COLUMBIA – This fall, Missouri youths ages 5-18 and the volunteers and faculty who serve them will have access to projects in 4-H Goes Online through Canvas, an easy-to-use online learning platform. Projects will be available in these areas: Clover Kids, Shooting Sports, Engineering and Technology, Environmental Science and Natural Resources, Plant and Animal Science, Healthy Living, Leadership and Personal Development, and Communication and Expressive Art.

“Our Canvas platform encourages youth to explore their potential sparks at home regardless of constraints such as time, location or group size,” said Chelsea Corkins, a University of Missouri Extension county engagement specialist in 4-H youth development based in Saline County. “Once an interest is found, it can help families and 4-H staff focus more effectively on finding additional resources, leaders or engagement opportunities.”

The online Canvas option also gives youths a chance to match with an instructor and other youths throughout the state who share their interests and passion for projects, as not all in-person clubs can offer every project, Corkins said.

“We not only hope to reach new audiences but also to improve the experience for the families we already serve, making it a win-win for Missouri 4-H,” said Sarah Morefield, field specialist in 4-H youth development and statewide Canvas manager.

The research-based Canvas curriculum helps youths learn through online videos, lesson plans for use at home, discussion boards with peers and videoconferencing with lead instructors. New opportunities spanning multiple project areas will offer new experiences and engage a variety of communities. A partnership with MU Serves, in which undergraduate students participate in service-learning programs, opens new offerings, including a Spanish culture and language project.

Families with limited broadband capacity won’t be left out, Morefield said. “We plan to put together project kits and USB drives that can be mailed to families without stable internet so that the time and effort being put into this online course will truly benefit all of our Missouri 4-H community,” she said.

“The best part about this new project is that you can participate with Missouri 4-H whether you are currently in a 4-H club, looking for a club or simply interested in seeing the course,” Morefield added.

All registrations go through the 4-H Online system, but with the option to register as a member or participant, the course is open to all.

“The excitement around innovation and the efforts nationwide to continue our 4-H programs during COVID-19 have prompted many other states to reach out to Missouri 4-H about our 4-H Canvas course – how they can participate or even create their own,” Morefield said.

The new Missouri 4-H program year runs Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021. More information about Canvas project modules and other 4-H online and in-person programming and registration are available in the Missouri 4-H Clover Catalog and on the Missouri 4-H website.

Families may sign up online anytime during the program year. An annual $5 registration fee gives families access to all 4-H programming and projects within the 4-H Canvas course.

Learn more about Missouri 4-H at 4h.missouri.edu.