PRINCE GEORGE — Prince George 4-H members were extremely busy at 4-H State Congress this summer.
Aiden England, Tiffany Brown, Ethan McNew, and Ryan Turner won “Blue Ribbons” in the competitions and their performances and rocked the house on the Share the Fun Talent show in Burruss Hall on the campus of Virginia Tech.
“Performing on the show and winning the competition in addition to graduating this year... I’m feeling great right now,” said Turner.
Prince George 4-H Camp was, again, the largest 4-H camp in the Southeast District.
“I’m already planning for next summer at 4-H... who’s going to be in my room, what team I want to be on, being a counselor for the first time and stuff like that,” said Molly Ashcraft, a counselor in training.
Ashcraft worked with 33 other ninth graders as counselors in training; the first of many steps preparing them to serve as counselors in 2018.
Our Workforce Academy students, Annie Fulmore and Christopher Allen, finished all the requirements for the in-school part of the career development education program sponsored by Prince George Promise. As a result, they both earned positions working in the office of Virginia Cooperative Extension with 4-H youth development programs this summer. Allen told me that he never knew there was so much going on behind the scenes with 4-H. Fulmore was also a 4-H Camp Counselor in Training this summer and she, too, agreed; it was a lot more to it than she expected.
The Prince George Promise organization collaborated with Prince George County to employ about 60 students from the Workforce Academy program this summer.
We worked with Retired 4-H Agent from Petersburg, Sharon Mallory, to do a 4-H Reality Store with Mark Sowers, Personal Financial Readiness Specialist, Army Community Service.
Sowers told me that he thought the youth on post at Fort Lee would love it and benefit from participating in the project. He set up the real-life simulation booths, recruited volunteers and Mallory guided us through making it happen.
The students were given scenarios that placed them in career roles that ranged from engineer to fast food prep staff. They played roles as single parents and married with children. In other words, the game of life making money and paying bills.
“I learned that making $20,000 a year sounds like a lot more than it is... after taxes, daycare, insurance, and rent, I was broke,” said Christopher Scott, a student at the youth center.
Several teams of about five students each competed in our 4-H Food Challenge lead by 4-H Intern from Virginia Tech, Christina Morales, and our teen leader, Kiera Jefferson.
Students were given a table full of ingredients but no idea what they were supposed to make.
They were challenged to come up with a prepared dish and do the research on iPads to determine what nutrients are in the dish, what those nutrients do for their bodies and how much it costs to prepare the dish. Students then had to plate the meal gourmet style and give a presentation on the findings of their research. It was a crash course in nutrition, research, and public speaking.
“I’m a pro... this is our third year doing this... we are the best,” said Javonte Harding, a student at the youth center.
Virginia State University hosted us at Randolph Farm for our 4-H Aqua Camp. Moore Middle Explorers and youth from surrounding counties joined in the fun, fishing and touring the agricultural research facility. They saw hydroponics in action with live tilapia and greenhouse farming.
The name 4-H Virginia Youth Voices sounds like a singing group but it is actually a program where students create videos with messages that address issues and offer solutions to solve problems faced by youth today. The program is consistently creating youth change-makers who make positive contributions to society locally, statewide, nationwide and internationally.
Summer enrichment program participants made videos using iPads. Parents and distinguished guest viewed the finished projects at the Expo held at J.E.J. Moore Middle School.
Graduates of our Childcare Certification class taught by Briana Williams are highly qualified and available for hire. Williams’ class offered instruction and role playing that will come in handy when dealing with everything from emergency situations to fun and play time.
“I feel a lot more confident now that I have taken the class,” said Zoe Stoke, a 4-H Camper.
It was a family affair as Briana Williams’ mother, Wanda Williams, led our Cooking Class stepping outside the box making barbeque chicken lettuce wraps.
Prince George 4-H Alumni member and Virginia State University engineering department graduate Nikki Jefferson brought some of her skills to our Technology Camp at the Fort Lee Youth Center. Each child took home a vegetable seed contained in a mini hydroponic greenhouse made from a water bottle, some sea rocks and a solution of fish emulsion and water.
“4-H changed my life for the better. All those trips to the farm and 4-H Congress at Virginia Tech with Music Biz made a serious impression on me. That’s why I attended VSU and so it feels good giving back. I’m 4-H for life,” said Jefferson.