Kids and teens are taking the beloved Morris County 4-H Fair virtual this year! 4-H members were understandably disappointed to learn that the annual Morris County 4-H Fair would be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. “This is the highlight event of the year for our members,” said Kelly Dziak, 4-H program associate. “Many see the Fair as a sort-of family reunion where 4-Hers from all the clubs get together and have fun. Not having the Fair this year was a big blow to our 4-H community.”
Teen 4-H members, Johanna Pipoli of Ledgewood and David Longendyck of Denville, decided they could recreate the Fair’s sense of community through Minecraft, an open-world online game that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving. David contacted MCProHosting who generously donated server space for the project. The team then recruited adult volunteers and youth members representing all 4-H project areas to help build the virtual Morris County 4-H Fair.
On June 8, 2020, the Minecraft 4-H STEP Club was launched with over 40 youth members and over 10 adult volunteers. 4-H STEP clubs are short-term exploratory programs that focus on a specific project and meet for just a few weeks. This is Morris County’s first 4-H STEP Club. The club members’ goal is to have a final product ready for the public to view by July 16, the original opening day for the in-person Morris County 4-H Fair.
“I want everyone to enjoy the 4-H Fair, even if it is virtual,” says David. Live events and tours will be scheduled for participants to enjoy during July 16-19. For those without Minecraft accounts, video tours led by the youth members will be available as pre-recorded or live events.
“This has been an amazing experience,” says club leader, Celia Longendyck. “I get to see each member’s favorite part of the Fair plus their imaginative ideas of what the Fair could look like without the constraints of reality.” 4-H parent and assistant club leader, Britt Wagner, says “It’s all of the fun with none of the stress. In Minecraft, we control the weather and there are plenty of building materials.”
Special thanks to MCProHosting for donating the server space and to the Morris County 4-H Association for supporting the club’s members. For updates and more information about the virtual Morris County 4-H Fair, visit the Morris County 4-H website. Also consider visiting the MCProHosting website.
The 4-H Youth Development Program is part of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension. 4-H educational programs are offered to all youth, grades K-13, on an age appropriate basis, without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, military service, veteran status, and any other category protected by law. For additional information about the Morris County 4-H Youth Development Program, please contact us at 973-285-8301 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kelly Dziak, 4-H program associate.