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Control Those Germs Gathered from Going Back to School

Control Those Germs Gathered from Going Back to School

Youth is looking at hands under black light for dirt left after hand washing lesson

Looking for spots missed during hand washing by using black light and glow germ lotion that fluoresces under black light.

It’s hard to believe it is August already, with that we are getting ready to go back to school. Going back into the large group gathering requires a reminder to wash your hands often. You and your child will be around so many people and exposed to all kinds of germs. Regular hand washing helps you avoid getting sick and spreading your germs to others.

The CDC recommends that we wash our hands:
• Before, during, and after preparing food
• Before eating food
• Before and after caring for someone who is sick
• Before and after treating a cut or wound
• After using the toilet or after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet or been ill
• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing,
• After touching an animal, animal/pet feed or treats, or animal waste
• After touching garbage

Take a moment to sit down and talk with your child about hand washing and the importance of washing their hands, especially when they get home from school.

Try this activity written by Tennessee 4-H to help youth see where they may be missing germs. This simple activity uses items you probably have in your kitchen. Begin by coating hands with a tablespoon of cooking oil. Next, sprinkle the oily hands with ground cinnamon. Have your child wash their hands using the steps outlined below. Once they have finished washing, have them smell their hands to see if they can still smell cinnamon. If they washed their hands correctly, the cinnamon smell and brown color should be gone from their hands.

A. Hands coated with cinnamon before hand washing
B. Quick wash like youth often do missing in between fingers, top of wrist, around nails
C. Thoroughly washed hands (all clean even between fingers)

Here are the steps we teach youth when they take our 4-H hand washing classes:
1. Wet your hands with clean, running water.
2. Apply soap and rub your hands together to make a lather. Make sure to get in between your fingers, under your nails, and on the top of your hands. Youth often miss these areas when we do a lesson on hand washing during 4-H events.
3. Scrub for at least 20 seconds—about the same amount of time needed to sing the Happy Birthday or ABC Song twice.
4. Finish by rinsing your hands with warm running water.
5. Dry hands with a clean towel or let air dry if a towel is not available.
6. Use the towel to turn off the water faucet to prevent re-contamination of your clean hands on a dirty faucet knob.

Have a fun and germ free day! 4-H is a family affair, offering many opportunities where both children and parents can participate in common interests. 4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations and includes people from all economic, racial, social, political, and geographic categories. There are no barriers to participation by any young person. Participants are given the opportunity to engage in activities that hold their personal interest, while being guided by adult volunteers.

To find out more information about other 4-H programs like this or volunteer your time to work with youth, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

Teaching Mindfulness to Children

Mindfulness is the act of creating awareness of your surroundings, emotions, and physical self in the present moment. It helps you connect to the world around you, while providing cognitive, social, and emotional benefits. Practicing mindfulness is not just for adults. Children can reap a multitude of benefits from learning and practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness equips children with the ability to adjust and deal with conflict encountered in their daily lives. It can also help children foster an optimistic outlook in life, react to stress in a healthy way, and develop a positive self-concept.

The practice of mindfulness is foreign to many adults, making it tricky to teach young children. The best thing to do is keep the message simple and model the behaviors you are teaching. Being taught by an adult that models mindful behaviors daily will assist kids in mastering the techniques. Below are a few mindfulness activities you can do at home as a family or in a group learning environment, such as a 4-H club meeting.

Zen Garden

A zen garden is a miniature landscape made with items such as moss,

Zen garden created during Leon County 4-H Mindfulness Camp

rocks, and water features. Zen gardens are filled with sand and contain a small rake that you can use to create designs in the sand. The motion of raking the sand creates a sense of calmness. Zen gardens are often found on desks in the workplace because they are known for building focus and reducing stress. Building a zen garden is a fun and easy activity you can do with kids. Use a shoebox lid as the base and collect various stones and other items from outside to fill the box. Small rakes and sand can be purchased at a local craft store.

Mindful Safari

Taking a nature walk around your neighborhood or park is a simple way to exercise your mindfulness skills. Make it exciting by telling them you are going on a “mindfulness safari” and the goal is to see how many different birds, insects, and animals you can find on your journey. By searching for these items, you are fostering an awareness of the world around you. Similar to the mindful safari activity, you can take children on a “sound hunt.” This activity teaches kids to increase their awareness of the sounds in their environment. You can make the “sound hunt” more challenging by asking them to distinguish which sounds are close and which sounds are far.

Breathing

Breathing exercises are an important tool children can use to practice mindfulness. Learning how to control your breath and increase awareness of your breathing can help clear your mind in times of distress. You can practice breathing anywhere and no equipment is needed. Have kids sit on the floor or lie down. Instruct them to close their eye and take a huge breath in, filling up their lungs. Count to three and have them release. Breath activities can be completed sitting or lying down on your back. It is a good practice to have kids place their hands on their belly to feel the breath as it enters and leaves the body.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating teaches children to understand when they are hungry and when they are full. It is important to eat without distractions, such as the television or your phone. Provide them with a variety of snack items. Ask them to look, listen, touch, smell, and taste the food in steps. They should pause after each step to reflect on what their senses are showing them about their food. First, look at what colors and shapes the item has. Next, listen to see if your food is making any sounds. Then, feel your food and describe the texture. Smell the item and define the scent. Finally, taste the food while paying attention to how the food feels and if the flavors change.

Yoga & Balancing

 

Practicing our “downward dog” pose during Leon County 4-H Mindfulness Camp.

Yoga is a great way to practice concentration, balance, and connection. Kids enjoy trying different yoga poses and stretches. A variety of free educational videos are available online that you can use to help guide you and your child through yoga sequences. Breathing techniques can be coupled with yoga and balancing. If kids do not have a yoga mat, a towel can be used. Practicing yoga shows kids that mindfulness does not always mean you are still or quiet.

Mindful Drawing

It is important to keep distractions to a minimum while drawing. This can be achieved by putting on relaxing music or simple sounds, such as rain falling or waves crashing. There are a variety of different drawing activities you can do with kids to practice mindfulness. If you have different sounds available, you can select a sound and instruct them to close their eyes and think of what that sound looks like to them. Then, have them open their eyes and draw what they heard. You can repeat this activity a few times with different sounds.

Body Appreciation

This activity works best in a group learning environment. Have kids break up into pairs and instruct them to take turns tracing each other on a large sheet of paper. Once everyone is finished, they will focus on their own bodies and write or draw what each body part does for them. For example, they can write “my head helps me think” or “my legs help me run.” Finally, they will write positive words on their body such as “I love to read.” This activity makes kids reflect on all the important ways their body helps them each day. It teaches them to appreciate and love their body.

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Journals are a simple mindfulness activity kids can complete every day

When we feel and express gratitude to people in our lives, it creates loving connections, builds trust, and makes us feel joyful. Gratitude can be shown by giving someone a hug or telling them how much you appreciate them. Gratitude journals can easily be made at home or you can print off a pre-made template. This version is simple and is a great start for kids: https://researchparent.com/gratitude-journal-for-kids/

For more information on how your family can learn more healthy activities such as these mindful ones, find your local UF IFAS Extension Office and contact your 4-H Agent to explore what 4-H programs are offered in your area.

Out of Destruction Comes Something of Beauty

Out of Destruction Comes Something of Beauty

Succulent garden at entry of NSA-PC Youth Center

In September 2018, Ms. Bettina started the 4-H Garden Club at NSA-PC in Panama City, Florida. She had big plans for the garden and couldn’t wait to get started. These Navy youth, led by a caring adult staff member, started their 4-H journey. Then Hurricane Michael came, which devastated the area on October 10, 2018 and could have easily derailed all of their plans. Instead, the storm allowed youth to start with a clean slate and a renewed sense of vigor in rebuilding the garden at the NSA-PC Youth Center. The youth redesigned some of their beds using debris from the storm.

When the Youth Center reopened following the storm, most of the outdoor areas were off limits to the kids due to damage from the storm. That meant that the playground and other outdoor activities were not available. However, the 4-H Garden Club was allowed to function and allowed the youth itching to be outside and yearning for a way to cope with the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael to come together as a team and, along with Ms. Bettina, a garden to restore a sense of balance and ownership.

Whimsical garden bed designed by NSA-PC youth

The kids were eager to get started planning, implementing, and maintaining the new garden area. They created a plan for different types of gardens within their facility spaces. They researched which plants were best suited for the season and zone as well as which flowers would attract pollinators, because they hoped to see hummingbirds and butterflies. Ms. Bettina says that the kids came in every day asking if they were going to get to work in the garden. It created a healthy, active, and creative outlet for all involved. Soon the garden began to take shape with imaginative details and originality everywhere you looked.

All visitors to the Youth Center are welcomed by exquisitely maintained flower beds that surround the entrance to the building. The youth have created and maintained a beautiful area that enhances the building and greets visitors with beauty and color. These raised gardens are filled with hardy greenery as well as seasonal color and elevated containers that hold a cascade of many varieties of succulents.

NSA-PC youth recycled old materials to create a new space to hold their flowers.

The 4-H Garden Club at NSA-PC is a perfect example of how sometimes a storm that seemingly derails plans actually presents an opportunity for growth, learning, and creating something more beautiful. Ms. Bettina’s 4-H Garden Club could not have come at a more perfect time. The gardening activities allow the youth to get outdoors while learning about different types of plants and how to care for them. Many students initially joined the Garden Club to get outside after the storm due to the playground closure. Youth participating in the 4-H Garden Club at NSA-PC have learned about more than just the science of plants; they are learning to work as a team with improved communication skills in order to continue maintaining their garden as well as environmental awareness and recycling by taking used items to make new treasures for their flower beds.

4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations and includes people from all economic, racial, social, political, and geographic categories. There are no barriers to participation by any young person. Participants are given the opportunity to engage in activities that hold their personal interests while being guided by adult volunteers. If you would like to learn more about 4-H programming in your local area, or how to get involved as a 4-H volunteer, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.

RESOURCES

For more tips and ideas to help build your personal garden, visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ as there are many documents available to help build your personal gardens.

This article was written by Jennifer Sims and Paula Davis.

4-H University is 4 U!

Yes, 4-University is 4 U!  4-H University is one of the premiere state events in Florida 4-H.  Teens get the chance to participate in leadership workshops, explore career opportunities, interact with other 4-Hers from across the state, and have fun while learning how to better successfully engage in their community, country, and world.  Below you will find useful information as well as why you should attend this flagship state 4-H event.

WHY PARTICIPATE?

2018 Gadsden County 4-H University Delegation

  • Fun: We like all things we sign up for to be fun but sometimes they turn out not to be. We assure you, this IS a FUN event.
  • Network:  Connect with like-minded teens from across Florida.
  • Focused learning: Subject matter focused workshops offered are interesting and engaging.
  • Explore:  Visit an awesome college campus!  There are many things to see and do at UF.  It is your chance to visit a college campus.
  • Dorms:  Sleep in a college dorm.  Yes, you and your roomies get a little taste of future dorm life.
  • Leadership: True leaders know that leadership and learning is an on-going process.
  • Service Learning:  Giving back to others feels good.  Fresh ideas keep us focused and committed.
  • Goal Setting: Goals help us to expand our visions.  4-H U helps you set some goals for the future.
  • Being Supportive:  Fellow attendees are competitors and/or candidates running for State 4-H Officers we want to support.
  • Fun: Yes, I mentioned this twice! My Gadsden County 4-H senior youth have enjoyed 4-H U for many years for all the reasons above.  They stress FUN twice!

IMPORTANT REGISTRATION INFORMATION

Dates: July 29-August 1, 2019 (multi-day overnight state 4-H event)
Location: University of Florida, Gainesville
Who: Youth who are 4-H age 14-18
Registration: Opens on May 1 and closes June 30 at 11:59 pm Eastern. The cost is $275.00 for full week. Special one-day only registrations are available. Check out the website for more information.
How: Contact your local 4-H office
Learning opportunities: You do not want to be late registering so that you can have a better chance of getting your choice of track workshop: http://florida4h.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/4HU_2018_Workshop_Descriptions.pdf
More information: For more information, please visit this http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/4-h-university/


CALL TO ACTION:

  1. Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office
  2. Begin the journey as a 4-H Member
  3. Engage in local programs as well as district and state: http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/
  4. Read and share the other great 4-H In The Panhandle blogs by my colleagues
  5. Follow us on Facebook
Introducing the 4-H Food Challenge!

Introducing the 4-H Food Challenge!

basket covered with a cloth

4-H Food Challenge Mystery Basket 

Being creative in the kitchen…using a surprise set of ingredients…making a tasty dish…frequent watcher of The Food Network?  Then the 4-H Food Challenge camp is the summer day camp for you!

Take a Sneak Peek 
Here’s a sample list of possible ingredients in the Fruit & Vegetable category:

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup of celery, sliced
  • 1 ½ cups green bell pepper strips
  • 1/3 cup onions, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges
  • 3 tablespoons of canola oil, divided
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of cornstarch

Any idea what you’d prepare? What would you name your dish?

Participants in the 4-H Food Challenge camp will work in teams with 3 to 4 members. Teams will be presented with:

  • a food category
  • a set of mystery ingredients
  • 40 minutes to create a dish, prepare a presentation about their dish, and clean their work area

When time is up, teams will present their creation to a panel of judges describing their collaboration in creating the dish, food safety practices used by the team, how they worked together, and finally, a description of the dish including some nutrition information.

We all eat, so food safety and preparation are skills that we all need. 4-H Food Challenge campers will learn those skills along with nutrition knowledge, teamwork and presentation skills.  Look for this day camp opportunity in your local UF/IFAS Extension 4-H program this summer, and join us in putting our skills to the test!

*The 4-H Food Challenge is loosely based on The Food Network show “Chopped” and adapted from the Texas 4-H Food Challenge Contest.

Wildflower Seed Bombs: For those who garden AND those who don’t!

Two youth make wildflower seed bombs.

Wildflower seed bombs are a great indoor or outdoor project with unlimited potential for learning.

Wildflower seed bombs are the perfect project for kids itching to get outside.  Even if you don’t have a green thumb or you don’t have outdoor space or the weather isn’t cooperating, you can make seed bombs that will help beautify roadsides, vacant areas and neighborhoods.

Give Them a Toss!

These little beauties don’t get their name from any explosive properties but from the fun you have “launching” them around your yard or neighborhood. As you toss them into places that  aren’t frequently mowed, you beautify your neighborhood and provide an invaluable food sources for native Florida pollinators like bees, wasps, butterflies, and more.

Even though you may be more fond of some pollinators than others, there’s no doubt we need them all. Their pollination services are critical to fruit development in many of our fruiting crops. So if you like squash, cucumbers, melons, almonds and so much more, here’s what you can do to help:

Gather Your Materials

  • Air-dry clay
  • Wildflower seeds
  • Potting Soil

Make Your Seed Bombs

  1. Pinch off a small amount of air-dry clay – enough to make a ball about the size of a bouncy ball or about 1″ diameter.
  2. Work equal parts seeds and soil into the clay and form it into a ball.
    Amounts really are up to you. More seeds = more flowers.
    But, too much soil will keep the ball from holding it’s shape. If this happens, add more clay and either have a bigger bomb, or divide it into two smaller bombs.
  3. Store them in a cool dry place and let them dry out completely in an air-tight container until you’re ready to spread some wildflower cheer.
  4. Now for the fun part!  Toss them where you want flowers to grow.

Things to Consider…

  • The air-dry clay acts as a binder only. It’s natural, non-toxic, and when wet, it will soften and allow the seeds to grow.
  • Before storing in an airtight container, allow your seed bombs out to dry completely.  Even a little moisture will allow the seeds to sprout.
  • Be careful when throwing your seed bombs.
    1. Don’t hit people, animals, or other anything else with them – just the ground.
    2. Throw them where areas don’t get mowed very much.  Some people throw them out along roadways or in abandoned lots. If these places are mowed regularly, they won’t last long if they even get to bloom.
    3. Get permission if you’re throwing them in public places.

Resources

Gardening is just one of the many Florida 4-H programs.  To see what programs are available in your county, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office, or contact your 4-H Agent about starting a gardening program in your county.