from numerous states attended.  I’m looking forward to seeing the small executable steps that will occur in the future and am also looking forward to doing my part to maintain strong rural communities as I’d like to see the next generation enjoy the rural life and learn the values I did growing up!

Crop Science Investigation Camp

This is the first year we are doing a Crop Science Investigation (CSI) Big Red Camp for youth! We’d encourage any youth who enjoy plants, science, and agriculture who are 15-18 years old and who are interested in having fun learning about these topics to check this out! Big Red Camps are open to youth in any State. Please help spread the word!

Views from VanDeWalle

Are you interested in science, agriculture, plants, crops, insects, or diseases? If so, join our team of detectives to solve crop-related problems in the Crop Science Investigation (CSI) Big Red Camp! Become a detective while participating in hands-on sessions to learn about and increase your knowledge of crops, science, and agricultural careers. Youth detectives will interact with agronomic professionals across Nebraska to solve experiments in: nutrient management; managing disease, insect and weed problems; water management; crop production, and much more! Do you have what it takes to become a CSI detective?

There are a variety of careers related to plant sciences such as: Agricultural Communicator; Agronomist; Crop Consultant; Crop Insurance Adjuster; Educator; Co-op Manager; Farmer or Rancher; Farm Credit Banker; Field or Lab Researcher; Plant Breeder; Soil or Water Conservationist; Seed, Fertilizer, or Chemical Sales; or Technical Representative.

Scholarships are available in the amount of $300 to participants…

View original post 172 more words

National 4-H Week and Reflections

Happy National 4-H Week!  Thank you to all the volunteers and supporters that make 4-H in our area counties and the State a success; we wouldn’t have the 4-H program without numerous volunteers such as many of you reading this!

A few weeks ago, I was attempting to explain not only Extension but 4-H to a group of people who didn’t understand either.  A survey found that nearly 96% of people recognize the name 4-H but only 35% recognize Extension.  That’s why at our County fair, I put up the large red flags to help people make the connection between Extension and 4-H.  I think many in our county are familiar that 4-H has to do something with the fair, but it’s so much more than that!  Essentially 4-H is a youth development program coordinated by land grant universities such as UNL through the Cooperative Extension System.  The National 4-H site at states that “4-H fosters an innovative, “learn by doing” approach with proven results.”  A study conducted by Tufts University found that youth involved with 4-H are nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school, are nearly two times more likely to go to college, 41% less likely to engage in risky behaviors, and 25% more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities.  

The 4-H pledge explains what the 4 H’s stand for including pledging our:
*Heads to clearer thinking
*Hearts to greater loyalty
*Hands to larger service
*Health to better living….for our clubs, communities, country, and world.

I remember reciting this pledge at every monthly meeting at a 4-Her.  I’m so thankful for the numerous volunteers-particularly the amount of time our club leader invested into the youth in our club-teaching us to sew and the importance of straight seems, cook the 4-H way, model sewn garments, importance of volunteering and community service, and teaching us parliamentary procedure by empowering us as youth to run and conduct meetings.  I’m thankful for volunteers who spent each week during the summer teaching me about weeds, trees, and horticulture ID….skills I use nearly every day of my Extension career and as a homeowner.  While we often worked on them last minute and weren’t thrilled about doing them, I’m thankful my mom required us to do 4-H presentations each year to develop public speaking skills.  I’m thankful my grandma taught me how to make homemade bread and rolls and that so many volunteers worked with me on my 4-H Jr. Leader projects to help me develop leadership skills.  I’m also thankful for the Extension staff at the office while I was growing up-they were always so friendly and helpful and modeled the way for me in my career today.

Thinking about my 4-H experiences reminds me that you are encouraged by the Nebraska 4-H Foundation to share your 4-H story!  Some have asked me what this means.  Essentially, any of us who have went through the 4-H program or volunteered with the 4-H program has a story to tell about how 4-H has benefited us or how we’ve seen the program benefit others.  It may be a funny story or a serious one.  The best part is that it’s YOUR story and the 4-H Foundation wants to hear them to help with promoting 4-H!  The deadline is November 30th and you can find more information at:  Thanks again to everyone involved with helping or supporting the 4-H program and to the 1 in every 3 Nebraska youth currently involved with the 4-H program! 

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