- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
- Editor: Suzanne Morikawa
The Solano County 4-H Skills Day is an opportunity for 4-H'ers to show what they've learned in their projects and demonstrate their showmanship skills. From that event, they are finding some great cooks! Read their stories by Kathy Keatley Garvey below – and also get their recipes!
From cavies to chili to chocoflan - Just in time for Valentine's Day!
First time cooks sweep Solano County 4-H Chili Cook-off - Great inspiration for cold weather
It's part cake, part flan.
The chocolate dessert recipe originates “from my Great-Aunt Esther and it's what we serve at all our family gatherings,” she said.
It's a winning one, at that. And just in time for Valentine's Day.
Celeste baked the dessert for the recent Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day—where 4-H'ers share what they're learned in their projects—and her presentation and recipe earned a showmanship award, one of seven awarded.
Last year she won a showmanship pin for her project, “Curls Just Want to Have Fun: How to Care for Your Curly Haired Guinea Pig.”
Celeste, a seventh-grader who just turned 13 at the end of January, is active in 4-H. She serves as the treasurer of her 4-H club and last year served as a Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) officer in the Solano County 4-H Program. This year she's enrolled in five projects: cavies, poultry, dogs, record keeping and rabbits.
Always eager to learn, Celeste decided to “take dogs, rabbits and poultry so I can learn showmanship,” she said, noting that she competed in the Round Robin Small Animal Showmanship at two county fairs last year but was inexperienced at showing animals other than cavies. So this year's she's set her sights on learning more about them. Her goal: to place first in Round Robin.
No stranger in the kitchen, Celeste served as a member of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club's Chili Cook-Off team for the last two years in the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day.
This year, however, she turned from chili to chocoflan. The evaluators loved it! So did the 4-H'ers and their families who sampled it.
Here's the recipe, just in time for Valentine's Day: Chocoflan recipe
The third time is not the charm.
The first time is.
At least it was for four first-time cooks who teamed to enter—and win—the 2019 Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff, held recently in the Sierra Vista Elementary School, Vacaville.
The Cowtown Chili Boys from the Vaca Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville--Xander Lovell, Ian Weber and brothers Francis and Matthew Agbayani-- served "Chili Con Carne," a generational family recipe from Xander's grandmother, Peggy Elgin of Maryland.
“That was the only chili we had growing up and we all loved it,” recalled Xander's mother, Diane Lovell, a Kaiser Permanente physician. “We'd go skiing and look forward to having it at the end of the day. So when the boys decided to enter the contest and asked who had a good recipe, I volunteered ours. They said ‘Hey, let's try it!'”
The youths gathered in the Lovell home where Mom Lovell, a radiologist who works at Vacaville Kaiser, showed them how to chop vegetables, measure the ingredients, and cook. None of the boys is enrolled in a 4-H cooking project.
The judges—Solano County District 4 Supervisor John Vasquez, Vacaville Mayor Ron Rowlett and Vacaville Councilman Raymond Beaty—declared the Cowtown Boys the winner after sampling the chili of six cook-off teams and listening to their presentations. The teams represented clubs in Vacaville, Suisun, Vallejo and Dixon.
The winners each received a 4-H backpack filled with a 4-H shirt, a Baskin Robbins gift card and a 4-H sticker, according to coordinator Deanne Weber of the Vaca Valley 4-H Club.
“The Cowtown Boys' chili was delicious,” said Vasquez, a 16-year member of the Solano County Board of Supervisors and a veteran 4-H chili judge. “Overall, this was the best competition ever. Everyone exceled in at least one area.”
This was the first year of judging for Rowlett and Beaty. Rowlett praised the overall presentations. “They were all very impressive,” he said.
Beaty, a first-year councilman, marveled at how the youths partnered with each other and showed both dedication and skill.
Other chili teams participating:
- Author: Suzanne Morikawa
The National 4-H Council has named Elisabeth Watkins from San Joaquin County the winner of the 2019 4-H Youth in Action Award for Healthy Living. She will receive a $5,000 scholarship for higher education and will serve as an advocate and spokesperson for 4-H Healthy Living programming.
The two finalists for Agriculture are also from California 4-H: Ashley Jordan of Santa Clara County, and Rose Fiorenza of Imperial County.
“These young women represent the essence of True Leadership,” said Abbey Tillman of the National 4-H Council. “It's clear that California 4-H is providing great mentorship and guidance to the youth of this great state, and we at National 4-H Council are glad to share their stories nationwide.”
About the Youth in Action Awards
The 4-H Youth in Action Awards began in 2010 to recognize 4-H'ers who have overcome challenges and used the knowledge they gained in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their community. The awards are given out in four areas: Healthy Living, Civic Engagement, STEM, and Agriculture.
Last year California had seven applicants out of a total of 161 applicants nationwide. For the 2019 awards, we had 19 applicants out of a total of 167 applicants.
Elisabeth will be officially recognized as the 2019 4-H Youth in Action Pillar Winner for Healthy Living at the 10th Annual 4-H Legacy Awards in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. She will be joined by the three other 2019 Youth in Action Pillar Winners: Addy Battel of Michigan (Agriculture Pillar Winner); Clyde Van Dyke of New York (STEM Pillar Winner); and Mason McClintock of Georgia (Civic Engagement Pillar Winner).
To learn more about 4-H Youth in Action and to view the other pillar winners from around the country, please visit: www.4-h.org/youthinaction.
“These young women represent the essence of True Leadership.”
Abbey Tillman, National 4-H Council
Elisabeth Watkins, 2019 4-H Youth in Action Winner for Healthy Living
From her earliest 4-H demonstrations, Elisabeth had an interest in educating others about healthy foods and agriculture. “How to Make an Omelet”, her first 4-H presentation, helped her learn to talk and cook at the same time. Over time, her interest in cooking and teaching grew, eventually leading to competing in – and winning – Food Network's Chopped Junior. Now, she routinely appears on local television stations as “Farm Girl Chef”, sharing healthy recipes and cooking tips.
In addition to her work as “Farm Girl Chef,” Elisabeth is a dynamic and flexible leader. She volunteered to lead the California State Fair 4-H Cooking Throwdown in 2017. In this role, she coordinated all aspects of the program — encouraging youth to participate, contacting industry professionals to serve as judges, and overseeing all facets of the competition. She also took the initiative to create a similar program in her county, providing youth with opportunities for fun, hands-on learning in developing a healthy lifestyle.
It's not just about helping youth develop cooking skills. “Working with youth to help them develop the self-confidence to accomplish something great is so fulfilling,” says Watkins.
Elisabeth plans to attend the Ohio State University pursuing a degree in Agricultural Communications. She hopes to one day host her own farm-to-table show on television, demonstrating how food is harvested, packaged and turned into a healthy meal.
Rose Fiorenza, 2019 Youth in Action Finalist for Agriculture
During Rose's four years as a member of the planning committee, she rose through the ranks as the group's secretary, treasurer, president and youth camp director. As Sustainable YOU!'s president and director, she created the Junior Staffer position to encourage junior high 4-H'ers to get involved and learn what it means to be a leader during the crucial middle school years. Rose is currently pursuing a degree in Marine Biology from the University of California, San Diego, and plans to bring more sustainable practices back to her hometown post-graduation.
Ashley Jordan, 2019 Youth in Action Finalist for Agriculture
Thus, the Urban Dilemma Project was born. Ashley developed her own curriculum and taught almost 1,000 urban elementary and middle schoolers about where their food comes from. Currently, Ashley is expanding her curriculum to include crop rotation, bees and water management, and she looks forward to training other youth to teach the curriculum at more schools. Ashely plans to attend California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, double majoring in Animal Science and Ag Business to pursue a career education others about agriculture's influence in our everyday lives.
We are proud to have our youth recognized for the innovative ways they use their 4-H experiences to give back to their communities./h2>/h2>/h2>/h3>/h2>