Category Archives: Directors Dialogue

Director Update

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are having a great summer of 4-H programming! It seems the work is never finished with junior camps, day camps, State 4-H Congress, clubs, fairs, and competitions. Each day you and your volunteers are having a positive impact in your community. I appreciate your passion and dedication.

Thanks to all of you who attended State 4-H Congress and worked to make it a huge success. Plan now to recruit members for the 2017 State 4-H Congress to be held June 12-15.

Congratulations to those listed below who received 4-H Foundation Innovative Programming grants of $1,000 each. The funds have been transferred to your foundation account. Please extend congratulations to your peers and ask them about their great programming.

Reginald Morris
Science Days: Past, Present, Future

Thomas Woodson
Amelia County Science Fair Program

Kevin Irvin
Electrical Snap Circuit Kits

Caitlin Verdu and Reginald Morris
Master 4-H Volunteer Training

Jonette Mungo
Carroll County Chronicles

Bethany Eigel
Watershed Camp and 4-H Fair Exhibition to Grow 4-H Science

Samantha Nagurny
4-H Food Challenge – Curriculum Evaluation and Program Plan

Samantha Nagurny
4-H VEX Robotics Team

Sarah Pratt
Cool, Calm, and Collected: Youth Relaxation and Stress Management

Sarah Crews
Creating Mobile Maker Stations for In-School STEM Programming

Drexel Pierce
Career and Workforce Prep Academy

Drexel Pierce
4-H Healthy Living Camp

Christina Murray, Helen Doughty, and Ursula Deitch
Bugging Out! Cloverbud Day Camp

Tara Brent and Trent Jones
Youth Agriculture Safety Day

Nicole Clem
Shooting Education Club

Cathy Howland and Sarah Crews
JMG: Farm to Table 4-H Summer Day Camp

Hermon Maclin
Virginia Youth Voices 4-H Digital Media Program

Chris Lichty and Morgan Paulette
Pulaski County 4-H Embryology

Jenny Kapsa
Rappahannock County 4-H Life Skill Workshop Series

Alyssa Walden
Reading Make Cents

LaSonya White
Don’t Throw Away Our Future Recycling Program

Crystal Peek
Washington County 4-H – 5th Grade Math Bowl

Wendy Herdman
4-H Water Wizard Day Campers Serve as Citizen Scientists

Kelsey Grimes
Cultivation of Creativity and STEM Education in Wythe County

National 4-H Week is October 1-7 with National 4-H Youth Science Day on October 5th. Please be on the lookout for the National 4-H Toolkit to help you with promotion. This year we will emphasize “4-H Grown”. Hopefully we can reconnect with our 4-H alumni around the country. Encourage your alumni to sign up at Our alumni will be shared with us on a regular basis.

Virginia 4-H has become a primary partner with in the Virginia Tech Science Festival to be held at Virginia Tech on October 8, 2016. The program is geared to youth ages 6-17 and will offer over 40 hands-on science exhibits. Please consider becoming an exhibitor and also sharing the event information with your 4-H families. There is no admission charge. For more information or to sign up as an exhibitor, please visit the following link:

Please find attached the Virginia 4-H Foundation Summer Newsletter, enjoy and share as you wish.

As a reminder, please be sure to enter all member and leader information into 4-HOnline. This provides the record of your program, produces your ES237 report, and rolls into the Virginia 4-H ES237. It is very important to document the work you have done throughout the year with young people in your unit. Should you have questions, please contact Tonya Price.

Thank you for your continued work to create nurturing environments with caring adults, ultimately building strong young leaders throughout our state!


Cathy M. Sutphin, PhD
Associate Director, 4-H
115 Hutcheson Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Director’s Update

Hi Everyone,

I hope your spring programming is going well. It was great to see a record number of young people competing this past weekend at the B&B contests. It was equally exciting to be able to interact with new VCE faculty this week at their orientation. During the discussion, I shared with agents that in addition to the Virginia and National 4-H Curriculum, they could find some great resources in the National Directory of 4-H Educational Materials. I have attached some information on this. You can search by subject matter and you can also find the process for posting materials that you would like to share. The link will take you to my4-H and you will be asked to register to view materials.

While on check out common measures under resources. Common Measures is helping 4-H continually improve programs so that we can reach even more young people with a life-changing 4-H experience. It assesses the impact of 4-H through science, healthy living, citizenship and college/career readiness. These evaluation measurements also assist in cross-program comparison by allowing various programs to be examined on similar outcomes and outputs. The common measures have been placed into VCE Qualtrics surveys. To get started using these in your programming efforts visit .

I want to thank those working as part of a VCE program team. The teams are making great progress and are bringing the VCE programming process to life at the state level. I would encourage you to explore the teams and their work at . Further, under new leadership, the university is embarking on some key initiatives which I think align very nicely with our programming efforts. If you have not heard of the Virginia Tech Destination Areas, please take a few minutes to scan the site . I am enthusiastic about the new partnerships forming campus-wide and that both the President and Provost see Extension as a valuable asset to the University in serving citizens across the state.

Finally, in case you are not Facebook friends with Ruth Wallace or Reggie Morris, I included a picture below. Reggie, Ruth, Kathleen Jamison, Ozzie Abaye, and Tom Archibald are part of our VCE team currently working in Senegal, engaging youth and adults in 4-H positive youth development. I could not be more proud!

4-H Grows in your community, in Virginia, in our country, and indeed throughout the world!

VCE Team Working in Senegal

VCE Team Working in Senegal

Remember to schedule time for yourself. I know from experience spring in the local Extension office and 4-H Centers can be extremely busy.

Thanks for all you do,


Cathy M. Sutphin, PhD
Associate Director, 4-H
115 Hutcheson Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061


4-H Online

Hi Everyone,

National 4-H Council is discontinuing ACCESS 4-H mid-year on March 31, 2015. Thus, we are introducing 4HOnline, a new enrollment and data management system to Virginia 4-H. We are pleased to discover many advantages that the new system has over ACCESS 4-H, listed below. We believe that 4HOnline will increase our efficiency and save time at the local level and that 4HOnline will better serve the needs and interests of today’s 4-H youth and families and enhance their 4-H experience. Learn more about 4HOnline here: .

ACCESS 4-H will be used for the ES-237 for 2014, which is due October 17, 2014. We will use 4HOnline for the 2014-2015 club year enrollment (October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015). Since, you can’t transfer existing ACCESS 4-H data to 4HOnline, we will not enter our new club year enrollment into ACCESS 4-H.

We will first roll out, the 4HOnline enrollment package, but as you will see in the advantages, 4HOnline has many other options that we will introduce once we are up and running.

Advantages of 4HOnline:
4HOnline is designed for families to enroll themselves. Families set up their account, create a password and enter and manage their own data thus increasing efficiency and saving time on the local level.
4HOnline works well with a dial-up connection. It also works well on iPads, tablets, and smart phones.
Once the data has been entered by the families, Extension agent/staff review the records for accuracy and accept or request changes on the enrollment records.
Volunteer development opportunities through online training modules (orientation and project/curriculum content training) that includes assessments and tracking system with certificates;
4-H age and age divisions automatically calculate for specific projects, events, and competitions based on state guidelines;
Ability to communicate with 4-H members, families, and volunteers (individually and groups) through one-way messaging (text and email);
Volunteer screening tool that will maintain background screening information and document status in the screening process from the State 4-H Office;
Event registration (Congress, camp, competitions, etc.) integrated into system;
Database for online enrollment forms (health history, member enrollment, volunteer enrollment, code of conduct, standards of behavior, equine waiver, adapted forms for youth of military families);
Project animal identification database for qualifying animals, finances, and storage of applicable measurements;
Ability to track 4-H member and volunteer project enrollment, event participation, and award for portfolios and resumes completion;
Online 4-H calendar that promotes county, district, and state events in one integrated system;
Integration of online curriculum, publication, and resource hyperlinks based on project enrollment;
Customizable reports (exportable for Excel, PDF, mailing labels) with grouping and sorting features for individuals, clubs, groups, or events;
· Multiple people can access data at the same time and make appropriate changes;
· Families will be able to enter and manage their own information, look up projects, read newsletters, receive announcements for 4-H events, register for events, and more;
· Very user-friendly;
· Highly customizable to meet our needs;
· Is a proven program which has been used by numerous state 4-H programs.

Things we are working on now:

A transition timeline which will be available within the next two weeks;
Setting up the structure for Virginia 4-H. We are creating the state platform with unit and district information, organized club information, projects, delivery modes, activities and awards so they can be uploaded into the new system.
Setting up a “demo county” for you to go in and enter data and see how the system works.
Adapting materials and resources for face-to-face and online training for Extension professionals and office professionals. Materials include a manual, PowerPoint presentations and video for local units to use when creating their own customized platform.
Creating a 4HOnline webpage in which all messages, links to resources, conference call and training dates will be posted.
Creating a forum, blog to support the local units.
Adapting a brochure and a web-based video that provides step-by-step instructions for leaders and families to enroll.

We appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation as we make the best of this unexpected transition. In the end, we are confident that we will have a data management system which increases our effectiveness and builds the quality, capacity, and sustainability of the Virginia 4-H program.


Cathy M. Sutphin, PhD
Associate Director, 4-H
115 Hutcheson Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Director’s Update May 2014

It was nice to see so many of you at the VESA conference this week. Congratulations to all who received awards for their outstanding work! I vividly remember, as an agent, how busy spring schedules are with contests, livestock shows, community service projects, finishing up school clubs, and preparing for camp. I hope that you can take a little time this holiday weekend to relax and enjoy time with family and friends. Here are a few updates which I hope you will find helpful.

State 4-H Congress plans are coming together nicely. Our numbers are up well over 100 and we are thrilled with the response for our 4-H Celebration scheduled for June 18th. We can’t wait to welcome you, your volunteers, and all the outstanding teens to campus!

Virginia 4-H License Plates – Please share the news: we are taking orders for the new Virginia 4-H license plate! Virginia 4-H is seeking a revenue sharing plate. Once the minimum sales requirement has been met, revenue will be used to fund scholarships for 4-H members. We must have 450 orders complete with payment before it can be introduced in the General Assembly. The unit that collects the most orders will receive a $500 programming grant, the second most will receive $400 in programming funds, and 3-5th place will receive $250. Check out the Virginia 4-H Blog for more information, a graphic, and the form.

4-H Centers – 4-H camp is one of our primary delivery modes. Camping enables us to introduce new programs which can be extended back in the units and vice versa. Camp can also excite and motivate young people to become more involved in 4-H. Our dedicated, enthusiastic summer staff has been trained and is ready to go! This year when youth arrive at the 4-H Centers they will find that our center faculty/staff have been hard at work preparing to host them. Check out the Virginia 4-H Blog to see the facility upgrades made this year!

Save the Dates! Virginia 4-H and North Carolina 4-H have won the bid to host the 2014 National 4-H Shooting Education Certification Training. The program will be held November 3-7, 2014 at the Eastern North Carolina 4-H Center. This provides an outstanding opportunity for Virginia agents and volunteers to be certified to train other adults. For the past several years, we have only been able to send a few folks to the training. Watch for more information to follow and special thanks to Jinx Baney for submitting on our behalf and her outstanding leadership of the Virginia 4-H Shooting Education Program.

Virginia 4-H Innovative Programming Awards – Each year, the Virginia 4-H Foundation awards $1,000 programming awards to agents who are developing or expanding innovative programs. Please consider submitting a proposal by filling out the application and returning it to me by June 11, 2014. Awards will be announced at State 4-H Congress. The application can be found on the Virginia 4-H Blog.

It addition, the Virginia 4-H Foundation will offer a Revolving Programming Award. This award will use the same application format but will be available in the event that a highly innovative program emerges during the 4-H programming year and there is a documented funding need to support the effort.

The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development was recently published in The Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Please take a few minutes to read the attached article. This research highlights the need for the establishment and support of 4-H clubs which enable our youth to be retained in the program and be exposed to positive youth development programming over time.

Bowers et al.JYA.2014.Intro to special issue of 4-H Study and PYD.

4-H Finances – I understand that the transition of 4-H funds over the past few years has been a difficult one. We are interested in gathering input that could be useful as we continually work to improve the processes that we have put into place. We will be having a phone conversation with the 4-H DPLT members in the near future to discuss both Club and Foundation accounts. Should you have input, please share with one of your DPLT district members. I also understand that some groups feel misled since we are not allowing additional groups to apply for independent 501c3 status even though we initially thought that this would be permissible. Upper administration believes that our current structure ensures appropriate stewardship the resources obtained in the name of 4-H. With that said, we are committed to making the existing system work effectively and efficiently for you and your volunteers. Should you have 4-H Foundation questions, please contact Amanda Lucas. Please direct other 4-H financial questions through your DAA who will contact the state office as needed. I would like to draw your attention to an outstanding resource for 4-H Program Evaluation. This site is interactive and will assist you in building your own evaluations, using existing evaluations, and using the 4-H Common Measures. Check it out!

Directors April Update

Hi Everyone,

I hope your busy spring is going well. Your work is making a lasting impact on the youth engaged in your unit program. I appreciate your efforts in supporting our members and volunteers in the vast array of programming efforts that occur throughout the spring and summer!

I am writing to provide you with a few updates.

2014 4-H Symposium – Please hold the dates for our next Virginia 4-H Symposium scheduled for November 20 – 23 in Blacksburg. We plan to use a similar format as 2013 with agent professional development on Thursday and Friday, leading into concentrated tracts on Saturday in addition to our on-going partnership conference with the Virginia Association of Adult 4-H Volunteer’s Fall Conference on Saturday and Sunday. There will be extraordinary learning experiences for all!

Congrats to Holiday Lake 4-H Center staff, Board of Directors, and Agents for soliciting and receiving 4-H camp scholarships for all of the 19 units served by the center. As a result, 190 youth will have a positive camping experience next summer that may not have otherwise had the opportunity! This is a true testament to our commitment as a state of allowing every child the opportunity to experience camp.

4 for 4-H Runs – As you know each 4-H center is holding a 4 for 4-H Run this spring to raise funds for 4-H camp scholarships. This is a fantastic opportunity to engage youth, volunteers, and community members in a fun, family friendly activity that will result in positive outcomes for each Unit and 4-H Center.  I would like to challenge each Unit to raise funds for 1 full scholarship by means of these runs. $250 to support programming will be placed in the 4-H Foundation account of the Unit in each district that raises the most for their center run. Each district that has 100% participation by their units will also receive $250 in 4-H programming funds. Let’s all get on board to support our centers and promote Healthy Living!

Livestock and Horse Events – It was fantastic to see nearly 900 youth participating in the Block and Bridle Livestock events and the EquiSmartz Horse Competition Weekend. It was also nice to see the number of units participating that had not in recent years. I am constantly reminded of the energy and enthusiasm that you and your volunteers have for 4-H programming and I feel blessed to work in Virginia 4-H.

Virginia 4-H Strategic Plan – A huge thank you to everyone who provided input for the strategic plan that we have been working on over the past year. I want to thank the steering committee that spent significant time as a group and then collecting input from their colleagues. Please take some time to look over the document which will serve as a roadmap for our efforts. You can find the document at the following location: This document was shared with the 4-H Positive Youth Development Program Team. As the team conducts their work, we will revise the document as needed.

State 4-H Congress – I am very excited about the 2014 4-H Congress. The workshop and competition workshops are shaping up to be the best ever. The Centennial Celebration will be a fantastic event with special guests that you will not want to miss. Please refer to the Congress website for more information. Last year, we saw significant increases in both the number of delegates and the number of units represented. Please let us know if we can assist you in recruitment and we look forward to seeing you and your teens in June.

Who Should I Contact? For camping and general risk management questions call Sandra (Sam) Fisher. If it is 4-H Horse related, contact Celeste Crisman. Anything to do with 4-H Livestock, call Paige Pratt. If your need is related to youth Dairy, call Dave Winston. Curriculum, After-School, or STEM? Call Kathleen Jamison. If you need information on teen programming, Character Counts!, 4-H Healthy Living, or the   4-H Ambassador Program, call Tonya Price. If it is a Congress question or 4-H Mentoring grant question, call Mike Martin. All things related to VCE volunteers, start with Jeremy Johnson. Let’s say you want to chat about 4-H international programs or new agent support, you will want to contact Glenda Snyder. Any event related question can be directed to Katie Lafon. If you have anything concerning the Virginia 4-H Foundation, you will want to direct it to Amanda Lucas. All program issues should be directed to me and if you have no idea where to start please contact Melissa Breen and she can direct you to the most appropriate person.

Please let us know how we can better serve you as we work to “Make the Best Better”.


Welcome to The Virginia 4-H Blog

Hello Everyone. Welcome to the Virginia 4-H blog “Virginia Clovers”. My hope is that our blog will provide a consistent means of communication and hopefully cut down on the email overload that you experience.  Please plan to visit frequently.

It is truly an exciting time for Virginia 4-H. We recently brought our agents with less than two years of service together for training and sharing. It was wonderful to see 33 enthusiastic, passionate, new colleagues share, learn, and build lasting relationships. I want to thank everyone who is working hard to support and encourage this group of professionals as we work together to provide outstanding developmental opportunities for more than 195,000 youth across Virginia.

Plans for State 4-H Congress are well underway with many exciting opportunities for teen 4-H members. This year, we will be offering competition workshops for delegates who are not competing but would like to learn more about competition areas. The Great Summer Showcase workshops are better every year being taught by enthusiastic, highly qualified, faculty members. The State 4-H Office has set program quality goals and for increasing the number of delegates and units participating in Congress. Plan to join us!

A team of 4-H Agents and Specialists met to begin the 4-H strategic planning process. The group, facilitated by Dr. Barbara Board, spent a day discussing challenges, opportunities, and action plans as they relate to Focus Area III of the VCE Strategic Plan. Team members have the meeting notes as well as Proposed Impact Planning Teams related to 4-H. Team members will be soliciting additional input.  In addition, the State VCE programming team will be proposing additional Impact Planning Teams that will need youth development input and participation.

Many thanks to the 4-H strategic planning team members: Jinx Baney, Mellissa Breen, Nicole Clem, Celeste Crisman, Kaci Daniel, Sam Fisher, Sonya Furgurson, Brian Hairston, Sherri Jackson, Kathleen Jamison, Amanda Lucas, Danielle Jones, Katie Lafon, Mike Martin, Sarah Morton, Lenah Nguyen, Crystal Peek, Tonya Price, Leslie Prillaman, Sandy Shortridge, and Glenda Snyder. The group had open, honest discussion and developed positive action items that I believe will enable us to implement the youth portion of the VCE Strategic plan in an effective manner. When called upon, please share additional ideas that you may have to improve upon the draft document.

Lastly, I want to thank each of you for taking the time to fill out the 4-H program unit summary sheet. If you have not yet hit the submit button to send it to the state office, please do so as soon as possible. Just as you have used the document to set local goals, we would like to use the data to set statewide goals and to assess areas where more training and resources may be needed.


Cathy M. Sutphin, PhD

Associate Director, 4-H