AgCenter Farm Tour Series!

Vernelle Mitchell HawkinsSpring is trying hard to come to Baltimore County.  We have seen weather that is sometimes hot and balmy or cold and blistery in the same week. These weather issues have not stopped the AgCenter Farm Tour Series! The AgCenter Farm Tour Series is a partnership program between University of Maryland Extension/4-H and Maryland Agricultural Resource Center (MARC). Groups from local schools and community organizations visit the AgCenter for a customized agricultural experience. I am pretty excited about this new program series and will be sharing highlights. Tell a friend, neighbor or co-worker that the AgCenter Farm Tour Series is well underway!

Pine Grove Visit

We started the season with a group of Pre-K students who came to visit from Pine Grove Elementary School. During their visit we learned about the importance of bees, visited the children’s garden to see how plants “wake up” from winter, and said “Hello” to the resident sheep and goats on campus. The students collected nature samples during the hike (while singing a catchy hiking tune) that they used to make rubbings. We even stopped at the beautiful Maple tree grove and discussed how yummy syrup comes from trees.  Quote of the Day – “The chicks look so fluffy!”

Thank you for coming Pine Grove!

2018 Champion Chow Food Challenge

Reported by 4-H’ers Colby, Mikayla and Della

The Champion Chow Food Challenge is a program for 4-H youth ages 5-18 to compete in creating a themed menu, a place setting and preparing one food item from their menu. They meet with judges either as a team or as individuals and answer a range of questions about how and why they selected the menu and food they prepared. They are judged on their menu. How well was it nutritionally planned, texture contrast, flavor contrast, suitable for age, youth’s verbal nutrition knowledge, was the recipe correctly written, eye appeal, flavor, properly cooked, seasoning, complexity, overall neatness, proper placement of utensils, attractive, decorations, speaks distinctly and correctly, shows enthusiasm and sincerity and appears neat and poised.

This year’s Champion Chow Food Challenge competition had a full house of participants and family members. This program has grown by 75% over the last 8 years.

 

During this year’s competition 4-H’ers who were either a reporter for their club or a photographer gathered questions and answers from their peers. The following is the result of their investigation. Many thanks to all who contributed to this post.

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Colby is an 8 year old 4-H’er in the Chestnut Ridge 4-H Club. He is the club photographer. Colby eagerly took many photos of all of the place settings and food that was made.  Colby interviewed Jake also from Chestnut Ridge 4-H Club and he is 8 years old.

Q: Have you done this event before?

A: No, this is my first time.

Q: What did you make?

A: Beef tenderloin

Q: What was your inspiration?

A: Living on a farm, and playing in the backyard.

Peeps

Next Colby interviewed Kailyn who is 12 years old and in the Chestnut Ridge 4-H Club as well.

Q: Have you done this event before?

A: Yes, about five times.

Q: What was your favorite of your themes?

A: Making patterns

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Lastly Colby spoke with Shelby. She is 11 years old and is a member of Chestnut Ridge Club.

Q: What was your inspiration for your food?

A: Charlotte’s sister’s birthday.

Q: What was the hardest part of making your cake?

A: Keeping the ingredients in the bowl.

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Mikayla is the Baltimore County 4-H Dairy Goat Club reporter. She is 10 years old and she meticulously interviewed several people. First, she spoke with Kiera from the Sparks 4-H Club.

Q: What’s your theme and why did you choose it?

A: My theme is a traditional Irish dinner.

Q: What did you make as your dish?

A: Roasted salmon with butter sauce

Q: What is your favorite part of your setting?

A: The centerpiece

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Mikayla also interviewed Grace who is a member of the Greater Loch Raven 4-H Club and she is 11 years old.

Q: What’s your theme and why did you choose it?

A: The theme is summer picnic. I like to have summer picnics.

Q: What were the challenges you had with making your dish?

A: I ran out of mustard a lot. Each steak test cooked differently and I didn’t know how long to cook it.

Q: What is your favorite part of your setting?

A: The tablecloth

irish nachos

Lastly, Della a 7 year old from the Greater Loch Raven 4-H Club who strategically interviewed several people starting with Niamh who is a member of the Sparks 4-H Club.

Q: Why did you make your dish?

A: I made Irish Nachos because I had them at the Stihl after dancing and I learned to make them.

 

Della interviewed Kailyn from the Chestnut Ridge 4-H Club.

Q: What did you make?

A: I made fruit kabobs.

Q: Why did you make it?

A: Peeps are a good candy.

Q: Where did you find your recipe?

A: On Pinterest

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Then finally Della interviewed 7 year old Alexandra from Liberty 4-H.

Q: What did you make?

A: Baked cinnamon chips with applesauce.

Q: Where did you find your recipe?

A: It is from a princess cookbook I got at Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month. What does this mean to us in youth development? This means that the month of March has been designated as a time to reflect on the contributions that women have made to society. In the case of 4-H it means recognizing some women who made an important mark on the lives of youth. Did you know?

  • Jessie Field Shambaugh is known as the “Mother of 4-H”? JessieFieldShambaugh_2BF122A020B4BShe was a teacher who started after-school clubs in 1901 in Page County Iowa. She is also credited with creating the first clover pin with 3 leaves to represent “head,” “hands” and “heart”. The fourth leaf was added later to represent “health”.
  • During World War II the number of girls in 4-H clothing projects increased to 500,000 members? This is because the clubs were making clothes and supplies for the troops who were fighting overseas.
  • Peggy Whitson, is a NASA Mission Commander 4-H alumni. 330px-Peggy_WhitsonShe received her doctorate degree in biochemistry from Rice University, became a biochemistry researcher, NASA astronaut and former NASA Chief Astronaut. Whitson is NASA’s most experienced female astronaut, with just over 376 days in space. She also has performed a total of six career spacewalks, adding up to 39 hours and 46 minutes.

Liberty 4-H Club

Savannah Williams, Reporter
Peyton Jaeger, Photographer

March 9, 2018

Liberty 1Wow! Let me paint a picture of our night at the Liberty 4-H club, where there was a lot of fun cooking! We had a meeting to start off the night talking about the many events that are coming up. We also got to talk about who had attended some of the recent events.

The clovers had a BLAST learning about Aerospace! They enjoyed liberty 2making paper rockets and shooting them in a friendly competition.

The Juniors & Intermediates ShamROCKED, making chimes out of various sized flower pots! They painted each and worked with each other to tie string between the pots. This project ended up as themed chimes for the St. Patrick Day holiday!

The Seniors pushed their cooking skills to the limits for their TLiberty 3op Chef competition! They all made a finger food or an appetizer, with vegetables as the main ingredient. Some of the items made were Spinach Cheese dip, an original recipe called “My Everyday Breakfast”, Tea Sandwiches and vegetable roll-ups.

Liberty 4-H Club

by Savannah Williams, Club Reporter
February 9, 2018

TastingTonight, members of the liberty 4-H club were judged on foods they had made themselves. The clovers were to make a cookie recipe; they made things such as, Peanut Butter Cookies, S’mores cookies and even some were lollipop cookies! After the judging, the clovers played games like stack the marshmallows! Every Clover got to take home one of each cookie!

For the junior’s, they had to make appetizers. They were judged on their food and their presentation. Everyone worked really hard. The top three appetizers were, the Glazed Meatballs, Bang Bang Shrimp and Fruit and Veggie Crackers.

The senior’s got creative! They were to make Veggie Animal sculptures. Some made things such as ducks, birds and more. The top two senior’s made a sheep out of cauliflower and cucumbers . The second choice was a bird in its nest, this was made from pineapple, carrot’s, celery and more! These seniors got very creative!

At the end, everyone got to taste each others food, almost none was left when everyone was done eating! Every one enjoyed testing their cooking and creativity to their limits!

George Washington Carver Day

 

VernelleOn an unseasonably warm day in February about 200 high and middle school youth experienced the life of George Washington Carver. On February 15, 2018, University of Maryland Extension, Baltimore County 4-H Educators Vernelle Mitchell-Hawkins and Dwayne Murphy led the day with the help of many supporting partners.  The morning was set aside for high school youth to simulate key points from Carver’s career. Students from Benjamin Franklin High School and George Washington Carver High School were in attendance for the morning session.

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Coming off of buses, students were excited to be in a beautiful open space of pastures, grass, barns at the Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park, fondly known as the Ag Center. This facility was used on this day as a learning space filled with hands-on activities, animals, books, teachers, scientists, and volunteers. The groups were divided and some went to the Horse Arena to learn from University of Maryland Extension Soil Nutrient Management Advisor Erika Crowl as she shared Agri-science concepts about the dairy industry. Erika began by teaching the students that Extension is the community education portion of the Land-Grant Universities like University of Maryland.  She then related the Extension concept to George Washington Carver’s work with the traveling Jesup Agricultural Wagon. This wagon was known as a “movable school” used for teaching and sharing knowledge from the local University with the community to improve farms.

Two dairy calves greeted the youth at the entrance of the arena – just like what may have been seen in the 1800’s when Carver was traveling to farms. In Erika’s session, students learned about the components of milk and what products can be made from cows. They also got to make butter using real cream and conducted a taste test of the final product.  Interestingly, Carver has been credited for making a milk type product from peanuts and as a substitute for cow’s milk.

Romney Cheviot Mix Sheep
Rosie the Romney Cheviot mix sheep helped students lean more about where their wool actually comes from.

Next, the youth went to the Romney Cheviot Mix sheep that live at the Ag Center to learn about other products that Carver would have helped farmers produce. This included a discussion about the importance and uses for wool. They also learned about animal behavior and how to take care of sheep. From the sheep they went on to a session presented by University of Maryland Extension Plant Pathologist, Andy Kness who talked about what he does as an Agricultural Agent. Much like Carver, Andy is our “Plant Doctor” as George Washington Carver was also fondly called. The students got to play a plant vs. pathogen simulation game and learned all about how plant cells work to fight against bacteria.  Andy discussed the impact of disease on plants and how it affects other parts of the food chain.

As the group moved from the Arena to the Exhibit Barn, students stopped and saw the week old chicks that are also in residence at the Ag Center.  This provided a valuable teachable moment about life cycle as well as proper growing conditions of animals.

Baby chicks
Newly born chicks offer an opportunity to see the cycle of life.

These are all concepts that would have been discussed on the Jesup Wagon in Carver’s day.  Inside the Exhibit Barn the Baltimore County Library conducted a discussion about the life of George Washington Carver and the many books written about him. In addition, to his work in the sciences, Carver was a gifted artist and studied art at Simpson College in Iowa in 1890. It was through this experience of drawing and painting botanical samples that he was encouraged to enroll in the Botany program at the Iowa State Agricultural College. The youth enjoyed examples of his artwork.  As a memorial to his artistic life and belief in reusing materials, the participants made flowers from recycled comic books. This craft was chosen to represent and remember the fact that Carver always work a flower in the lapel of his jacket.

As the students moved into the main room of the Ag Center’s main building, they had many stations to choose from to learn more about agricultural science and George Washington Carver’s contributions to society. One of the stations featured real cotton still on the plant. At this station students learned about King Cotton and how the Boll Weevil devastated the crop in the 1800’s.  Carver actively promoted alternative crops to cotton and taught several methods to prevent  soil depletion. The youth got to see microscopic samples of various fibers from cotton to wool to synthetics to learn about their different properties. Leading this station was Alex Smith, a volunteer for the day from Tree Baltimore.

There was also a station headed by Alexa Smarr, University of Maryland Extension Horticulturist and Master Gardener Coordinator.  She taught students about the nutritional benefits of eating insects for a low cost high yield form of protein. Students had the opportunity to try from a number of different kinds of insects including such as pizza flavored crickets, mango silkworms, basil mealworms, and others. Over 250 insects were eaten during the event. As a plant doctor Carver worked to help plants that were infested with various kinds of insects. He also worked to help people find food sources that were affordable and nutritious.

Another favorite station was the storm water runoff simulation.  Youth working with University of Maryland Extension Watershed Restoration Specialist Kelsey Brooks learned how the various layers beneath the ground are affected by both water and pollutants. A hands-on experiment was conducted by all the youth that went through this enlightening station. George Washington Carver was a steward of the land and was instrumental in educating southern farmers on the practice of crop rotation. He was especially known for teaching about rotating the cotton crops with peanut plants to aid restoring nitrogen to the soil.

Bees and pollinationThere was a beekeeper station that was taught by MARC volunteer Devra Kitterman, who shared about honey making, pollination and the value of bees in agriculture.  She had honey bee boxes on site and shared how bees play a part in the larger ecosystem.

Additionally, there was also a soybean station set up for students to explore.  At this station they learned in a “shell game” style activity that soybeans have become a major crop in the food system and is found in many common soybeans in everything with Wes Jamison MARCfood items. Wes Jamison, Gayle Ensor and Mimi Colson Leaning from Maryland Agricultural Resource Council volunteered at this station. They also shared information about how Carver conducted research on the soybean plant and created dozens of new uses for the plant including plastics for cars, foods, home products and plant based gasoline.  They also offered samples of Wow Butter, a peanut butter substitute made from soybeans butter.

Christine Allred, a 4-H Educator from St. Mary’s County shared about beans, their anatomy and growth. Youth had a chance to do their own discoveries with beans using iodine to bring out the characteristics of the beans. This experiment illustrated American Landscape Instituteto students how Carver’s work to prove that beans are a good source of starchy nutrition. Martha Pindale from American Landscape Institute was also on hand to share information about Landscaping and Horticulture as a viable career path for anyone interested in following in the footsteps of Carver.

Last but not least was food preservation. George Washington Carver also did work in the area of home economics and safe food preservation. To simulate this area of his research, youth made their own strawberry preserves. Dr. Shauna Henley, Family and Consumer Science Educator for University of Maryland Extension taught the youth many aspects of food safety and preservation of food.  She taught almost 200 people how to safely make jam using fresh strawberries and research based canning techniques.

 

The high school youth at George Washington Carver were student mentors in the afternoon sessions with middle schoolers helping out in the various stations. They gave hands-on support to our educators and help make the afternoon run more smoothly. Just as Carver himself, who took his experiments and teaching on the road to farmers with the “Jesup wagon” the students that helped to bring agricultural education and the life of Carver to youth from around the area came out away from their school to share their new found knowledge.

4-H Winter Wonder Lab

On a cold winter morning, the youth of Baltimore County engaged in hands-on experiments to explore more about how agriculture and science are interconnected. Investigations were conducted to determine how advances in agriculture can help solve human issues surrounding food security and health. There were four stations for each group to rotate to perform a new experiment.

Leading the youth on the question of how does DNA look and can it be removed from foods was Vernelle Mitchell-Hawkins, 4-H Educator. At this station, youth were given a banana to mash and to filter to extract the DNA from the fruit.

Lynne Thomas, a senior 4-H’er with the Baldwin 4-H Club in Baltimore County, taught the class on flower dissection at the Winter Wonder Lab workshop. At this station, Lynne showed the students how to dissect flowers and identify the different parts. They discussed the process of pollination and why pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, are so crucial for food production.

Lynne said she volunteered to help with this workshop because she plans to major in agriculture education in college. “I enjoy teaching people about where their food comes from and dispelling misinformation about the agriculture industry,” says Lynne.

At another table was Santana Mays, 4-H alumni and the college student studying to become a teacher. Santana lead workshop on how to judge meats. She had a station of four cuts of pork and beef. The youth were taught about what makes a good cut of meat. Next, they each had an opportunity to judge which was the best. Many of the kids commented that they didn’t know that there was a competition for meat judging and that it was something they could participate in through 4-H.

At Dwayne Murphy’s station, the youth had the opportunity to use a refractometer to determine the concentrations of liquid solutions. Each person tested the amount of sugar in fresh fruit as compared to a fruit drink. Which do you think had more sugar? You guessed it; the fruit drink had a higher concentration of sugar than the fresh fruits. The youth also explored the benefits of eating a healthy diet.

 

In the closing project, each of the participants made butter from scratch and got to eat their production on pretzels. Yum.

As a result of this workshop, youth were interested in pursuing a career in science because they thought it was cool, interesting and you can solve problems. Many of the kids never thought about how agriculture and science were connected and had never heard of jobs that involve agriculture and science too.