National Nutrition Month – a recipe

Baked Mozzarella Sticks
by Lynne Thomas, Maryland Dairy Princess

March is National Nutrition Month!  Celebrate this month by making a reduced-fat, mozerella-sticks.jpgbaked version of a finger-food favorite – Mozzarella sticks. Cheese can provide calcium for people who do not meet dairy recommendations and risk poor bone health. It also can help a person meet their protein needs. Cheese contributes high-quality protein as well as phosphorus, vitamin A, and zinc. Baked Mozzarella Sticks are a great snack for National Nutrition Month and the rest of the year too!

Baked Mozzarella Sticks
12-ounce package of reduced-fat Mozzarella string cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
cooking spray
1/2 cup prepared marinara sauce, warmed

Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat it to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Remove cheese from packaging and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk egg until foamy. In a small non-stick skillet, mix bread crumbs and Italian seasoning and place over medium heat. Cook and stir bread crumbs until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Dip one piece of string cheese in egg until coated and then into toasted bread crumbs, coating completely. Re-dip the string cheese in egg and again in bread crumbs, if desired.  Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining string cheese and place on baking sheet 1 1/2 inches apart. Spray string cheese lightly with cooking spray.

Bake 5 to 6 minutes or until heated through. Note: Cheese may melt slightly and loose shape. Simply press it back into place. Serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

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

 

 

 

 

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.

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!

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.

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