The Monroe County 4-H program has been increasing opportunities for youth in the community to participate in activities. These have been virtual during the pandemic, but connect youth that share interests and pastimes.
The last two AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers hosted by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County set the goal to expand 4-H in the county and promote inclusion. The most recent VISTA, Mike Dondorfer, created a 4-H club designed around the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.
The world of D&D is a world filled with fantasy, magic and friends around every corner. Monroe County 4-H started its first campaign earlier this summer with a group of six explorers ages 13-18. Members meet with Dondorfer, their volunteer Dungeon Master and club leader, every Monday for about two hours.
D&D allows the main storyteller, called the Dungeon Master, to introduce a scene and describe it to the player, who embodies the role of a fictional character they design themselves. The player chooses their course of action based on the descriptions and the DM tells the resulting outcome. These actions are predicated on a combination of pre-determined player statistics and dice rolls.
The 4-H club bridges the gap between each player’s physical location, which range from Monroe County to Dinwiddie County, Virginia, and Athol, Idaho, through a virtual tabletop called Roll20.
Players noted that working alongside one another to solve problems and progress the story has been a major highlight of the game, and they will continue for the foreseeable future. Session recaps are posted to every week.