reimaging summer 2020 Camp in a Box

4-H Camp Shankitunk is Reimagining Summer 2020 through Camp in a Box

Although 4-H Camp Shankitunk has postponed their regularly scheduled camping programs for summer 2020 due to COVID-19; summer is here! Thanks to the generosity and support of The Community Foundation for South Central New York, 4-H Camp Shankitunk is ready to send camp fun and culture directly to youth this summer through new alternative methods including Camp in a Box and virtual programming. Each camp box is filled with enough camp goodness for a single youth to enjoy for 10+ hours. At only $50 a box; it’s a bargain! Youth can choose from five different box themes including classic, crafts, science/STEM, Nature, and Cloverbud (for ages 5-8). Each box offers a unique set of activities which include but are not limited to materials needed to carry out 5 hands on activities, prompts, challenges, family fun ideas, camp store items, smores treats, and a few surprises from their staff! Orders for the first round of camp boxes are due July 15. Registration will remain open while supplies last. Order online at

The Delaware County Youth Bureau is happy to announce that scholarships are available for 4-H Camp Shankitunk’s Camp in a Box Program.  Scholarship applications can be requested by e-mailing the Delaware County Youth Bureau at, or by calling the Youth Bureau and ask that an application be mailed to you.  Families only need to complete one campership application per family unit.

Virtual camp programming is planned for July 20 – August 7. Participation is free for youth who would like to attend; however, pre-registration is required. 4-H Camp Shankitunk has been providing a summer camp experience for youth since 1927. Things look a little different, but 4-H  Camp Shankitunk is still ready to provide fun and positive experiences for youth this summer. 4-H Camp Shankitunk staff are missing their campers and want to wish everyone in the community good health in the coming year. To learn more, please visit, email Corrine Tompkins at, or call (607) 746-2004.

Dennis Family takes on the NYS 4-H Mask Task

Local Delaware County 4-H members Nate & Leah Dennis put their sewing skills to good use producing face coverings for their community and extras for the statewide effort known as the NYS 4-H Mask Task. They are truly embodying the 4-H pledge using their heads and hands and opening their hearts to help protect the health of their community by providing masks. Great work Dennis family. Thank you and keep up the incredible work!

4-H Camp Shankitunk

4-H Camp Shankitunk to remain closed for summer 2020

Dear Camp Community,
It is with a heavy heart that 4-H Camp Shankitunk announces we will not open our facility for summer 2020.  Trying to decide if camp should open or remain closed is not a decision we have taken lightly and has been a difficult process. In the end, we took some time to think back on our mission; to provide a safe, fun, and educational experience in the outdoors. Safety is our number one priority. Each and every camper and staff member is precious to us and the risk of jeopardizing your safety is not one we feel is appropriate to take  when there is still much to learn about gathering together safely as NY begins to re-open in the coming weeks.

Another factor in this decision was fun. A camp without hugs, team challenge, swimming in the pool, gaga, 4square, eating shoulder to shoulder at picnic tables, silly skits, campfire circle, vespers, meeting new friends in your classes, or any one of the amazing traditions seemed unfathomable to us. We considered several scenarios and kept coming back to the realization that it wouldn’t be camp as we all know and love.

While we are heartbroken, we remain #ShankitunkStrong and recognize that we can do hard things; like finding new and exciting ways to share camp with the world because the world needs camp right now. You are experienced in the ways of Shankitunk and that campfire light burns in your heart even when you are away from camp. We hope you will stoke the fire and keep it burning bright until it is safe to gather at camp again. More so, we hope that you will share your light of Shankitunk with the world. Teach someone your favorite camp game or song, give warm fuzzies, set the table at home, find opportunities for new adventures and getting outside, be a team player in your community. You are brave, strong, resilient, and we are proud of each one of you.

That said, Covid-19 may have closed our facility, but it cannot cancel connection! We are actively putting together some alternative programming opportunities and invite you and your friends to connect with camp in that way this summer.  We will get through this together, one day at a time. We would love to see your camp memories, photos, T-shirts new and old, a camp song sung at full volume, and campers getting outside this summer! It will remind us (and all of you) that the camp spirit lives on even when we are not physically at camp.

We are offering full refunds to anyone who has already registered. While this will be financially devastating to 4-H Camp Shankitunk, it is the right thing to do.  There are two alternative options if you are able to help support camp during this time. You can defer your payment to next summer or elect to donate any portion of your camp fee to cover our non-variable operating costs, including maintenance, utilities, insurance, and supporting year-round employees who depend on their camp employment. If you chose the option of a donation we are eternally grateful to you for your generosity. Please complete our reimbursement form to let us know how you would like to handle your camp fee for 2020.

Thank you all for your unwavering support during this difficult time. We are looking forward to seeing camp stories and photos from you, and planning an incredible summer 2021. Please reach out to us directly anytime at or (607) 865-6531.

Thinking about Our Spring Pasture

Cattle grazing spring pasture

We seem to be getting an early spring this year. As I write this at the end of April, my average grass height in the pasture is almost 5”. The fences have all been checked and the water system is up and running. In fact, I have had my sheep out on pasture for about two weeks already (but not just pasture).
So, let’s review the decision making process for making the decision to transitioning your cattle, sheep, or goats to pasture. We need to think about it both from the perspective of the plants and the perspective of the livestock.
Let’s start with the livestock. They are going to transition from a stored feed that may be relatively dry and is high in effective fiber to a lush young grass shoot that is as high as 85% water, very high in protein, and is very highly digestible with little effective fiber. If the transition is made to quickly, your animals will have very watery manure and will likely lose weight as their rumens struggle to make the change. So the key is to make the transition slowly over the course of 10 days to 2 weeks. In my case, I am providing supplemental hay on pasture within a very limited pasture area. With each passing day, I give them another small area of pasture. This allows my animals to adjust to the change in diet while I start managing my pasture system for the coming year.
Now the plant’s perspective. Remember, in spring the plants are at their lowest energy reserves and are using those reserves to build their ‘solar panel’. Grazing these plants before they have developed a full set of “grazing panels” can weaken the plant and typically reduces the total amount of dry matter production on those fields for the current year. However, one of the greatest challenges of waiting until the grass is 8”-10” tall before starting grazing is that all of your pasture is then at the same stage of production and setting up a rotational system is more challenging. So, by starting ‘early’ in a specific area of the pasture helps to develop what is called the grazing wedge. A grazing wedge refers to having your pasture subdivisions or paddocks at varying stages of re-growth. Just make sure that you don’t come back to these ‘first grazed’ paddocks until the plants have fully recovered. Also, switch up where you start your spring grazing every year to avoid permanently setting back the productivity of that paddock.
So, in order to have a safe transition for both the plants and the grazing livestock, it is best to make the transition over the period of a few weeks. Here are some techniques commonly used in this area to make the transition:

  • Set aside some pasture the previous fall to be used as spring stockpile. In addition to having some fibrous dry matter from the previous season available to the animals, the plants in these pastures will have been able to build larger energy reserves for the winter months and will actually green up faster in the spring.
  • Continue to have highly palatable yet higher in fiber dry hay available to the animals as they are first turned out on pasture. Mid-summer second or third cut hay is often higher in fiber and yet still very palatable. Your livestock may not appear to eat much of it, but they will eat enough to maintain their rumen mat.
  • Find a way to limit the time on pasture. Start by letting them out of the barn for only a few hours a day, build to leaving them out for half days, and ultimately for the entire day. Make sure you have appropriate quality hay still available to them in the barn or lot.
  • Feed a high energy/low protein concentrate. Remember that the early spring grass has a lot of protein – more than the animal actually needs. If there is sufficient energy in the diet, the rumen bugs can capture this protein where it can be used as energy further down the digestive tract. If energy is lacking, this protein ends up in the bloodstream as ammonia and ends up in the liver where it is converted to urea. This takes energy, which the animal often may pull from their fat stores. This is why some growing animals appear to lose weight as they are turned out to pasture.

The 2020 grazing season is off to a great start. With thoughtful management, your animals will benefit from the spring flush and your pastures will be set up for a good year of grazing!

hand holding mask

Join in the NYS 4-H Mask Task!

Source: NYS 4-H Website

The NYS 4-H Mask Task gives back to your local community by sewing and donating a face mask and/or writing a note of gratitude to those in our community who are needing masks during this time!


4-H’ers are invited to express support for local community members who may need masks in light of the NYS guidance that everyone wear masks when going out in public due to COVID-19. Handmade masks and notes of gratitude will be collected at county Extension offices made available to those in need. Together, we can make a difference for our communities!


Now that wearing a mask is mandatory in New York to the COVID-19 pandemic, availability of masks is running low so we are inviting NYS 4-H’ers, volunteers, friends & family (anyone is welcome!) to step up and help fill the gap.


1. View the CDC website page that provides info on on how to sew a face mask (no-sew option available too!) You may also find a different mask pattern that you like and that is fine too!
2. Create your project (work with a caring adult if you need support)
4. Write a note of gratitude, encouragement or support.
5. Share a photo of you and your project on social media platforms using the hashtags #4HMaskTask #CCEResponds #NYS4HResponds  (or email the photo to your local 4-H educator).
6. After you have completed a bundle of mask, contact the 4-H Educator at your local County Extension office. They will work with you to arrange a time to drop off your masks. The masks will be distributed to community members in need including farm workers, grocery store workers, and anyone else who requests a mask!


  • Your completed projects will fill an immediate need in your local health care system

  • You will grow in your sewing skills

  • You have a chance to encourage community members who may be under stress during this crisis

  • You can document the process and use it for a 2020 County Fair project (health, community service)


  • Everyone can write a note of gratitude!

  • Purchase or collect donations of fabric and elastic cord and distribute to those who can sew (be sure to use social distancing practices).

  • Spread the word so more people can join the effort.

    Click here to view a page called “Everything you need to know about making your own face mask”


  • MATERIALS: Fabric made from tightly woven fabrics like quilters cotton or 200 to 300 thread count bed sheet fabric will provide some prevention from a person exhaling virus in droplets expelled during a cough or sneeze.  There is no significant protection for the person wearing the mask from inhaling it from others and the cotton masks are not suitable for medical personnel.

  • PATTERNS: Here are two typical patterns:

    The pleated version with ties OR The more fitted version

  • CARE INSTRUCTIONS: please print and include these use instructions from the CDC (in English/Spanish) for inclusion with your masks! You can also include this tag.


CDC Guidance on Mask Making
YOUTUBE mask-making tutorial by Melanie K. Ham

sheep with two lambs on pasture

Periparturient Egg Rise in Sheep and Goats

Periparturient Egg Rise is a phenomenon all sheep and goat farmers need to be aware of.   The term periparturient means ‘around the time of birthing’.  The phrase ‘periparturient egg rise’ refers to the temporary loss of naturally acquired immunity to internal parasites that results in higher shedding of gastro-intestinal parasite eggs.  This temporary loss of immunity typically starts about 2 weeks prior to and up to 8 weeks after giving birth.

You may wonder how your sheep and goats have intestinal parasites at the end of winter.  Intestinal parasites have evolved many survival strategies.  One is called hypobiosis, which occurs in parasites that are injested the previous fall while your sheep or goats were still feeding on pasture.  The parasite once inside the gut of its host enters a stage of suspended animation where the parasite stops development until the time of lambing when it starts laying eggs in the feces.

When small ruminants are pasture lambed, this increased shedding of parasite eggs is responsible for the start of the rise in parasite populations and is responsible for the early infection of lambs and kids.

Fortunately, there are many ways we can manage this potential problem:

  • Deworm ewes/does that would most benefit from a treatment. These would include thinner animals (BCS of 2), first time pregnant, carrying triplets, or otherwise identified through FAMACHA scoring as being a good candidate.  Use a wormer that is effective against hypobiotic parasite larvae.  Ivomec and Cydectin are most effective while Rumatel is not.  Consider taking a FAMACHA course to get additional training on this technique.
  • Increase protein in late gestation. Feeds rich in by-pass protein are especially advantageous.
  • Lamb indoors and/or prior to spring. The eggs are being passed into bedding and not onto pasture where they hatch and re-infect the sheep.
  • Select for parasite resistance over time. Some sheep and goats are just naturally more resistant to parasite infection.  This is the best long term solution.
  • There is a product called BioWorma which can be fed during the periparturient egg rise period. BioWorma is a feed supplement that contains a naturally occurring fungus that captures and consumes infective worm larvae within the manure once excreted.  However, it is expensive.
  • Practice Evasive Grazing for the first 90 days of your pasture season. Make sure you rotate your animals to fresh clean pasture at least every four days to prevent re-infection.  This is because in warm weather, it only takes 4 days for eggs in the manure to hatch and reach the infective larval stage.  And then don’t come back to the pasture for at least 75 to 90 days.  Most of the parasite larvae shed in the manure on that first grazing will have hatched and died within that time frame.

If you would like help in developing a parasite plan for your farm, contact Rich Toebe,


All 4-H Events Postponed

Dear 4-H leaders, volunteers, and members,

Due to the evolving corona virus situation Cornell Cooperative Extension Administration is recommending that in addition to suspending all 4-H sponsored programs, meetings, and events; all 4-H club activities must also be suspended for 30 days. This means that all 4-H club leaders cannot hold club meetings or activities that would bring the club members together until after April 15th.

Our Executive Director Jeanne Darling is working closely with Cornell University and our CCE Delaware County Board of Directors to monitor the corona virus situation and will advise us on how to proceed in regards to resuming club meetings and other 4-H sponsored activities and events after April 15th.

In addition due to guidance from Cornell we will have to postpone the following events:

*District Horse Bowl, Hippology, and Dairy Bowl (was March 14)
*4-H Reusable Bag Sewing Class (was March 14)
*District Public Presentation Help Day (was March 17)
*4-H Quilters (was March 18)
*4-H Dairy Judging (was March 25)
*District Public Presentations (was March 28)
*4-H International Night (was April 3)
*STARR (was April 24-26)

These events will be rescheduled to a later date TBD.

Please feel free to contact us at 607-865-6531 if you have any questions.

John, Emily, and Pam