For many families across the state, cabin fever may be setting in, and Nebraska Extension is working to help alleviate pent-up energy with fun, educational content for all ages.
Extension educators and faculty affiliates have continued to update the Nebraska 4-H and Learning Child websites with educational programming and community updates. This new programming has been added to an already-existing library of content available.
“This is part of our mission,” said Kathleen Lodl, associate dean and program administrator for Nebraska 4-H. “It’s the work of (Nebraska) Extension to facilitate learning.”
Existing content includes Healthy Living Activities, Inspire Kids to Do, STEM Lab and experiments from National Youth Science Day, along with disaster response materials, which contain tips for helping children cope and mitigating family stress in times of uncertainty.
Most recently, Nebraska Extension added three new remote access programs for children — Living Room Learning, Boredom Buster Challenge and Beautiful Day — and they’ve been hugely popular, Lodl said. With that in mind, Nebraska Extension teams will continue to develop additional programming and are thinking about how to reach all age groups.
“Based on the success of our first Living Room Learning, we know that people are really hungry for this kind of content,” Lodl said. “This is week one, and so we know as time goes on, more and more people are going to be looking for resources like this which can help youth learn wherever they are.”
New planned content will include STEM activities for backyard learning, virtual sessions for middle- and high-school students on a variety of topics led by undergraduate STEMentors, and additional programming for infants to 3-year-olds.
“We’ll be adding more by the end of this week,” Lodl said. “Our plan is to continually roll out new resources. We’d also like to hear from parents and families as we develop new materials; we want what will be most useful to them. If they have ideas or suggestions, they can let us know.”
Lodl said suggestions for content and its delivery can be sent to the main Nebraska 4-H email, which is being continuously monitored.
For families with limited internet access, Lodl said local extension educators can be contacted for a packet of resources. A directory of extension educators is available on the Nebraska Extension website, or they can call 402-472-2805 be connected to a local educator.
“Extension and 4-H are still open for business, even though our physical offices may be closed,” she said “We’re working creatively by utilizing drop-off sites and other means of connecting. It’s case-by-case right now because we’re still seeing a lot of situations change quickly.”
Above all, Lodl said she wants all Nebraskans to know that extension workers know this a difficult time for many and they can help.
“Here’s what Nebraskans can be sure of,” she said. “Extension is still open for business. Our job is to educate, and we’re providing access to as many resources as possible in a variety of ways.
“Families can be assured that the resources coming from extension are from the research base of their land-grant university, their University of Nebraska–Lincoln, so that they can be trusted. And we’re looking at ways to better reach our clients, so if they have ideas around that, they can email us, and we’ll be happy to help them in any way we can.”