Photo: 4-H’ers Ben Wooden, Klickitat County, and Adrianna Royal, Whidbey Island, interview Kirk Gresham, Vancouver, superintendent of llamas at the Puyallup fair. (Photo by Jack Olmsted, Jefferson County).

A Jefferson County multimedia 4-H club is not only working to stay current with the constant changes in technology, but it aims to lead the way.

“We’re moving into a whole new communication era,” said Jack Olmsted, volunteer coordinator for 4-H Network News. “4-H is about leadership, and we’re at the forefront.”

The multimedia club, which is called 4-H Network News, produced podcasts, video blogs and moblogs from the Puyallup Washington State Fair Sept. 8-24. The group also hosted a workshop for people interested in learning about the producing and publishing process.

4-H Network News — a program of WSU Extension’s 4-H Youth Development — started in February to give 4-H members an opportunity to have a voice and learn about technology, Olmsted said.

A core group of 12 4-H members is involved in the multimedia club, which has covered topics and events ranging from Hood Canal Oyster & Forest Industries to the Sequim Chocolate Festival to the Port Townsend Farmers Market. In July, members produced 90 minutes of audio podcasts, more than 150 digital photos and one hour of video reports at the Jefferson County Fair. 

“We hit Puyallup with a seasoned crew that had a lot of experience,” Olmsted said. 

A Jefferson County 4-H video production program existed prior to 4-H Network News, but 4-H Network News took the program to a new level that involved online aspects of technology, including podcasts, said WSU Jefferson County Extension Coordinator Pamela Roberts.

“The video club started as a way to draw teens into a deeper interaction with WSU faculty as part of an effort to better prepare them for college,” she said. “We knew technology was a wonderful hook for teenagers.”

Pat BoyEs, WSU Extension 4-H Youth Development director, said 4-H members benefit from their experiences interacting with people, developing scripts and learning about technology.
“These are real-world skills,” BoyEs said.

4-H Network News plans to expand in the future, Olmsted said. “We’re more than a club. We’re basically a national model.”

Roberts hopes 4-H Network News will not only expand statewide and on the national level, but internationally as well. She recently worked with four Rwandan teens brought to the U.S. by the WSU Center to Bridge the Digital Divide. She helped them start their own youth-run Rwanda News blog as the first international connection to 4-H Network News.

“We’re very excited about the potential 4-H Network News has,” she said.

View the podcasts online at http://4-Hnews.blogspot.com.