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4-H Headquarters

University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development

Physical Address:
Mary E. Forney Hall
1210 Blake Avenue, Room 206

Mailing Address:
UI Extension 4-H Youth Development
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3015
Moscow, ID 83844-3015

Phone: 208-885-6321

Fax: 208-885-4637


Web: 4-H Youth Development

4-H on Google Maps

4-H Matters: March 2022

Director’s Message

Spring launches a season of renewal throughout Idaho and with the University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development program.

Part of the renewal of the 4-H program is collaboration with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the federally based American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funding. These funds have allowed 4-H faculty and staff to dream and implement programing in every corner of the state.

In the first six months of funding, almost 14,000 additional Idaho youth learned skills to bridge learning loss, inspire learning and learn in a safe, no-threating environment. We were able to hire 62 full and part-time staff to engage Idaho’s youth. Some of the collaborators with the programs include libraries, boys’ and girls’ clubs, homeschoolers, school enrichment and afterschool venues.

These programs are available to all youth, yet we have been able to reach previously underserved audiences, including Latino youth, Native American youth, and youth from rural isolated communities. We will highlight several programs in this e-newsletter, but here are a few examples of programs going on throughout the state.

In Kootenai County, a 4-H Coding Club teaches basics of coding using scratch and python platforms. Youth learn skills to design digital games and learn the basics of robotics. In southern Idaho, 10 youth gardens were established in childcare settings and afterschool programs, teaching youth about growing their own groceries. In Canyon County, 4-H Cloverbuds were taught hands-on life skills in multiple locations. In Twin Falls, middle school youth learned about biology through a program called “Dabble in Dissection” as well as a program helping youth learn to cook called “Kids in the Kitchen.” 

On the Coeur d’Alene and Nez Perce Reservations, youth learned valuable life skills in health, nutrition, and leadership through playing basketball and attending workshops. Additionally, a Cultural as Prevention program taught star quilt making, basket weaving, ribbon skirt making and beading. Bonneville County instructors taught “Farm to Pizza classes,” stem pinners and ice cream in a bag.

In Gooding County, STEM clubs were formed in afterschool time and within the school day at various schools and locations.
Boundary County reached all 5th graders in the county with robotics programing. Military based youth were reached with a series of winter and summer three-day 4-H camps. In Benewah County, afterschool programs taught participants how to create natural polymers, latitude and longitude, the secret pattern of sound waves, and how electrical circuits work.

In Valley and Jerome counties, youth used drones to explore science careers. Bear Lake youth explored enhancing math skills with Lego projects. In Minidoka County, youth learned science skills through programing with bugs and creepy crawlies.

These are just a few of the programs being offered throughout Idaho. For specific program efforts in your community, please contact your local UI Extension office and ask for 4-H!

4-H Learning Labs Enhance and Support Youth LearningExample contents of Learning Labs box

Hundreds of youth in Idaho are learning through hands-on activities focusing on science, gardening, and art with 4-H Outside the Box (OTB) learning labs and National 4-H Galactic Quest Challenge kits. Since September 2021, learning labs and challenge kits have been delivered across Idaho to serve 1,122 youth with hundreds more scheduled for delivery in 2022. Each learning lab consists of 4-7 experiential lessons, resulting in over 6,000 hours of expanded learning.

4-H OTB learning labs are individual boxes filled with supplies and lesson plans for youth to learn about a specific topic. The activities are designed to engage the adult helper and youth together through an activity, reflection of what the youth did and applying what was learned. A caring adult facilitates the OTB experiences, and the learning lab may be used with just one or two youth or with a larger group such as a day camp or afterschool program. They are also used in youth library programs and as an enhancement to home school lessons. Regardless of the subject matter of OTB, the common ingredient is the caring adult who provides a positive, safe environment for youth to explore and learn leading to positive youth development.

The 4-H experience is one in which youth have the independence to explore new ideas and work to master knowledge or skills, while working with a caring adult who ensures the social, emotional, and physical safety as well as, in many cases, the shared experience in learning. In a previous pilot period of the OTB program, youth completed a survey designed to assess the level of 4-H experience one has as a participate in the OTB program. Youth reported a very high level of 4-H experience from their participation in the program with an average of 4.7 on a 5-point scale.

Thanks to American Rescue Plan Act grant funding awarded to Idaho 4-H, 4-H Outside the Box learning labs and Galactic Quest Challenge kits are available by request to all University of Idaho Extension 4-H programs and other youth serving programs to expand and enhance youth programming. These programs are available for youth 5-13 years of age and are facilitated by a caring adult. For more information contact Nancy Shelstad at

Youth Share Impact of 4-H Healthy Habits Program

Idaho 4-H, in partnership with the University of Idaho Eat Smart Idaho nutrition program, is teaching children across the state how to eat healthy, be physically active, and have a healthy influence on their families. The 4-H Healthy Habits program offers eight one-hour nutrition lessons along with movement activities and snack-making. At the end of the program, youth receive a family take home bag with ingredients to make two healthy snacks, a bilingual 4-H recipe book, measuring cup and spoon, and a water cup.

4-H Healthy Habits covers handwashing, food safety, drinking water and low-fat milk, reducing sugar-sweetened beverages, eating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains, label reading, healthier ways to dine out, the importance of eating breakfast, and improving physical activity.

While youth survey data indicates they are planning to eat healthy, reduce sugary drinks, increase water consumption, eat vegetables and fruits, and read labels to make healthy decisions, there is also a rich qualitative narrative from youth demonstrating the effectiveness of the program. In their own words, youth participants are sharing the impact that the program is having on them.

Being Healthy

“I learned how to eat a lot of good food and my favorite snack was the fruit bagel. I learned that I should make healthier choices and encourage my family to do the same.”

“My favorite activity was the MyPlate breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

“This whole time we learned how to eat healthy all so we can be strong and be careful what we eat.”

Vegetables and fruits

“I learned to eat many different colors of fruits and vegetables.”

“You should have fruits and veggies on half your plate.”

“I learned that half of our food has to be vegetables. I know to eat green, purple veggies. Fruit too.”


“My favorite thing we did was checking for germs on the first day. That activity was fun because I was curious how I washed my hands and if I washed them good enough.”

“The right way to wash your hands is, get soap, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse for 20 seconds, when you get dirty.”

Fiber and whole grains

“I learned (about) fiber and fat and you should drink more water then pop. And always be hydrated with water and always drink water.”

“I learned that whole grain foods have fiber. Fiber keeps you regular.”

Label reading

“I also learned how to read nutrition labels which will be helpful when I get older.”

Power up your day: eat breakfast

“My favorite thing in nutrition class is when we figured out what breakfast is good.”

Increasing water and reducing sugar sweetened beverage consumption

“I learned not to drink so much soda and sweet tea and lemonade. And to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. And serving sizes. And don’t eat too many Oreos.”

“I learned that the only “go” drinks are water and milk. Juice and soda have a lot of sugar in them.”

“We got to measure sugar and of course we didn’t get to eat it.”

“I learned that my favorite drink was very, very unhealthy. It was tea, the sweet one. My favorite snack was pretty much everything.”

Healthier fast food

“My favorite lesson was when we got a food item and got some real fat and scooped the fat with teaspoon on the peace of bread.”

“I also liked the lesson that we learned about how much fat was in fast food that was one of my favorites.”

Snack making

“My top favorite (memories) are the salad bar and the smoothie was so good and the trail mix and we learned portion sizes.”

“I liked the fruit and the yogurt. And also the healthy choices like cereal, fruit, veggie bowls.”

“My favorite thing to learn was how to make healthier choices with snacks.”

To learn more about the Healthy Habits program, contact Maureen Toomey, Associate Professor of Healthy Living and Area Extension Educator,

igniting your spark graphic

Igniting Your Spark through 4-H

All county 4-H programs in Idaho have the opportunity to choose from one or all of the following program options that include fun, ready-to-go activity packages for youth. Call your local UI Extension office for more information or contact any of the 4-H faculty listed below. Because of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare grant, these activities and programs are offered at no cost to you, families, county programs and community partners.

We are excited to have you connect with 4-H: Igniting Your Spark (pdf). Consider partnering with local community youth programs to ignite youth sparks. Contact Tim Ewers ( with questions or for additional information.

outside the box graphic
think - make - create graphic
healthy habits graphic

4-H Outside the Box are creative learning labs in a box with six to eight sequential hands-on activities focused on building critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Boxes contain materials and supplies for Junior Master Gardeners, science, basic cooking and visual arts activities. Pick your favorite topic box or all boxes for a club, afterschool, day camp or families at home. — Nancy Shelstad,


Think Make Create labs explore creativity, design and engineering through making and tinkering activities. These hands-on materials will challenge and test your skills of problem solving, collaboration and critical thinking. Choose from a variety of activities that youth can make and take from any out-of-school program. — Claire Sponseller,

4-H Healthy Habits are hands-on activities that teach youth healthy snack preparation, basic kitchen skills and how to select foods that are healthy for them and their families. At completion of the eight lessons, youth will receive a family take-home bag with kitchen tools and ingredients to prepare two snacks. Option: 4-H leaders may offer Healthy Habits as a 4-H project. — Maureen Toomey,

ideas grow here building program capacity graphic

4-H Building Program Capacity — Do you have an idea to expand your local 4-H program to incorporate new content or audiences? We’ll work with you to help make your idea a reality. — Robin Baumgartner,

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4-H Headquarters

University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development

Physical Address:
Mary E. Forney Hall
1210 Blake Avenue, Room 206

Mailing Address:
UI Extension 4-H Youth Development
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3015
Moscow, ID 83844-3015

Phone: 208-885-6321

Fax: 208-885-4637


Web: 4-H Youth Development

4-H on Google Maps