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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 2024

From the Director

Spring is coming. I can feel it in the air. I realize Idaho has fake spring most years, so I’m not encouraging everyone to go plant a garden, but we are having more and more sunny days, which lift our spirits and make us want to get active.

One 4-H event that indicates spring is almost upon us is the Know Your Government Conference (KYG). This event has been a staple in Idaho's 4-H program for 37 years. It’s a perfect example of allowing 4-H members the opportunity to explore their “sparks” by working together with 4-H volunteers and professionals to practice the foundational factors of positive youth development like responsibility, personal standards, contribution and connection with others. The youth-led steering committee bears a great responsibility in ensuring a successful conference and they take it very seriously. Many cosponsors contribute monetarily to the conference by sending their support to allow more 4-H'ers to attend. Major sponsors include Idaho Farm Bureau, Tractor Supply and JoAnn Fabrics. Special thanks to Mike Knutz, area Extension educator 4-H youth development, and Teresa Tverdy, 4-H youth development program specialist, Twin Falls County, for leading this effort along with the many faculty, staff, volunteers, civic leaders and 4-H members who dedicate their time and effort to this wonderful program.

Angie Freel

Angie Freel

UI Extension 4-H Youth Development

Our Stories

A Ranch-hand Experience

By Teresa Balderrama
University of Idaho Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Kootenai County

A new University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development program gave a group of Kootenai County youth the opportunity to spend a weekend as working ranch hands.

During the first Beef Youth Producer Project, hosted March 1-2 at University of Idaho’s Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center in Salmon, four 4-H'ers got to feed cattle, take turns doing the nightly calf watch, help clean feed bunks and even process calves, working alongside ranch staff.

The research center provides education for the livestock industry and hands-on learning opportunities for students, with a cow-calf and forage research focus.

While in Salmon, the youth also visited the Nelson Angus Ranch. The ranch, which sells registered Angus cattle throughout the country, was preparing for an annual bull sale that takes place every March. The youth learned how technology, including electronic tags used for tracking cattle, has played a role in herd management for the family.

Sterling Dank, a 4-H member who participated in the trip, is interested in pursuing a career as a ranch manager. He said the recent opportunity to experience life on a ranch taught him the importance of managing feed costs and impressed upon him how the business functions of the ranch are just as important as animal husbandry.

Engaging in hands-on learning through 4-H helps youth find their spark. Youth in 4-H can participate in robotics, gardening, food preservation, aerospace, money management and many other topics of interest.

Projects and programs in 4-H teach young people life skills. Communication, citizenship, decision-making, leadership, interpersonal relations and community/global awareness are central to 4-H participation. These skills help prepare young people for their next steps, whether that be going to school or entering the workplace.

The University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) offers 43 undergraduate and graduate degree programs on a broad range of topics, from animal science to child development. Many CALS students begin their career journeys by participating in a 4-H project.

With a visit to the Kootenai County Fair in August, you will find the livestock animal barns full of local 4-H youth tending to their projects. The kids gain valuable life skills such as responsibility, personal growth and development, experience in a competitive environment and financial responsibility while also learning proper animal husbandry practices and increase their awareness of careers in agriculture.

Animal projects are an important aspect of the 4-H program. Long considered a model program for youth to experience agriculture, 4-H livestock projects have moved beyond animal husbandry practices to include intensive scrutiny of how the global food supply functions.

This story was originally published online by the Coeur d’Alene Press on March 25.

Ranch hands ride on the back of a hay-filled truck.
Calves wander in front of hay-filled truck.

4-H Fridays Filling Need for Parents

It’s been several years since Boundary County School District 101 switched to a four-day week, closing on Fridays for budgetary reasons.

Nonetheless, elementary-aged students in the rural northern Idaho community now look forward to Fridays for especially engaging STEM-based educational lessons and activities, thanks to a University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development program that’s filling a crucial niche for parents.

In partnership with the school district, the UI Extension office in Boundary County launched 4-H Friday Friends in 2006, providing an affordable educational option for students from kindergarten through fifth grade who might otherwise be left to their own devices. The district allows the program to use the library, gymnasium, cafeteria and equipment at Boundary County Middle School. Instruction is offered from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Fridays during the school year, with open enrollment. Parents are charged anywhere from $5 to $15 per day based on their ability to pay, and students needn’t enroll in 4-H to participate.

Students pack their own lunches but are offered snacks. The program serves 15 students per Friday on average — with much higher enrollment on teacher in-service days when many of the district’s teachers drop off their young children. Roughly 60 students combined use the program each school year.

“Parents really like the program because the flexibility makes it nice. They can drop them off before they go to work, or just if they need to run some errands without their children,” said Amy Robertson, a family and consumer sciences and 4-H Extension educator in Boundary County. “We’re short on daycares — it’s very difficult to even find a spot at a daycare — and quite often they’re not getting the educational programming at daycares.”

Lesson plans using research-based curriculum, with an emphasis on STEM activities, are posted weekly on the 4-H Friday Friends Facebook page.

Many of the program’s activities come from the county’s Think Make Create trailer, which is a mobile makerspace featuring several STEM lessons offered by several partners including UI Extension 4-H Youth Development. Local high school sports teams and clubs volunteer to help run 4-H Friday Friends, as do community volunteers. For example, the local fire department recently showed off a fire truck to the students, an AmeriCorps representative teaches a monthly lesson in robotics and a local baker gave them a demonstration in pastry decorating.

The UI Extension office employs a part-time program coordinator who oversees the Friday sessions and works additional hours earlier in the week planning curriculum and shopping for snacks. The program also has a part-time assistant who works on Fridays.

Some area home-schooling-based charter schools count 4-H Friday Friends curriculum toward their educational requirements. Robertson has also worked with parents and stakeholders in Priest River, which recently adopted a four-day school week, on creating a similar program.

The program has received funding support from several small grants, including through the Equinox Foundation and the Idaho Community Foundation.

4-H Fridays in Oneida County

Eighth-grader Lyndee Nimer, of Malad, spends Friday afternoons during the school year boning up on equestrian skills, judging livestock and studying the ideal structure of sheep, horses and cattle.

The lessons, offered through a UI Extension 4-H Youth Development program in Oneida County known as 4-H Fridays, are especially valuable to Nimer given that she’s set a goal of becoming a veterinarian specializing in livestock.

It’s been several years since her rural school district implemented a four-day school week to cut costs, and Nimer acknowledges she’d probably be on the couch watching TV all day on Fridays otherwise.

“I look forward to Fridays. I get to do different activities all day long, and I can broaden my knowledge on animals,” Nimer said.

Since 2022, UI Extension in Oneida County has hosted 4-H Fridays at its office located within the county fairgrounds at 459 S. Main St. in Malad. Having a dedicated day for 4-H clubs and activities to meet — and providing parents an opportunity for their kids to do something constructive — has resulted in significant enrollment growth in the southeast Idaho county’s 4-H program. Since 4-H Fridays started, Oneida County’s average 4-H enrollment has ballooned from 120 youth to well over 200 youth.

Youth may also participate in classes on teen leadership, wildlife and artistic activities such as scrapbooking and crocheting. Youth must be enrolled in 4-H to participate in the Oneida County program, and their participation is covered by general 4-H fees.

“The parents have truly appreciated more information being taught to their kids,” said Kelly Sorensen 4-H assistant and UI Extension office manager in Oneida County. “A lot of parents still work on Friday and that leaves youth if they don’t play sports with nothing to do.”

Several community volunteers help run the club meetings and activities, making 4-H Fridays possible.

“I’m a mom who likes to keep my kids involved and engaged in things that help them progress to become better adults,” said Alaina Schrenk, who has four children involved in the program ranging in age from 6 to 13. “There are parents always in here helping with these different activities. There is a community helping to raise your children, and this kind of creates that environment.”

Girl rides stick horse between popup barrels.
Children focus on craft materials laid out on a table.

Firsthand Lessons in Government

For a weekend, Mountain Home High School sophomore Ean Gauthier was a district judge presiding over a high-profile arson trial at the Ada County Courthouse.

Hagerman High School junior Danica Knapp kept order on the floor of the Idaho State Capitol Building as speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives. She was also chosen to speak before a large audience that included actual state lawmakers, judges and top office holders.

Miles Palmer, a Salmon High School sophomore, was a news reporter covering the state Legislature.

From Feb. 17-19, the students had the unique opportunity to learn about state government, the judiciary and the press through firsthand experiences as participants in the annual University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development Know Your Government Conference. The conference drew 158 youth in grades eight through 10 from throughout Idaho, who got to participate in mock legislative hearings and mock trials in the very rooms where real policies are made and judicial rulings are handed down.

“You get youth who may not have a lot of confidence to speak in front of others,” said Mike Knutz, an area Extension 4-H educator who oversees the Know Your Government program. “What I see is a lot of leadership growth in young people.”

On the legislative side, 100 youth debated five different bills written by their peers in mock hearings, hosted in Capitol hearing rooms. They played the roles of lawmakers, witnesses and lobbyists, applying coaching tips from real state lobbyists and legislators. The remaining 58 youth participated as witnesses, attorneys, judges and bailiffs in mock trials hosted in five courtrooms at the Ada County Courthouse. They received performance feedback from practicing Idaho judges and attorneys.

Youth participating in the conference for a second year are assigned to whichever branch of government they didn’t experience during the previous year. Youth must be chosen to participate for a third or fourth year, during which they’re part of a steering committee whose members help plan the conference and assume leadership roles in the mock trials and hearings. Third-year steering committee members play the roles of judges, reporters and legislative committee chairs. Four fourth-year students are selected as speaker of the house, news editor, video editor or chief justice.

Based largely on the thrill of issuing quick rulings while wearing a judge’s robe for Know Your Government, Gauthier signed up for a high school mock trial program following the conference. He now plans to enroll in law school.

He offered the following advice for any 4-H'er considering participating in the conference: “Just go for it and do it because it’s beneficial for you in every way.”

Knapp authored one of the mock bills that were debated, seeking to increase pay for Idaho teachers.

The pretend bill was amended in a committee and ultimately failed by three votes, following a spirited debate.

Knapp was also chosen to give the Legislative Breakfast Address in front of a crowd of more than 260 people that included many of the state’s top leaders. Her speech focused on the conference’s theme, Building for the Future, using construction of a new house as a metaphor for how 4-H helps young people navigate life’s journey. Several leaders congratulated Knapp on her speech afterwards, and some in the audience even requested a copy of her remarks.

“From being in Know Your Government, I have definitely gained a lot of knowledge about government, but I also got to make so many friends whom I get to see in FFA and 4-H and outside of the Know Your Government Conference,” Knapp said. “I also think it has helped grow my confidence and speaking skills and doing things off the fly that are not 100% planned. Planning a large conference, not everything is going to go as planned.”

In his role as a reporter, Palmer photographed the weekend’s events and carefully documented the debate about a mock bill seeking to prevent state income taxes from being collected from minors’ paychecks. The bill passed, based on proponents’ arguments that minors can’t vote and are therefore being taxed without representation. Palmer’s reporting was included in a newsletter covering the weekend’s events.

“This is a valuable skill to learn how to lead and how to write an article, and you learn you have a deadline,” Palmer said. “It was super cool. It gives you an immersive experience and you can actually get into what you do.”

Participating school districts are now offering school credit to youth who participate in Know Your Government.

Young boy in judicial attire listens attentively.
Judge Ean Gauthier presides over a 4-H Know Your Government trial.
A teen girl wearing judicial attire sits in court room.
Judge Aspin Boice poses with bailiff Brooklyn Powell.

In Brief

Art curriculum developed by a University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development team led by Maureen Toomey, an area Extension educator, is now being used in several other states and went live March 4 on the national Shop 4-H website. Toomey and a design team that also included Judith Schoenfelder, Shaina Nomee, Nikola Ennis, Sabrina Dee and Erica Jeffries, began developing their 4-H Create Art Now curriculum in 2020, with the focus of using the visual arts to help youth cope with stress and address emotional wellbeing through the visual arts. The program enables youth to express themselves, their thoughts and their emotions and share their artwork in a comfortable environment. The program was peer reviewed within the U of I fast-track system, was published in January 2023 and was then submitted for peer review at the national level of 4-H, leading to its acceptance in the summer of 2023 into the national 4-H curriculum collection. Toomey and her team also presented the curriculum last fall at the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals Annual Conference in Pittsburgh.

Mike Knutz, Paige WrayDanielle Scott and Cheryl Lockard brought 14 youth to Ignite by 4-H, the Ultimate Teen Summit in Washington, D.C., from March 13-17. The program teaches young people how to effect positive change within their community. Several members who attended the summit also serve on the steering committee for the Idaho 4-H LEAD Summit, which should help them use the ideas they’ve learned in their planning efforts. (Ignite: Caption: Charmaine Lowe, Ivy Vrieling, Candace Whiteplume — show off the pins they collected during the state Pin Exchange. Idaho youth traded the Potato pins.

The March editions of the Idaho 4-H Roundup podcast, featuring University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development certified volunteers Jeremy Hampton and Joe Stanley is now posted online. The podcast is not affiliated with the university but regularly welcomes program officials and participants as guests. The March 3 episode, “From KYG to Legislative Page,” features 4-H participant Emma Wittman, who discusses her activities as a legislative page and how her association with the Know Your Government program got her excited about the opportunity. The March 17 episode, “Connecting Club Officers,” covers how it can be helpful to bring club officers together early in the year to help plan the 4-H calendar.

Youth with the 4-H program in Kootenai/Shoshone counties recorded a swine education class (YouTube) taught by various experts intended to educate youth on showmanship, health and nutrition, livestock care and other aspects of having a successful market swine project.

Vandal Giving Day 2024 will be hosted online April 2-3. The event begins at 10 a.m. PT and spans 1,889 minutes in support of Vandal students. Several matches and challenges are planned to make gifts go even further.

Maureen Toomey

Area Extension Educator — 4-H Youth Development

Suite A-B, Caldwell REC


Charmaine Lowe, Ivy Vrieling, Candace Whiteplume
Charmaine Lowe, Ivy Vrieling, Candace Whiteplume – show off the pins they collected during the state Pin Exchange. Idaho youth traded the Potato pins.
Joe Stanley and Jeremy Hampton
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Hampton shows Joe Stanley, left and Jeremy Hampton, right, hosts of a podcast on University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development.

Did You Know?

  • Idaho has 3,100 miles of rivers — more than any other state.
  • Idaho is 83,557 square miles.
  • The deepest river gorge in North America is Idaho's Hells Canyon (7,900 ft deep).
  • If you flatten the mountains in Idaho, it would be the size of Texas.
Idaho state flag

4-H Team Member Spotlight

Tami Goetz has been hired as the new 4-H northern district area educator and will be working with the district’s 4-H educators and coordinators to make sure they have the tools and support needed from the state office to run a smooth 4-H program. She will also have statewide shooting sports responsibilities. Goetz, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho and a doctorate from University of Minnesota Twin Cities, previously worked at Washington State University in the kinesiology department.

What led you to work for Idaho 4-H?
There are two reasons I pursued work with Idaho 4-H. Firstly, I believe there is no better state to live, learn and work in than Idaho. Returning to University of Idaho to work with 4-H programs feels like I am home. The second reason is for the opportunity to work with communities and support the educational programming efforts for our youth.

What's your secret talent no one knows about?
A talent that most do not know about is that I play the baritone saxophone.

What is your favorite way to spend a beautiful Idaho Saturday?
I enjoy hikes/walks with the dogs and work around the farm. Being outside and active is a common occurrence and how I like to spend my Saturday.

What’s your vision for northern Idaho's 4-H program?
What I hope to see for the near future is for the northern district counties and tribal programs to host successful and meaningful state contests for shooting sports and the horse program. A more distant vision is to prepare for and lead a National 4-H Shooting Sports Teen Leadership Academy.

Tami Goetz

Regional Extension Educator — 4-H Youth Development

Forney Hall, Room 208


Featured Events

4-H in the News (Recent popular press articles)

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