Spring 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!
Baby chicks being raised here on the farm.
Our apiary and pollination.
Learning about our many gardens including our Bay-Wise garden.
On 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.
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.
Shaking the cream up
Erika teaching about the uses of dairy products.
Explaining the process for making butter from dairy.
Calves just a few weeks old.
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.
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.
Andy Kness Plant Pathologist
Youth playing plant vs pathogen game.
A close up of the game board.
Everyone had a chance to be a plant or a pathogen.
Did the plant win this time?
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.
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.
Creating a lapel flower.
Students working with used comic books.
Reproductions of George Washington Carver’s artwork.
The final product.
Everyone had a chance to make a flower.
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.
Youth trying a source for protein, insects.
Cotton was a major crop during the time of Carver.
Over 250 insects were eaten at the event.
Alexa Smarr teaches all about insects and what we can do with them.
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.
Kelsey Brooks shows youth about storm water run off and pollutants.
Making their own storm water experiment.
Taking a closer look at what happens to pollutants on the ground.
The dye was used to simulate pollutants.
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.
There 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 food 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 to 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.
The results of adding iodine to beans.
Students added iodine to better see the parts of the bean.
Christine Alfred talking about the parts of the bean.
Getting a closer look.
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.
Mixed bowl of strawberries and sugar getting ready to preserve.
High students from George Washington Carver were a big help in the afternoon with middle schoolers.
Students had an opportunity to lean about what you can do with a harvest of fruits and vegetables.
Dr. Shauna Henley helping the youth make strawberry preserves.
One of the most important ingredients, pectin is being mixed together.
Mixing the preserves together.
Setting up tasting cups.
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.
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 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!
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.
Lynne and David working at Agroland
Rishi and tour guides learning about sugar intake from Dr. Shauna Henley.
In Agroland learning about growth of plants.
Alexa McCullen teaches about worm bins in Agroland.
Rishi and some of the teens who helped Santana with goodie bags for the over 500 tour participants.
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’s award winning pen and ink drawing.
As a Grand Champion Gabrielle knows first hand about good fair preparation.
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.
My name is Terry Fields. I am a junior member of the Greater Loch Raven 4-H Club. I do a lot of fun things in Baltimore County but I recently went to the Eastern Shore to participate in 4-H STEM activities.
I went to the UMES Sarbanes Ecology center on the Eastern Shore. While I was there, I dissected a squid, went to the beach to catch sea creatures, I made fish prints and talked about acids and bases in water. Dissecting the squid was a bit nasty but FUN and I learned that squids have three hearts.
During the fish printing class we painted fish to reenact what people did before cameras. At the beach we saw a lot of fish and caught snails and clams. In the water quality class, we learned about acids and bases and tested water to see if it is good to drink or not. I had a good time, learned a lot and made new friends.
By Terry Fields, President of the Greater Loch Raven 4-H Club
Recently, the Baltimore County 4-H Dairy Goat Club participated in a practice show for goats hosted at the Weymouth Farm owned by Mike and Pam Spencer. Doug Ryndak is the Baltimore County 4-H Dairy Goat Club leader shares the following, “Showing an animal, especially for the first time can be an overwhelming experience, luckily each year we are able to provide the Dairy Goat Club and other 4-H youth with a chance to try their hand at showing dairy goats. It is great for not only new 4-H youth who have never shown dairy goats before to have an opportunity to practice before their first real show, but also for seasoned showmen to hone their skills and learn new tips on showing. It is always a fun time to get together and give the kids a confident start to the show season. Even though these kids will ultimately be competing against each other in the show ring, they are always helping each other and teaching each other, which is what the 4-H program is all about.”
Mrs. Bonnie Six conducted the showing clinic on a beautiful evening in May. She is a dairy goat judge at the Hereford Jr. Farm Fair and comes every year to help club members practice showing. Besides having the opportunity to practice showing their goats the 4-H’ers learned what questions the judges might ask. “Typically the judges will ask you about a goat’s diet, physical appearance, goat anatomy, and hygiene.” Suggests Ian Moore, president of the Dairy Goat Club. To prepare for these types of questions Danielle Ryndak, Vice President of the Dairy Goat Club adds, “Practice anatomy and the scorecard, to do that block a few minutes each day to study your anatomy and scorecard. Just 10 minutes a day will make you a champ. Make flash cards and test yourself. When you are competing in “Fitting and Showing” the judge will ask you questions to do with anatomy and will ask you points in the scorecard. Also, know your goats ADGA registered name, breed, birth date, and freshening date as the judge will ask these in the ring.”
Asking the youth to change places in the line.
Ms. Bonnie sharing what makes a good showman.
The youth are asked by the judge to walk side by side so that the judge can better look at the animal.
Our 4-H’ers care very deeply for animals.
Mrs. Bonnie talked about the qualities of what makes a good showman while the youth and kids moved around the practice area. Many of the club members heard her say that working with your goat year round will make for the best showmen. If you take just a few minutes each day, it will pay off at show time. Others felt that when you work with your goat year round, it helps the goat feel more comfortable with you and you with them. This includes walking with your goat, setting them up in the proper position for the judges to view their anatomy and form. Chloe Soots recalls, “The central part the judge is looking at is the mammary system. It is one of the largest point areas on the scorecard.” Danielle suggests, “The judge can tell by how you handle your goat how often your work with her. You will want to keep your hands off your goat as much as possible. Do not scratch them or pet them when in the ring.”
Confidence is also what makes a champion. Danielle suggests, “Wear the correct show attire. This depends on if you are in an open or 4-H or FFA show. It even depends on what region or state you are showing in, but the most common is white boot cut jeans, white long sleeve button down polo shirt, boots, belt, and bolo tie or tie. Look professional in the ring. Hair pulled back and no hot pink or blue hair. Girls bling is fine, but not too much or will be distracting and unprofessional.” All of the members thought practice made for a more confident showman.
As the evening wore on the youth were shown how to correctly “set” their goats. Chloe explains “line up the pin bones to the hocks to the ground for the back legs and the withers to the knees to the ground for the front legs. And you should stand on the other side of the goat. So think of it as a peanut butter sandwich. The goat is the peanut butter, and you and the judge are the slices of bread.” Grace suggests “being aware of the other showmen and goats in the ring so that everyone doesn’t bunch up and crowd each other helps the judge to see your goat and your actions in the ring.”
Ms. Bonnie points out places on the animals to help set up their goats.
The mammary section on the dairy goat.
The youth and kids walking in the ring practicing good form.
4-H youth listen intently as Ms. Bonnie gives them directions and pointers.
Many new tips were learned from Mrs. Bonnie, and some of the youth shared tips that they have learned by showing in lots of shows. Patrick Wicklein, former Dairy Goat President, and multiple Dairy Goat Champion shared, “watch your expression, often in the ring, you will see people with silly smiles on their face. It is important to look confident and serious about what you are doing it while enjoying it too.” Ian adds, “Always watch the judge the entire time you are in the show ring.” Danielle, a multiple champion concludes “Some Suggestions I have, to use a goat show collar. There is a reason there is such a thing. DO NOT use a dog collar. Don’t brace your dairy goat. Bracing means to put your leg in front of your goat and to push your knee into their chest. You will see this practice with showing meat goats and sheep. With these animals it is allowed, but not with dairy goats. Clip your goats 3 to 6 days before a show. Wash your goat at least before your first show of the season. Watch videos on YouTube of shows so that you know what to expect. When at a show add Gatorade in your goat’s water so they do not become dehydrated. Because we are on well water, the goats will not drink the water when at a show because it is usually city water. WORK HARD! DO YOUR BEST!”
Demonstrating proper dairy goat show attire and displaying his animal.
Practicing the line up in the ring.
All of the Baltimore County 4-H Dairy Goat members learned a great deal and enjoyed the rest of the evening sharing food and stories at the Weymouth Farm. If you have an interest in dairy goats and would like to join our club, please contact the 4-H office at 410-887-8090 for more information.