Hundreds of children participating in 4-H
By Emily Bialkowski
Literally hundreds of children are participating in 4-H in Houston County, and a program aimed at nutrition education is starting to grow in popularity.
The Houston County Board welcomed representatives from the University of Minnesota Extension at their June 25 meeting to discuss the extension’s role in the county and to renew a three-year contract that helps pay for the programming.
Megan Wall is the 4-H youth program coordinator and reported great participation numbers. (See chart.) Additionally, an effort called 4-H Adventures is open to all county youth – not just registered 4-Hers – and has helped attract new participants. 4-H adventures are one-time events centered around learning opportunities.
“One of the best things about 4-H is that there something for everyone,” Wall said. There are 64 different project areas that youth can get involved in.”
The list of projects and activities ranges from engineering to gardening, healthy living to animal science.
Adding to the program’s success are its 64 volunteers. “I love seeing the impact it has on youth,” Wall said, adding that all their work is research based and has, therefore, been proven effective through that research.
Upcoming events include a fashion review and performing arts event set for Monday, June 23 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Caledonia at 6:30 p.m. and a dog show on August 4.
“There’s always something different going on,” Wall said.
Children in Kindergarten through a year passed high school are welcome to join. For more information on 4-H, visit www.4-Humn.edu.
Tina Storlie heads up the Simply Good Eating (SGE) program. It’s designed to teach low income participants, at peer-level, key nutrition messages, through the use of research-based, behaviorally focused curriculum, activities and interventions.
Storlie said the goal of SGE is that participants and all citizens of Houston County will choose healthful, safe foods and active lifestyles to help reduce chronic disease and obesity and to increase better health and general well being.
The program is seeing more interest. “There is a low income senior housing development in Houston. I was told I’d be lucky to have anyone show up, and I had 12 very happy people participate in a program. I’m just excited. More people are hearing about it and getting involved,” Storlie said.
She said she is hoping to make a breakthrough in Eitzen where she’s struggled to get something off the ground. Cost Benefit Studies by the USDA have found that every $1 spent on nutrition education saves $10.64 in long-term public health care costs.
In light of the positive reports, the Houston County Board was asked to renew a three-year contract with the extension to continue to provide these services to the community.
The contract calls for a 1 percent increase in 2013 and a 1.5 percent increase in 2014 and 2015.
The board unanimously agreed to the contract.
Commissioner Teresa Walter sits on the extension committee and said, “I’m just so impressed with what they do. The two ladies can show how active 4-H is in the county and how education for nutrition has really taken off.”
The total cost for the two services are: $91,280 in 2013, $92,648 in 2014 and $94,038 in 2015.