Healthy Living is one of the 4-H’s. While your club may not specifically focus on what is traditionally considered to be “healthy living” activities, you might be surprised about much your 4-H club is contributing to the mental and physical well-being of youth members. After we recognize that all our clubs have a role to play in implementing healthy living strategies across the county 4-H program, we can start to consider ways to be intentional in how we incorporate healthy living into 4-H activities and projects.
What does a 4-H Healthy Living program include? A 4 H Healthy Living program or strategy is any activity or program component that can help youth lead lives that balance physical, mental, and emotional health.
According to the National 4-H Council, 4-H Healthy Living programs include objectives that can help “empower youth to be healthy – body and mind – with the skills to make healthy decisions and lead healthy lifestyles. Having the confidence and skills to lead healthy lifestyles not only improves overall well-being; it enables youth to tackle life’s challenges today and become leaders in their lives, careers, and communities as they grow into responsible adulthood” (National 4-H Council, 2021). Your club focus might fit into one of the following program areas: mind, body, leadership, or mentorship.
As a club leader, you may encourage your youth to adopt goals and projects that will cover multiple program areas. Introducing healthy living during club meetings is another way to incorporate these concepts and help youth develop healthier habits.
With so many possible topics to consider, it may seem overwhelming to choose a starting point. In this article, a few suggestions will be explored.
It may be surprising to learn that youth, like adults, are not getting enough sleep. Regularly missing hours of sleep or experiencing poor sleep quality can contribute to a variety of issues for youth. The Sleep Foundation is one resource to use for tips on how to encourage our 4-H members to adopt better sleep habits (Pacheco, 2021).
Some ideas for helping your 4-H youth learn about the importance of sleep and how to develop better sleep habits include the activities and lessons listed in the links below this paragraph. Consider challenging your youth to set healthy sleep goals for one month. Discuss the potential benefits during your goal setting activity. At the end of the month, discuss how youth felt on days when the sleep goals were met and how they felt on days when they did not meet their goal.
Activity for Teens (Intermediates and Seniors)
University of Wisconsin Extension. 2007. “4-H Get Fit, That’s It. Lesson 2: Are You Getting Enough Sleep.” Link to activity: https://api.ag.purdue.edu/api/DepotWS/File.ashx?t=f&i=98730
Activity for Elementary School Age (Juniors 4-H Members)
The Nemours Foundation. 2015. Sleep. Kids’ Health in the Classroom.
One way to incorporate a healthy living strategy into your 4-H program is offering water at all your meetings and limiting the inclusion of other beverages. A 4-H lesson on hydration can include STEM principles as youth can calculate their daily water needs based on their body weight. A fun way to encourage water consumption is to personalize reusable water bottles as a club activity and to award points to youth who remember to bring their bottles to meetings and activities.
All Ages Lesson and Activity
National 4-H Council.2020. How Much Water Do You Need? 4-H Healthy Living Activity Guide.
Other Ways to Incorporate Healthy Living into Your Club Programs
Activities designed to improve sleep and hydration are only two of many possible ways to incorporate healthy living into your 4-H program. Healthy Living activities can incorporate exercise, nutrition, and ways to improve and maintain mental health.
Caruso, L.; Shelnut, K.; Kauwell, G. 2017. Hydration Myths. UF/IFAS Extension. Retrieved January 16, 2022 from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FY1409.
National 4-H Council. 2021. Healthy Living. Retrieved January 16, 2022 from https://4-h.org/parents/healthy-living/.
Pacheco, D. 2021. Children and Sleep. The National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved January 16, 2022 from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep.
University of California 4-H Youth Development Program. 2022. Sleep for Better Living. Retrieved January 16, 2022 from https://4h.ucanr.edu/Projects/HealthyLiving/Sleep_for_Better_Living/
Greetings, my name is Marie Arick and I am the County Extension Director, 4-H and Family & Consumer Sciences Agent in Liberty County. Beginning in 2019, I stepped into this complex, but rewarding position and have worked with volunteers, community partners and other Agents on some amazing projects.
The 4-H program provides a diverse array of opportunities for youth ages 8 to 18. One great example is the Liberty County Livestock Club. This club provides a variety of animal projects and agricultural judging opportunities. As an Agent, I support my volunteers with curriculum, training opportunities and fund raising. This club successfully fund-raised enough money to buy a set of portable livestock scales to aid with animal projects.
School enrichment is a large part of 4-H programming for Liberty County youth. The two most successful are the Ag Adventures and the Embryology in the Classroom programs. Ag Adventures introduces youth to many crops and their uses. While teaching cotton in the field during this program, it surprised me how many youths did not know that our ‘paper’ money contains cotton. With embryology, each year is met with excitement when we enter the classroom with the incubators and eggs. The daily lessons include learning the parts of the egg and following the growth of the chick. Egg candling sessions allow me the opportunity to see how much the kids have learned and there is no shortage of enthusiasm when the chicks hatch. While Covid-19 did inhibit Ag Adventures for 2020, it did not stop Embryology. All incubators and supporting equipment along with the eggs were delivered to the schools. Lesson videos were created and other supporting materials were all placed on a closed Google site for the teachers to utilize.
Embryology Google Site
4-H University Cheese Making
As an Agent, one experience that never gets old is to ask a group of 4-H youth if they think they can transform a gallon of milk, using a few additional ingredients and a recipe, into mozzarella cheese. I absolutely love watching the skeptics successfully participate in the workshop and create their mozzarella cheese. In the process, these youth learn about food safety, kitchen safety, recipe literacy and adherence. The ‘learn by doing’ motto drives this experience.
Prior to adding 4-H to my Extension Agent assignment, I still incorporated youth into my Jackson County Family & Consumer Sciences programming, specifically culinary arts. Cooking is a life skill, we all eat! What better way to introduce food safety, kitchen safety, nutrition, and a variety of food preparation methods to youth than through culinary arts. Once I transitioned into a 4-H role, I added cheese making, grilling, food challenge, food preservation and more. Kids are more likely to try a new food, or an old favorite prepared in a healthier manner, if they make it themselves.
Carlos Staley, UF Intern
The above programs have shown great success, but 4-H offers a broad range of programs and there is something for everyone. My reward is each child’s success. It is even more gratifying when a former high school student that participated in the culinary arts school enrichment program for two years is now attending UF studying food science. The icing on the cake, so to speak, is when he becomes your UF summer intern!
I am a Mississippi State University graduate with a BS in Exercise Science and a MS in Health Promotion. After a long stint in the medical field, I transitioned to my second career choosing Extension. I began working with Texas A & M AgriLife Extension prior to transitioning to the University of Florida IFAS Extension in 2015. Extension is extremely rewarding, but in my down time I enjoy kayaking, gardening, and reading.
Summer is upon us and so is the heat in the Florida Panhandle. Schools are out and the kids are at home needing activities to do together. Homemade Freezer Pops are an excellent source of fun! These popsicles can be secretly healthy and taste absolutely delicious. They don’t have to just be for the kids either, adults of all shapes and sizes can enjoy them too. In this article we will discuss what freezer pops are, how to make them, and a few tips for maximum enjoyment!
What are Freezer Pops?
A freezer pop is a frozen treat that generally comes in a clear, plastic tube. Freezer pops, not to be confused with popsicles which are typically consumed off a wooden popsicle stick, are found in grocery stores in unfrozen liquid form, ready for the consumer to pop them into their freezer at home! Once frozen solid, the consumer picks their flavor of choice, cuts open an end of the plastic tube, and simply squeezes or pushes the sweet ice out of the packaging.
Many of us know these sweet and fruity slushy pops as Otter Pops or Fla-Vor-Ice. These nostalgic treats are simply made from sweetened, colored, and flavored water. With little nutritional value coming from the store-bought version, homemade freezer pops can be much more nutritious. Keep following along to find out how to make these tasty treats!
How to make Homemade Freezer Pops
Freezer pops are super easy to make and are a healthier alternative to the nostalgic treat. Before you get started, you will need all the necessary supplies. Supplies commonly found at home would include a freezer and a blender. Supplies that can be bought at the store are Zipzicles (a freezer pop reusable plastic bag) or silicone ice pop molds, fruit of your choice, and a natural sweetener like honey.
Step 1: Wash your hands! Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from spreading germs. You should wash hands before, during, and after preparing your food. To wash your hands the right way, first wet your hands with warm, clean, running water. Then turn off the tap and apply your soap. Lather your hands (make lots of white foams/bubbles) by rubbing them together with the soap. Make sure you lather the back of your hands, between your fingers, under your nails, and palm of your hands. Scrub for about twenty seconds. (Don’t know how long 20 seconds is? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from the beginning to the end twice!) Finally, rinse your hands well under warm, clean, running water and either dry with a clean towel or air dry. (1)
Step 2: Gather your ingredients to be blended. There are lots of fruits that make great homemade ice pops: watermelon, orange, pineapple, mango, raspberry, honeydew, cantaloupe, and strawberry! (3)
One of my favorite recipes for freezer pops uses 10 ounces of ripe berries, ~½ a cup of water, and 1-2 tablespoons of honey. If the fruit you use is very juicy, you may not have to use as much water but remember, the more water that you use, the icier the pop will become in the freezer. You can also use either lemon or lime juice to add a little flavor boost!. (3) The amount of sweetener needed varies as the sugar content of the berries can vary. If the berries are ripe and sweet, use a little less sweetener. If the berries are not as ripe, simply use a little more sweetener. Then blend all the ingredients together completely, until smooth!
Step 3: Fill individual baggies of your choosing. Make sure to not over fill the bags.
Step 4: Freeze the freezer pops for ~ 2 to 4 hours before enjoying. If you consume them around 2 hours, they may not be as solid as they will be at the 4-hour mark.
Step 5: Enjoy a refreshing treat!
Tips for Homemade Freezer Pops
- The sweetness of the chosen fruit will be muted once frozen. Make sure to use over ripe fruit or added sweetener to keep the treat sweet.
- Use a funnel to fill your freezer pop bags. Using a funnel will keep you from making too much of a mess, and will also help you mind the “maximum fill line” on the bag. If you keep the contents you are pouring into the bag under the line, it will be easier to seal! \
- Just about anything that can be blended or pureed can be used for a freezer pop! Leftover smoothies, various fruit juices, and even sodas make for easy treats! Check out the image below to see flavors others have created! (4)
For National Freezer Pop Day, July 8th, 2021, enjoy making homemade freezer pops with your family! With a snip of the scissors, you’ll produce smiles with every sip. (2)
A youth competing in the NW District Tailgating Competition carefully prepares her protein.
Did you get to do any grilling this summer? Over 110 youth from throughout the Florida Panhandle participated in 2019 4-H summer day camps that taught them how to grill, food and fire safety, and cooking skills.
Ten different FL Panhandle counties provided nine unique day camps on grilling. Then, on July 20, 2019, 37 youth from eight counties participated in the Northwest District Tailgating Contest at the Washington County Ag Center. Youth participated in competitions in beef, pork, poultry, and shrimp divisions and were judged on their food and fire safety skills around the grill and the taste of their chosen protein. In all, $3,200 was awarded to Panhandle youth for placing 1st– 4th in their competitions.
Now, the top two youth in each protein category will compete at the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest in Gainesville on September 28th. They will compete against youth from across Florida for an opportunity to win college scholarships. For the state contest, the first place winner in each protein area receives a $1,500 college scholarship and the second place winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship. September 28th is also the 4-H Day with the Florida Gators. You can get tickets for the football game for just $20 and sit with 4-H members from around the state. For more information, visit http://florida4h.org/blog/4-h-day-at-florida-gators-football-vs-towson/.
Join us as we cheer on the following NW District 4-H participants as they represent us at the Florida 4-H State Tailgating Contest:
- Beef Division
- Colton Serpas-Washington County
- Alan B.-Escambia County
- Pork Division
- Lillian Sparks-Washington County
- Brent Young-Holmes County
- Poultry Division
- Sarah Crandall-Jefferson County
- Rylee Sweat-Walton County
- Jamison Scheffer-Washington County
- Shrimp Division
- Claire Diamond-Escambia County
- Evelyn Moyers-Bay County
If you are interested in furthering your grilling skills, please check out the Florida 4-H Tailgate Series of EDIS documents at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_series_florida_4-h_tailgate. If you would like more information on the Tailgating Contest so you or youth that you work with can participate next year, please visit http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/animalscience/4-h-tailgating-contest/.
A 2018 NW District 4-H Tailgating Contest participant prepares to grill
Imagine the smell of a charcoal grill on a breezy summer day. A neighbor is grilling in their backyard, and you wish you were invited over for dinner. Would it be even better if it was your child or grandchild doing the grilling for you?
Fire up Your Grill!
4-H members have been firing up their charcoal grills and participating in the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest since 2016. Designed to promote the use of animal protein in the diet, youth learn the art and science of safely preparing beef, pork, poultry, and seafood in an outdoor setting providing opportunities for 4-H youth to develop life skills, including decision making and healthy lifestyle choices.
In the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest, youth grill two, 6-8 ounce portions of one of the following proteins:
- poultry – turkey breast or half chicken
- shrimp – fresh, headless and de-veined
While youth are grilling, judges observe food and fire safety actions and ask questions about the recipe and safety knowledge. A team of judges evaluates the cooked product by taste testing and scoring each entry.
4-H Tailgating District Contest
After youth compete at county contests or participate in day camps, they can register for the district contest. There are four district contests hosted throughout the state including our Northwest District contest held at the Washington County Ag Center on July 20, 2019. Cash prizes at the district level are awarded in each protein category – 1st place $400, 2nd place $250, 3rd place $100 and 4th place $50.
Scholarships and prizes are awarded thanks to these sponsors.
4-H Tailgating State Contest
The top two winners from each protein are then eligible to compete in the state contest held at the University of Florida on September 28, 2019. For the state contest, the 1st place winner in each protein area receives a $1,500 college scholarship and the 2nd place winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship.
Since the Florida 4-H Tailgating contest began in 2016, over $63,000 in scholarship money has been awarded to Florida 4-H members made possible by sponsorships from Winn-Dixie, National Beef, and Sonny’s.
Learn More at a Tailgating Day Camp
Last summer, over 100 youth attended day camps to learn about identifying cuts of meat, preventing food cross contamination and food-borne illnesses, grilling techniques, food safety and fire safety. Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office to find a grilling day camp near you so you can participate in the 2019 Northwest District 4-H Tailgating Contest! Follow us on Facebook to see event details!
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.