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.

Pasture

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 Dairy Goat Club Learn to Shine as Showmen

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Doug Ryndak, 4-H Club Leader for the Baltimore County Dairy Goat 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.”

Bonnie, Mike and Pam
Bonnie Six with Pam and Mike Spencer and one of their goats.

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.”

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.”

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!”

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.

Front view of the entire group

Baltimore County 4-H… “It’s not just cows and cooking.”

By Jennifer Coroneos

I grew up in 4-H, my parents grew up in 4-H, and even my grandparents were in 4-H and were active 4-H volunteers for almost 70 years. Needless to say, I am a third generation 4-her. While growing up, I would hear stories of how things used to be when my parents were in 4-H. It is always interesting to hear how things have changed since they were kids. Over the years many parts of 4-H have changed and developed as time goes on. Change is good though, over the years 4-H has expanded to cover new areas and increased programs.

But, I am getting ahead of myself. First, let me share with you a brief history of 4-H. (If you read my blog post last month and just want to know my thoughts on the way 4-H has expanded just skip to the section called “Good Part” now.)

HISTORY OF 4-H

In the late 1800’s, researchers discovered that adults in the farming community did not readily accept new agricultural developments on university campuses, but found that young people were open to new thinking and would experiment with new ideas and share their experiences with adults. In this way, rural youth programs introduced new agriculture technology to communities. Building community clubs to help solve agricultural challenges was the first step toward children learning about the industries in their community. A. B. Graham started a youth program in Clark County, Ohio, in 1902, which is considered the birth of 4-H in the United States. The first club was called “The Tomato Club” or the “Corn Growing Club.” T.A. Erickson of Douglas County, Minnesota, started local agricultural afterschool clubs and fairs that same year. Jessie Field Shambaugh then developed the clover pin with an H on each leaf in 1910, and by 1912 they were called 4-H clubs.

The passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914 created the Cooperative Extension System at USDA and nationalized 4-H. By 1924, 4- H clubs were formed, and the clover emblem was adopted. The Cooperative Extension System is a partnership of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the 109 land-grant universities, and more than 3,000 county offices across the nation.

So what does all that mean? Well, 4-H was originally designed as a way for kids who grew up on farms to get agriculture information from the universities to share with their parents. This concept of 4-H, an information tunnel from universities to families is still the key component of the 4-H program. However, today, 4-H has expanded to include many more project areas outside of agriculture.

THE GOOD PART!

I wrote a blog last month about our 4-H afterschool programs here in Baltimore County. Hopefully, you read it, if not I encourage you to do so. Anyway, like I already said 4-H has changed over the year especially in Baltimore County.  Now, don’t think of “change” with a negative connotation while you read this; rather think it of it as a positive.  Things have to change to keep up with times. That being said our traditional community clubs are still a critical part of the 4-H program. Our clubs meet about once or twice a month and are located all around the county. Clubs are a great way to get involved in the 4-H program and allow you to participate in County and State Fair, Champion Chow (a cooking competition), Public Speaking Contest, and so much more. However, our traditional clubs might not work for everyone’s busy schedules. Not to mention our traditional clubs have to compete with school and rec sports teams, video games, TV, the stigma that “4-H is just about agriculture”, and so much more.

That being said, How does 4-H stay relevant? Well, that’s why 4-H has had to develop and change over the years. 4-H can no longer be just about “Cows and Cooking” anymore. 4-H offers so much more. There are summer camps, after school programs, weekend workshops just to name a few. Baltimore County 4-H even partners with PAL centers and local Libraries to set up activities and workshops so that more 4-H curriculum can be taught to even more youth. That’s the other thing; there is so much 4-H curriculum out there, and it’s all homeschool certified. It allows parents, teachers, club leaders, and really anyone to bring 4-H into their homes. The curriculum covers every topic from aerospace to veterinarian science. I am telling you any subject you want 4-H has something for it. (A little secret we have lots of these curriculum books at our office, some are for sale so stop by and look)

In regards to 4-H, there is one last point I want to make. The 4-H Pledge, we say it before every meeting, at the start of workshops, and even every day at the onset of camp. “I pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”  Nowhere in this pledge does it say anything about agriculture, cooking, or fair. The 4-H program is about teaching youth “To Make The Best Better.” Our program creates leaders who go out into their communities, their country, and their world to be a catalyst for change.

4-H is so much bigger than just a single 4-H program/event. It is the combination of programs and events that shape our 4-Hers into the wonderful, well-rounded, inclusive and world changing humans they are.

Yes, 4-H has changed with the times, but it has also stayed true to roots.

So if you haven’t figured it out yet…

WHY SHOULD YOUR CHILD BE IN 4-H?

4-H is the largest youth development organization in the United States with over 6 million participants!! The Maryland 4-H Youth Development Program provides a supportive setting for young people to reach their fullest potential. Children learn beneficial cognitive and life skills through community-focused, research-based, experiential educational programs. Participation is open to all youth ages 5-18. The Clover Program is open to youth ages 5-7 years, and the 4-H Program serves 8-18-year-old participants. 4-H has an over 100-year tradition of voluntary action through strong public-private partnerships at federal, state, and community levels. Local volunteer leaders and youth practitioners partner with county Extension staff from the University of Maryland to provide direct leadership and educational support to young people in urban, suburban, and rural communities. 4-H is more than just fun. 4-H can help your child grow in leadership, new skills, citizenship, friendship, and self-esteem! 4-H projects help children learn about things like animals, plants, science and nature. But, that’s not all! The project work and being part of a 4-H Club also helps a child learn life skills. Members learn to look at all sides of a problem or task, and they learn to decide on the best solution. 4-H helps reinforce what children learn in the classroom. 4-H uses more informal, hands-on teaching methods and enables children to excel in new areas and take new roles in a group.

I know my 4-H experience has molded me into the woman I am today. 4-H has opened so many doors I never would have even thought existed and it continues to guide my future.

Showing Pets and Growing Kids

The day dawned chilly and bright. We were up with the sun that morning, operating in full gear. Today was the day we had volunteered to man the Baltimore County 4-H Rabbit Club table at the World Pet Expo, and when you’re an excited 6 year old girl, being late is not an option! We packed up our gear: one furry blue mini lop on whom the world revolved in Abby’s eyes, one large coffee for Mama, various treats for all of us, and two bright red camp chairs. We loaded the van, found parking behind the pole barns, set up the table just in time for the crush of pet owners, and took a breath. We were ready, and they were, too!
       Hundreds, upon hundreds, of pet owners and enthusiasts, trickled, marched and were dragged past our table. There were dogs in carriers, dogs on foot, and one petrified cat riding on a man’s shoulders. Despite the signs requesting some distance, many dog owners brought their pets right up to our bunnies for a sniff. The rabbits held their likes champions and didn’t bat an eye as the canines took a closer whiff. But the magic wasn’t in the dogs. Or even the crowds of consumers. It was for the kids. The 4-Her’s to be more specific.
Gone was the shy child who doesn’t like to play at other houses, and prefers all her friends to come to hers. Gone was the girl who was intimidated by strangers, and doesn’t know what to say. In her shoes now stood one very proud, very confident, rabbit owner who was more than happy to do her 6 year old best at educating the public on rabbits.
       Now she spoke freely, smiled widely, and rarely looked to Mama for help on what to say. With her best bunny in front of her, a fellow 4-H friend beside her, and an enchanted crowd around her, this child stood straight and did what she came to do. Share her love of bunnies with the world, and they loved that bunny right back!
       It didn’t matter if any of the hundreds of people who stopped by the Baltimore County 4-H table to pet the bunnies ever went on to become bunny owners themselves didn’t matter. Yes, many of them shared tales of rabbit ownership themselves as children, and a few fondly recalled their 4-H membership days. But watching our 4-H kids grow in their confidence, communication skills, and animal care knowledge right before our eyes, was fantastic. It was why we were here. The club is fun. Sharing your pet is fun. But teaching strangers, as a child, is empowering! And she nailed it.
       We hated to leave, the day flew by, but our precious bunny was stressed, and it was time to give our spots at the table to another family with a love of bunnies, and children desperate to share them. They day had been a raging success. Our chests swelled with pride as we packed up our camp chairs and headed back to the van. We came, we shared, we taught, and we conquered!
By Beth Schmidt, Baltimore County 4-H mom

Another Successful 4-H Growing with Grains Day!

By Jennifer Coroneos

kids lr

The 4-H Growing with Grains event held on May 22nd at the Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park was a huge success. Third graders from Scotts Branch Elementary School came out to have a good time and learn all about grainspasports; corn, wheat, soybeans, and barley. Growing with Grains blends nutrition education and agriculture literacy in a new and exciting way. Each program focuses on materials to reach a greater understanding of health benefits while exploring whole grain production, manufacturing, processing and utilization. The hands-on, practical lessons demonstrate an innovative curriculum that simultaneously creates collaborations and long term relationships with administrators and teachers in public and private schools, as well as local grain utilization boards. Youth visit seven program stations to complete a “passport” for the day. The seven stations include; Animals Enjoying Grain, Corn Products/ Uses, Ag Literacy, Grain Nutrition, Cooking with Grains, Grains Scavenger Hunter, and Grain science. The hands-on Anna lrapproach used at each station teaches them something new and exciting about grains without having to be in a classroom setting. Did you know that “Farmers in America started growing soybeans to feed their livestock around 1765, even before the Declaration of Independence was signed?”

One of the stations youth enjoy the most is the Cooking with Grains. At this station they are able to make pizza using a whole grain English muffin as the crust and adding healthy toppings. They sure smelled good. Another favorite is the Animals Enjodavid and kidsying Grain. Grains are very important to the livestock industry. At this station students were able to see and pet a goat while learning about what kinds of grains the animal eats and how important it is to feed animals the right type and amount of grain.

On May 22nd I had the opportunity to teach a lesson on Corn Products and Uses. At this station the Scotts Branch third grade class had the opportunity to learn about foods thdwayne lrat actually contain corn products as an ingredient such as sodas, cereals, Oreo cookies, ketchup, and so much more. Most students were surprised when we showed them that most food contains some sort of corn byproduct. The class was able to label the parts of the corn plant while discussing the parts role in the life cycle of the plant. They learned the environmental impact of a packing peanut made from corn starch vs. a packing peanut made from Styrofoam using a hands-onhopping kids lr approach. After giving each student a cup of warm water and a packing peanut made from corn starch, they were able to put the packing peanut in the water and stir it around watching it dissolve. This project showed them that by using organic material to make the packing peanut we are helping the environment.

I think that at the end of the day all the students had a really good time and they learned a lot. I know I learned a lot from this program. “Soybeans, corn and MG lrwheat are the three major field crops grown by modern American Farmers today.” With this program Baltimore County 4-H is able to educate more youth about agriculture then we ever thought. So far the Ag center has served nearly 400 Baltimore County Public School 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders with this program!!!

 I’m excited to share some pictures from the session with Scotts Branch Elementary School!