Dairy Skillathon!

By Baltimore County 4-H’er, Lynne Thomas

On February 9th, five Baltimore County 4-H’ers took part in the new Maryland 4-H Dairy Skillathon! The primary objective of this contest is to provide an opportunity for 4-H’ers to demonstrate the breadth of their knowledge and understanding of animal science and management.

The contest consists of two phases: the quiz phase and the stations phase.  In the quiz phase, contestants take a written quiz with questions about the total dairy industry. The stations phase consists of a series of stations where contestants respond to the requirements of the station. Examples of stations are dairy breed identification, general dairy equipment & milking equipment identification, feed identification, disease & parasite identification, and dairy products identification.  At other stations there were questions about sire selection, reading a pedigree, and dairy cow anatomy & physiology.

Precious Hours After School

By: Andrea Miotto, new 4-H VISTA intern

Hey, 4-H’ers! I hope you’re staying warm out there. This is your friendly neighborhood VISTA volunteer, Andrea, with a question for you: how do you spend your time between school and dinner? As I’m working to expand 4-H’s afterschool programs, I’ve come across some surprising news: Participating in fun and interesting programs between the hours of 3 and 5 p.m. can make you a better student in school!

The Afterschool Alliance, a nation-wide organization working to expand afterschool opportunities to all kids, says that “afterschool and summer learning programs are locally-designed school and community solutions that help kids learn and grow, keep children and teenagers safe, and support families to balance work with home.”

Kids who participate show increased achievement in reading and math grades; higher scores on standardized tests; fewer days absent from school; lower risk of dropping out of school; greater classroom participation; and higher motivation toward learning.

Besides 4-H, young people find these afterschool opportunities in schools, community centers, churches and temples, daycare businesses, and organizations including Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Y. In fact, 4-H often teams up with groups like these to offer the 4-H projects you might already know about from 4-H clubs—things like robotics, healthy living, crafts, livestock, and STEM—to more kids. Other 4-H afterschool programs are independent and stand on their own.

Some 4-H afterschool programs are short-term courses, lasting a few weeks, while others might meet for months or a year. Just as in 4-H chartered clubs, afterschool programs rely on dedicated adult and teen volunteers to bring to life fun new learning experiences.

Here’s something to think about: how could you be spending your time between the time you get home from and when you eat supper? Could you be learning an exciting skill? Getting new information about something you care about? Or even helping someone in your school or community?

Like my last post, I’ll leave you with a few ideas about serving others from the publication “366 Community Service Ideas for 4-H and Youth” by the Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County:

Grandfather under drip

  • Bring toys, books, craft supplies, or games to sick or injured children at a local hospital. You could even work with classmates, teachers, school counselors or your principal to collect toys. Tip: Make sure you contact the hospital you have in mind ahead of time to see what supplies are most needed and what rules they might have about visitors.

Patient wearing oxygen mask while sleeping

  • Why not craft a hand-made thank-you card for someone who works hard, helps out a lot, and might be under-appreciated at your school, gym, afterschool program, community center, parent’s workplace, doctor’s office or church? This could be a person who stays “in the background” doing jobs like scheduling appointments, cleaning, gardening, or fixing things. Folks like these don’t always get the recognition they deserve!

Children's drawing for Mother's Day






January 26, 2019

Baltimore County 4-H ran its first ever “Ice Cream in Space” Workshop on January 26th, 2019. In two sessions we encouraged about 24 participants, ranging in age from 6 to 14, to make ice cream from non-refrigerated milk products. Added of course were chocolate chips, M&Ms, sprinkles and strawberry syrup.

The purpose was to demonstrate that tasty ice cream could be produced for travel up to the International Space Station (ISS) and beyond.  Using the bag in a bag technique, each participant made his or her own ice cream. The dairy products, all available commercially and non-refrigerated, included milk, cream, evaporated milk, vanilla and sugar. There is no refrigeration aboard the ISS.

As we move forward, we hope to develop this into a long-range STEM program, involving agricultural, aerospace and mechanical engineering, food science students, among others. We will need outreach as well- marketing/Twitter/Blogging/grant applications. Getting approval to place experiments aboard the ISS is a complicated and lengthy process, but we have some help.

NanoRacks, Inc., a NASA commercial partner, has provided encouragement that our project is suitable for ISS and will help us achieve these goals. NanoRacks provided swag and videos at the workshop. The Director of Marketing is my daughter

We look forward to organizing a program over the next few months


Curriculum Review: Invent: An African American Inventors Curriculum

20190204_090512Invent: An African American Inventors Curriculum is a set of 13 lessons developed by The Ohio State University Extension. The goal is to expose youth to the many contributions that African Americans have made to society. The lessons are all research based, hands-on and teach lessons about creative thinking, music, art, literature and science.  Each lesson has a section about the inventor, related activities, career opportunities and suggested readings. For example, youth learn about Maryland native Benjamin Banneker and while creating their own 3-D solar system. Dr. Ernest Just is also featured and his work with cells and embryology.  If you are looking for a new twist on the teaching the Life Skill Wheel – look no further. This curriculum has it. There are many quick little activities that can add a different dimension to a club meeting or community event. Stop by the office and check it out!


Doing Good in the New Year

By: Andrea Miotto, new 4-H VISTA intern

Happy New Year, 4-H’ers of Baltimore County! I hope you all had a warm, safe, and happy holiday and are feeling hopeful about this new year. I know I am! I’m Andrea Miotto, the new VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America, a federal service program) and I am working to expand afterschool programs in Baltimore County. I’m new to 4-H and after only six weeks I am deeply impressed with the enthusiasm, hard work and dedication to service I’ve seen among 4-H youth, volunteers and staff. Being able to help other people is why I joined VISTA and I know I’m in the right place with 4-H.

I thought in my first blog post I’d talk a little bit about that very thing–helping others–which is what VISTA is all about. 4-H’ers spend so much time helping their neighbors that I thought this topic might be of interest: Just what is poverty? Well, poverty simply means families not having what they need to live safe, healthy lives.

Many people in the United States, especially young people, struggle to find adequate schooling, food, shelter, and clothing. According to U.S. Census data, nearly 10 percent of American kids live “below the poverty level,” which means their families are unable to provide these necessities. In 2016, about 15.3 million kids, more than 1/5 of all people under 18, were in danger of being homeless or hungry. In Baltimore County, an even greater percentage of children live below the poverty level: 11.5 percent. Elderly people and people with disabilities, too, are vulnerable to poverty.

Earlier in this post I gave a simple definition for poverty, but it turns out the whole concept is complicated! For example, according to the Center for Poverty Research in California, more than half of able-bodied adults aged 18 to 64 worked during 2014 but were still unable to house, feed, and clothe their families in a safe and healthy manner. Often called the “working poor,” millions of people work hard but still can’t make ends meet. Families move in and out of poverty for many reasons, including becoming disabled, losing a job, and being unable to find jobs that pay enough to cover essentials.

Okay, take a deep breath! Don’t be discouraged! There’s huge reason for hope because wonderful people like 4-H’ers care about these problems and are working hard to help people and, in the long term, end poverty. Here are some ways you and your club can take action:

  1. Hold a winter clothing drive and research local organizations that accept donations. Hint: try Purple Heart http://www.purpleheartpickup.org/baltimore-donations, St. Vincent de Paul https://www.vincentbaltimore.org/in-kind-donations or Planet Aid, http://www.planetaid.org/.
  2. Research local nursing homes and then call and offer to make winter-themed crafts to decorate the lobby and rooms, such as paper snowflakes, drawings, and snowmen. Hint: check out this web site https://www.happinessishomemade.net/easy-winter-kids-crafts-that-anyone-can-make/
    snowflakes 2.jpg
  3. Research organizations near you that work with homeless people. Ask if you can make fleece scarves for them. Find the instructions here: https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-No-Sew-Fleece-Scarf
  4. Contact the volunteer coordinator of your local Veterans Affairs hospital, Office of Aging, or a local nursing home and offer to make cards or care packages for needy or lonely local residents.
  5. Organize a donation collection with your club for a local organization that fights poverty.

Donation box with children's things and toys

In future posts I’ll keep the poverty-fighting suggestions coming! In the meantime, thank you for all your service. Keep up the great work!


Welcoming a New Face to the 4-H Office

20181114_152012.jpgAndrea Miotto, 4-H Baltimore County’s newest VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America), is a Maryland native. She hails from Prince George’s County and attended University of Maryland at College Park for undergraduate studies. She is passionate about increasing equitable access to quality out-of-school programming for under-served youth and is dedicated to helping reduce barriers, such as poverty, that keep young people from participating in exceptional activities like 4-H. Andrea’s goal this year is to grow the number of 4-H afterschool courses and clubs in specific areas of the county where these barriers are particularly persistent.

A “VISTA veteran”, Andrea served as a VISTA shortly after college at a literacy program in Wausau, Wisconsin. More recently, Andrea has worked as a writing tutor at Howard Community College and as a chaplain for hospitals and hospice programs, where she provided spiritual care and counsel. She has also held positions as editor and writer for several technical publications. Andrea continues to work part-time as an independent writer, editor, and tutor and provides pro bono editing services to a couple of nonprofit newsletters.

Andrea holds a B.A. in English and a Master of Divinity degree from Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana. In her downtime, Andrea enjoys church activities, volunteer work such as mentoring, reading, dancing, and trying to reason with her black cat, Loki.

Turkey & Cranberry Quesadillas

a touch of butter (or oil)
2 flour tortillas
1/4 pound turkey (cooked, shredded)
2 tablespoons cranberry sauce
1 jalapeno (chopped)
1 green onion (chopped)
1 handful cilantro (chopped)
2 handfuls cheese such as cheddar or jack, etc. (grated)balls-3.png

1. Melt the butter in a pan.
2. Place a tortilla in the pan and rub it around in the butter to coat.
3. Heat the tortilla until air pockets form, flipping a few times.
4. Repeat 2-3 for the second tortilla and leave it in the pan.
5. Place the turkey, cranberry sauce, jalapeno, green onion, cilantro and cheese on top followed by the other tortilla.
6. Cook the quesadilla until golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted flipping once.

Tip: Place a plate onto the quesadilla and flipped it from the pan to the plate and then slide it back into the pan to flip the quesadilla.

turkey headline 56