(TETON COUNTY, MT) – The last year or so has certainly taught us many things, and among them is the need to adapt and communicate through a variety of methods.  The 4-H program has long known the importance of developing communication skills with 4-H youth.  Traditionally, 4-H youth have given demonstrations at the club level to build their confidence with speaking in front of a group and to develop preparation skills necessary to present the demonstration. 

Maili Miller prepares ice cream for individual serving. Miller will teach this lesson at the upcoming Teton County 4-H Camp in July (Photo Credit: MSU Extension - Teton Co)

Often counties have hosted “Demonstration Day” where youth can share their demonstrations with a broader audience.  In 2016, the Montana 4-H Clover Communications curriculum was published to expand the areas for youth to practice their communications skills. The new categories include promotional package, impromptu speech, commercial, illustrated talk, demonstration, video, career communication, and prepared speech. 

Teton County recently held their “Communications Event” with four participants using four different methods to communicate and convey information.  On Thursday, June 10, Madeline Konen started the event with the career communications category.  Konen had prepared a job application, cover letter, and resume to present to the judges who became her interview panel. 

Madeline Konen practices her interview skills at the Teton County 4-H Communications Event while judges, Madison Martinsen and Hayley Ries evaluate. Photo Credit: MSU Extension - Teton Co)

The judges, Madison Martinsen, 4-H alum, and Hayley Ries, MSU Extension Intern, both of whom have recent interview experience, did a great job of selecting questions to ask Konen.  For her part, Konen was a polished candidate who was well-prepared and poised as she answered.  Martinsen and Ries spent ample time with Konen following the interview discussing their experiences and recent training in resume/cover letter writing and interviewing.   

The next presenter was Justin Forseth who created a video on the 2020-21 year.  Forseth’s video highlighted the many changes and cancelations due to the pandemic, the adaptations needed, and the “constants” that stayed the same featuring footage on the family farm and ranch.  Calving, branding, planting, haying, and harvesting were among the shots Forseth compiled.  Forseth uses a combination of videography equipment including drones and GoPro.  To compete in the video contest, the participant introduces the video, plays the video, and answers questions.  Forseth and the judges talked video editing software options and features.   

Maili Miller shifted to yet another avenue of communication using a modified version of the traditional demonstration.  Miller demonstrated how to make a single serving of ice cream in a bag.  Miller plans to use the ice cream demonstration as a class at 4-H Camp this summer.  While she was shaking the bag to “churn” the ice cream, she led the audience in several active games and discussions, much like she would for campers.  Her combination of demonstrating and teaching was interactive and good practice for the Teton County 4-H Camp to be held in late July. 

Addi Christensen leads the audience in some Eye Spy for her illustrated talk at 4-H Communications event.
Photo Credit: MSU Extension - Teton Co)

The last participant, Addi Christensen, used slides to help focus the audience on her illustrated talk titled, “Eye Spy.”  Christensen was inspired to study the eye after one of her family members had a recent eye injury.  Christensen turned the audience into pupils of eye awareness as well, sharing parts and diseases of the eye.  The judges commended Christensen for her inclusion of her sources on her slides. 

With the event pushed into June, an already packed month for most 4-H members in the county, there were fewer participants than usual.  The learning both for participants and audience was still at a high level.  All recipients received blue ratings, with Grand Champion awards going to Konen, Forseth, and Christensen.  Konen and Forseth will continue to state competition at Montana 4-H Congress in Bozeman in July.   

 - By Jane Wolery, MSU Extension Teton Co. Agent -