EATONTON — Educators have faced overwhelming challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Georgia 4-H continued to deliver essential and effective programming supporting teachers and students during the height of the crisis.
The 2020-21 school year called for a shift in methodology across all avenues of education. As Georgia’s teachers reinvented their classroom environments, 4-H professionals also pivoted to meet the needs of a new and changing dynamic that included virtual, in-person and hybrid instruction.
A recent study by Virginia Brown, an extension evaluation specialist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, highlighted the positive impact that 4-H made on teachers and students in the fall semester of 2020.
To collect data, local 4-H agents distributed a teacher survey developed by the Office of Learning and Organizational Development to assess student knowledge outcomes, program components and overall impacts of 4-H programming in Georgia classrooms. One-hundred ninety-three teachers in 30 counties completed the survey, representing more than 5,000 students.
The results of the survey indicated that student knowledge increased from pre-instruction to post-instruction regardless of how 4-H programming was delivered. Teachers reported that 4-H programming adds value to learning and is an important supplement to education. They also indicated that the inclusion of 4-H enhances the classroom and that they plan to continue their use of its offerings.
Traditionally, 4-H programming is delivered through in-person instruction in fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms by youth development professionals, including 4-H agents, educators and program assistants. In addition to classroom settings, 4-Hers have opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities in agriculture and STEM, healthy living, and civic engagement.
“4-H programming has proven to be effective repeatedly through numerous studies over many years,” Brown said. “This study shows that our shift to varied delivery methods does not impact the tried-and-true constructive impact that 4-H provides.”
Teachers also said that they benefited personally from their involvement with 4-H during the initial COVID-19 response. Survey participants reported that their overall wellness and well-being was positively impacted through their partnership with 4-H during a period of difficult adjustment.
“Our goal is to instill the concepts of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity in the youths with whom we have the privilege of interacting,” 4-H Extension Specialist for Curriculum Mandy Marable said. “We value the relationships that were maintained with teachers and students throughout the uncertain months of the 2020-21 school year.”
For more information about how to get involved with 4-H as a student, parent or volunteer, visit georgia4h.org or contact a local extension office.