Time is running out! Let's hop to it...
This was an extra special week in my summer. Remember way back to my first week when I went to Super Star Chef Training? Oh yeeeeeah....time flies.
I spent this week in Madisonville, KY with the Super Star Chef team. We traveled from Madisonville to Dawson Springs every morning to teach the Super Star Chef curriculum to West Kentucky 4-H campers. We taught four groups of campers for 50 minutes apiece, Wednesday-Friday.
That Monday morning we bustled around Lexington collecting extra cooking and teaching supplies, pre- and post-tests, and reinforcement items, which are fun free-bees given to program graduates. Each camper got their very own apron, set of measuring cups, cutting board, and graduation certificate upon completion.
Tuesday evening we traveled out to the 4-H campsite for class sign-ups. As I have learned, I am one of few natural-born rural Kentuckians to never participate in 4-H camp as a child, therefore sign-ups were surprising to me. My vision of class sign-ups was very dull compared to the lively, enthusiastic, and competitive soirée we walked into. We had to actively recruit our class members, which was challenging without props. For example, Music Class played the songs they would be learning, Rocketry Class boasted their homemade rockets, and Pinterest Class had beautiful pictures of their upcoming crafts. By the end of sign-ups we had an average of 6 kids per class and only 2 males overall.
Wednesday began with purchasing program support supplies, in this case groceries for our recipes. We taught the campers hand-washing and knife safety, including the differences between types of knives, and allowed them to practice cutting fruit. We used our chopped fruit to make fruit kabobs using skewers. The Sweet Treats Class even let us borrow melted chocolate for our kabobs!
After buying our groceries Thursday morning we headed back to Dawson Springs. We taught the campers the importance of food preservation and made strawberry freezer jam.
On Friday we made homemade salsa with the campers, providing them with chips to enjoy their finished product!
Although I have taught a few audiences on a weekly basis throughout the summer, such as the women at Chrysalis House and the veterans at St. James Place, this was my first experience teaching on a daily basis. Even though we only had three days with the campers, by the end of the week I had gotten to know each one of them. I learned about their families, pets, hobbies, extra-curricular activities, favorite foods, books, movies, music....the list is endless.
On Friday as we were finishing up each class the kids gave us all hugs and thanked us for spending time with them. It was a blast spending those few hours a day with them, but I regretted not having the opportunity to stay the entire week with them. Many of our campers were already exclaiming their excitement to participate in Super Star Chef again next summer. The 4-H contact for the Super Star Chef program was so thrilled by the class she asked if we were available for other camps, but unfortunately the summer was already booked. Perhaps next year 4-H could consider asking some of the Super Star Chef participants from this summer to teach the class at each camp next summer!
This week was a whirlwind! Not only was I busy polishing out the details for my big summer project (waaaait for it!), but it was also fair week in Fayette County. My agent and I headed out to the fair grounds to help set-up and organize. It is always nice to get out of the office, and strangely enough I find it refreshing to do a little bit of manual labor. By manual labor I simply mean moving and arranging tables, assembling a flag with no instruction manual, and helping a guild of quilters build quilt racks.
Extension....always keeping me on my toes!!
I had the honor of judging the different categories of canned goods. In the beginning of my internship, I assisted in judging the canned goods submitted to the Nicholas County fair, so it was interesting to experience the flip-side of this process. I found that categorizing the canned goods was actually more challenging than judging. The strangest canned product we had submitted was called Kool-Aid Pickles, where the contestant added fruit punch flavored Kool-Aid mix to her pickling cucumbers.
We also had some beautifully crafted hand-woven baskets submitted for judging, however, we called in the professionals for this competition. The women who traveled to Fayette County to judge the baskets were experts, and knew each design name on sight.
We had so many gorgeous quilts brought to display that I could barely choose which ones to include in my blog! My favorite quilt was a baby blanket, which was designed to resemble a sheet of notebook paper with a child's drawings. The quilter even included the 3-hole punch on the left-hand side of the paper!
My favorite part of the fair was watching baby chicks hatch with the kids who came through the pavilion. I had never learned about how baby chicks grow inside the shell, and I found it surprising that it takes less than a month for them to hatch! It was exhausting watching them chip away at the shell, but very rewarding to see how fast they regain their strength.
We wrapped this week up by visiting Village Branch Library for their "Cooking on a Coin" program. Over the summer I have gotten to know a few of the kids who keep coming back to participate, and they have astonished me with their maturity and genuine interest. Their cooking skills have notably improved, and hopefully we have taught them a few things about budgeting, reading labels, and being health conscious.
It does not seem possible that the summer is already over! The past couple of months have provided me with so many amazing experiences, all of which have taught me something new, as well as honed my personal and professional skills. At this point in time I felt ready to tackle my Big Summer Project, which I intentionally saved for my final blog post. Stay tuned to read about my week-long experience teaching the Top Chef program (designed by yours truly) at Camp Carnegie in downtown Lexington!
It's my one month internship-iversary! Here are the highlights …
My first road trip beyond the boundaries of Fayette County. My supervisor and I traveled to Nicholas County Fair where we were given the opportunity to judge items submitted by members of the community. There were different categories of goods to judge including textiles, baked goods, canning, photography, horticulture, jewelry making, and even antiques. It was interesting to see what items people chose to submit, and even more interesting to learn how to judge, which can be subjective at times. Free dessert is always a bonus. Chocolate zucchini cake, you stole my heart.
Towards the middle of the week I accompanied an FCS Assistant to the Chrysalis House. During this visit we presented "Rethink your Drink" materials and counseled the women on sugar and caffeine intake. The objective was to try to raise awareness of how many calories from added sugars are in popular beverages such as soda, energy drinks, and kids' fruit punch. At the end of our lesson we shared a healthy Strawberry Limeade drink with our participants.
Later that day I ventured to the Lexington Public Library Central Branch with my supervisor. We held a program about couponing that had a very successful turn-out. Going along with our thrifty theme, I had the opportunity to present a recipe to our participants and share price comparisons from different vendors. I made "Zucchini and Corn" and researched produce prices at the farmer's market, Kroger, and Aldi.
We rounded out the week teaching the 4H Safe Sitter curriculum at Meadowthorpe Elementary. As a part of this program we taught rising 6th graders babysitting basics, including topics such as business development, safety awareness, and childcare skills. I had the opportunity to speak with the students about food safety, including examples of safe snacks that would be appropriate for young children. They had a fun time practicing how to hold, feed, burp, and change diapers with the "dummy" babies.
Back at the Chrysalis House we held another session with the women and discussed dairy. It seems as though the dairy group is one of the more commonly known food groups. So far, every group I have had the chance to talk with about dairy has already been aware of the benefits of consuming dairy, including basic knowledge about calcium and good food sources. After the lesson we shared a strawberry banana smoothie with our participants.
Next, my supervisor and I went to the BCTC campus on Leestown Road and talked with a group of teenagers about the "Rethink your Drink" curriculum. After discussing healthier beverage options we presented them with a booklet of simple and healthy snack recipes (made by yours truly), and assisted them in making a few of the recipes, including a healthy fruit smoothie. Although they were a little skeptical of our recipes at first we convinced them to give the snacks a try, and they were surprised to discover they liked what we had to offer.
Later in the week I accompanied an FCS Assistant and UK graduate student to Kenwick Center Camp. During our visit we discussed MyPlate and the different food groups with the kids. Our time with them was very interactive. We played an icebreaker game with a frisbee, asked them to give examples of their favorite foods from each food group, and involved them in a friendly competitive relay race. For the relay race, we placed paper bags at one end of the gym labeled with different food groups and gave them paper cut-outs of different foods to categorize into the bags. Not only did we educate them on some foods they had never heard of, such as hummus and lentils, but we also got them moving and practiced team-work.
Then, my supervisor and I were off to "Cooking on a Coin" at the Lexington Public Library Village Branch. This program is offered by the library for kids in the surrounding neighborhoods to learn food safety techniques, nutrition, and cooking basics. We kicked off the program with a germ simulation activity and discussed the importance of proper hand washing technique. Afterwards we learned about MyPlate, discussed the food groups, and used www.choosemyplate.gov to calculate each child's daily caloric needs based on their height, weight, and physical activity level. We rounded out the lesson by preparing Overnight Oats, which is a great breakfast that can be prepared ahead of time.
We polished off the end of the week by attending the Lexington Farmer's Market downtown on Saturday morning. This week we demonstrated the recipe Very Berry Salsa for shoppers and passed out insulated bags for their fresh produce. The salsa was a big hit!
In between the highlights of the last two weeks I have found time to do some organizing around the office, to practice my paperwork capabilities using KERS, attend various meetings, and to begin planning my Special Project (more info a little later). There is always something to do if you look around hard enough to find it. Speaking of finding things, while elbow deep in organizing the FCS agents' closet of reinforcement materials I stumbled across the recipe my classmates and I developed way back during my first bachelor's degree! It was really encouraging to see firsthand how our work is being used for the community.
You may recognize a few things from my previous blog post, but there are still a lot of first experiences to be had in this position, such as each opportunity to work alongside not just one agent but multiple employees in extension. It has often been said that what works for one may not work for all, and that is certainly the case for the professionals in extension. They are free to be as creative as they wish with their lesson planning and programs. Working alongside different employees not only offers a much wider perspective of FCS and extension, but also a wider array of teaching and communication techniques. Despite their differences in how they get the job done they are all very similar on another front....why they choose this job. They care. It is plain to see that each and every one of them is invested in their work. Each has their own passion, but each of them care about the people they are working with and invest themselves not only mentally but financially as well. It takes a very special person to be willing to invest in the community to such an extent.
What works for one may not work for all, and this applies not only to professionals but also to people in the community. If there is one take-away message from the last two weeks that I will carry with me through my professional career it would be that of practicality. In the DPD program at UK we are required to take courses such as nutritional biochemistry, advanced nutrition, and medical nutrition therapy, which to students seems like tedious work. These courses are absolutely necessary to thoroughly understand the practice of dietetics, but if we cannot use the knowledge we gain in a professional setting then what good is it? My professors have said it countless times, but I never really understood its importance until members of the community began to look to me as a professional for advice. Furthermore, there are oftentimes extenuating circumstances (finances, culture, religion) that may render what we have learned in class impractical for a group of people. As a future dietitian, I hope to use my experience in extension alongside my education as preparation for providing practical advice for my clients.
A collection of stories as an intern with University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension, providing community-based nutrition education services.