Starting this fall, Missouri 4-H will be able to reach more youths and families across the state through an easy-to-use online learning platform called Canvas that brings 4-H project-based learning directly into the home, according to a press release from Sarah Morefield, field specialist in 4-H youth development with the University of Missouri Extension.

This fall, Missouri 4-H youths, volunteers and faculty will have access to 4-H Goes Online Canvas for projects in Clover Kids, Shooting Sports, Engineering and Technology, Environmental Science and Natural Resources, Plant and Animal Science, Healthy Living, Leadership and Personal Development, Communication and Expressive Art.

Set to debut in October, the 4-H Goes Online Canvas course and its projects have had a soft rollout this summer for those in need of resources. These families and communities are now providing feedback to the team of lead instructors who are making further improvements.

“We are constantly striving to open our doors to more families, and these projects in Canvas offer families greater flexibility to participate,” said Sarah Morefield, Canvas project leader and a 4-H youth development specialist for University of Missouri Extension in Clay County. She says the Canvas course will make 4-H more accessible to families with limited transportation options or with schedules that make it difficult for their kids to attend in-person meetings.

For youths interested in projects that aren’t available through their local clubs, the Canvas option offers a way to match with instructors and other youths across the state.

“We hope not only to reach new audiences but also improve the experience for the families we already serve,” Morefield said.

The research-based Canvas curriculum helps youths learn through online videos, lesson plans, discussion boards with peers and videoconferences with lead instructors.

“We plan to put together project kits and USB drives that can be mailed to families without stable internet so that the time and effort being put into this online course will truly benefit all of our Missouri 4-H community,” she said.

The new Missouri 4-H program year runs Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021. Information about registration, the Canvas projects and more than 100 online and in-person 4-H programs will be available in the Missouri 4-H Clover Catalog and on the Missouri 4-H website starting Aug. 15. Families can sign up online anytime during the program year. An annual $5 registration fee gives families access to all 4-H programming and projects within the 4-H Canvas course.