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 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

Local 4-H’er crosses the bridge to learn more about ecology at the UMES Sarbanes Center

20170720_104211.jpgMy 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 

 

4-H Dairy Goat Club Learn to Shine as Showmen

DSC_0738
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.

4-H Champion Chow Food Challenge

Each year Baltimore County 4-H holds an event that is unique. The Champion Chow Food Challenge gives the 4-H’er the opportunity to present their food preparation, menu planning, table setting and other diet and nutrition skills at one single event. Youth may enter as an individual or as a team (consisting of 2 members). Individuals and teams plan and submit a menu for one balanced meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). The event is an excellent opportunity to enter something that cannot be entered at the County Fair, such as a main dish, soup or salad.

Our youth prepared their menus and food item for the April 2nd event. Most were dressed to match their themed table setting while others were dressed in their best attire. It was a beautiful spring day so while some of our youth were waiting to talk to the judges, they could play outside or enjoy crafts inside. Grace McMullen, a member of the Greater Loch Raven 4-H Club, reflected that Champion Chow gave her the opportunity to see what everyone else makes so you could do the same thing at home. This year, Grace made microphone cupcakes because she decided on a music theme.

There is some youth who like to cook while others like the combination of crafts and food at one single event. One such 4-H’er is Sam Jones from Liberty 4-H Club. Sam made Cinnamon Ice Cream for his summer theme. Terry Fields, of the Greater Loch Raven 4-H Club, on the other hand, enjoys cooking. He made Brownie S’mores for his theme of camping. He hopes to become a chef one day. Ben McMullen, thinks cooking is cool and thinks it is a very significant talent. He made a delicious chili. This was Ben’s first time browning meat. He picked a Star Wars theme because that is his favorite movie.

Other youths seek their inspirations from sources beyond Baltimore. One such 4-H’er was Kailyn of Chestnut Ridge 4-H Club. Kailyn is going to New Orleans soon and decided to research King cakes. The King cake is a cake that is made during Mardi Gras. It is decorated with the colors Purple for Justice, Green for Faith and Gold for Power. Baked inside the cake is a baby. Whoever gets the piece with the baby in it will have good luck all year. That person will bake the cake for the next year including the baby, and so the tradition continues. 

This food challenge brings youth from 5-18 together to enjoy the art of setting the table, creating a theme, planning a healthy meal and learning to cook a delicious dish. As part of the competition each youth meets with the judges individually to talk about what they made, how they prepared it and why they selected the items in their theme. It is through this type of competition that each child increases their confidence and communication skills. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.