youth development

Litchfield County 4-H Helps Distribute Milk to Families in Need

4-H cloverBackground Facts:

  • Because 30% of the fluid milk gets sold to restaurants, schools and institutions that are now closed, there is a huge surplus of fluid milk on the market now that cannot be further processed into more shelf stable products like dried milk and butter fast enough.
  • The price of milk for the farmers have dropped from $19.00 per hundred pounds to $13.00 per hundred pounds because of this.
  • Hundreds of dairy farms across the country are now forced to dump their milk because the dairy plants have such a surplus they have no room at the plants to store and process the milk because of the drop off in demand due to the closures.
  • Some farms have no choice but to dump the milk that is in their bulk tanks that cannot be picked up by the processing plants in time, because they have to make room for the next milking of their cows.
  • Meanwhile, food pantries are in desperate need of more food to help provide nourishment for the increasing number of food insecure people, due to the pandemic and more people losing their jobs.

DFA, who owns Guida milk, has graciously agreed to donate three pallets of half gallons of whole milk to the Community Kitchen of Torrington, Inc. and the Litchfield County 4-H members and volunteers are distributing the milk to over 20 food pantries throughout Litchfield County on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Litchfield Locker has generously agreed to donate their truck and time to deliver the donated milk from Guida’s processing plant in New Britain to the parking lot of the Litchfield Community Center where it will be offloaded into waiting vehicles owned by 4-H member families. Those vehicles will each then drive directly to their designated food pantry and safely deliver the milk to be handed out to those families in need. At the end of this effort, they will have moved 1,440 half gallons of fresh milk from the surplus inventory into the kitchens of families in need.

Litchfield County 4-H, the youth development component of UConn Extension, had already chosen their 2020 theme for the year, which is Operation Community Impact, with an emphasis on food insecurity in January. By arranging and carrying out this activity, 4-H members are able to see firsthand how important the community service efforts of 4-H is in order to can make a difference in the lives of others. They hope to secure more donations of milk and other dairy products so we can continue this effort over the next few weeks as long as it is needed. Bill Davenport, Litchfield County 4-H UConn Extension Educator, who grew up on a dairy farm in Litchfield and owns dairy cows in his brother’s herd in Ancram, New York, came up with the idea after learning about the milk surplus and some farms having to dump their milk because of the pandemic. He organized this effort from securing the donation to assembling the volunteer drivers to the food pantries, but also credits the following individuals without whose help this effort would not be possible: Guida Milk and DFA for their generous donation of the milk; Litchfield Locker and Processing for donating the use of their truck and driver to transport the milk; Lisa Hagemen of the Community Kitchen of Torrington, Inc., and Kathy Minck of Food Rescue, for helping connect with the local food pantries and assembling the list of the milk orders; the Litchfield Community Center for allowing us to use their parking lot for distribution, and the Litchfield County UConn 4-H members, parents and volunteers who continually rise to the challenge of community service and helping others in need.

“Because of my extensive background and continued involvement with the dairy industry, I know firsthand how hard all farmers work to produce food for the rest of us,” says Bill Davenport. “When I heard about dumping milk because of the supply issue due to the school and restaurant closures, I decided we need to try to get some of this milk in the hands of families who are food insecure. It makes no sense that we are dumping milk while there are people who desperately need food. So I decided to involve our amazing 4-H youth and parents to help connect the dots since the distribution of the milk is where the system is falling apart and need help. I hope that our actions will increase awareness of the issue and encourage others to help do the same across Connecticut and the region so that we can help move more milk out of the surplus and into the refrigerators of people who desperately need it.”

“DFA Northeast farm families are pleased to donate milk processed at our Guida’s facility to provide nutritious dairy for family tables across Connecticut,” says Jennifer Huson of Dairy Farmers of America.

 

About Dairy Farmers of America

Dairy Farmers of America is a national, farmer-owned dairy cooperative focusing on quality, innovation and the future of family dairies. While supporting and serving more than 13,000 family farmers, DFA works with some of the world’s largest food companies to develop ingredients that satisfy their customers’ cravings while staying committed to social responsibility and ethical farming. For more information, please visit dfamilk.com.

About Guida’s Dairy

Since 1886, Guida’s Dairy has been providing high-quality dairy products to consumers in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Northern New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and eastern New York. In 2012, the company became a part of Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national, farmer-owned cooperative, based in Kansas City, Kan. Guida’s Dairy offers an extensive line of products, including fluid milk, cream, ice cream mixes, fruit drinks, orange juice and a variety of other dairy products. For more information about Guida’s Dairy and our products, visit guidas.com.

About UConn 4H

4-H is a national program with six million youth participating in various project areas who learn life skills, supervised by over 500,000 volunteer leaders. Litchfield County has 26 active 4-H clubs with over 400 active members in those clubs. Project areas include but are not limited to beef cattle, canine, crafts, dairy cattle, dairy goats, equine, community nutrition, food safety, food preparation skills, horticulture, mechanics, oxen, poultry, robotics, sewing, sheep, small animals, STEM, and swine.

The 4-H program is organized into four program areas including Agriculture, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living and STEM. These themes all overlap throughout the 4-H experience, with emphasis placed on creating well-rounded individuals. 4-H is the youth development program offered through the UConn Extension system. The purpose of UConn as Connecticut’s land grant university is to provide the citizens of Connecticut with educational opportunities through teaching, research and extension programming. For more information about 4-H and how to join, please contact Bill Davenport, Litchfield County Extension 4-H Educator, at william.davenport@uconn.edu or at 860-626-6854.

4-H Youth Program Offers Virtual Activities and Programs

boy with iPadCalling all youth! UConn 4-H is excited to announce a suite of virtual activities and programs for youth. Our 4-H youth educators have shifted their programming online to help youth adapt to the current situation, and continue their involvement with 4-H.

  • The UConn 4-H Challenges are two separate contests – a food art challenge and an upcycle challenge. All entries are due by April 17th and can be submitted on social media using the contest hashtag or submitted on the contest website. Youth must be a 4-H member to participate, and can join online.
  • The 4-H Virtual Trivia Challenge is an eight-week competition for 4-H members using the online Quizziz platform. Each week, 4-H members will join others in their age group – novice, junior, or senior – to answer the questions. Youth can join online as an independent member if they are not already enrolled in 4-H. The scoreboard will be updated weekly on the website, and youth with the highest scores in each division at the end of the competition on May 27th will receive a prize. Youth must be a 4-H member to participate, and can join online.
  • The UConn 4-H Calendar Photography Contest is open to all 4-H members. Youth who are not enrolled in 4-H but want to participate can become an individual 4-H member by joining online. All photos entered in the contest must be related to the youth’s 4-H project and submitted by June 1st.
  • The 4-H Horse Judging and Hippology (horse science) programs are offering youth online resources to learn and practice their skills. Resources are available for all age groups – novice, junior, and senior. A 4-H horse activity book has activities for youth including puzzles, quizzes, and activities.

Parents and families with children out of school can use the other resources available from our UConn 4-H program to provide new educational activities for youth. Keep youth engaged and learning with new materials. We have resources for a variety of age groups.

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn CAHNR Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), leadership, citizenship, and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living.

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

4-H clover

5 Ways to Keep Kids Engaged and Learning at Home

Article by Kittrina Thompson for National 4-H

boy squeezing limeAs communities across America experience the impact of school closures it can be stressful for parents and families to find resources available to maintain a sense of normalcy and make sure kids don’t get off track in their daily development. And while some schools are implementing a virtual learning plan, others don’t have the resources to continue student lessons.

If you are looking for ways to keep your kids engaged during this impromptu time off, 4‑H offers learning resources that are hands-on, fun and engaging. Check out these five fun at-home educational activities:

  1. Inspire your kid to do
    4‑H’s free Inspire Kids to Do™ activity guides collectively feature over 100 activities that will turn your home into a learning oasis! Your kids can learn essential life skills like giving back, health and wellness, cooking, and leadership.
  2. Family fun comes first
    If the entire family is spending extended time at home, you may be wondering how you can make the best of your time together. Plan activities that everyone can participate in that are fun and educational. Try some family recipes (featured in the free downloadable Healthy Living Activity Guide) to bring the household together!
  3. Take a homeschool approach
    If you don’t want to break your kids from the structured learning that is adopted in many classrooms, 4‑H Curriculum can help. From photography to cooking, robotics to entrepreneurship, each 4‑H Curriculum is developed and supported by an accredited university and includes full lesson plans, instructor guides, and student worksheets.
  4. Create your own learning lab
    Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills are applied to many school subjects and everyday tasks. The free 4‑H STEM Lab uses basic STEM concepts and learning to bring you fun activities for kids of all ages. You can sort activities by grade and topic, as well as see items needed for each experiment. Also, each activity shows the mess level—a great added feature for at-home experimenting!).
  5. Combat cabin fever with mindfulness
    With extended time at home, it’s easy to get a little stir-crazy—for both parents and kids. Our guide to mindfulness is a great way to protect and care for your mental health, staying clear- and level-headed and relaxed.

Thinking about using any of the above tips? Use hashtag #InspireKidstoDo on social media to share photos of your kids doing any of the activities to give other parents ideas on engaging with their kids!

Originally posted by National 4-H

Things to Do While School is Closed

science Saturday kidsIt is time to get creative to find some constructive ways to fill our time. It won’t take long before the board games have been played, the favorite TV shows have been watched and everyone in the house is starting to get cabin fever. In an effort to help you stay focused on something other than COVID-19 and how you are getting bored, our UConn 4-H team is passing along a few sites where you can find hands-on, educational activities to keep your brains exercised.

Here are a few recommendations:

  • The website Mystery Science has made some of their most popular lessons available to everyone for free right now. I have used this site many times as part of my STEM programming and really enjoy some of the interesting topic areas they offer. Each lesson has a video and a hands-on activity. Check them out at: https://mysteryscience.com/school-closure-planning
  • 4-H STEM Lab has hands-on, fun learning activities on a host of topics that are easy to follow and for the most part can be done from anywhere. These activities are for many different ages. I have used some of them in my programming, usually to great delight and learning. https://4-h.org/parents/stem-agriculture/youth-stem-activities/
  • Washington State University 4-H has assembled a webpage with links to dozens of sites with activities and learning for kids of all ages. These activities are great for parents looking for ideas to keep kids engaged and learning while they are out of school. You can find the link at: https://extension.wsu.edu/king/learning-links-4-h-and-more/
  • Are you interested in computer science? Then you should check out https://code.org/. This site will connect you with a large variety of coding activities, lessons and courses that you can participate in free of charge. Whether it an Hour of Code activity or a multi lesson course, all you need is access to a computer and imagination.

Please let us know which sites you tried and what you enjoyed the most. Email any comments to Marc.Cournoyer@uconn.edu. If there is a great resource out there that I have not highlighted and you think others should know about it, please pass it along to me and I will be sure to share it with everyone else. Be safe, be healthy and stay curious during your time away from school.

Litchfield County 4-H Names Public Speaking Winners

4-H cloverThe Litchfield County 4-H held their first annual County Public Speaking Contest recently with 12 talented 4-H members from throughout the county competing for the chance to represent the county at the State 4-H Public Speaking Contest at UConn in March. Ages of the participants ranged from 7 to 17 years old, and they chose to present a speech or do a visual presentation on a subject relating to their 4-H project or another area of interest to them. Topics ranged from poultry housing, equine therapy, the decline in the dairy industry, dog obedience and training, to goat milk, tractor use on a horse farm and preparing chocolate desserts, to name a few.

Public speaking is one of the many life skills that 4-H members learn as it is one of the most sought after “soft skills” in any industry or career path these members may pursue. Public speaking is the number one fear in the average adult, so these 4-H members begin to conquer that fear starting as early as age 7 in 4-H so that they become confident, outgoing and self-motivated young adults as they age out of 4-H once they turn 19.

Four of the contestants were selected as county winners and will compete at the State 4-H Public Speaking Contest in March at UConn. Owen Miller, from Torrington, a member from the Udder 4-H Dairy Goat Club, placed first in the Junior Speech division. Abigail Ceritello from Terryville, a member of the Busy Bunnies 4-H Club, placed first in the Junior demonstration division. Madeline Hall from Woodbury, a member in the Bethlehem Busy Stitchers 4-H club, placed first in the Senior demonstration division. Lillian Gura from Southington, a member of the Bits and Spurs 4-H Horse Club, placed first in the Senior Speech division.

4-H is a national program with six million youth participating in various project areas who learn life skills, supervised by over 500,000 volunteer leaders. Litchfield County has 26 active 4-H clubs with over 400 active members in those clubs. Project areas include but are not limited to beef cattle, canine, crafts, dairy cattle, dairy goats, equine, community nutrition, food safety, food preparation skills, horticulture, mechanics, oxen, poultry, robotics, sewing, sheep, small animals, STEM, and swine.

The 4-H program is organized into four program areas including Agriculture, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living and STEM. These themes all overlap throughout the 4-H experience, with emphasis placed on creating well-rounded individuals. 4-H is the youth development program offered through the UConn Extension system. The purpose of UConn as Connecticut’s land grant university is to provide the citizens of Connecticut with educational opportunities through teaching, research and extension programming. For more information about 4-H and how to join, please contact Bill Davenport, Litchfield County Extension 4-H Educator, at william.davenport@uconn.edu or at 860-626-6854.

UConn 4-H Military Partnership Hosts Barnyard Boogie

little boy holds rabbit

The UConn 4-H Military Partnership Project joined forces with the Subase Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), Subase New London School Liaison Officer, University of Rhode Island 4-H, CT and RI National Guard CYP Coordinators, and New London County 4-H clubs for a “Barnyard Boogie” family sensory afternoon. Hosted by Horses Healing Humans, a partnering agency with VETSCT.ORG (Veteran Equine Therapeutic Services), local businesses, non-profits and Mental Health Professionals collaborated to make possible this free event for military-connected EFMP kids to meet kid-friendly barnyard ponies, goats, chickens, rabbits, sheep, and dogs. Over forty youth connected to the 4-H animals, many meeting a farm animal for the first time. Four 4-H clubs attended with animals in tow. This event will become an annual experience for our military families. Proud moment of the day involved one school-age boy, who, after much encouragement from his mom, tentatively reached out one finger to touch Trinket the sheep’s fleece. An expression of pure joy flooded his face, and he threw both arms over Trinket and buried his face in her fleece.

family meets the animals little girl holding a rabbit

Article by Pam Gray, New London County 4-H

4-H Program Teaches Finances to Military Youth

Reading Makes Sense Youth on the USS Constitution in Boston
Photo: Pamela Gray

A group of military affiliated youth recently wrapped up a six-week session of lessons about saving, spending, earning, and the value of a dollar, and their time. Following the Reading Makes Cents 4-H Afterschool Curriculum Guide, participants were able to inspect the hidden secrets of a dollar, learn about saving and spending, needs and wants, and budgeting and sharing (donating to those in need).

Each meeting was started with reading aloud a picture centered on the lessons for the day. The kids had a great time examining needs and wants through a fun experiential game where they decide what is actually necessary to spend money on. They ‘earned’ a week of minimum wage, and then were able to ‘shop’ some catalogs with prices listed – their money was more carefully spent when they considered the time it had taken them to earn it! They brainstormed options available for them to earn money (yard sale of their old toys, lemonade stands, chores for people), as well as ways they can give back to the community with their time instead of giving money.

The stories The Hard Times Jar and If You Made a Million were the clear favorites. A visit from a Navy Federal Credit Union representative helped them explore credit and investments through age-appropriate games and rounded out the experience by providing families with information on the options available through the bank for military affiliated youth. To round out the experience with some real living history, the participants visited Boston, visiting the USS Constitution (the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy) and the Paul Revere house, ‘paying’ for their trip with tokens earned at the classes for attendance and good behavior. Overall, the experience will hopefully produce some great financially wise futures!

Article and photo: Pamela Gray

Making Every Penny Count: 4-H and Financial Education

child looking at a jar of moneyAccording to a 2014 study conducted by the Connecticut Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, only 10% of Connecticut high school students participated in a personal finance class annually. Fewer than 20 high schools required students to take a personal finance course prior to graduation. According to the Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015 by the Federal Reserve System, “Forty-six percent of adults say they either could not cover an emergency expense costing $400, or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money.” Young people need opportunities to learn about money and practice those skills to prepare for their financial futures.

Every 4-Her has the opportunity to learn about finances through their projects and activities. As a member of a local 4-H Club, they are likely to pay dues to cover the cost of their various activities. This fee (usually a dollar or two) may be used to pay for snacks, a club t-shirt, jacket, or supplies. Most clubs have officers including a treasurer who will record these funds under the supervision of an adult leader. In addition to learning about the financial aspects of their specific project such as animal husbandry, science and technology, leadership and community service, 4-H members can register for projects such as money management, consumer education, or financial literacy.

When 4-H members begin a project, they need to write down their project goal. This is great practice for managing their own finances as they will need to identify their personal financial goals and determine their priorities. 4-H members complete project record sheets for their major projects. If they spent money to complete their project, they document it. For example, when a 4-H member has a horse project, they need to consider all the costs involved in keeping that animal alive, healthy, and safe. They inventory their supplies and write down the financial value of those items. Expenses related to feeding and health such as veterinarian bills and costs related to participating in competitions are recorded. This practice reminds them that there are usually costs involved in almost any project they choose. A 4-H alumnus reports “We had to keep records of animals, breeding, litters, sales, [and] showing [events] as well as expenses such as grain, hay, feed and water bowls, carrying cages for showing, and entry fees… becoming responsible for keeping a written record for expenses and income.” In a consumer and family science project such as sewing or childcare, they record any expenses or financial values of items related to their projects such as patterns, fabric, and thread in sewing, or games, books, videos, or craft supplies to entertain young children.

4-H members have the opportunity to serve on county and state planning committees such as 4-H Citizenship Day and 4-H Advisory committees. They review the costs related to the event from the previous year to help in determining the budget for this year’s event. As a committee, they will discuss different ideas for the event and will learn that any changes they make in the program may also affect the final cost, learning financial decision-making and the need to balance income and expenses. In addition, they can become involved in county fair boards where one responsibility of each officer role is financial management. One 4-Her shared “When I was treasurer, I learned more about the financial system in 4-H. I was required to count money during the fair weekend and compare the income to past years. As Coordinator of home arts, I was responsible for calling a vendor with a request for tables. I had to know the estimated amount needed and get the estimate for the fair meeting. For entertainment, I was responsible for filling out forms for performers to ensure they were paid.“

Throughout a youth’s time in the UConn 4-H program, there are many opportunities to learn and practice financial decision-making and responsibility.

For more financial literacy resources visit https://financialliteracy.uconn.edu/

Article by Faye Griffiths-Smith, Extension Financial Educator and Margaret (Peggy) Grillo, 4-H Youth Development Educator

Katie Adkins – 4-H Volunteer Spotlight

Katie Adkins in front of Plymouth Meats signTalking to Katie Adkins you get a sense that anything in life is possible. That with a little hard work and enthusiasm you can accomplish anything. And that’s exactly what she has done. Katie is the owner of Plymouth Meats in Terryville, CT, a full service USDA inspected facility from harvesting to packaging all done under one roof. Her bright smile and infectious laugh make it seem like being a wife, mother, 4-H club leader and business owner is all part of a day’s work. The hard work ethic and drive to succeed came at a young age as Katie had to rise at 4:30/5:00 am to take care of the animals on her family’s farm. Her father jokes that when Katie was little they had 4-6 beef cows. But as Katie grew the herd grew as well to over 80 cows.

Katie grew up on Blue Moon Farm in Harwinton where her family raises Hereford beef cattle along with pigs, lambs, poultry, rabbits and goats. They process and sell meat from their own cattle. Plymouth Meats is the retail store for their farm products. They also do live animal sales. Both Katie and her parents are members of the New England Hereford Association. Her father is the President. As Hereford breeders, they also focus on genetics and perform embryo transfers as well. Katie joined the 4-H program at the age of 12 and was a member of the Litchfield County 4-H Beef Club, where she served in several officer positions, did public speaking and showed her cattle at the local fairs and the Big E. She is now in her fifth year as the leader of the same club. In taking over leadership of the club, she explains that they started out with only a few youth but have grown to 12 youth currently. She lost a lot of the older youth who aged out of the club. Their parents had beef cows and grew up on family farms. The current crop of youth are younger and only three of them have project animals. The rest are there because they also love the animals and want to come to the fair and help with the projects.

Katie has them come to her farm occasionally for meetings to get hands-on experience. Some of the kids who have multiple animals will share them come fair time so everyone in the club gets to have show experience.

Katie attended Wamogo High School and then went to Delaware Valley University in Pennsylvania where she majored in large Katie Adkins as a UConn 4-H member showing a Hereford at the Big Eanimal science and Ag Business. She finished college in 3 ½ years and landed a good job cutting meat at a small store. She decided to forego additional schooling for a career harvesting and processing meat with the goal of starting her own business. In 2011 she started the permitting process for her business which had to be approved by the town. Finding a building was the next step along with the remodeling process which took an additional 2 ½ years. In October 2017 Plymouth Meats was officially up and running. Katie explains that she was only doing custom processing at the time. It was January of 2018 when the 7,000 square foot building was completed and in March of that same year she came under inspection so that the business could do harvesting and processing.

Plymouth meats also offers seasonal deer processing and buys in some other products for weekly specials which Katie promotes strictly through social media. She also goes to the Collinsville Farmer’s Market.

Katie states that the leadership and people skills learned through 4-H provided a good foundation to help her with her business. The life-long friendships established through 4-H have also been wonderful in a lot of ways. Some of these friends are now customers and people she helps out with their 4-H clubs.

A lot of her 4-H members are realizing that 4-H provides great leadership experiences. Watching older club members help younger members is a really nice thing to see. Katie explains that 4-H teaches kids responsibility especially when it comes to the care of their animals. She states that 4-H kids seem to have a better work ethic and do well working as a team. These are all skills Katie learned as a child and uses every day running her business.

Article by Nancy Wilhelm