Thursday, June 4, 2009

4-H Food Challenge, A Fresh Look at the Food & Nutrition Project

What is the 4-H Food Challenge? Inspired by the popular television series Iron Chef, a new and fun 4-H activity has been developed for 4-H food & nutrition enthusiasts. This takes the uncertainty and excitement of anticipation from the television series and blends it with the important knowledge of food and nutrition facts. There are a few things that make this activity unique from its Food Network cousin. 4-H members are placed in teams and given a group of ingredients, some basic kicthen necessities, and some resource materials. From there they are to create their own dish, calculate costs per serving, evaluate nutritional value, and cover food safety practices in a brief presentation to a group of judges. The feedback we have received from 4-H'ers, leaders, and parents has prompted this activity to go statewide.

District 12 will be hosting the 4-H Food Challenge at its annual District 12 4-H Food Show in the Fall. While 4-H members in this project areas will have to choose between the standard event and this innaugural activity, it is likely to result in an greater number of people involved in the Food & Nutrition project. If you are interested in learning more about the details of this event, visit the Texas 4-H website (4-H Food Challenge). There are also a vast number of other activities supporting this project area. Check them out...F&N 4-H Resources.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

D12 4-H Volunteers Provide Guidance to Project Areas District-Wide

At the January 2009 meeting of Adult Leaders from across the district, seven different project areas were discussed among the various break-out groups including:
  • Food & Nutrtion
  • Leadership
  • Livestock
  • Photography
  • Public Speaking
  • Recordkeeping
  • Clothing & Textiles
Each of the groups spent time evaluating each of these projects areas to determine how they might add value to the project experience for 4-H members across the district. The Food & Nutrition discussion resulted in several recurring themes. Some of the strategies to improve project support included
  • Leader training in the summer to prepare for Food & Nutrition projects in early Fall
  • Development of good educational resources for counties to support projects locally
  • Use of technology to share information, ideas, and interact with other volunteers
  • Varied levels of training for youth and leaders (beginner, intermediate, and advanced techniques)
  • Food & Nutrition camps
  • Concession stands, food safety, and proper food handling training
  • Culinary Arts training
  • Training for judges

One of the most frequent comments in the Food & Nutrition discussion, as well as some of the other discussions, focused on the use of technology. Videos and other online resources seemed to be a valuable tool for volunteers. Perhaps it is more likely to serve as a more convenient method to gather resources or learn. Distance education (or using the web to deliver training and information) is not new. In fact, many colleges and universities deliver training to students via the web to students that live on the respective campus. It sounds rather strange that a student who is paying tuition, fees, and dorm fees would rather stay in their room and take a class online than go to class. Regardless, it is a reality of how some prefer to learn. This discussion may serve as an extension of this idea. Web resources give us the flexibility to access information at our own discretion and perhaps this is one way to better equip 4-H leaders and volunteers to provide valuable learning experiences for 4-H members.

While this post focused only on the Food & Nutrition project, future posts on the remaining six project areas will be coming soon। Keep up with this blog by subcribing। Feel free to post comments to add to this post. I look forward to reading your comments. For those that are looking for Food & Nutrition resources....try this link to the Texas 4-H website.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

District 12 4-H & Texas A&M Form College Planning Partnership

For several years, 4-H and Texas A&M University have been working together to provide valuable tools for parents preparing themselves and students for college. Recently, this relationship has grown to extend district-wide. At a recent meeting with county Extension agents, TAMU College of Agriculture & Life Sciences representatives presented a proposal to formalize this relationship to better support 4-H families in the district. This Higher Education Collaborative will provide 4-H families the opportunity to get an early start on preparing for higher ed.

"What parents many times don't understand is that many scholarships are based on PreSAT scores that occur long before the student becomes a senior in high school," said Rene Valdez who serves Cameron and Willacy Counties. There exist a number of valuable resources for families and the team of representatives will be working with agents, club managers, and parents across the district to get information and resources to them early.

For more information about this collaborative, contact Luis Saldaña at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

4-H Study Featured on Today Show

On March 4, 2009, 4-H was featured on the Today Show. Dr. Richard Lerner of Tufts University was interviewed by Meredith Viera about the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. Below is a link to a digital file of the segment if you’d like to take a look. Dr. Lerner does a wonderful job and 4-H is mentioned several times during the interview (notice Dr. Lerner is also wearing a 4-H pin!).


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Council & Adult Leaders Meeting in Kingsville

by: Luis Saldaña

Kinsville, TX - During the most recent January 17th meeting of the South District 12 4-H Council and the Adult Leaders Association, we had a special treat...a special guest. Sean McLelland, 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Member in Men's Skeet, came to share some of his experiences in Beijing this past summer. He credits his career having started in 4-H in Hidalgo County. His comments served as a little motivation for all of us in many different ways, I am sure. He talked about perseverance, and hard work. He talked about the need to be physically fit through good diet and exercise. Considering his experience and skills as one of the top 20 shooters in the world, his humility and down-to-earth attitude made it quite easy for all to relate to his experiences. Sean shared his experiences in 4-H and how his involvement in leadership and service were important to his success. Photos of Sean and 4-H members and leaders have been posted on the District 12 4-H website.

One interesting thing I discovered last Saturday was that Sean appeared on the Discovery Channel's program entitled Time Warp. The episode entitled "Cheerleading" (each episode has many segments) features Sean with the two hosts shooting skeet and helping viewers learn about shot patterns and other things related to his sport. Although I have not been able to find a video clip online, Discovery Channel does replay episodes (Season 1, Episode 14 premiered November 26, 2008).

Other highlights of the meeting:

  • Adult leaders participated in a new approach to teaching Food & Nutrition...4-H Food Challenge
  • Adult brainstormed different ways to make 4-H program support better...details coming
  • 4-H members discussed district events & community service projects