Wisconsin 4-H and COVID-19

Text updated 6-2-2020

Dear 4-H members, families, & volunteers  –

This has been a year unlike anything we’ve seen.  And, while Wisconsin has done a good job of limiting the spread of COVID-19 in many communities, the virus is still spreading. We are basing our decisions on health guidance and none of us has a crystal ball.  But with more than 30,000 youth in our programs, we are weighing the disappointment of not having a normal set of summer experiences against the need to take care of everyone in our communities.  And, we are trying to strike a reasonable balance as we transition back to in-person programs.


  • During this month of June, the preferred method of program delivery is “virtual/online” and most planning efforts should focus on these types of programs for the remainder of the summer.
  • In June, we are also allowing some in-person but “No-contact” programs. “No-contact” programs are defined as programs that:
    • cannot be conducted virtually
    • are held outdoors
    • have only one youth or household engaged at a time (Note: household members may help ensure a child is never alone with an adult)
    • are staggered so there is no contact, if more than one youth/household is engaged, and  any shared equipment is sanitized between uses

Some examples include:

    • one-at-a-time/staggered times dog obedience training, horse riding lesson, or individual animal project work
    • one household-at-a-time/staggered times community gardening and service projects
    • supply sharing and sales using curb-side pick-up/delivery methods.
  • Activities that clearly meet the “no-contact” guidelines will move forward.  Work with your 4-H Educator to seek organizational approval.  These will be the exception and not the rule. They will be limited to things that cannot be accomplished virtually.

WHEN READY – and no sooner than July 1, 4-H programs may begin for Small Groups with an approved plan

  • We are currently planning to move to “small-group” meetings and activities of 10 or fewer people that allow social distancing.  Before we can move to this phase, both staff and volunteers must be trained on safety procedures. Plans will need to be created using the Extension template and shared with the 4-H Program Educator who will seek organizational approval.

NEXT STEPS — Anything can happen, and we are open to making changes as conditions improve. We hope to scale up to larger groups of no more than 50 by the end of the summer.  And it seems unlikely that 4-H will organize programs or participate in any activity or event with more than 50 participants for a considerable time.

REMINDER: Overnight camp and travel programs are cancelled through August.

Please know this a fluid situation and depending on how the summer progresses these plans and dates may need to be modified. Thank you for your continued patience and support as we all navigate these unprecedented times.

Thriving together,

Dondieneita Fleary-Simmons, Wisconsin 4-H Program Manager

Matt Calvert, Positive Youth Development Institute Director

Please see our general FAQ page for some answers regarding programs in June and beyond related to COVID-19.


4-H Statewide Program Cancellations

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UW-Madison and Extension have made some decisions regarding in-person programming. All Extension in-person events planned for May are cancelled or postponed. Large events (>50 people) planned for June are cancelled or postponed. Overnight youth programs are also cancelled in June. We are following state guidelines as they are announced and our programming guidance will be updated accordingly.


Promoting Social Support and Positive Youth Connection

Promoting social support and positive social connections for youth—always a priority for Positive Youth Development (PYD) programs—is extremely important in circumstances that contribute to social isolation. Due to the COVID-19 emergency, youth are currently disconnected from important spaces (school, work, youth organizations) where they rely on and maintain social relationships with peers and adults, receive support, and learn and grow.
4-H has created virtual spaces where youth can connect and learn together, with staff supporting youth and volunteers in safe online practices. Staff train and practice with volunteers to deliver effective distance education.  Read more in our impact story.


4-H and County Fairs

As we have cancelled and postponed programs, we have been asked questions about what this means for 4-H member participation and Extension staff involvement at county fairs.  See our FAQ for the answers.


Statewide 4-H Event Updates and Cancellations

This information is for events run out of the State 4-H office. For information on local events, please email news@extension.wisc.edu. If an event is postponed/cancelled (or if an attendee is no longer able to attend the reschedule dates if an event is postponed), full refunds will be issued in most cases. Please see the list below regarding updates for 2020 Statewide 4-H Educational Experiences:

As of March 17th, State Staff are working remotely. Some staff may not have access to office phones at this time. If you need to reach a member of the State 4-H Staff, please reach out to them via email.

ArtBeat! 2020 – (originally set for March 13-15) has been postponed. If you were scheduled to attend, please keep an eye on your email for updates on potential new dates.

National 4-H Conference – (originally set for March 28-April 2) has been postponed to September. Delegates who were scheduled to attend have been notified of alternate dates.

Space Camp 2020 – (originally set for April 16-20) has been postponed, and the orientation/planning weekend set for March 28-29 has been cancelled. If you were scheduled to attend Space Camp this year, please keep an eye on your email as we plan to communicate regarding plans for postponement.

Dairy Quiz Bowl – (originally set for April 4) has been cancelled. Dairy Bowl will not be rescheduled for 2020.

Shooting Sports Certification Workshops – multiple shooting sports workshops have been cancelled. See the link below for more information.

Shooting Sports Competitive Shoots – Multiple competitive shoots  have been postponed and may be cancelled. You can find the full schedule with more information on Competitive shoots here.

Education Days: Hippology, Horse Bowl, Speaking and Demo Contest – This event scheduled for May 1 & 2 has been postponed until a later date. Please watch your email for updates regarding plans for postponement.

WI 4-H & Youth Conference will not be taking place on the UW-Madison Campus this summer. We are exploring alternate options for conference but are still early in planning. Keep an eye on your email for potential updates.

American Spirit 2020 has been cancelled. Registered participants can anticipate more information in their email.

Citizenship Washington 2020 has been cancelled. Registered participants should check their email for more information.

Area Animal Science Days 2020 have been cancelled for the summer.

WI 4-H Dog Agility Show (Middleton, WI) and the WI 4-H Obedience & Showmanship Show (Washington County Fair Park) have both been cancelled for 2020. Members should check their email for more information.

Read Important Youth Livestock Project Message here.

Current as of 5/28/2020 at 1:00p.m.