GALLIA COUNTY — While activities integral to students’ community in Gallia County like school, sports, and dances have been changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 4-H, the agricultural youth organization, hopes for a better year.
Last March, the beginning of the pandemic disrupted 4-H’s plans, and 4-H clubs had to change programming with little notice. Many events at the Gallia County Jr. Fair had to be held virtually as well. This year, 4-H clubs in the county believe they are more prepared to hold meetings or change plans on the fly if need be.
“So far we’re planning on moving ahead with our regular plans, but with a lot of our events being hybrid events or switched to online depending on the need in the community at the time,” Tracy Winters, an educator in 4-H Youth Development at the Ohio State University Extension office in Gallia County, said.
Currently, 4-H clubs have exemptions for meetings, meaning they can be held in-person if they abide by social distancing, masks, and attendance guidelines. However, meetings are also being offered online, and a part of advisor training this year is how to conduct virtual meetings.
Ultimately how the year will look depends on COVID-19, but Winters is confident the year will run smoothly regardless of any changes that might crop up.
“We have a better handle on things than we did last year,” she said. “Last year we were kind of thrown into the middle of it in March and had already laid our programming and expectations for that year.”
This year, 4-H clubs are taking the rapidly-changing pandemic into account when making plans, including having back-up plans if in-person events need to be shifted to a virtual format.
“We’re still planning on face-to-face as much as we can using social distancing and recommendations from the health department,” Winters said.
The deadline to join 4-H is March 15. Interested individuals should call the Gallia County OSU extension office at 740-446-7007.
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Sharla Moody is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing from Gallipolis, Ohio. She is a graduate of River Valley High School and currently attends Yale University.