1. Published

    As the weather starts to cool off and thoughts turn to campfires, cool nights and holiday gatherings, it is a perfect time to gather your family or friends together and learn a bit more about each other. Here are some conversation starters to find some conversation starters to learn some great stories from your family and friends.

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    October 18-22 is Digital Citizenship Week! And if you’re anything like me, you might be wondering…

    umm…so what?

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    Each year, 4-H members across the nation celebrate National 4-H Week, joining 6 million other 4-H members of the country’s premiere youth development program. This year, the celebration runs Oct. 3 to 9.

    University of Illinois Extension 4-H wants to use the celebration to connect with former members. Nationally, there are 25 million Americans who share this unique alumni bond.

  4. Published

    Social distancing during the pandemic, though necessary, has caused social and emotional side effects that have been felt by all of us – perhaps especially by our young people. Programs from University of Illinois Extension and 4-H serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell Counties have worked hard to combat these effects. Starting in October, 4-H will again be offering Connection Corner Kits filled with engaging activities to help families build connections and strengthen relationships. Participating families will receive all materials, complete with instructions and tip sheets.

  5. Published

    I don’t know about things in your neck of the woods, but here in Central Illinois, the indications of autumn are everywhere! The shorter days are marked with bright blue skies and a crisp breeze, mums adorn doorsteps, and there’s pumpkin spice everything! In case these tell-tale signs don’t ring true for you, last week also marked the Autumnal Equinox, a date when the day and night have equal timeshare and meteorologists make it official. It’s fall!

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    If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.

  7. Published

    September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM). For generations, the contributions and achievements of our Latin American communities have infused our culture and enriched our lives. This month, take time with your family to celebrate and learn more about Hispanic Heritage. Here are a few ideas to help you do just that.

  8. Published

    Allowing children to be engaged in nature has long been known to have physical and emotional benefts (Children and Nature Network, 2014), however, one area less commonly discussed is the benefit to young people academically.

  9. Published

    “In case of emergency” is a phrase that we’re all familiar with. So familiar, in fact, that we sometimes just ignore it. That “emergency” seems so unlikely and far off – and we have stuff to deal with right now!

    But – as the past weeks and months have shown us – emergencies happen all the time. As I write this, there are wildfires blazing out west, folks have begun to wade through the devastation of Hurricane Ida in the south, and there’s a resurgence of the pandemic everywhere. There’s never been a more important time to protect your loved ones by being prepared.

  10. Published

    Volunteering together can be a great way for families to spend time with each other.  Additionally, volunteering as a family has been shown to significantly impact the amount teens volunteers. America’s Promise found that 81% of teens who had one adult family member or role model who volunteered reported volunteering themselves (Child Trends, 2006).

  11. Published

    The school year is here once again!  It can feel overwhelming to get all the school supplies ready and schedules organized, let alone take first day of school pictures, or any of the many traditions people have for going back to school!  However, it is important to take a moment and celebrate the little things – that your child is a year older and is changing and growing every day. One great way to celebrate the start of the school year and document how much they are changing is a “First Day of School Interview”.  Take a few moments to ask your children a few or all of these questions:

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    This week, the back-to-school shelves in every store I‘ve gone to look as though they’ve been ravaged. I’m struggling to keep up with my backyard garden harvests, and I just got notification that my favorite apple orchard will be opening for the season. And the children are “going to die of boredom!” The end of summer is upon us.

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    National Ice Cream Day is Sunday, July 18! In 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued proclamation declaring that, on the third Sunday of July (National Ice Cream Month), we would recognize this creamy, cool, sweet treat!

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    Summer days can often go by so quickly and before you know it, the busy schools days return.  Here are three ways that you can slow down the pace of your summer, spend time in nature, and enjoy the world around you.

    Cloud watching 

    Lay a blanket out on the grass and look at the clouds above you.  Look for shapes (animals, food, vehicles) and point them out to see if others can see them too.  Notice how the clouds move differently whether it is a windy or calm day.  Notice how long it takes before your shape disappears or rearranges into something else.

  15. Published

    On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress declared the separation of the 13 original colonies from Great Britain and adopted the Declaration of Independence. Now, we celebrate America’s Independence Day with lots of different summertime activities like family gatherings, swimming, parades, boating, and cookouts.

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    Each year on June 19, we observe Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It’s a great time for families to gather together, reflect on the past, and share hope for the future. Below are just a few great ways to help you and your family join in the celebration.

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    Father’s Day in the United State is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. This year it will fall on June 20, 2021. It is a time to celebrate the fathers or father figures in your life, which could include dads, step-fathers, grandpas, uncles, brothers, and other role models.

    Taking time out to honor the father figures in your life can really mean a lot to them, so get started now thinking of ways you can celebrate together. Here are just a few ideas of ways you could celebrate this Father’s Day:

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    Memorial Day weekend is often seen as a time to get together with family and as the unofficial start to summer. However, there is much more to the history of Memorial Day than picnics, barbecues, and family gatherings.  Our colleagues at Michigan State University wrote a great article about the history of Memorial Day and how to teach your children about it. Their Early Childhood Development team shared some great suggestions of ways to celebrate Memorial Day with your children. These are a great combination of virtual and in-person types of activities.

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    The school year is coming to a close. And what a year it has been! We’ve all faced periods of isolation, bouts of anxiety, and tons of screen time – even (or especially) our kids. As things slowly return to normal, we have the opportunity to use summer break as a time for healing and re-connection.

  20. Published

    Those of you graduating in 2021 have achieved so much! You have learned to adjust your way of learning during a pandemic, found creative solutions to obstacles and challenges, and developed innovative ways to support and encourage each other. That’s a lot! 

    In 4-H, we often talk about the three experiential learning steps: do, reflect, apply. These steps also apply to graduates who are finishing up one stage of their learning.  So, as you graduate, it is important to take time to do three important things: