During the week of March 16, I wrote an article about 4-H project bowls; what they are, why they are important for our youth, and some of the emotions that are experienced during this event.

As we all know, COVID-19 quickly took over the nation as it forced us to cancel events and change the way we were living. Unfortunately, that included half of our youth who were not able to compete at the regional project bowl they had been working so hard for. One of the team’s mom stated “Missing out on the 4-H Project Bowls, one of 4-H’s biggest draws outside the county fairs, is just as sad for these kids and their coaches as missing out on the MN State High School League sports championships.”

Now, with the cancelations and postponements of the thousands of activities around us, there is a new set of emotions. What are the youth and adults feeling? How are they finding alternate ways to show their knowledge? And as with the majority of our nation, how will they stay connected to each other?

10th grader, Meg W. shares that she is “still holding out hope that it could be rescheduled in time to actually make it back to the Dog Bowl State Competition!” Rice County Dog Bowl Team finished third in the state last April, narrowly missing the championship round. Everyone was hoping for a re-match. Practice has been occurring weekly since November, not to mention the hours of study and memorization at home during the week.

The teams’ coach, Beth, says they have been thinking about doing their own dog bowl competition with 4-Hers against parents once it is safe to get together with others. They thought this might be fun for the 4-Hers to show their parents how much they have learned.

They are also considering setting up some online time to play some dog knowledge games together if this break gets to be too long. They did a few practices this way when some of the students weren’t able to gather together in person, and it worked really well — even though they wished they could all be together laughing in the same room.

Like so many others, there has been disappointment, sadness, and heartbreak but there is also hope. Our 4-H families will get creative and do what they need to do in order to keep their passions alive. They will continue to encourage each other, find ways to incorporate their passions into their daily lives, and stay connected. They will not let this big bump in the road stop them from having fun with each other and learning!

Kelly Chadwick is the Rice County 4-H program coordinator.

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