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Kansas 4-H launches ‘Parenting Through a Pandemic’

Free, online series addresses challenges faced by families

Dec. 10, 2020

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas 4-H youth development program is addressing unique challenges faced by parents during the COVID-19 pandemic with a free, online series that launched in late November.

The program, Parenting Through a Pandemic, will be offered twice more in December, according to Kansas 4-H Youth Development State Program Leader Wade Weber.

“This is a way to help connect with parents of 4-H youth,” Weber said, adding that in doing so, “we’re helping youth to build resilience. It’s a way to help families cope with challenges that are in front of them, but also put them in a position to thrive as they go forward.”

Listen to an interview by Jeff Wichman with Wade Weber during the 4-H segment that aired Dec. 7 on Agriculture Today

Though the program is free, organizers encourage interested persons to register online at www.Kansas4-h.org to receive login information.

Elaine Johannes, a youth development specialist and associate professor in K-State’s Department of Applied Human Sciences, spoke on Dec. 7 about how families can get ready for the winter and holiday break together.

“During this time of year, there are often rituals and routines that we look back to as our rhythm of life, including time spent with family,” Weber said. “That is pretty significant in helping us mark time, establish connections with family or reinforce our relationships.”

Johannes’ talk focused on how family members can continue to build each other up, talk about current challenges – “hopefully while they’re small and still manageable,” Weber said – and how to be purposeful in planning for better days ahead.

“We’ve encountered a lot of disruptions this year,” Weber said. “I think that one of the things we learned in 2020 is that we have the opportunity to define the values and clarify the purposefulness we’ll have in relationships with each other. The difficulties we’ve faced during the pandemic don’t change the fact that we have a basic need for community and family and learning. That’s one of the things we want to highlight and encourage parents through this program, and provide resources to help them.”

Johannes’ full talk and previous presentations are available online on the Kansas 4-H website. Upcoming programs include:

  • Dec. 14 – Conversations about family recovery: Getting through touch patches during winter/holiday break together.
  • Dec. 17 – Conversation about resistance and return: Preparing for 2021 together.

Weber said a focus of the series is that parents and children should still have goals toward learning and growing.

“You can say, ‘what are the things we want to learn about’ and identify the resources to learn those things,” he said. “Or, ‘what’s a community I can be involved in that deepens my passions.’ And you can still be involved in those, even if it’s virtual.”

“In some respects, the virtual environment is throwing the doors open to gain access to people who maybe relationally you didn’t know was down the street, and now all of a sudden you also have an opportunity to build a relationship with somebody halfway around the world. That’s a unique opportunity, and I’m really thankful that as part of the extension system, the Kansas 4-H program allows access and opportunities for young people to learn in ways that are unprecedented.”

At a glance

A free, online series is helping the Kansas 4-H program connect with and support parents during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Kansas 4-H Youth Development

Notable quote

“(This) is a way to help families cope with challenges that are in front of them, but also put them in a position to thrive as they go forward.”

-- Wade Weber, state program leader, Kansas 4-H Youth Development


Wade Weber

Written by

Pat Melgares


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K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan. For more information, visit www.ksre.ksu.edu. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.