Bilingual 4-H e-magazine continues to be a resource for families during pandemic

Every 4-H Central issue includes an activity that represents the four “Hs” that figure in the youth development organization’s name: head, heart, hands and health.

It debuted online on April 5, 2020, three weeks after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered Oregon’s schools closed and four days before Brown announced that schools wouldn’t reopen for the 2019-20 school year.

It was called “4-H Central,” a weekly e-magazine in English and Spanish developed by the Oregon State University Extension faculty and staff in Marion County. The first issue included activities for elementary-aged youth called “Code Your Name!” and “Show You Care/Write a Letter” and “Wheel of Service: Top 10 at-home projects to do for others.” There was a recipe for making apple sandwiches.

“We wanted to develop something that was digital but at the same time not dependent on going online and needing to have a strong internet connection,” said Dani Castillo-Davalos, 4-H program coordinator in Marion County and the magazine’s editor. “We wanted to provide simple, low- or no-cost activities at home, geared toward health and wellness.”

A year later, the 4-H Central team has kept it up, putting out 34 issues after shifting to bi-weekly in August 2020. Every issue includes an activity that represents the four “Hs” that figure in the youth development organization’s name: head, heart, hands and health.

The magazine has developed a regional and state focus. The main content creators are the Marion County 4-H team of Melanie McCabe, Kelly Noack and Abby Lewis, and Carly Kristofik, Marion County’s SNAP-Ed coordinator who contributes Food Hero recipes. 4-H volunteer Heidy Castillo designs the magazine and translates the text into Spanish.

By mid-July, posts on Facebook linking to the magazine had reached nearly 362,000 users.

The magazine received attention from the National 4-H Council, which linked to the publication on a blog called “4-H at Home: Helpers, Heroes & History.”