Swift County 4-H is on the Cutting-Edge of Technology

Monday, October 21, 2019

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A new app is being used to help Swift County MN 4-H to accomplish their mission of developing citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of the community’s youth through experiential learning programs. Stephanie Smith, Office Support Specialist for the University of Minnesota Swift County Extension, along with Becca Turnquist, Swift County 4-H Program Coordinator, helped to spearhead the creation and implementation of the app to make it easier for 4-H members, parents and alumni to stay connected to the organization and take advantage of programs and opportunities. 

According to Smith, their location in Swift County helped to make the project possible. “Without Swift County’s broadband access, we would not have been able to create our Swift County MN 4-H mobile app. We wanted a better way to reach our 4-H families in the area. With the help of the Swift County RDA and Blandin Foundation’s Broadband Communities Program, we were able to make that possible. Our families were able to use the app for the first time at this year’s Swift County Fair for livestock show programs, completing registrations and a calendar of events. We received a lot of positive feedback!”

Turnquist continued by saying, “Ultimately, we created the app based on feedback from our 4-H families. We use many different websites for 4-H registration and to provide information. At times, it was confusing for 4-H families, creating unnecessary difficulties. We wanted to streamline the process and make things easier. The solution was to contain everything in an app that could be used by families and staff members. Now, when someone asks a question or needs to access a registration, we can easily direct them to the app for fast answers.” 

To reach this point, Smith worked closely with Dylan McNeill, a second year 4-H Aquatic Invasive Species intern. He helped develop the app by creating content for the 4-H Aquatic Invasive Species program. Dylan also helped to test and promote the app. Having an intern work on the project was an ideal fit for an organization who prides itself on creating future leaders. 

Swift County 4-HSwift County 4-H also received support for the app at the state level. They were supported by the University of Minnesota Extension 4-H Youth Development in piloting the app. “An app is something our state leaders and other counties have been considering. We happened to be the first to develop one of our own. The state is rolling out an app to use for the State Fair through a different developer - Grandstand. We developed ours through Swiftic, so they are anxious to compare the differences in ours and theirs,” said Turnquist. 

For those living in Swift County it will come as no surprise that the local 4-H was the first in the state to develop and implement an app. Swift County is enterprising by nature, so leadership and being the first to try something comes naturally. 

Becca Turnquist views the app as something that was necessary to solve a problem so once they decided to create one, they didn’t hesitate to act. Being willing to take a risk on new technology has served them well and brought attention to Swift County. “We see the app as a benefit to improve communication in our program. The more users we have, the greater our outreach. It’s also cool to be, if not the first, one of the first in the county to use/create a mobile app. Hopefully it’s something we can continue to teach and/or help guide other county organizations to create an app of their own, as well as have youth involved in the teaching process,” she said. 

Download the Swift County MN 4-H App

Community members are encouraged to download the app to stay informed of upcoming events, or to get program updates. The app also contains information on the county fair, calendar of events, training links, project enrollments and member enrollments. You can also learn more about the Swift County 4-H here.

 

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