Laurie Michaels

Laurie Michaels

4-H provides opportunities for youth development and for youth to develop skills, practical knowledge and wisdom through observing, doing and living through experiences.

For more than a century, 4-H has made a tremendous impact on many lives and has continued to expand programming and emphasizes the practical application of knowledge or learning by doing to develop skills and acquire a sense of responsibility, initiative and self-worth.

The educational foundation for the 4-H Youth Development Program lies in three areas that are tied to the land grant universities and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 4-H curriculum and activities engage youth in processes of discovery and exploration through hands-on learning.

For more than a century 4-H has been engaging youth through animal science projects, teaching youth the skills to take care of another living being through daily feeding, training and environmental security. Much of what 4-H’ers learn from raising animals is preparing them for real world life skills.

Beyond the barn and show ring, Animal Science project participation requires critical thinking, communication and preparation. Knowledge contests include skills identification, communication and knowledge bowl contests. Clinics and workshops to prepare youth for knowledge contests begin at the club and county level.

Since we are still in a virtual classroom entering the 2021 4-H year, local opportunities will be hosted via Zoom to engage youth in an opportunity to hone and refine their project knowledge and to expand their area of interest and learn about other animal project areas.

Beginning in late January, 4-H educators and volunteers will be hosting weekly 60-minute clinics to help youth learn more about knowledge bowls, communication (public speaking and presentation), judging and identification contests for dogs, horses, livestock (beef, goats, sheep and swine species) and small animals (rabbits and poultry).

For complete contest descriptions and information, you can visit our state 4-H website and look up Spring Classic information that details our state 4-H contests event descriptions and rules. The local contests follow the state contest rules and guidelines and utilize the same study materials and resources.

Normally these clinics and competitions are held in person at the local Extension Service; however, with COVID-19 restrictions we are excited to provide a virtual component to keep youth actively learning skills.

We invite all youth ages 9-19 to check our county website under events in mid-January to find more clinic and contest registration information. Youth interested in 4-H but not yet registered with a 4-H club are invited to investigate these learning opportunities.

Since its inception, 4-H has placed emphasis on the importance of young people being engaged; with today’s struggles for normalcy, this is an opportunity to recruit new 4-H members interested in learning about specific animal science projects and for returning members to keep practicing their skills.

More information about the local Douglas County 4-H program and upcoming events can be found at

Laurie Michaels is the 4-H Education Program Assistant for OSU Extension Service of Douglas County. Contact Laurie at 541-236-3042 or email

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(3) comments


"Since its inception, 4-H has placed emphasis on the importance of young people being engaged; with today’s struggles for normalcy,"

I agree, it's a wonderful opportunity for any kid. And I'm sure it's changed quite a bit since the 60's when my opportunity was to witness our 4-H leader sexually expose himself to three of us girls in our group; or the next leader who we got to watch whip her horse in the face after it threw her. That's when 4-H no longer offered me any opportunity.

And yet I still believe it's a wonderful opportunity to learn about and care for animals. And I'm certain that those who lead in 4-H today are much better leaders than those of yesterday.


Your story of your 4H experience made me sad but I share your hope about the opportunities for young people today. My own experience in the 70s in Eastern Oregon was a positive one. I think these programs are great!


I do too. It's important that kids be given every opportunity to explore possibilities that will lead them into careers they love. My story is just a glimpse of what life was like for girls growing up in Douglas County.

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