- 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>
- Author: Jenna Colburn
The past few years California and the nation have faced devastating natural disasters. When we see images of devastation and loss on the news and Internet our first instinct is to mobilize, organize, and help those that are in need.
In the past week California has been hit hard again with wildfires in Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Currently the brave first responders are still fighting to contain those fires.
Recovery from a catastrophic loss is a marathon, not a sprint.
After the fires are out, there will be a long road to recovery. Fire survivors may go back to survey their properties, but on top of insurance claims and rebuilding decisions, they have to address their immediate needs for shelter. Survivors will need support throughout the long process.
As noted in a Sacramento Bee article, thirteen months ago fires in Sonoma County destroyed about 5,300 homes, including about 2,000 in unincorporated Santa Rosa. Since then, only 598 permits have been issued to rebuild single family homes and only around 30 homes have been rebuilt in the unincorporated areas.
What you can do to help
Map out a plan
If you collect 1000 blankets, who will you give them to and how will you get them where they need to be? Are blankets what are really needed? The only way to answer these questions is to have a good plan with plenty of support in place BEFORE you start your project. This will ensure that your efforts to make a difference will be successful and sustainable.
Contact organizations that are able to accept goods BEFORE you start collecting items. Organizations have different needs at different times during disaster recovery efforts. Unsolicited donated goods such as used clothing, household items, and mixed foodstuff require agencies to redirect their valuable resources away from providing relief services. They will have to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not even meet the needs of disaster survivors.
Find reputable local organizations to support
The best way to help in disaster areas is to support relief organizations that are already established in the area.
Some ways to verify relief organizations:
- Give.org- the BBB Wise Giving Alliance
- The State Of California has vetted both volunteer opportunities and organizations that are supporting relief efforts. CaliforniaVolunteers is the state office that manages programs and initiatives aimed at increasing the number of Californians engaged in service and volunteering. Their Current Disasters webpage links to resources for current information on disaster areas in California.
As an individual, you can make personal monetary donations to organizations to support relief efforts.
There are many organizations that are accepting cash donations. The Golden Valley Bank Foundation has set up a fund to directly support 4-H, FFA and Grange members and their families affected by the Camp Fire.
Know our 4-H policy on fundraising and donating to non-profit organizations.
4-H clubs cannot donate cash or fundraise for other non-profit organizations. Please familiarize yourself with the following documents for more clarification:
- Guidelines for Fundraising by 4-H Units and VMOs to Benefit Groups or Organizations
- FAQs for 4-H Units & VMOs - Fundraising to Benefit Groups or Organizations
Create a sustainable Service Learning Project to support disaster relief
With a Service Learning Project, you will participate in the development of community partnerships and share responsibility with community members. You will also take an active role in improving society and improving the quality of life in the community.
Our own 4-H clubs have helped with fire recovery efforts.
Oroville Foothill 4-H Club's fire recovery project was shared in a blog post by 4-H member Donovan Hill.
Use the Service Learning Toolkit and Project Planning Guide
Evaluate your plan to ensure it is High Service/High Learning using the Standards of Quality in Service Learning. This 10 question checklist will help you determine how to make this a positive learning experience that benefits the community at the same time.
This original blog post from 9/1/17 was updated and edited to include current information. Jenna Colburn is the Program Coordinator for Civic Engagement. If you have any questions regarding creating a service learning project, please contact Jenna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Author: Jada Ho
- Author: TJ Suit
- Author: Rose Fiorenza
- Author: Addyson Rubin
We asked teens who attended last year's 2017 Mindfulness Retreat: "What were the highlights of the Mindfulness Retreat for you? What did you learn from the retreat that would be useful for teens?"
Jada: The mindfulness retreat was refreshing for me to be able to worry about nothing but the present. I loved the morning yoga and and making collages. This weekend reminded me that I should stop and take a total break from everything more often, and that I don't have to constantly be accomplishing something. I learned that visualizing things, like the glitter in a moody jar, when I meditate or practice mindfulness helps me to focus.
TJ: Given the opportunity to focus on myself and the present for a weekend with no worries about the future was an amazing experience. I spent time learning more about myself, learning about others, and learning mindful tools to help me get through my everyday life. From meditating on the beach, tons of arts and crafts, hilarious skits, and meeting new friends, it was an experience I will remember for a very long time!
Rose: The mindfulness retreat was an enlightening experience that impacted me in so many ways. With all my college applications due, I've been extremely busy and extremely stressed. The retreat really opened my eyes to the impact that stress can make on my social, mental and emotional health. I was able to leave the retreat with mindfulness strategies that I now use to help me relieve stress, such as collaging, deep breathing, and journaling.
Addy: The mindfulness retreat was a great weekend for stressed teens and adults. It gave everyone some time to step back and live in the moment instead of being obsessed with future plans and responsibilities. The retreat provided everyone with helpful tools that will keep you on track, and keep your stress levels down. This retreat really opened my eyes to what meditation and mindful breathing is capable of and I now use these techniques as a daily stress reliever. This was an unforgettable experience that I would highly recommend people of all ages.
Join us this year!
November 2-4, 2018
Camp Ocean Pines, Cambria, CA
A 4-H Healthy Living Program for youth age 13-19 and adults
Register online - Deadline extended to October 1, 2018
See our Event Calendar posting for more information.
- Author: Emily Jackson
Siskiyou County is one of California's most rural counties. Forest fires and other natural disasters are often a concern for our communities. Many of our residents own pets and livestock, but we lack the agency resources to help with pet/livestock emergency evacuation.
With fire season already starting, Siskiyou County's Hi 4-H project wanted to help people prepare for emergency evacuations that included plans for pets and livestock. It was important that we inform the public about how to prepare for a disaster. To do this, we created PEEP (Pet Emergency Evacuation Plan) pamphlets.
The main objective of this project was to inform and teach 4-Hers and the public about how to keep pets and livestock safe in case of evacuation. We worked with Siskiyou County's Animal Control and used resources from the Office of Emergency Services (OES) while we researched on our own in preparation for this project. We learned about important things to have prepared if animals need to be evacuated, and what to do if animals need to be left behind or let loose. In our pamphlets, we included information about how to evacuate small and large animals, important items to have prepared in case of an emergency, and the importance of pre-planning.
How we're sharing the information
Our pamphlets will be handed out at the Siskiyou Golden Fair and a PDF version will be available on our county's Animal Control and Office of Emergency Services (OES) websites. We have also given presentations on our project and supplied information pamphlets to local 4-H clubs, as well as shared our project with attendees of this year's California Focus conference.
After completing this project, we have gained knowledge about how to evacuate both large and small animals and we know that it is our responsibility to make sure we have a plan. Our animals are counting on us. We hope that our project will help 4-Hers and members of our community be prepared for future disasters.
Don't forget your PEEP's in an emergency!