Award-winning Foaling Around with Wisconsin program engages 4-H'ers

Amber Burke
Wisconsin State Farmer
Jax Zajec (kneeling and holding Chris Clover, the 4-H mascot) and his siblings meet Casie Bass, Evan Henthorne, and Katie Stenroos along with Klover and Kitty.

When 4-H activities were limited to online learning due to the pandemic, Katie Stenroos, Evan Henthorne and Casie Bass collaborated with college students to give 4-H members an innovative, virtual educational experience. 

And for their efforts, the trio of northwest Wisconsin natives were recently awarded the Wisconsin Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals (WAE4-HYDP) Collaboration/Partnership Award and the Excellence in Animal Science Programming Award for the "Foaling Around With Wisconsin 4-H" program.

Stenroos, the Wisconsin 4-H program educator for Douglas County; Henthorne, Wisconsin 4-H program educator for Adams County; and Bass, Associate Professor in Animal and Food Science at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, developed the "Foaling around with Wisconsin 4-H," which was facilitated by college students in Bass’ Equine Reproductive Techniques course.

The program offered 4-H participants the chance to follow Kitty, a UW River Falls-owned broodmare, through her gestation and foaling.

According to Bass, every other week over the spring semester, 4-H participants watched a short, equine-related informative video that was prepared by her students. The following week, the 4-H members were able to connect live with Bass and her college students at the UWRF Campus Farm. 

In addition to the educational opportunity for 4-H members to interact with college students, UW River Falls students were provided with teaching experience created via this class-led Extension project.

Over the semester, university students discussed topics and answered questions related to equine nutrition and reproduction, basic equine management, and the physical and behavioral changes Kitty experienced throughout her gestation.

Toward the end of the semester, participants were able to watch a video of Kitty delivering her foal, a healthy colt. Additionally, 4-H students completed worksheets covering information they were learning over the semester.

Over 200 youth registered for this virtual series and had access to the information. At the end of the course, twelve 4-H members submitted completed worksheets with their idea to name the foal. All the names were put into a bucket where Evan and Dr. Bass met via Zoom to reveal the drawn name. 

The leading 4-H participant, Jax Zajec from Rusk County, earned the right to name Kitty’s foal and meet Stenroos, Henthorne and Bass, as well as some of the college students, in person. In addition, Jax and his siblings were able to meet Kitty and her foal, Klover, in person.

Stenroos and Henthorne are both UW-River Falls alumni, where they earned animal science degrees focusing on equine science and agriculture education.

"Foaling Around with Wisconsin 4-H," which occurred over 12 weeks during spring 2021, was the first state-wide and semester-long program to invite all Wisconsin 4-H youth participants.

For more information on the "Foaling Around with Wisconsin 4-H" program, contact Casie Bass at casie.bass@uwrf.edu.

Amber Burke can be reached at aburke@gannett.com.