MSU Extension 4-H Virtual Showcase and Auction Taskforce receives the 2021 Gordon Guyer Collaborative Programming Award

MSU Extension honored the 4-H Virtual Showcase and Auction Taskforce during the Fall Extension Conference held virtually on Sept. 28 for working with partners to create a platform allowing 4-H youth to showcase their skills and auction their projects.

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension awarded the Gordon Guyer Collaborative Programming Award to the 4-H Virtual Showcase and Auction Taskforce during the annual Fall Extension Conference Sept. 28.

The award is named for the late Gordon Guyer, a strong supporter of collaborative programming who at one time served as MSU Extension director and president of MSU. It recognizes collaborative teams that include members from multiple MSU Extension programming areas in this case, from the agriculturechildren and youth areas. 

The 4-H Virtual Showcase and Auction Taskforce members are: Nick Babcock, Marianne Buza, Jacob DeDecker, Kathryn Fischer, Thomas Guthrie, Sara Lewis, Debra Morgan, Alan Pilkenton, Sienna Samp, Matthew Shane, Gwyn Shelle, Janelle Stewart, Jacob Stieg, Janice Zerbe, and Peggy Zettle.

When in-person fairs were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Michigan State University Extension 4-H Virtual Showcase and Auction Taskforce worked with partners to support the thousands of youth who had already invested time and hard work into their projects. The result of the team’s collaboration was a groundbreaking platform allowing 4-H youth to showcase their skills and auction their projects through the MSU Extension 4-H Virtual Showcase and Auction.

The team’s diversified skill set and solution-driven approach were critical to the success of this endeavor. They collaborated closely with 4-H youth and alumni, industry experts, health departments, food banks, livestock processing facilities, the Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, and over 50 fair boards.

Fifty-eight counties offered a virtual showcase experience that brought in 2,600 youth exhibitors and over 7,200 project evaluations statewide, and 17 virtual auctions engaged over 3,700 registered donors who purchased approximately $1.4 million of 4-H projects in support of 4-H’ers.

In addition, the team enhanced MSU Extension’s partnership with the Michigan State Fair to offer a first-of-its-kind virtual state fair showcase. This involved 428 youth exhibitors from 63 different counties who submitted over 2,000 entries to the virtual showcase, nearly doubling the number of counties previously reached by the state fair. Scholarships in the amount of $50,000 were awarded to 61 individual youth. The team helped raise an additional ten $1,000 scholarships awarded to youth participating in the
virtual showcase.

This virtual platform reimagines a fair model that is more than a century old. This new opportunity provides more classes for youth to showcase their learning, allowing participation from different areas, abilities, and interests. Several county fairs as well as the Michigan State Fair will continue offering a 4-virtual showcase in conjunction with in-person fairs in 2021. The impact of this team’s unique collaborative efforts will influence fairs and 4-H partnerships for years to come.






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