Young Nebraskans soon will be able to unite via the Internet in a virtual 4-H Club.
The club, scheduled to begin in spring 2008, will combine science with technology to expand upon the traditional goals of 4-H Clubs, says Tracy Pracheil, an assistant Extension educator in UNL 4-H youth development.
Youth interested in the program are not required to be members of their local 4-H Club.
"They only need to have an interest in the topic being discussed in the virtual program and have a telephone and a computer with high-speed Internet access," according to Pracheil.
Each club will be led by a UNL Extension educator and two volunteer leaders who share an interest in technology and the topic area. The programs will include 10 to 12 participants between 14 and 19 years of age.
"We hope to make this a bridge between some of the 4-H topics offered in traditional clubs and majors offered at UNL," Pracheil says.
The first virtual 4-H program will be led by Georgia Jones, UNL food specialist, and will focus on food and the science behind it.
"Jones will conduct experiments with gluten balls and leavening agents to teach participants the scientific reasons that make bread, biscuits and cookies rise and settle in different ways while baking."
The club experience will consist of six to eight 90-minute meetings. The first 30 minutes of each meeting will deal with club-based activities, and the last 60 minutes will address topic content.
A course management Web site will incorporate virtual field trips, podcasts, blogs, wikis and online chats into the meetings and will provide participants with information for an interactive Web-based discussion.
Projects suggested during the meetings can be completed by participants who will share their experiences with the group during the next meeting. Young adults interested in participating in the program should go to the 4-H Web site, www.4h.unl.edu, or contact their local Extension office for more information.