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April Showers Us With Generosity

The month of April brings one of my favorite times of the year.  We have the Easter Bunny showering us with treats on Easter and the Earth dancing on its axis for Earth Day.  Pick any type of towering tree for Arbor Day and then there are a gazillion funny pranks and jokes to be told for April Fool’s Day.  Add a week to highlight the wonderful generosity of volunteers giving in organizations around the world and you have one fabulous month of the year!  That’s right!  April dedicates a week each year, National Volunteer Appreciation Week, to recognizing and celebrating individuals that give of themselves to help others.

Kim Gilbert is a 4-H volunteer that values both the impacts she makes and receives from being involved in 4-H.

To help the month of April highlight our NW District’s large green family of fabulous 4-H volunteers, let me introduce you to one of my 4-H volunteers befitting of April, 4-H, volunteering, and bunnies, oh my!  Meet Kim Gilbert, a Holmes County 4-H Volunteer, who has been the Rabbiteers Club Leader for the past two years.  With two daughters in 4-H of her own, she is a true example of a 4-H parent, volunteer, and supporter.  Kim fully supports the idea of 4-H being a big family and continually emphasizes this point in her 4-H club meetings.  She believes in 4-H’s essential elements and strongly stresses belonging and generosity with her club members.  As Kim explains, “You become a big family when you join 4-H and you can count on everyone to help out and pitch in.  I love my 4-H family!”

 

Chloe, learned to show her rabbit before a judge in a local 4-H fair.

Kim is always full of enthusiasm, encouragement, and new ideas that she shares with the youth and their rabbits. Armed with a soft rabbit in each arm and usually sweets for each club member too, Kim hops off to get her club meeting started.  With a background in raising, breeding, and judging rabbits, Kim is knowledgeable in a variety of rabbit breeds including Holland Lops, English Lops, Polish, Lionheads, Angoras, and Giant Angoras.  Not raised in 4-H as a child herself, she is thankful that she is able to provide 4-H opportunities to her own daughters and also give back by volunteering through leading the 4-H Rabbiteer Club.  Since Kim’s involvement with the Rabbiteers, Holmes County 4-H youth have learned how to participate in showmanship in local rabbit shows and fairs. When not leading club meetings, Kim will often times volunteer to work on exhibits and events to help staff and other clubs.

When asked which of the 4 H’s best represented her, i.e. Head, Heart, Hands, or Health, Kim stated that was actually a very hard question.  As a 4-H Agent who has worked closely with her for two years, I had no doubt which one represented her immediately but I patiently waited for her own reply with a secret smile on my face.  After a moment, Kim replies, “I would say it is a tie between Hand and Heart but if I had to choose, I guess I will go with Heart.”  Without a doubt, she nailed the answer perfectly! Kim is definitely one that is always thinking of others first, whether it is a simple note of well wishes or a thoughtful goodie bag of treats for each youth.  She leads the youth and other adults with her heart and demonstrates the role of a 4-H club leader very well, truly encompassing the passion that was founded when 4-H adopted the motto “to make the Best Better.”

Kim is a true advocate of 4-H, firmly believing that not only does she positively impact youth as a 4-H volunteer but that she is being impacted by the organization as well.

According to Kim, “4-H has totally impacted my life in a way that I would not have seen two years ago.  It has changed the way I look at things, how I handle things and has also taught me more things about my own self.  4-H has also brought my own family closer, learning to share more with each other.”  Ah, there’s that generosity component we 4-Hers love to spread so much!

Hop on over to http://florida4h.org/volunteers_/ to join our 4-H family!

With truly caring volunteers in our 4-H family, it’s no wonder that 4-H is one of the nation’s largest youth development organizations in the world.  If you are not a 4-H volunteer yet, what is stopping you?  Hop on over to our website at http://florida4h.org/volunteers_/  to join our 4-H family as a volunteer!  We have something for everyone!

Tips for Healthier Holiday Cooking

Tips for Healthier Holiday Cooking

Holiday MyPlateThe holidays are often filled with time-honored traditions that include some of our favorite meals and foods. As you celebrate, think of little changes you can make this holiday season to create healthier meals and active days. An added bonus, these small changes may help you to avoid those extra holiday pounds we all fear each year. Happy Cooking!

In the Kitchen:
• For gravies or sauces — if you are making pan gravy, first skim the fat off pan drippings. For cream or white sauces, use fat-free (skim) milk and soft tub or liquid margarine.
• For dressings or stuffing — add low-sodium broth or pan drippings with the fat skimmed off instead of lard or butter. Use herbs and spices and a whole grain bread for added flavor.
• For biscuits — use vegetable oil instead of lard or butter and fat-free (skim) milk or 1 percent buttermilk instead of regular milk.
• For greens — use skin-free smoked turkey, liquid smoke, fat-free bacon bits, or low-fat bacon instead of fatty meats.
• For sweet potato pie — mash sweet potato with orange juice concentrate, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, and only one egg. Leave out the butter.
• For cakes, cookies, quick breads, and pancakes — use egg whites or egg substitute instead of whole eggs. Two egg whites can be substituted in many recipes for one whole egg.
• Use unsweetened applesauce or mashed ripe bananas instead of butter.
• Try cutting the amount of sugar listed in recipes in half.
• Use spices to add flavor such as cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg instead of salt.
• Try baked apples with cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar instead of apple pie.
• Invite your guests to make their own parfait with colorful sliced fruit and low-fat yogurt.

For meats and poultry (chicken and turkey):
• Trim away all of the visible fat from meats and poultry before cooking.
• Take off poultry skin before eating.
• Broil, grill, roast, poach, or boil meat, poultry, or fish instead of frying.
• Drain off any fat that appears during cooking.
• Chill meat and poultry broth until fat becomes solid. Skim off fat before using the broth.
• Skip or limit the breading on meat, poultry, or fish. Breading adds fat and calories. It will also cause the food to soak up more fat during frying.
• Choose and prepare foods without high fat sauces or gravies.

When Shopping:
• Start with a lean choice.
• The leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts (round eye, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder and arm roasts.
• The leanest pork choices include pork loin, tenderloin, center loin, and ham.
• Boneless skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets are the leanest poultry choice.

Use the food label to help you choose
• Choose extra lean ground beef. The label should say at least “90% lean.” You may be able to find ground beef that is 93% or 95% lean.
• Processed meats such as hams, sausages, frankfurters, and luncheon or deli meats have added sodium. Check the ingredient and Nutrition Facts label to help limit sodium intake.
• Fresh chicken, turkey, and pork that have been enhanced with a salt-containing solution also have added sodium. Check the product label for statements such as “self-basting” or “contains up to __% of __.”
• Lower fat versions of many processed meats are available. Look on the Nutrition Facts label to choose products with less fat and saturated fat.

De-Saturate
• Use a nonstick pan with vegetable cooking oil spray or a small amount of liquid vegetable oil instead of lard, butter, shortening, or other fats that are solid at room temperature.

Enjoy the Food, Fun, Friends and Family!
Cheers to Good Health
• Quench your thirst with low-calorie options. Drink water with lemon or lime slices. Offer seltzer water with a splash of 100% fruit juice.

Be the Life of the Party
• Laugh, mingle, dance, and play games. Focus on fun and enjoy the company of others.

Give to Others
• Spend time providing foods or preparing meals for those who may need a little help. Give food to a local food bank or volunteer to serve meals at a shelter during the holiday season. Giving back is a great mood booster.

Make Exercise a Part of the Fun
• Make being active part of your holiday tradition. Have fun walking and talking with family and friends after a holiday meal. Give gifts that encourage others to practice healthy habits such as workout DVDs, running shoes, and reusable water bottles.

Enjoy the Leftovers
• Create delicious new meals with your leftovers. Add turkey to soups or salads. Use extra veggies in omelets, sandwiches, or stews. The possibilities are endless!

Be sure your family and friends enjoy the food and fun, but focus on the time together. Remember this season is all about the memories, not just the food. You will feel better and enjoy your holiday time with less worry if you focus on staying healthy this season.

Source: USDA United States Department of Agriculture – www.MyPlate.gov

4-H Grows Generosity: “I Pledge my Hands to Larger Service”

Leon County 4-Hers grow gratitude and compassion through service-learning

Leon County 4-Hers grow gratitude and compassion through service-learning

Developing a heart for giving back and helping others is one of the most important personal benefits youth can obtain through active involvement in a 4-H program. During this season of thanks , 4-H members all over the United States will put the third sentence of the 4-H pledge into action as they “pledge their hands to larger service” by planning and carrying out a multitude of community service activities to help families that are in need. Since its inception in the early 1900’s the 4-H program has place an emphasis on improving the community in which they live through the guidance and care of adult volunteers.

As we pause this week to celebrate the season of “Thanks” we must also remember to emphasize to our youth that the focus should not be on who can consume the most food, but instead to use the meal as a vehicle to connect with family and friends while enjoying their company. Adults and youth alike should take a pledge during the meal time that no one will post, text, or make a call during family time…but instead exercise some of the great communication skills they have learned in 4-H and get to know each other better. It’s amazing how much our families and friends don’t know about us even though we see them almost every day. Youth should also be encouraged to think of those that are less fortunate and seek out ways they can help those in need as a club, family or as an individual project. A great club or family game can be initiated that requires youth, friends and family members to write a list of all the things they are thankful for and provide fun prizes for the winners… which should be everyone that participates.

As a 4-H Youth Development Professional I am also grateful that the largest serving youth program in the world continues to make a positive impact on the lives of young people. Using the 4-H pledge as a guide I have shared just a few impacts below.

I pledge my head to clearer learning…”I’m thankful that through active participation in a variety of programs and activities youth are learning decision making skills that will help them in school and later in life as they develop into responsible adults”.

I pledge my heart to greater loyalty…” I’m grateful that continual 4-H club involvement provides youth an opportunity to build caring relationships with members of the club as well as the adult volunteer leaders.

I pledge my hands to larger service…I’m thankful that the community service projects that are carried out in each club entitles you to make someone’s life a little brighter.

I pledge my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world….I’m thankful that through their participation and completion of projects youth are learning what to put in their bodies to keep them healthy as well as what not to put in them.

ThanksLet’s continue to use 4-H as a vehicle to make our world better by taking time to invest in your future leaders of tomorrow…..our 4-H members of today.  Help 4-H continue to grow by joining as a member or volunteer.  Florida 4-H offers a wide variety of programs and volunteer roles to fit your skills, interests, and schedule.  Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.

Three Simple Ideas for Teaching Your Child Gratitude

Gratitude Activities for KidsGratitude is a tricky concept to teach children. It is essential for our happiness, but easily overlooked in the hustle and bustle of our busy everyday lives. With Thanksgiving approaching, it is a great opportunity to do an activity with your kids to help reinforce the concept of gratitude. Here are three simple ideas that you may want to incorporate into your Thanksgiving festivities (or anytime of year):

Thankfulness Tablecloth– purchase an inexpensive plain tablecloth (a muslin painter’s drop cloth is an inexpensive option). Ask family members to write what they are thankful for with a permanent marker onto the tablecloth. You can assign each family member a different color, or use a different color each year. If your children are not reading age, ask them to draw a picture of what they are thankful for. Add to the tablecloth each year.

What Would It Feel Like Without Game…Ask each member of the family to think of something they are thankful for and then ask them to describe what it would feel like if they didn’t have what they are thankful for. For example, I am thankful for a car that works and it would be hard to take my kids to school, soccer practice, and 4-H club meetings if I didn’t have a car that runs.

Gratitude Time Capsule- Ask each member of the family to write or draw something they are grateful for. Have them date and sign the slip of paper, then place the slips of paper in a mason jar. Have the kids help dig a hole in the yard to bury the jar. Do this each year and then dig up the previous year’s jar to see what has changed.

We hope you will consider adding one of these activities to your Thanksgiving traditions. Gratitude leads to Generosity, which is one of the Essential Elements youth need in order to grow up to be confident, capable citizens. Fostering a sense of generosity is just one way the 4-H volunteers and parents help youth. This time of year, 4-H Agents are especially thankful for the incredible 4-H volunteers who are making a real difference in hundreds of thousands of youths’ lives all across our state. 4-H volunteers are the core of the Florida 4-H Program and we THANK YOU for your service!  For more information about 4-H, or becoming a volunteer, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.