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.

From the Desk of the Educator

Vernelle Mitchell HawkinsBy Vernelle Mitchell-Hawkins

Online Volunteer Renewal – Beginning in 2018, volunteers will be required to complete the annual volunteer renewal process online.  Using the 4-H Online platform volunteers will be able to update their contact information, complete impact data questions including a number of volunteer hours completed, number of youth impacted (number of youth served the role including clubs and outreach) and identify role(s) that a volunteer played (leader, superintendent, etc.).  Volunteers will also answer a series of renewal questions related to position(s) held.  The familiar Renewal Appointment Agreement, MD 4-H Adult Code of Conduct, and MD 4-H Volunteer Skills and Interest Survey will also be completed in 4-H Online.  A volunteer’s status will need to be approved by the county 4-H Team to be “active” for the 2018 program year.  This is encouraged to take place before February 1, 2018.

It is important to note that without renewal, volunteer positions automatically terminate at the end of the calendar year.  The change in renewal method, using 4-H Online, should expedite the process. It will also allow real-time and consistent data to be collected so that everyone will know the TRUE VALUE of 4-H volunteers.  At anytime educators and university can pull out the data and show off all of the great work that is happening all over the state.  The volunteer renewal process is not new. It is an annual process where volunteers and educators can evaluate the previous year and reaffirm their support for the upcoming year.  It also allows a chance for volunteers to refresh themselves on the expectations of the position and for the 4-H program.  Volunteers serve at the discretion of the county 4-H team and should work in partnership to ensure the continued success of the program.


On this last day of Hispanic Heritage Month

Vernelle Mitchell HawkinsBy Vernelle Mitchell-Hawkins

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the contributions of Hispanic and Latin people that make the world a better place.  This is true in 4-H as well since the organization seeks to provide a “supportive and inclusive setting for all youth to reach their fullest potential in a diverse society”.

Did you know that the number of Hispanic farmers and ranchers in the United States is on the rise?  This data was first reported in the 2012 Census of Agriculture, conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS. In 2012 the number of farmers and ranchers). In fact the number of farmers and ranchers who were of Hispanic, Latino and Spanish origin reached 3.2 million.  It was also reported that there are 66,671 farms with Hispanic operators, covering more than 21 million acres of U.S. farmland and they sold $8.6 billion in agricultural products.  In addition, of the over 60,000 Hispanic farmers and ranchers counted, 12 percent of were women owned operations.  The field of agriculture is a diverse sector so this month and every month we celebrate the contributions of all groups of growers because in Baltimore County 4-H Grows Here!

For more information about Hispanic farms and farmers, the 2012 Census of Agriculture, and how to access national, state, and county data, go to: www.agcensus.usda.gov

https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2012/Online_Resources/Highlights/Hispanic_Farmers/Highlights_Hispanic_Farmers.pdf

Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 – October 15, 2017

Vernelle Mitchell HawkinsBy Vernelle Mitchell-Hawkins

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the many contributions of Hispanic and Latin people to the world.  This is true in 4-H as well since the organization seeks to provide a “supportive and inclusive setting for all youth to reach their fullest potential in a diverse society”.  Many Hispanic scientists have added to the body of knowledge that we now enjoy.  Did you know Dr. Mario Molina is a chemist who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995?  He was recognized for his work in helping to identify the man made compounds that contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer?  Dr. Luis Federico Leloir also won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1970.  He is known for his discovery that sugar nucleotides help the body turn some sugars into energy.  We salute these and all Hispanic scientists this month and every month because in Baltimore County 4-H Grows Here!

 

 

Source:
https://www.biography.com/
people/groups/hispanic-
scientists-and-educators

Please welcome…

Vernelle Mitchell HawkinsVernelle Hawkins joined the Baltimore County Extension office as a 4-H Educator this month. As a Maryland native, she grew up in a rural area of Dorchester County. She graduated from University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a Bachelor’s degree in General Agriculture with a concentration in Plant & Soil Science. She then earned her Master’s degree in Food and Agricultural Science also from University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Her focus in both programs was soil disease, plant nutrition, soil microbiology and biotechnology of crops. Before joining University of Maryland Extension, Vernelle was a public school teacher and taught middle school science courses in Harford and Baltimore Counties for 13 years. More recently she worked as a high school teacher in Baltimore City for four years where she focused on Agriculture Career Technology and Education, Biology and Environmental Science courses. Vernelle has a natural passion for science and agriculture and enjoys empowering youth to be life-long learners and productive members of society.

Please join us in welcoming her to Baltimore County 4-H. We are excited to share her many gifts, talents and ideas with you. Follow her blog posts as she jumps in with both feet to 4-H.

4-H Fair Prep has a Different meaning for each 4-H’er

By Santana Mays

Every year 4-H’ers look forward to the Baltimore County 4-H Fair. For those four days, endless work goes into making the fair a success throughout the year. Many people are involved; 4-H’ers, families, parents, farmers, board members, extension educators…Whether it is from getting projects ready for the fair or setting up there is a lot of work.

The fair board meets every month to make sure everything is in order so when move in the day comes around everything can run as smooth as possible. At meetings, the topics can range from costs to the schedule. Each person has a significant role to make the fair a success. Lynne Thomas from Baldwin 4-H club is the Fair Board Youth Director. As the Youth director, Lynne provides feedback to what the 4-H’ers liked about the fair and gave a suggestion for new activities as soon as the fair is over so they can start planning for the next year.

Rishi, a teen Council member, not only was a fair tour guide this year but helped along with many other 4-H’ers to get goodie bags together. Rishi says that the fair set up “involves the efforts of many dedicated 4-H’ers and it cannot be done all at once”. The fair to Rishi is worth all the work because he gets to introduce new people to 4-H and learn about new talents and interest. Rishi along with many other 4-H’ers helped me with the fair tours and AgroLand.

For David Thomas of Baldwin 4-H, AgroLand is an activity that he and his family are involved in. AgroLand is a way for the general public to learn about agriculture. AgroLand “is very critical to the success of our fair because it teaches children and adults where their food comes from!” says David. David was Grand Champion in a lot of baked goods.

Even though the planning behind the fair is an important and big part of the fair, sometimes the time the 4-H’ers put into getting ready for the show is overlooked. The week before and during the fair 4-H’ers are running around doing last minute clipping, baking another cake, or trying to put together one final painting. However, to make the best better, there is work that is done months and maybe even years before the fair.

Gabrielle Fisher of Silver Stirrups 4-H club, who got Senior Champion in hobbies and crafts, works year round to make sure that her real potential is shown through her work. Like Gabrielle, other 4-H’ers will spend a lot of time on a craft, painting, or a clothing project. This may range from putting it together, taking classes, and even doing some research on it. Like Gabrielle, 4-H’ers who show livestock spend a lot time with their animals getting ready for the fair.

As a past 4-H’er, I showed dairy cows, steers, market hogs, sheep and many other critters. These projects were sometimes the most time-consuming. For my cows and steers, I would have to start halter breaking them when they were very young. This would also include getting them used to being touched and around new sights and sounds. Then the week before the fair, the cows had to be clipped and washed. By the end of the day, I was so hairy that I could pass as a cow myself. Then the night before move in day halters was polished, tact box filled, hay, straw, and feed loaded and whites were washed and ironed.  While this may seem not very chaotic keep in mind that I still had to take care of the other animals on the farm and it was not a process that could be done the day before the fair. However, when show day comes, all the hard work is worth it.

At our Baltimore County fair we may not be the biggest. But the hard work of everyone who is involved is huge. Each year the fair is a success due to the dedication and work of our people. Already the planning for the 2018 fair is started and I cannot wait for another successful fair.

Food preservation

What do 4-H’ers do with a bountiful harvest?

It is that time of year when harvesting fruits and vegetables is an everyday occurrence. Which begs the question what do you do with all of the extra produce you grow? Well if you are like some 4-H’ers you learn to preserve your extra bounty. One such 4-H’er is David Thomas. David is a Senior 4-H’er and an avid canner. “I can pickles, relishes, and jellies for my family because we think that these homemade products taste better than store-bought ones! By canning, I am continuing a family tradition that goes back many generations. In fact, the grinder and slicer I use to make relish and pickles are the same ones that my great-grandmother used when she made these products.  In 2013, my sister, Lynne, and I taped a story about canning which aired on Fox 45 television. Can you believe that when we went to the Orioles game the next week, one of the ushers recognized us from this television segment?” says David.

There are many types of food preservation one that Ian Moore recently learned how to do is jams. Ian is the President of the Dairy Goat Club and shares the following; “Jelly, jam, preserves, conserves, and marmalades are alike. All are fruit commodities that are thickened to some extent. Most are preserved by sugar. Their characteristics depend on the kind of fruit used and the way it is prepared, the proportions of ingredients in the mixture and the method of cooking. The finished jar will differ in clarity, color, consistency, and flavor.”

Ian took an adult food preservation class with Dr. Shauna Henley a Family Consumer Science educator for the University of Maryland Extension and learned safe preservation techniques. Some of our 4-H’ers learn through our project guides from the Home Food Preservation set which follow the USDA food preservation guidelines. Go to this web page if you would like to find out more about 4-H food preservation http://ter.ps/foodpreserve . And the USDA’s canning website and the National Center for Home Food Preservation website are http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html
http://nchfp.uga.edu/

So, if you have been growing your fruits and vegetables and would like to enter a preserved jar of your own in the fair here are some helpful tips.

What makes a prize winning preserve?

  1. Start with quality fruits and vegetables
  2. No bruised or blemished products
  3. Over or under ripe products can result in less desired final product
  4. Use new rings – no rust
  5. Filling your container neatly and with the proper amount of head space
  6. Do not add colors to enhance the appearance of your product
  7. Use the proper size jar to match the size of the fruit or vegetable
  8. Avoid particles and cloudiness
  9. Use enough of the liquid to cover the product
  10. Good consistency for jams and jellies
  11. No large chunks of fruits
  12. Have a clean lid

DSC_2911