Kansas 4-H officials have announced that the popular Discovery Days event, which brings together several hundred youth from across the state each year, is moving to an online format at the end of May.
Discovery Days is one of K-State’s longest-running traditions, now in its 96th year. More than 400 youth from 84 Kansas counties who attended last year.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on mass gatherings, however, Kansas 4-H is adapting to still offer a learning opportunity for youth, said Susan Potter, 4-H and youth development specialist.
“We realize this will not replace the in-person pieces and the friendships and connections that are made during Discovery Days, but we can still do some great things,” Potter said. “We are going to move forward and offer a great virtual learning environment for youth at the same time as the original event.”
Kansas youth are encouraged to register online through the Kansas 4-H website. This year’s program, set for May 27-29, includes live sessions each morning as well as interactive, small group sessions in the afternoon. There will also be many recorded sessions available for youth to view at their leisure.
“We strive for hands-on learning, where youth are immersed in content,” Potter said. “A lot of things may be similar, but we know it won’t be the exact same experience. This is what we see as kind of a supplement to what we’ve done in the past. If it works, this may help us be better in the future by maybe incorporating some technology, or deepened learning, during in person events.”
Ironically, Discovery Day organizers – including several Kansas youth – had already planned this year’s event around the theme, ‘2020: A Vision for the Future.’ With the move to an online format, some of that future is happening now, according to Potter.
“Technology is great, and we really want to use it to the best of our abilities,” he said. “Being able to break out in small groups, ask questions, engage with one another — even though it can be difficult – is really providing growth. So as we’re looking at career and college readiness, these are skills that can help youth in the future. By being able to engage in an online platform, they may be more prepared to do a video interview someday.”
In the past, Discovery Days activities were open to youth ages 13-18. While the content may be more applicable for that age group, Potter said that youth of all ages are welcome to participate in this year’s online format.
“We want to provide a safe environment for all youth, so we will ask youth to register for the live sessions,” he said. “We would prefer that people register by the week before, at least by May 22, and then we will send information to them so that they can connect to the live sessions.”
Potter added that Discovery Days continues to focus on career and college readiness, community service and hands-on learning. He said youth also will have an opportunity to purchase a Discovery Days t-shirt, as in past years.
“Regardless of what is happening in our world, we are building resilience for our 4-Hers, and this is an example of that,” he said. “The youth voice is still guiding what we’re doing and how we’re moving forward to provide things in difficult times.”
For more information on Discovery Days and to register, visit www.Kansas4-H.org.