The O‘ahu 4-H Communication Fair is an annual tradition that dates back more than a decade.
So when the coronavirus pandemic cancelled many 4-H events, club meetings, and activities, O‘ahu 4-H adapted to the times and brought it online.
The Fair is an opportunity for youth to showcase their communication skills: public speaking, organizing a presentation or demonstration, and using photography and posters to express an idea or concept. The planning committee, composed of 4-H adult leaders and youth from Manawalea 4-H Club and O‘ahu 4-H, decided that a Virtual Communication Fair would be an ideal venue for the kids to learn and experience the importance of adaptability during a crisis.
For the week prior to the event, the student participants practiced on Zoom. They learned about where to place their cameras, how to project their voices—even how to adjust to lighting changes in their homes at different times of the day. 4-H agent Nancy Ooki and I provided feedback amid the challenges of presenting and demonstrating this new medium.
On Sunday, March 29, O‘ahu 4-H held its first Virtual Communication Fair. Participants aged 5–8 years old (Cloverbuds division) and 9–11 years old (Junior division) gave presentations and demonstrations to an audience of students, parents, judges, 4-H alumni, and 4-H agents.
It was a wonderful experience to see and listen to the youth talk with one another. They asked questions and complimented the presenters: ‘You must be good in reading’ or ‘You did an awesome job!’
Ben, a first-time participant, told me, “The virtual Communication Fair was fun because you get to see everyone from different grades. Everyone was so positive. It helped me to do a better presentation and demonstration. I would participate again since everyone is so helpful and nice.”
Thirty-five photographs and posters were also submitted via email to judges, who are presently deliberating. Once scores for all entries are compiled, the organization will host a virtual awards ceremony. Winners will be announced in CTAHR Notes and the O‘ahu 4-H Newsletter and on the Hawai‘i State 4-H website. All photography and poster entries will be posted for everyone to view.
For all its success, the virtual fair couldn’t compare to face-to-face interaction for at least one of the student participants, who said, “I actually prefer to be with people. Why? Because I am just completely the opposite of shy!” She ended up doing great in the fair!
Christine Hanakawa, O‘ahu County 4-H Program, CTAHR Cooperative Extension Service