First meeting is Sept 26th at 5:30 EST
I am so thrilled to let you know about a new endeavor with Florida 4-H. We are trying a virtual Food Challenge cooking club this year. This is so exciting for me because some of my fondest memories are cooking with my grandmother and Mom. I got to learn how to prepare foods and be creative as I was growing up pulling on their apron strings. I also enjoyed teaching and sharing these skills with my own children. What makes this even better is now I get to share and learn with all of you who join our program.
Paula and Madelyn Cooking together
By joining the new Virtual 4-H Food Challenge Club, you will embark on a fun, yet challenging, food-focused adventure right from the comfort of your kitchen! The club adventure will provide a fun atmosphere for you and your children to have a family time experience building lasting memories together. With the help from Florida 4-H Youth Development Faculty, you will get to unleash your culinary creativity and try delicious recipes while learning kitchen skills from safety, nutrition, and other food related life skills. Families will learn about competitive events related to foods like the Florida Food Challenge Competition. Families will also have the opportunity to make friends with fellow 4-H members across the state.
The virtual club is open to youth members ages 8-18 and will meet once a month starting in September. The club will meet via ZOOM on the following Tuesdays: September 26th, October 24th, November 28th, December 19th, and January 23rd from 5:30 – 6:30 PM ET. We request that adult supervision is present with the youth during the meeting and home practice sessions. The participants will be asked to gather a list of supplies for each monthly meeting as we focus on a new skill for each meeting.
Paula’s family working with herbs to prepare a dish.
During this course we will help families enjoy preparing food, provide you with opportunities to problem solve together and work as a family team as practice preparation for the Florida 4-H Food Challenge! If you join us, your family will learn how to prepare and create yummy dishes with a predetermined set of ingredients. By the end of the program, your family should have some new recipes for your cooking toolbox, learned essential cooking skills and created wonderful memories from your time together. Do not miss this flavorful opportunity – sign up now via Florida 4-H Online and get cooking with 4-H! If you are not a member of a current 4-H Club there is a $20 membership fee associated with this club. If you are unable to join our virtual club, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office to see if there is an active Food Challenge group that you can join. If not, work with your 4-H or FCS Agent(s) to identify two caring adults who could fill this role.
Enroll, Grab your ingredients, and get ready to join us via Zoom on September 26th@ 5:30 EST
While returning to school may be exciting to some children, for others the back-to-school season is a time of anxiety and heightened stress. Whether you are a parent or an adult who works closely with youth, there are steps to take that can help young people manage stress and build a foundation for school success.
In my role with 4-H, I serve as a member of University of Florida faculty specializing in youth development and volunteer systems in the Wakulla County Extension office. My work involves collaborating with and supporting local youth, their families, adult volunteers, and community partners. This summer, I completed Mental Health First Aid Training, a program offered by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. This training is available to any interested adult or teen. Visit this site for more information: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/. The training was an excellent refresher that helped bring me up to date on ways to support youth and families in our community. Mental health concerns often differ by age. What may be worrisome to your elementary school aged child has will likely differ from what will trouble your high school aged teen.
Getting the Conversation Started
Over the course of twenty-eight years and counting as an educator, I have had the opportunity to work with youth and young adults ranging from pre-school to college. The one concern I can confidently say that
The new school year is about to start!
youth of any age are likely to share is a fear of the unknown. While the unknowns change from year to year and differ between children, one way to handle potential worries is to talk about them. Consider these conversation starters to help your child discuss the new school year:
- What do you most look forward to experiencing/doing this school year?
- If you could change one thing about the last school year, what would it be? Why?
- What are you most hoping to learn/do this school year?
While some children will take these questions and run with them, other children may be less eager to communicate or just less enthusiastic about the new year. Parents may want to adjust their questions to address stressors that accompany back to school time and how to alleviate those concerns.
Tips for the Early Years of Elementary School
For younger children, driving by the school building may help alleviate nerves. You may not get to visit a classroom inside the school until a scheduled Open House event, but seeing the place and discussing what the school day involves can help to dispel some worry. Tips for easing the back-to-school jitters for elementary school:
- Establish the back-to-school bedtime routine. Helping to get sleep routines back on the school year schedule is a good first step to success.
- Practice the morning routine. Consider timing it. Make it a game. What steps are needed to get everyone out the door on time? Practicing this routine for a few days will help everyone make better school day decisions such as whether to lay out clothes and school supplies the night before, make lunch or snacks the night before, and can help everyone feel less stressed on school days.
- Plan for lunch and practice lunch time skills. If you are sending a packed lunch or snacks, can your child open the packages without help? Does your child like what you are sending? Involving children in planning lunch and snacks can help ensure food is eaten and not wasted.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers helpful back to school tips for kindergarten through school on the HealthyChildren.Org page located at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/school/Pages/back-to-school-tips.aspx.
Tips to Manage Middle School
In middle school, school expectations for youth increase with each grade level. The Nemours Foundation offers advice specific to the middle school years:
- Visit the school website with your youth. Review school policies together.
- Discuss goals for the school year together. The middle school years offer opportunities to develop organizational skills and start to make choices about how to allocate their time.
- Work together to develop a realistic nutrition plan. Your middle school child may prioritize sleep over a healthy breakfast. Discussing your expectations about how and what your child eats to be well-prepared for the school will help ensure they can follow a plan that works for both of you.
For more tips about supporting your middle school student for success, visit the Nemours Kids Health web page at https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/school-help-middle.html.
Tips to Finish Strong in High School
The high school years come with a different set of stressors and the concerns your child has entering ninth grade will likely be different than the concerns they have entering senior year. For youth entering the ninth grade, high school may seem intimidating. Youth have experienced the heights of eighth grade, when they are the oldest in middle school. Then, ninth grade rolls around and students are back on the lowest rungs of the school pecking order once again. Add the pressure of an environment where grades and extracurricular activities may impact a child’s future beyond the high school years and the perfect formula for stress is created. How can parents support a newly minted high school student?
- Discuss course choices with the school course catalog as a guide. The school guidance counselor can help you locate the guide if it is not available on the school website.
- Determine what goals your child want to set. Do they want to take a language, join a school club, try out for a sport?
- Is your child leaning toward vocational studies? What requirements do they need to fulfill to enter a vocational program?
Setting academic and post-high school goals as early as eighth or ninth grade can help alleviate some stress in the final years of high school. Youth in tenth and eleventh grades will either work to maintain a positive trajectory or they will need to do self-examination to determine how to get back on a track that will get them where they want to go. Youth at this age may be considering after-school jobs or may take advantage of dual enrollment course options.
Youth entering twelfth grade, along with their families, are about to embark on an emotional roller coaster ride. High school seniors and their parents will experience a number of “last time this will happen” moments, beginning with the first day of school. The final year of high school can be bittersweet. This last year will also carry the weight of the future with it. Some youth may find themselves overwhelmed by the unknowns and the many decisions that may be facing them as they prepare for a life beyond high school. To ease some of this stress, have family discussions about the school year before classes begin. Plan on check ins throughout the year. The emotions a student may feel in August may differ significantly from what they are feeling in February when peers begin to receive college acceptances. Possible questions to ask early in senior year:
- What deadlines should we have on our calendar?
- When are payments due for college applications, senior trips, cap and gown, invitations?
- What parts of senior year do you want family members to experience and what part of senior year will be just for you and your friends? This is the time to start planning for sports or band senior nights, gatherings for Homecoming or Prom, and graduation parties.
Handling Challenges and Opportunities Together
Follow these tips to start school strong this year!
Whether you are the nervous parent of a kindergartener or the proud parent of a high school senior, the new school year will bring challenges to manage as well as opportunities to make new family memories. Planning ahead and keeping the lines of communication flowing between family members will help the school year flow more smoothly for parents and students alike. If you are looking for new youth or volunteer activities to add to your family’s routine this school year, consider contacting your local Extension office for youth activities and volunteer opportunities.
Additional Back-to-School Stress Management Resources
The American Institute of Stress. (2019). 15 Ways to Beat Back-to-School Stress. Retrieved July 25, 2023 from https://www.stress.org/15-ways-to-beat-back-to-school-stress.
Borenstein, J. (2019). Back-to-School Stress Management. Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.
Retrieved July 25, 2023 from https://www.bbrfoundation.org/blog/back-school-stress-management#:~:text=Each%20weekend%2C%20spend%20some%20time,likely%20to%20stick%20to%20them.
JED Foundation. (2023). 8 Ways to Lower Stress in High School. Retrieved July 25, 2023 from https://jedfoundation.org/resource/8-ways-to-lower-stress-in-high-school/.
With the holiday season fast approaching, everyone’s favorite dishes will soon appear on the dinner table. Everyone has different taste buds, so that means everyone has different favorite dishes. I know that I am looking forward to sweet potato soufflé and deviled eggs, but I could definitely do without the cranberry sauce. Unfortunately, many parents find themselves in a bind trying to feed their picky eaters. Remember, you are not alone in this battle, and try not to get too frustrated by this typical behavior. This article includes some tips on what to avoid and strategies to help your favorite picky eater!
Eat family style. Trying sharing a meal together, as a whole family, as often as you can. This means sitting at a table and turning off the distractions like TV, radio, or cell phones at mealtime. When preparing for your family’s well-balanced meal, incorporate at least one food you know that your picky eater likes. Eating family style also allows for you to set a good example! That squash on your plate may not look appetizing to your picky eater, but if they see you try it, they may be more apt to as well!
Try, try again! Just because a picky eater refuses different foods once, doesn’t mean they won’t ever like it. Keep offering new foods and those your picky eater didn’t like before. It can take as many as seven times to taste food before your taste buds accept it. I can remember as a child disliking anything colored with green vegetables. This could have been salad, peas, green beans, lima beans, or another vegetable. As an adult, I have come to enjoy all of these vegetables and many more! If I had not tried them again, I still may not know if I like them or not.
Make food fun. There are many ways to accomplish this. Youth are typically open to trying foods arranged in eye-popping, creative ways. Make foods look irresistible by arranging them in fun, colorful shapes they can recognize. Finger foods and foods that you dip are also a big hit! Try involving your picky eater in meal planning and prep. Let them pick which fruit and vegetable to add to dinner, or pick them out at the grocery store. Read kid-friendly cookbooks together and let them pick out new recipes to try. Involve them in some of the cooking tasks, such as sifting, stirring, counting ingredients, or picking garden fresh herbs or vegetables.
Finding the right pair. When serving unfamiliar foods, pair the food with something that is familiar. Many picky eaters will not try broccoli alone, but if you add cheese to it, it becomes a whole new dish!
Fight over food. If your picky eater refuses to eat their meal, avoid making a hassle over it. It is important for individuals to learn to listen to their bodies, which will tell them when they are hungry or not. It is up to the adult to provide the food, and it is the other’s decision to eat. Pressuring them into eating, or punishing them if they don’t, can make them actively dislike foods they may otherwise have liked.
Bribes. This goes along with fighting over their food. While it may be tempting to bribe your picky eater to try something, this is not how food should be handled. Bribing to eat the “yucky” food makes the “prize” food that much more exciting. This can lead to future trouble at the dinner table.
What is a Growth Mindset?
A vital skill we encourage in 4-H youth is to set goals and objectives to reach those goals. But what happens when they face a challenge that’s hard and scary or when they fail? With so much emphasis placed on achievement, success, and winning, is it possible for us to grow through challenges or failures? Absolutely! And 4-H provides opportunities to do just that. 4-H uses several theories, models, and frameworks to “do” positive youth development. One of the models we use is the 4-H Thriving Model (Arnold, 2018). This model describes what happens when 4-H programs provide the conditions for youth to explore their sparks in a safe environment and are supported by positive relationships with adults and other youth. One of the concepts related to the 4-H Thriving Model is the growth mindset. According to Carol Dweck (2006), our mindset can contribute to our success or our failure. You can think of the mindset as a spectrum. On one end is the fixed mindset and on the other end is the growth mindset.
First, let’s look at the opposite mindset – the fixed mindset and its tendencies:
- Avoids challenges
- Quits/gives up quickly or easily
- Negative self-image/self-talk
- Effort is pointless
- Avoids or ignores feedback or criticism
- Resentful of other’s successes
- Critical and judgmental of others
- Places blame elsewhere/makes excuses.
Conversely, the growth mindset and its tendencies might look like this:
- Embraces challenges
- Doesn’t give up easily/charges ahead
- Is realistic but compassionate to self
- Effort is part of the journey
- Learns from feedback and criticism
- Is inspired by and celebrates the successes of others
- Helpful and caring to others
- Looks for and believes in possibilities.
Why is a Growth Mindset Important?
Youth and adults who have a growth mindset are more motivated to learn, have better relationships, and are more resilient. As individuals, we all fall somewhere on the mindset spectrum. Sometimes we may have a fixed mindset in one area (such as public speaking) but have a growth mindset in another area (such as being a good writer). I’ve seen both mindsets played out many times in the livestock show arena, at shotgun matches, at the Chick Chain poultry show, and at the tailgate grilling contest. One of my senior 4-Hers came in second place in Chick Chain showmanship. Instead of being upset about not winning, his comment was,
“[4-Her] was really good. I learned a lot by watching him, so I know what to practice for next year.”
On the opposite side, I’ve overheard kids (and parents) exclaim something like ‘there’s no use in showing a pig because nobody can beat [4-Her].’ How could you encourage the growth mindset in that moment? By saying something like, “So what can you do differently? Besides winning, what else are you learning?”
As 4-H professionals and volunteers, we can support the development of a growth mindset to help youth thrive. Knowing where youth fall on the mindset spectrum can help you design and scaffold 4-H experiences to develop a growth mindset over time. For example, if we go back to the example of a youth who has a fixed mindset that they are bad at public speaking. As a caring adult, look for other ways that youth can develop confidence in communicating with others. Encourage them to start by using their spark (such as photography, art, or poetry) to communicate with others and share their project experiences. As they become more confident, encourage them to prepare exhibits, deliver team demonstrations, or even serve in a leadership position as an officer or committee chair.
Do you know where you are on the mindset spectrum? Before we can help youth thrive, we need to know whether we have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. Take this assessment to determine where you fall on the mindset spectrum http://blog.mindsetworks.com/what-s-my-mindset.
To learn more about growth mindset, I highly recommend Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, PhD. I challenge you to implement these tips with your 4-Hers this year!
Arnold, M. E. (2018). From context to outcomes: Adolescent thriving in 4-H Youth Development Programs. Journal of Human Science and Extension, 6(1), 141-160.
Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House.
It’s hard to believe the 4th of July is already upon us!
Youth learning to grill during 4-H tailgate program
Many of us will be celebrating with picnics, cookouts, and family get-togethers. One of my colleagues in Clay County, Samantha Murray, did a great article about preventing food poisoning while celebrating. Our youth have also been attending grilling summer camp programs and learning many of these tips plus lots more. The youth have learned about how to use a grill safely, how to prepare food safely and prevent cross-contamination or food-borne illness, and the nutritional benefits of animal protein in diets. Our district will have its annual competition to advance to the state-level competition on July 30 at the Washington County Extension Office, in Chipley, Florida.
I just wanted to take a moment to recap the tips Samantha gave to keep all of us safe and healthy while celebrating.
- Keep raw meats in a separate cooler than ready-to-eat items or beverages.
- Foods with mayonnaise are less acidic creating a better environment for bacterial growth
- Chicken and ground beef needs to be cooked to 165°F
- Wash hands if soap and water are not available use hand sanitizer to reduce the risk of contaminating food.
- Use different tongs or spatulas for cooked and uncooked meat or wash them after being in contact with raw meat.
- It is recommended to refrigerate leftovers within two hours unless it’s really hot, then the window shrinks to about an hour.
Other items you may want to think about.
- Keep beverages in a separate cooler from other foods, people will be going in and out of beverage coolers much more keeping the temperature higher and allowing bacterial growth.
- Cook cuts of pork, beef, or shrimp to 145°F
- Don’t sit charcoal grills on plastic tables and make sure the area is free from debris that can catch fire, including limbs or tents overhead.
- Clean up after yourself leaving only footprints in the area you were in!
- Enjoy time with friends and family safely!
For more information about educational programs, check out our webpage or contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office.
Summer is right around the corner. As much as we all love the sunshine feeling on our face and body, too much of a good thing can be harmful! It is always important to remember our family’s well-being, take responsibility for our personal safety, and make healthy decisions, even while having a fun time. Here are some short sun safety reminders to make your summer a fun and enjoyable experience for you and your family members!
Plan Your Day Around the Clock
The sun shares its most harmful rays in the middle of the day so plan this time for indoor use. The sun’s rays are most harmful between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM so make outdoor time in the early morning or early evening when it is less intense. This also keeps your food at safer temperatures as well so your ice (or you) won’t melt as fast.
Protect Your Body
Look for SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.
One of the easiest defenses against the sun is sometimes one of the most forgotten, sunscreen! Be sure to lather up in sunscreen BEFORE you go outside. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends liberally applying a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 or higher, as these formulas will block UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to apply at least 30 minutes prior to going outside. Once outside, continue to apply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming. Not sure what kind of sunscreen blocks UVA and UVB rays? Look for a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher with the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these ingredients will do the job. Remember to coat your ears, neck, tops of feet, etc.
Remember to grab your sunglasses too! Your eyeballs are just as sensitive as your skin so blocking UVA and UBA rays from your eyes are important to. Fashionable sunglasses are great if you are into that but being able to protect your eyes is the goal.
Remember to keep your pets cool too!
Most everyone enjoys getting outside this time of year to soak up some sunshine and enjoy the beautiful day. In fact, it’s true that some amount of sunlight is healthy for your body and mind. However, as we know all too well sometimes, too much exposure can be detrimental and lead to sunburn, heat exhaustion and more. Thus, it is a good idea to find balance by setting a time limit on sun exposure, if possible. If time slips past you because you and your family are having too much fun, set an alarm as a friendly reminder. Make this your “shade time” for a water break, game of cards, or a brief nap. Be sure to always have an umbrella or tent on hand in case no shade is available.
It is very easy to get dehydrated in the summertime. Drink water throughout the day. Don’t wait until you get hot and thirsty. Drink water to maintain your hydration before it is depleted. This will help avoid those nasty summer headaches and tummy aches. Taking your pet with you? Don’t forget Fido’s water bowl too!
UV Bead Activity
Looking for a really cool lesson to teach your children about the risk factors associated with sun exposure and UV rays? Check out this 4-H activity 4-H + Me = Health: Sun Safety from Minnesota Extension Service’s Exploring Your Body, Helper’s Guide. In this activity, children can make their own beaded bracelets that change colors when exposed to UV light. This is a great way for children to understand UV light, cloud coverage, sunscreen SPFs and more!
UV Beads with no sun exposure.
4-H has plenty of educational programming, both outdoors and indoors, to keep your children engaged this summer! From gardening to robots, archery to grilling, 4-H has something for everyone. If you are looking for fun, educational activities during the summer while maintaining a safe environment for your child, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org
UV Beads with sun exposure.