Three New Hampshire 4-H members recently returned from the National Ignite 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C., after presenting their workshop, “In the Stall before the Call,” to fellow 4-H’ers from across the country.

Lauren Gardner, Andrew Saunders and Austin Hatch, led by 4-H volunteer Sarah Gardner, took their passion for animals to a new level by creating this hands-on workshop about basic first aid for animals and how to handle emergency veterinary situations.

Any farmer can tell you the importance of knowing their herd and paying attention to the signs and symptoms of a sick animal. For some, living in remote areas or far distances from veterinary help create a need at home to assess the situation and provide first aid for their animals before a veterinarian is available to arrive on the scene. This scenario is exactly what the 4-H youth from New Hampshire decided to tackle in their presentation. All of them have extensive knowledge of animal care from their time in the 4-H showring and know the importance of having a plan of action in emergency situations.

“In the Stall Before the Call” featured layers of information that any animal owner should know. The group began with basic vital information about healthy animals including regular heart rate, temperature, respiratory rate and normal behaviors, to create a baseline. The next lesson was a hands-on first aid example. The presenters listed the steps and demonstrated how to apply a bandage and dress an open wound on an animal. Audience groups were then given supplies and participants practiced applying bandages on the person’s arm next to them. This created the opportunity to ensure the pressure and dressing was applied tight enough and gave the participants an animal’s perspective.

In the stall before the call

Lauren Gardner, Andrew Saunders and Austin Hatch represented New Hampshire at this year’s National Ignite 4-H Conference in the nation’s capital. Photo courtesy of Sarah Gardner

The last part of the presentation involved real-life animal scenarios. The audience was given examples of hurt or sick animals, and they had to create a plan of action for what they would do while waiting for the veterinarian to arrive.

The presenters from New Hampshire saw over 70 youth through all their workshop sessions. This opportunity allowed them to share their own passion with like-minded youth and supported the peer-to-peer learning model that 4-H is known for. Hatch attended the summit as a delegate in 2022 and noted, “Attending the Ignite 4-H Conference again this year was so much fun, and being able to present this workshop opened a whole other side of 4-H to me.”

Sarah Gardner has been chaperoning this experience for many years and was especially proud of the group she mentored to present this workshop. “I loved how this team strengthened as they navigated the challenges of all aspects of this experience. From coming up with a topic to submitting the proposal, finding a meeting location and ironing out each little detail, this team rocked it!” she said. “They are our 4-H club and project leaders of the future, and their future is bright.”

The Ignite 4-H Conference combines the formally known Agriscience, STEM and Healthy Living 4-H summits. It brings 4-H’ers from across these project areas into one space for them to connect with their peers from across the country and share their passion. The three 4-H members from New Hampshire who presented were part of the state’s delegation to the 2022 National 4-H Agriscience Summit.

In 2023, this conference brought in over 600 4-H’ers from 42 states. New Hampshire 4-H is proud to have representation at these national-level 4-H events.

by Hannah Majewski