Dave Hall (right) at hike, 2014, Dryden & Enfield programs; Rural Youth Services

Dave Hall (right) leads programs year-round for Dryden area middle school youth.

RYS Moves Programs Online

ITHACA, NY – July 2020– While in-person programming was suspended due to Covid-19 this spring, youth aged 7-to-18 from across Tompkins County were able to enroll in free online enrichment programs, led by experienced youth educators with the Rural Youth Services (RYS) 4-H program at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (CCE-Tompkins).

Due to closures associated with Covid-19, youth activities and spring workshops that normally would be offered in-person at middle schools in Dryden, Freeville, Ithaca, Groton, Lansing and Trumansburg school districts were redesigned for online delivery via Zoom.

Online sessions met weekly on the same day and time for several weeks, and included topics such as knitting and crocheting, drawing, several programs devoted to cooking or “kitchen science,” and more. Educators also offered less structured activities, in which youth could get together online to have lunch and hang out or play games.

Some unique outdoor education programs offered online included a series on basic bird identification and language; a series on the habits and habitat of a real animal, “Mearl, the Bachelor Beaver;” and a series on wilderness skill activities with Dave Hall, RYS Youth Educator for Dryden and Freeville and one of the founders of the popular Primitive Pursuits outdoor education program, also offered by 4-H at CCE-Tompkins.

Some of the online offerings began in May while other new programs started in June. To ensure the online safety of youth participants, a parent or guardian was required to complete an online permission form and enroll by emailing the educator leading the program.

“We were very excited to be able to continue our enrichment programs online,” said Shelley Lester, who oversees the RYS program at CCE-Tompkins. “The school closings and quarantine have been especially difficult for young people, who really miss seeing their friends and doing things together. Our staff adapted some familiar favorites for online delivery, and also came up with some very creative new ideas for programs.”

In July, RYS staff will offer a hybrid program, with some activities being held online and others in groups that meet in-person.Offerings include nature programs, photography, hiking, a Craft program, and a cardboard boat competition.The programs have different start dates and lengths and may be offered for youth in multiple municipalities at the same time.For full details, visit: http://ccetompkins.org/RYS-Covid19 to see details on current offerings and to contact the educators who are running the program(s) that interest you.

The Rural Youth Services (RYS) program has provided a place to try new things and to belong by offering engaging activities after school and throughout the summer. Programs are free or low cost to participants. The program is housed at CCE-Tompkins and funded by the participating municipalities, with oversight and direction by Tompkins County Youth Services. For more information, contact Shelley Lester at sjl44@cornell.edu or Juliana Quaresma at Jmq27@cornell.edu (607) 272-2292 ext. 141.



Shelley Lester
Rural Youth Services Coordinator
(607) 272-2292 ext. 141

Last updated December 1, 2022