The American dream, working hard and getting ahead. How can communities ensure that their youth get a leg up and have the potential for a successful future? A recent report from National 4-H Council and Bridgespan examined and identified six factors that make communities a place where all youth can be successful. This report is a blueprint for the future of rural youth development and programs such as University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development can make significant strides in providing those important links for youth success.
Please read this important report and let’s start the conversation on how we can build communities where all youth can be successful.
This is a link to the full report and to commentary by prominent youth development researchers and National 4-H Council. The report explores areas in rural America where upward mobility is thriving, seeking a close-up view in a handful of rural communities where young people continue to make their way up the income ladder.
4-H Youth Development Director
University of Idaho Extension
Cupcake Wars: Ready, Set, Cook!
Cupcake Wars is a new program for 4-H youth in Idaho to encourage increased interest and participation in family and consumer sciences (FCS) cooking projects. This program was delivered through hands-on playoffs and competitions. The goal was to not only increase interest in FCS projects, but to teach skill sets such as mastery, leadership, teamwork, communication and science concepts that 4-H youth will use throughout their lives. University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development professionals, Teresa Tverdy, UI Extension, Twin Falls County and Rosie Davids, UI Extension, Cassia County, learned about Cupcake Wars at a NAE4-HA conference workshop presented by Iowa State University.
4-H learning experiences enhance young people’s abilities to grow into tomorrow’s leaders and communicators. The learning environment combined with hands-on activities, encouragement and mentoring, allows 4-H programming to play a vital role in helping our youth achieve future success. Developing leadership skills is accomplished through Cupcake Wars as each youth on a team takes a turn as the chef or leader.
4-H youth, volunteers and parents who watched the first competitions in 2018 were impressed with the skills learned by participants and expressed their interest in getting involved in the contest next year.
“Cupcake Wars has been a challenging and rewarding process for my girls. Not only did they have to plan and make their entries, share the leadership, but they empowered themselves by doing things they have only seen done on TV shows,” said the mother of the 2018 Cupcake Wars Invitational winning team.
“My girls binge watch Cupcake Wars on TV and this event has made them put their dreams into practice. The girls were always amazed how professionals used fondant and for the first time, my girls made, colored and created designs with fondant. Sometimes it worked and sometimes they had to make adjustments. There is a lot of science in baking and Cupcake Wars has taught them more about cooking in general,” said another parent.
After the success of Cupcake Wars, Tverdy and Davids introduced the Gingerbread Royale program. This program includes youth planning their design, baking, building and decorating their gingerbread structure during the holidays. Cassia and Twin Falls counties will host a haunted Gingerbread Royale in 2019, with the Haunted Mansion at Albion sponsoring prizes for the Cassia County event.
This is another opportunity for youth to learn leadership skills, science and teamwork in a non-traditional 4-H setting. By connecting completed FCS cooking projects with innovative programming such as Cupcake Wars and Gingerbread Royale, preliminary evaluation shows that FCS cooking projects should increase for the 2018-19 4-H year.
Teen Health Advocates Moving Healthy Actions Forward
University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development is a partner in helping Idahoans better understand health issues and how to improve their overall health. Since 2014, 4-H has trained 66 Idaho teens to be health advocates, focusing on nutritional health and social well-being. These 4-H teen health advocates bring awareness, education and collaboration to their communities. They advocate, support, recommend and promote actions to build healthier communities.
The 2018 Get Healthy Idaho report from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare — Division of Public Health, focuses on a plan to improve the health of all Idahoans through broader partnerships across the state. Overweight and obesity rates continue to be high amongst adults and youth. The overweight adult rate is at 37 percent with the adolescent rate at 15 percent. Combined with obesity rates (adults at 27 percent and adolescents at 11 percent), it is clear that communities need to take actions to improve health through a variety of strategies. Walking paths, farmer markets, community gardens, food coalitions, school meals programs, community afterschool and health centers are a few strategies that are demonstrating impact on improving community health.
The 4-H teen health advocate training begins with two research-based curricula, Choose Health: Food, Fun and Fitness and Youth Advocates for Health! Teens learn how to use the My Plate model, build nutritional meals, read food labels and reduce the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, while also learning the importance of breakfast and healthy eating out. They learn how to teach children nutrition lessons and build youth-adult partnerships. The training fosters teen confidence in working alongside UI Extension instructors teaching nutrition lessons to children.
The advocates promote healthy actions in their communities through interactive health booths at camps, events and fairs. In 2018, they worked with UI Extension health coalitions to address specific concerns in three communities and inventoried available foods at five county fairs. They created a set of social well-being activities, Communication, Awareness and Respect Chat, to teach younger youth how to be aware and respectful of themselves and others.
Beyond Idaho, our teen health advocates have presented at the 2018 and 2019 National Youth Summit on Healthy Living. The 4-H teen health advocates are demonstrating they can influence their families and communities to improve the health of Idahoans.
Juntos 4-H Coming Together for Success
Juntos, which means together in Spanish, works to unite community partners to provide Latino 8-12 grade students and their parents with knowledge, skills and resources to help students stay in school and encourage families to work together to make college a family goal.
University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development in Jerome County has partnered with Jerome schools to expand efforts to help Latino students succeed academically and pursue education beyond high school.
The Juntos program seeks to meet four main goals:
- School Success: Increase Latino student success by improving student attendance and grades and achieving high school graduation.
- College Preparation and Attainment: Increase the percentage of Latino students attending higher education.
- Parental Involvement: Increase family engagement that leads to students’ educational success.
- Community Engagement: Increase the sense of belonging among Latino students and families in their schools and communities.
In partnership with North Carolina State University, UI Extension 4-H Youth Development received a U.S. Department of Agriculture five-year grant to establish Juntos in Jerome schools. Juntos is currently serving 23 eighth grade students and 42 ninth grade students with in-school 4-H clubs. The students take this as an elective class.
During the spring 2019 semester, participants will be electing officers, doing a STEM project in coding, completing the Build Your Future project, conducting an oral presentation and displaying at the local county fair.
“We are extremely excited about having this program in our county and ready to watch these youths grow, learn, graduate and attend higher education,” said program facilitators Gretchen Manker and Tina Miller.
4-H in the Media
- Idaho 4-H embraces STEM through robotics (Capital Press)
- Idaho students compete “Into Orbit” in First Lego League Championship. (KMVT)
Featured Impact Report
- PDF: Outreach to Military Kids, a 4-H Youth Development program, provides resources and programming to Mountain Home Air Force Base and geographically dispersed military youth and their families.
Impact reports are summaries of progress UI Extension programs make in helping Idahoans meet the challenges they face.