4-H Youth Program Focuses on Healthy Living- Social and Emotional Well-being
According to the Center of Disease Control, the first reported case of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States was confirmed in January 2020. Georgia reported its first case on March 3rd. By Friday March 13th, many Georgia school districts, including Cobb County School District and Marietta City School District, closed its doors to students, faculty, and staff in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19. The two-week school emergency closure protocol was implemented as the state learned more about COVID-19, how it is spread, and for the health and safety of students and staff. As COVID-19 began to increasingly affect society, the state of Georgia made the decision to close all state schools for the remainder of the academic year. In addition to closing schools, local businesses, entertainment venues, and other social settings were also closed to the public, leading to the majority of local families sheltering in place at home.
Cobb County 4-H staff were unable to complete the remaining in-school 4-H club meetings, local County Council activities, 4-H awards programming, summer camp, summer activities and much more due to COVID-19 cancellations. 4-H youth not only lost social interaction at school and 4-H, but also with other activities due to the pandemic shutdown. To promote positive social and emotional well-being during the pandemic, the Cobb County 4-H staff planned numerous activities to maintain the 4-H routine and to promote social activities including weekly contests, continued virtual County Council monthly meetings, virtual Poultry Judging practices/contest, and offered a virtual summer activities program for 4-H youth, taught by 4-H youth.
Cobb 4-H Weekly Contests
Cobb 4-H staff offered seven weekly contests for 4-H’ers from March 24th until May 8th. Each weekly contest featured a different theme that highlighted a variety of student strengths and interests. Prizes were mailed to the winners at the Cloverleaf (4th-6th), Junior (7th-8th), and Senior (9th-12th) grade levels each week. Contest themes included:
- Cupcake War- spring themed cupcake design contest (drawn or baked)
- Video Contest- design a commercial focusing on what you have done while sheltering in place
- Photo Contest- focus on family
- 4-H Favorite Things Contest
- Invention/Design Contest
- Summer Activities Logo Contest
- Cooking Contest
Virtual County Council Meetings
Though there were only two 4-H County Council meetings left in the year, the 4-H staff wanted to actively engage Cobb 4-H youth and maintain the monthly meeting routine. County Council is a monthly meeting for 4-H youth across Cobb County. Open to 4th-12th grade youth, this group led by 4-H middle and high school students, typically participates in community service and themed activities each month. Though the meetings were conducted virtually on April 14th and May 5th, attendance was still consistent with typical in person meetings. Virtual meeting topics included 4-H updates, officer speeches, officer elections, Disney Trivia, scavenger hunts, 2019-2020 County Council officer thank you video, and a class of 2020 senior tribute slide show.
Virtual Poultry Judging Practices and Contest
At the onset of the shelter in place orders, Cobb County 4-H was at the beginning of the 2020 Poultry Judging season. Only one in person practice was held prior to the COVID-19 shut down. In anticipation of Georgia 4-H in person activities resuming by late April, the 4-H agent continued to meet with the Poultry Judging team via Zoom. 4-H’ers learned parts identification, broken out, exterior egg quality, candling, ready to cook carcasses, and even “live birds” all virtually through PowerPoints, games, and a mini mock contest using Google forms. As it became evident that an in-person contest would not be likely, the Cobb 4-H agent coordinated with Heather Shultz, State 4-H Livestock Coordinator, Steve Walker, Georgia 4-H IT specialist, and four additional Northwest 4-H agents to coordinate a Northwest District virtual Poultry Judging Contest. The collaborative team created an orientation video and judging classes for all registered competitors to culminate the 2020 virtual Poultry Judging season.
Mind Blowing Mondays Summer Series
Each summer, Cobb 4-H offers eight in person summer activities ranging from trips to museums, local Atlanta attractions, and health and wellness cooking programs. To continue to engage local youth during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 4-H agent met with the newly elected 2020-2021 County Council board to brainstorm ideas to maintain youth engagement during the summer. The agent facilitated the brainstorming session and from that meeting, Mind Blowing Mondays evolved. Mind Blowing Mondays were weekly summer series led by 4-H’ers for their peers. The agent created a Google form application that was sent to all 6th-12th grade County Council members to apply to serve as a Mind Blowing Monday instructor. From the application process, a ten-week summer activities program was created for K-12th grade youth. The Mind Blowing Monday series was held each week at 2:00pm via Zoom from May 11th- July 13th. 4-H’ers led engaging activities from cooking homemade pancakes, where 4-H’ers were in their kitchens at home making pancakes along with the 4-H teacher to abstract art painting sessions. The full session list includes:
- Yoga with Swami
- Games and Dog Treat Making
- Website Creation and Game Coding
- Pancake Making
- Bubble Making and Origami Lotus Flowers
- Puppet Making and the Science of Light
- Abstract Art Painting and Sketching
- Mandala Creation
- Breakfast Parfaits and Fitness
Cobb County 4-H succeeded in providing opportunities for students to maintain routine, a means of social support through virtual opportunities, and an outlet for a kid to be kid while learning something new in the midst of a global pandemic. Documented impact from Cobb 4-H virtual programming this spring and summer include:
- 55 Cobb 4-H youth participated in the weekly virtual contests
- 10 Cobb 4-H youth participated in virtual Poultry Judging practices and competition
- 52 Cobb 4-H youth participated in the April and May virtual County Council meetings
- 53 Northwest 4-H’ers participated in the Northwest District Poultry Judging virtual contest coordinated by the Cobb 4-H agent and the collaborative team
- 75 Cobb 4-H youth participated in the Mind Blowing Monday summer series
- 16 Cobb 4-H youth taught a Mind Blowing Monday session
- Cobb County 4-H provided 11 virtual summer programs to keep Cobb 4-H youth engaged during the summer. All 11 sessions were classes for 4-H’ers, taught by 4-H’ers. We had over 70+ youth attend.
- Cobb County 4-H earned outstanding participation at Cloverleaf DPA and the largest Senior Delegation at Junior/Senior DPA.
- Six Cobb County 4-H’ers advanced to State 4-H Congress including four new master 4-H’ers at the virtual State Congress event
- Junior Judging Teams: The Cobb County 4-H Junior Consumer Judging placed 1st at the Cartersville contest and the Junior Poultry Judging team placed 1st at the virtual district contest.
4-H At-A-Glance (Information based on the 2019-2020 school year)
- 2,715 K-12th grade students enrolled
- Led Science and English/Language Arts lessons in 22 Cobb County and Marietta City Schools
- Led Healthy Living lessons at 4 Cobb County School District Middle Schools
- 5 Volunteer Led Charted Clubs: Archery, Shotgun, Young Farmers Club, Arrows Academy Homeschool, and Dobbins Robotics Club
- 124 4th-12th grade students participated in Project Achievement
- 4 students were named Master 4-H’ers in the following Project Achievement Project areas: Computer Information Technology, Dairy Foods, General Recreation, and Physical, Biological, and Earth Science
- 11 virtual summer activities led by 4-H youth were hosted during the pandemic
- 1081 volunteer hours by adults and teen leaders throughout the 2019-2020 school year
Family and Consumer Sciences Makes Youth Cooking at Home a Family Affair
Cobb County Cooking Club was meeting in person on a monthly basis to promote importance of a balanced meal, while teaching basic cooking skills and exposing youth to new foods. According to research, food preferences are formed in early childhood and affect an individual’s eating habits for life. Starting early is important to give children the best chance to live healthy and successful lives. Due to COVID-19, we switched to a virtual platform with live cook along in an effort to still provide the education and experience of an in-person class.
A proper nutritional diet and healthy lifestyle can affect young children throughout the rest of their lives. Cobb County Extension Cooking Club was successful at teaching cooking skills and encouraging kids to prepare their own meals; however, it was limited to 15 students per semester due to limited space. During the pandemic, Cobb County Cooperative Extension transitioned the cooking club to a virtual platform, opening it up to public. Parents wish for their children to eat healthy, but parents’ hectic schedules may lead to kids’ diets that are built around convenience and takeout food. Having basic cooking skills can encourage youth to prepare healthy snacks or even meals for themselves rather than reaching for junk food. Promotion of good nutrition in early life is essential for good health later in life.
Five Virtual Cooking Clubs, offered from April 2020 – July, 2020, consisted of nutrition lesson and hands on cooking that focused on a food group from MyPlate, and a new cooking method and recipe that corresponded to the nutrition lesson. During each class we emphasized balanced eating and encouraged trying new foods. Sessions focus on making participants more comfortable using knives and different cooking techniques as well confident in following recipes. Each class also presents an opportunity to talk about safe food handling. Youth participants were encouraged to cook along with the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent as the session was being taught for a fully engaging interactive experience.
The Cooking Club reached nearly 300 participants. Throughout the series, they learn the differences between different kitchen tools and their use; such as the different measuring cups for wet or dry ingredients. Not only do the students enjoy the classes but we get positive feedback from the parents as well. From the very first Virtual Cooking Club, there was active parent involvement and participation. One parent said, “You rock Zoe! Thank you so much for an excellent cooking series targeted to all youth and their families! My daughter Naomi is so excited each month and looks so forward to learning from you! Thank you for your candor your patience and your love for cooking! It has brought my 8 year old and I closer as this is 'our' thing we do together. I am convinced that this is a very worthwhile project that we have taken on very seriously during quarantine! Thank you and your team for an amazing worthwhile series/instruction! P.S. Will you be giving out credit for this class? I'm just saying- it should count as a home economics class!”
Family and Consumer Sciences At-A-Glance
Georgia Grown To Go - May 23, 2020, - 4000 contacts
Provided food safety information to residents of Cobb County during Georgia Grown To Go Farmers Market
Standard Program Youth
23 youth programs including Cooking Clubs: in- person and virtual, 4-H CHEF Club Food Handler Training.
Nearly 500 youth participants learned about food safety, nutrition and various cooking and baking skills.
Evaluation results showed the following data from participants:
- 88% gained food safety and nutrition knowledge
- 92% increased self-efficacy for cooking
- 93% of participants gained cooking skills
- 100% of recipes had been made again by participant families
Standard Program Adult
48 adult programs with over 400 participants: in person at the beginning of the year and virtual (via Zoom) during pandemic. Programs include: Diabetes Prevention, Heart Health, Cooking Classes, Declutter your Life, Financial Management, Healthy Home Environments, Radon Educations and ServSafe Manager Certification.
Diabetes Prevention is a 1-year Lifestyle Change Program. Over the course of the program 10 participants finished the program and as a team. Each participant received 20 hours of instruction. As a team the group lost 74 pounds.
ServSafe – Due to pandemic, classes were canceled, but we were still able to provide training to limited number of food service workers. 12 people received their ServSafe Manager Certifications.
EFNEP- Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
Total Participants enrolled: 63
Total Graduates: 27
Agriculture and Natural Resources Deals with Laurel Wilt Disease in Cobb
Laurel wilt, a devastating disease of woody plants in the laurel family (Lauraceae), was identified in a stand of sassafras (Sassafras albidum) trees in Marietta, Georgia. Laurel wilt is known to occur from Texas to North Carolina, south through Florida and north to Kentucky. As many as 300 million redbay (Persea borbonia) trees, a third of the population, have been killed by laurel wilt in the southeastern Atlantic region of the United States. The disease has also killed large numbers of sassafras trees in forests and landscapes, and avocado (Persea americana) trees in commercial production. Laurel wilt is caused by a fungus (Raffaelea lauricola) that is carried by an insect, the redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus). These organisms are native to Asia, are invasive pests in North America, and can be easily transported to new areas by movement of infested wood products and firewood.
Signs and symptoms of laurel wilt include:
- Deciduous species à Drooping, discolored leaves that quickly fall
- Evergreen species à Drooping, discolored leaves that are often retained for many months
- Dark discoloration of the sapwood (streaking)
- Boring activity à Numerous beetle holes and sawdust tubes
Once a tree is infected with laurel wilt its survival is highly unlikely. If you believe you have laurel wilt please contact your local Extension agent, Georgia Forestry Commission representative, or certified arborist to confirm its presence. Eradication and sanitation options will then be provided.
In response to this find the Cobb County Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent held a Laurel Wilt program with 81 participants in which 13 Arborist received ISA CEUs.
Agriculture and Natural Resources/Horticulture At-A-Glance
- Programs conducted: Pesticide Applicator Licensing, Laurel Wilt, Homeschool Science Class w/4-H Youth program, Winterizing Irrigation w/Cobb County Water, Creepy Critters: Spiders, Bats, and Owls, Master Naturalist Continuing Education Webinar.
- 5,104 Community Engagement Contacts
- Information Circulation 48,926
Master Gardener Extension Volunteer At-A-Glance
- 15,382 Volunteer Hours
- Value of volunteer hours $418,390
- 14,508 In person contacts
- 47,235 Telephone/email contacts