IMPERIAL COUNTY — Imperial County 4-H is soldiering on throughout COVID-19 event cancellations, adopting a virtual format for their annual Achievement Night.
4-H Achievement Night is an annual awards and recognition ceremony for 4-H members county-wide, which normally takes place physically at the Imperial County Fairgrounds in the Casa de Mañana Building.
This year, the 4-H All Star County Ambassadors are launching a Google-based website — complete with pre-recorded videos, voice memos, photos, and brief descriptions of events and projects — which highlight the accomplishments of 4-H members throughout the 2019-2020 year.
Anita Martinez, County 4-H program representative, said 4-H members are encouraged to keep a record book of every event or 4-H related activity they participate in throughout the year, including leadership projects, events, animal care, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) projects, food and nutrition projects, arts and crafts projects, community service, and more.
4-H members are awarded during Achievement Night based on their performance — which was recorded in their record books and turned in to County 4-H June 12.
“It's literally a record keeping of all the work that they do throughout their 4-H year,” Martinez said. “Achievement Night just kind of rewards them for all that hard work they've been doing and that passion that they're putting into these projects.”
In addition to recognition, 4-H members also try to achieve individual star awards in ranks of Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and the coveted Emerald Star, which is high-service, high-learning community service project, Martinez said.
“The more you attend the better you do with your record book; it’s that simple,” said All Star County Ambassador Kennedy Pechtl.
Pechtl, a 17-year-old student at Imperial High School, said being diligent with her 4-H record book better prepared her for “the real world.” She said keeping a record book “holds you accountable for everything you’ve done throughout the past year.”
“The more involved you are the better prepared you are for the real world, and the record book is kind of like a pre-cursor to applying to a job or any kind of position somewhere,” she said. “Honestly, it makes life a whole lot easier when it comes time to apply for things like (those) because you're not scared of filling out paper work and applications and it also helps you to meet hard deadlines.”
In addition to the annual recognitions and awards, the virtual edition of Achievement Night highlights the achievements of some of the 4-H graduating high school senior membership from the Class of 2020, according to All Star County Ambassador Kennedy Pechtl.
Pechtl said it was an important addition to the 2020 Achievement Night because of how the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected most graduating senior celebrations.
“Many of these seniors have been with us for a number of years and I felt their awards and accomplishments deserved a moment of praise,” said Pechtl, who will be a senior in the upcoming school year. “Typically, at the final club meeting, we recognize the senior members, and since we didn't get a chance to this year, I felt a small post (on our website) was the least we could do.”
Pechtl said the 2020 All-Stars will also be recognizing the next group of County All-Stars at the end of the webpage.
“4-H is all about helping the kids find their spark, having that presentation that drives them to learn more,” Martinez said. “So, we highly encourage them to find that spark in leadership or community service or a very specific project because, hopefully, that will propel them to find what they have that love and passion for.”
The link for the Imperial County 4-H will post the Achievement Night website link on their Facebook page and their other social media sites when it is ready for the public to view.
The Imperial County 4-H Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/ImperialCounty4H