WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue Extension announced Friday (May 15) that county 4-H fairs can occur after the Purdue University restrictions on face-to-face events end June 30.
Local 4-H fair boards, 4-H councils and county extension educators may continue planning for events through the month of June in alignment with Indiana’s Back on Track plan and in consultation with local health officials.
“Purdue Extension will comply with all federal, state, and local regulations and public safety guidelines and will adhere to Purdue University policies for public health and safety,” said Jason Henderson, senior associate dean of the College of Agriculture and director of Purdue Extension. “The Back on Track plan provides guidelines which will be followed to ensure the safety of our 4-H’ers, families, and communities.”
Purdue Extension prohibited face-to-face meetings and events in response to COVID-19 restrictions through June 30. During this time, extension 4-H educators and 4-H volunteers have offered virtual programming to protect the health and safety of youth and families.
County 4-H fairs may begin on July 4, if local health officials confirm the county has reached stage five in the Indiana Back on Track plan. Fairs must adhere to social distancing guidelines, screen employees and volunteers working on behalf of Purdue Extension daily, and follow industry best practices regarding disinfecting high traffic areas and offering hand sanitizer and cleaning stations to employees and guests.
County 4-H educators have received implementation guidance. The guidance, developed from industry and government best practices, will aid 4-H councils, fair boards and county educators in planning over the next six weeks. In some cases, 4-H councils and extension boards may choose to virtualize their fair experience due to financial limitations, PPE availability or other locally determined restrictions. Purdue Extension 4-H specialists have developed models for virtual 4-H fairs in preparation that some counties may not be able to adequately follow federal, state and local guidelines.
“We want to make sure we are doing everything possible to protect our 4-H’ers, their families and the community,” said Casey Mull, assistant director of extension and 4-H youth development program leader. “All 4-H youth who want to exhibit this summer will be able to through virtual or face-to-face mechanisms.”