LAKE COUNTY - 4-H Learning Kits are returning this fall thanks to funds generated by community pop can drives and through a generous donation from the Gerber Foundation.

What began as a 4-H summer program, the 4-H Learning Kits, available monthly, were offered to all 4-H youth, ages 5 to 19, enrolled in the Lake County 4-H program. The request for the 4-H Learning Kits has far exceeded the supply.

With the new funding, additional 4-H Learning Kits will be available free to families starting in September on a first come, first served basis.

The kits will include 2 or 3 hands-on STEAM projects, and one mindfulness, self-awareness activity, each complete with instructions and supplies.

Along with the 4-H Learning Kit, 4-H members will have the option of attending monthly Zoom meetings to follow along and discuss the activities offered.

The September kit will include the 2020 4-H STEM Challenge featuring Mars Base Camp. Developed by Google and Virginia Cooperative Extension, Mars Base Camp is a board game where participants explore a mission to Mars, while learning about mechanical engineering, physics, computer science, and agriculture.

It includes materials for 1 to 4 players at a time, with or without internet, in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Lake County 4H program coordinator Laurie Platte Breza started the 4H Learning kits program in the summer in lieu of in-person 4-H meetings, which were stopped due to COVID concerns.

While other counties were doing online activities, due to the fact that internet service is lacking in Lake County, the learning kits program was implemented instead, she said.

"I plan on putting together the kits each month until we are allowed to meet again, as clubs, in-person," Platte Breza said. "The kits will be available for pick up at the MSU Extension office in Baldwin each month, on Wednesdays."

To receive a 4-H Learning Kit, for youth ages 5 to 19, enroll in the Lake County 4-H program for the 2020--2021 year, after September 18, at 4honline.com, or pick up a 4-H application at the MSU Extension office located at 830 Michigan Ave, No. 601, Baldwin.

Once your 4-H enrollment is confirmed, families will receive information via email on the 4-H Learning Kits, which will be available monthly for pick-up at the MSU Extension Office.

Due to cost, 4-H Learning Kits cannot be mailed.

For more information about the 4-H Learning Kits or 4-H enrollment, contact Laurie Platte Breza, 4-H Program Coordinator, by email at platteb1@msu.edu or by phone at (231) 745-2732 on Wednesdays.