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4-H Celebrates Agriculture by Baking Bread for National Bread Month in November

When most of us go to the pantry to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, we don’t think about where the ingredients come from. We all know that peanuts go into the peanut butter and grapes and sugar make the jelly, but what about the bread itself?

There are four main ingredients in any basic bread and its uses and variations are endless. Basic bread recipes usually include flour, water, yeast, sugar.

While working with 4-H youth in a cooking project, why not try to encourage them to make their own variation of plain bread and have some fun?

Some of the many varieties you can bake are: French peasant bread, honey wheat bread and Italian loaf. Click on any of the following links to get great bread-baking tips and recipes to use with kids. Who knows, they may come up with a great variety of their own!

As a volunteer, we encourage youth to develop their own ideas and exert their independence by experimenting within the safety of a 4-H Club environment. Here are some other ideas for extensions of a simple bread-baking activity with youth that incorporate the four essential elements:

Mastery – Have a bread tasting contest and incorporate a skill-a-thon with measurements, tools and ingredients from basic breads to fancy, specialty items.

Gennerosity – Youth can have a Bake-A-Thon or Bake Sale and give all proceeds and products to a local shelter, food bank or food ministry. Students can also make gifts of bread and products that they have made for relatives and other club members.

Belonging – Since all youth like to share their creations, make a collage of pictures of everyone baking and sampling their breads to post to a local website, newspaper or social media page. This is also a great way to raise awareness for local 4-H clubs and their activities.

Independence – Allow 4-Hers to visit a local bakery and ask questions about their business model and how they got started. This allows youth to seejobs and careers related to their interests in the community.

Some other resources are:

Explore the Outdoors!

As we roll from fall into winter, many of us begin pulling out the warm clothes and preparing for some time indoors. We have such beautiful weather along the gulf coast that most of us usually dread the end of summer. However, this time of year doesn’t have to be the end of all the fun! Many of our 4-H clubs have started projects in natural resources. They’re exploring the outdoors through hiking, biking, camping, bird watching, and GIS. This is the perfect time of the year to start off a club project in one of these areas. The weather is perfect and the changing seasons provide a wonderful educational opportunity for youth of all ages to see our native ecosystems. Youth can incorporate science, technology, math, art, and healthy lifestyles into one project. A few examples are listed below:

–          Take your members on a hiking trip to a local state park! Members should be divided into groups of 3-5 and provided with a local wildlife guide and some type of device to take photos. Each group will have 45 minutes to find, identify, and photograph 5-10 native animals or plants. The first group back the starting point wins a prize!

–          Early winter is perfect for a casual bike ride. Take members out on a local closed bike path and ride a couple miles. To break up the distance, stop at various points along the way to identify native trees, plants, wildlife, or areas where the ecosystems change. Youth can also make their own trail mix or flavored fruit water to take along with them as a healthy alternative to candy bars and soda.

–          Provide each member with a strip of different color shades from the paint store. As you hike they should look for the colors in the landscape. As they identify one, have their leader punch a hole in that paint chip. Members will see the wide variety of colors within the native area.

–          If your local club or county has GPS units, go on a treasure hunt! Out together These hunts are becoming more popular and a great way to work on direction, map reading, and using technology.


These are just a few of the activities your club could do outdoors. It could be as simple as moving a club meeting to an outdoor area or having a parent/member picnic. The outdoors provide us a great opportunity to build on all types of skills, so don’t miss out: Explore the Outdoors!

Volunteers are the Heart of 4-H

Volunteers are the Heart of the 4-H youth program in each of our counties, throughout Florida, and throughout the United States and worldwide.  4-H volunteers truly have the best interest of youth as their major consideration.  After several years of working with 4-H volunteers in two different states, volunteers stated their reason for volunteering with 4-H is the joy of watching youth grow and mature into productive young adults.  Comments from 4-H agents and volunteers from other states echoed the same reason for being a 4-H Volunteer and for continuing serving in a 4-H volunteer role years after their children were no longer in 4-H.  photo of volunteer helping 4-H'ers make pizza dough

After several volunteer surveys through the years concerning what form of recognition preferred by 4-H volunteers, the number one answer was a thank you from the youth and county 4-H program.  Our second top survey answer was a financial scholarship for special 4-H training on a district, state, regional, or national level.  We sometimes think we need to lavish our volunteers with special awards, but sometimes just a heartfelt thank you and appreciation for their skills and commitment to the 4-H youth in their club, county, district, and even on the state level.

Volunteer helping 4-H'ers with outdoor education classValue and appreciate your 4-H volunteers in your county.  Keep them informed and involved of current opportunities for growth and development of their leadership skills.  Be sure to design volunteer jobs to fit your volunteer’s special skills, interest, and knowledge. Use creativity when recruiting new 4-H volunteers. Think outside the “norm” for volunteers.  There are many retired adults that would love to share their skills with 4-H youth.  Look for teachers to share 4-H in the classroom. Look for coaches and physical education resources for healthy lifestyle mentors and/or volunteers. Don’t forget all those other volunteers in your Extension office, Master Gardeners, Home Community Educators, and Master Naturalists.

One of the great benefits of 4-H is that we can design a volunteer position to fit a volunteers needs and time commitment, from a special interest project of only six hours to a volunteers that continues to serve twenty years after her children graduate from 4-H.  4-H is a place for every child and for every volunteer to grow in a safe environment. Thanks to all our volunteers in the North West District. Volunteer helping 4-H'er learn how to make jelly

Kay D Brown

Escambia County