The holidays often provide opportunities to consume excess calories by eating mindlessly. Small snacks, like office cookie trays or holiday appetizers, can add up quickly if you aren’t aware of your consumption, warns West Virginia University Extension Service Public Health Specialist Kristin McCartney.
Americans can gain seven to ten pounds through the holidays, according to McCartney, and she warns that it’s harder to take the weight off than it is to put the pounds on.“People think that they’re being careful with their weight if they just limit themselves to fewer snacks or don’t add ice cream to their apple pie,” she says. “Those are fine first steps, but people still need to be careful when it comes to calorie consumption during the holidays.”
In order to help combat this, McCartney provides tips for holiday meals like Thanksgiving. Her tips will not only keep turkey, stuffing and gravy on the menu, but also leave guests satisfied after the traditional meal.
“It’s all about healthy preparation and substitutions, reducing the fat and sugar in your meal and taking a healthier mental approach,” McCartney explains.
Small changes can make meals healthier without compromising quality. For example, steam, bake or broil foods instead of frying them. Skim the fat off gravies, soups and stews.
For healthier and tastier vegetables, leave out butter, oil and lard. Instead, substitute low-fat and low-sodium broth to retain flavor while trimming fat.Try new spices to give food more pizzazz without adding fat or salt. Avoid adding additional sugar to sweet dishes; add vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg instead.
“Using nonfat or low-fat counterparts of pantry staples is a hassle-free way to retain flavor while making the dish healthier overall,” says McCartney.
Items such as salad dressing, mayonnaise, whipped topping, butter, sour cream and cheese all have low fat counterparts readily available. Artificial sweeteners provide an alternative to sugar when preparing desserts.
Substitute white meat for dark, load up on vegetables and watch portion sizes on gravy and starches, such as stuffing and sweet potatoes.
“Limit your desire to overeat by grabbing a healthy snack before you head to a dinner party,” McCartney explains. “Wear clothing that fits you a little bit tighter so you notice yourself feeling full faster.”
While these are just a few ways to help your waistline during the holiday season, it’s also important not to lose perspective.
“Most importantly, remember that you’re sharing meals to spend time with family, so slow down while eating and enjoy visiting with them,” McCartney says. “There’s plenty of time to enjoy non-food related activities, too. Play games, watch movies, walk outside or play football.”
To learn more about how WVU Extension Service Family Nutrition Programs help citizens of the state make choices to improve their health, visit familynutrition.ext.wvu.edu or call your local office of the WVU Extension Service.
by John Porter, WVU Extension Agent, Kanawha CountyJust last week, millions of Americans sat down to enjoy a feast in honor of Thanksgiving, when we pause to give thanks for our blessings: food, family, friends, and more. It doesn’t matter if you are gathered at a simple table at home, a lavish family dinner, a simple meal with a few friends or none, or even a meal at a shelter or soup kitchen, one dish that will most likely be on the table will be sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes (or potatoes in general) were most definitely not part of the first Thanksgiving celebration (there’s also not conclusive evidence that turkey was, either), but it has become one of the staple foods for the holiday, aside from turkey, pumpkin pie, and cranberries (we’ll talk about those next week).
Setting the Sweet Potato Story Straight
Believe it or not, but sweet potatoes (Ipomea batatas) are in the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae) and are not related to white (or Irish) potatoes that are in the Solanaceae family. This division is seen further when you understand that sweet potatoes are roots, whereas potatoes are tubers (a reproductive part of the stem). Furthermore, sweet potatoes are not, and have never been, yams. Yams are, in fact, in a totally different family and come from a totally different part of the world than sweet potatoes. If someone handed you a yam, you would probably stare blankly at it and wonder what on earth to do with it. Yams are rough and scaly, with a whitish, dry and starchy interior, not to mention the fact that they can grow up to five feet long and weigh over 100 pounds. Yams are native to Asia and West Africa, and are a staple African crop. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, hail from central and south America, which is why we include them in a feast that celebrates the “plenty” in our American foodscape.
We like to eat our sweet potatoes baked, in a casserole, simmered in brown sugar and butter, topped with marshmallows, or in a pie. No matter how you eat them for Thanksgiving, you can bet that the best tasting ones are the ones you bought from a local farmer or grew yourself. In fact, sweet potatoes are not really all that difficult to grow, so consider growing some next year for Thanksgiving and beyond. Some people actually already grow them in the flower garden those decorative sweet potato vines really are sweet potato vines that have just been developed to look pretty and not produce potatoes.
Grow Your Own for Next Year’s Feast
You’ll want to start with young plants, or slips after last frost. You can purchase slips from a local garden center or start your own by burying sweet potatoes in warm, moist sand in a warm, light area inside about six weeks before planting. Sweet potatoes, like their cousins the morning glories, love lots of room to spread their vines, but there are compact bush varieties for even small gardens (or large containers). If you have room, traditional varieties such as ‘Beauregard’ and ‘Jewell’ will work and are easy to find at local stores. Compact varieties which include ‘Vardaman’ and ‘Bush Porto Rico’ are better for smaller spaces, but might be harder to find.
After you plant them (about a foot apart) the most maintenance they’ll need is weeding and watering if it turns off dry. You’ll want to dig them before the first frost in the fall and cure them to make sure they store well. You can cure them by putting them in a warm, dry place for 2-3 weeks after harvest. After they have cured, you’ll want to store them in a bin, cellar, or other cool, dry place until you use them. Make sure they are in a place where they can’t freeze. My options are limited, so I tend to store stuff like this in a basket on the bottom shelf of cabinets in my kitchen and dining room. The cooler temps near the floor are just what you need.
Since we are talking food, I thought I would end with a favorite recipe. I usually make this with butternut squash, but the similar yellow-orange flesh of the sweet potato will work equally as well. Since I grew sweet potatoes, and not butternuts this year, this switch will let me cook one of my favorite fall dishes. You can serve it warm like a pilaf or even cool like a salad.
Sweet and Savory Autumn Barley Pilaf (or Salad)
1 cup chopped onion
1 medium diced apple (remove or leave skin your choice)
2 cups diced, peeled sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried sage
¼ tsp dried rosemary
2 cups cooked barley
1/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Heat oil in large pan; add sweet potatoes and cook until they begin to soften (about 5-6 minutes).
- Add onion, apple, herbs, and seasoning and cook for 3-5 more minutes.
- Stir in the broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the tasty brown bits.
- Stir in the cooked barley and toss over low heat.
- Serve hot or cold. Makes about 6 1-cup servings.
“When you choose to purchase from a small business instead of a large national chain, you invest directly into the local economy, creating vigorous growth for small towns and local businesses,” says Kelly Nix, WVU Extension Service leadership specialist.
“Buying local goods and services directly impacts the local community and allows for economic advancement of individual businesses and eventually, the entire town.”
The Saturday after Thanksgiving is “Small Business Saturday,” a day to show your support for local businesses. This year it falls on Nov. 30. Inspired by Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is about patronizing brick and mortar business that are small and local. It’s a reminder to get out and explore your townand the stateto see what West Virginians have to offer through their small businesses.Although Small Business Saturday is the single-most recognized day of the year where small business shopping is highly encouraged, it shouldn’t be the only time of year that you frequent your local business owners’ shops.
“West Virginia small businesses are open for business throughout the year,” said Nix. “It’s important that we support them through every season and not just during the holidays.”
There are a number of quality, West Virginian-owned businesses in communities and small towns throughout the state, all you have to do is seek them out.
Perhaps the best place to find local shops and businesses in on “Main Street” of the small town you’re visiting. Communities across the state have that one street that stands out above all the rest. Find the Main Street in your area that offers boutique shopping, family owned restaurants and other West Virginian-owned businesses, and see what they have to offer.Spending at a local store or restaurant drives the entire economy forward. Learn more about how contributing even a small amount to local businesses regularly has a huge impact on the local economy and state economy.
Gifts are just part of shopping local. You can find many of the ingredients for “grandma’s famous apple pie” or locally-made cheeses and wines for the holidaysor any dayfrom local businesses and marketplaces.
Places like the Capitol Market in Charleston offer a large amount of handcrafted goods and West Virginia-made foods from across the state, available all-year-long.
“When visitors seek out local shops and spend money on their goods or services, resident businesses gain resources from other areas of the stateor neighboring statesthat grow their business, leading to increased economic development from tourism in the region,” says Doug Arbogast, WVU Extension specialist for community and rural tourism.
Although visiting the communities and towns where small businesses are located is part of the appeal to shopping local, you can still support small businesses and create a strong local business economy in West Virginia by purchasing products from West Virginian merchants online.
Find local, handcrafted West Virginia goods online.
For information on community development or tourism, contact the WVU Extension Service Office of Community Resources and Economic Development at 304-293-6967.
It may sound silly to say that now is the time to concentrate on caring for trees and shrubs, when they are getting ready to go into their winter dormancy. But what we don’t often realize or see is that the trees are never fully asleep in the winter. Plus, some basic care now will help avoid winter damage that can kill branches and deaden entire areas on some shrubs.
Fertilize in the fall
While trees and shrubs may lose their leaves or stop growing aboveground for winter, the roots are still growing beneath the soil and pulling up water and nutrients when the soil isn’t frozen. They take the focus away from the top of the plant, and instead take a little time to rebuild and replenish. It’s almost like a tree meditation retreat. To facilitate this growth, the fall is the time to fertilize trees so that they have a sufficient amount of nutrients available as building blocks.
Root growth is particularly encouraged by the presence of phosphorous, the second number in the “big three” N-P-K ingredients you’ll find on the bag of fertilizer. Potassium (the K at the end of that list) also plays a part in overall plant growth. Nitrogen, which is listed first, can be applied in the fall, but it directs growth of the leafy, green parts of plants and at least some should be applied in the spring.
To quote my friend and colleague Chuck Talbott, the extension agent in Putnam County, when you talk about the N, P and K on the fertilizer bag, remember the phrase “up, down and all around.”
What and how to fertilize
Of course, the best answer to how much fertilizer to apply would be answered with a soil test, which I have discussed in previous columns. But, barring that, you can still make applications of fertilizers based on basic recommendations. A balanced granulated fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, is a good place to start. If you prefer to use another fertilizer, such as an organic, you’ll need to adjust the rate of application to get the desired amount of actual nutrient applied.
Every time I visit a garden center, I see the tree fertilizer spikes sitting on the shelf and cringe. These spikes, which supposedly make it easier to fertilize trees, do more harm than good. Each individual section of root feeds one very specific part of the tree crown. If you direct a majority of fertilizer to one point, which is what the spike does, you feed specific spots of the crown while others starve. The result is what I refer to as tree “bed head.” Just don’t do it.
When you apply the fertilizer, traditional wisdom has stated that you apply fertilizer out to the drip line, which is where the span of branches end. However, more updated thought says that you should apply fertilizer up to twice the diameter beyond this. Roots can reach out a great distance, so you’ll want to make sure you feed them all.
There are a few ways to calculate the rate of application of your fertilizer. The first is to measure the diameter of the tree, and apply 1 to 2 pounds of a 10-10-10 fertilizer (or equivalent) for every inch of tree diameter. Trees less than 6 inches in diameter should get 2 pounds. The second method is to calculate the area where you are applying fertilizer and apply 10 pounds of 10-10-10 for every 1,000 square feet (that’s a lot of 1’s and 0’s—I thought I was writing computer code for a minute). For those with smaller trees and shrubs, that works out to 1 pound (2 cups) per 100 square feet or 4 tablespoons per 10 square feet.
Still need to water
Because the roots of trees and shrubs are still actively growing and pulling water and nutrients from the soil, it goes without saying that they still need water during fall and winter. If there is an extended dry period, especially in the fall, it is a good idea to deeply water trees and shrubs so they can take up as much water as they can before the process slows. Even in winter, during warmer sunny days, trees can still take up water. In fact, they need to.
Winter damage on trees and shrubs is caused by drying out, not by freezing. Cold, dry winter winds dry out leaves and needles on evergreens and even twigs and branches on deciduous trees. When there is sun and warmth in the winter, trees and shrubs with leaves and needles will lose water to transpiration, so they need water to keep from drying, and dying, out.
John Porter is the WVU Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources in Kanawha County. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-720-9573. Twitter: @WVgardenguru.
by Karen Newton, WVU Extension Service Dining with Diabetes Coordinator
For many West Virginia residents, diabetes is a way of life either for themselves, family members, neighbors or friends. And their numbers are escalating. But the deadly, costly trend can be changed.
Diabetes does not have to be your fate. You and your family can be part of West Virginia’s change . . . each day.
First, the sobering news
Diabetes may be common. But it is serious. Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke and is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Overall, the risk for death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people who are of a similar age but do not have diabetes.
Think about the active lifestyle youand your familywant to have as you consider these sobering statistics:
- West Virginians are subject to the many complications of diabetes including kidney failure, lower limb amputations and adult blindness.
- In West Virginia, diabetes has escalated to epidemic proportions: 11.7 percent of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes. Compare that to the nation’s 9.2 percent. Approximately 229,379 individuals in West Virginia have diabetes, of which over 62,162 are undiagnosed
- According to the latest (2008) data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 of West Virginia’s 55 counties have obesity rates of 29.8 percent or more. In 20 of counties, the rate of adult physical inactivity is 31.2 percent.
- Type 2 diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, diabetes family history, gestational diabetes history, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity, and race and ethnicity.
Now, the good news
Diabetes and its complications do not have to happen. Statistics on this chronic disease should cause all West Virginians to examine how they take care of their bodies, what they eat, their level of physical activity and other lifestyle indicators.
How can you lower your risk of becoming diabetic? Here’s how:
- Check out WVU Extension’s Dining with Diabetes cooking classes
- Go to the LiveWell West Virginia website
- Try budget-friendly, healthy family recipes from WVU Extension’s Family Nutrition Program
- Invite your family and friendsof all ages to be part of Let’s Move
What can you do to reduce your chance of developing complications if you already have diabetes?
Talk with your doctor about:
- Having least two HbA1c tests per year
- Having an annual fasting cholesterol test
- Having an annual blood test which tells how well your kidneys are working (GFR)
- Having an annual urine test to check for albumin (protein) in your urine ( a sign of kidney damage)
- Having an annual dilated eye exam
- Having an annual dental/oral exam
- Having an annual comprehensive foot exam
- Getting an annual flu immunization
- Getting a Pneumoccocal immunization
Resources and Links
West Virginia Extension Service and its many community partners offer both information and a variety of programs to help you adopt a healthier lifestyle. Making small changes in your nutrition habits and in your level of physical activity can make a difference!
Click on some of the following programs to get on the road to a healthier lifestyle; to prevent diabetes or to reduce the complications of diabetes and to live well with diabetes.
- Check out WVU Extension’s Dining with Diabetes cooking classes
- Go to the LiveWell West Virginia website
- Try budget-friendly, healthy family recipes from WVU Extension’s Family Nutrition Program
- Invite your family and friendsof all ages to be part of Let’s Move
WVU Extension Service offers of tips and tricks to make Halloween a treat for everyone involved.
Candy—Safety and Alternatives
It’s important to consider your child’s health when it comes to all the candy they will collect on Halloween. Not only do you need to inspect it for any tampering, but you need to consider what you will do with all of it. Experts suggest a good meal before trick-or-treating. Afterward, let your child pick a few favorite pieces, but then put away the rest. Allowing candy to sit out where children see it is often too tempting to pass up.Treat kids to candy alternatives, such as popcorn, trail mix, or pretzels, this this Halloween. Explore healthier options that might trick picky eaters into enjoying a better snack.
Light the Night
Drivers may not easily see trick-or-treaters. For improved visibility, children should carry a flashlight, glow stick, or wear reflective tape on their costumes. In addition, trick-or-treaters should stay on sidewalks and cross streets only at crosswalks. Finally, children should be supervised by an adult and walk in large groups, which are easier to see than individual pedestrians.
According to West Virginia University Safety and Health Extension experts, costumes aren’t always the scariest part of Halloween.
The National Fire Protection Association makes numerous suggestions to keep your children and homes safe.
Suggestions include: purchasing flame-resistant, or flame-retardant costumes; using battery-operated candles in decorations, and more.
Halloween is a fun night to gather with neighbors, but be sure to remind children of “stranger danger.” Remind children that they should never enter a house or a car of someone they do not know. Children should stay in well-lit, populated areas and stick to a pre-planned route.
- If your child wears a mask, make sure the viewing area is big enough so that your child can easily see where he or she is going.
- Be careful of tripping hazards. To lessen the possibility of a fall, wear shoes with a low heel and be sure that the costume does not drag on the ground.
- Props should be made of plastics or foam material to reduce the risk of an injury of a child falls.
- Reflector strips help drivers see trick-or-treaters.
Information provided byThis information has been provided by WVU Extension Service Agent Hannah Fincham. Hannah serves as the Families and Health agent in Randolph County. Call 304-636-2455 to speak with her.
“Chloe, the Very Special Goat,” a children’s book written by Pendleton County native and 4-H All Star Rosanne Harper Glover, has received Silver Award Designation from the Mom’s Choice Awards.
The MCA is a globally recognized association that sets the benchmark for excellence in family-friendly media, products and services.
Glover’s nonfiction book was published in October 2012 by Headline Books, Inc., located in Terra Alta, W.Va.
This true story involves a small goat runt that is cast aside by her mother, but is immediately taken in and cared for by Glover inside her own home.
With vivid detail and inspiring events, Glover tells the story of how the little goat, Chloe, became a household pet that was later accepted back into her family of goats, called a “trip.”
Throughout the tale, Glover adds an educational component for children by incorporating the science of goats, and a glossary of animal-related terms into the text.
“I wanted the book to be interesting to both the reader and the child,” she says. “The book is stimulating for a parent or grandparent, as well as the child with whom they are enjoying the book.”
Glover has visited many areas throughout the state, presenting to and educating children with her book.
“I hope that my book will foster the love of animals in children,” she remarks. “This is a book that will grow with them.”
When she was very young, Glover resided on a farm near Seneca Rocks in Pendleton County.
She explains that being from a rural area like Seneca Rocks, people would ask what she did for fun. Her reply? “We would rock climb, of course.”
Her 4-H Club would paint the 4-H clover on the backside of the mountain for visitors and hikers to use as their guide while walking the trails.
Glover’s farm upbringing paired with her 4-H involvement lead her to 4-H Club Congress in Chicago. She was one of twelve youth from across the country who won the trip in the Dairy Foods category.
“I gained friends in 4-H that turned into life-long friendships, many of which I still have to this day.”
Her parents were both actively involved as 4-H leaders, contributing their time to the organization.
Glover was a member of 4-H for over 10 years. She participated in the 4-H collegiate club at West Virginia University, and earned All Star status.
Glover says that she has continually applied 4-H concepts and experience to her teaching career, following the official slogan of 4-H in order to bring out the best in West Virginia’s youth.
Glover says the 4-H motto, “to make the best better,’” is a mantra she’s used throughout her life and with her students.
She stresses the importance of “finishing what you start,” a concept she learned from her parents.
Glover, now a retired schoolteacher of mathematics and choral music from Petersburg High School in Grant County, has dedicated 30 years educating youth in the West Virginia public school system.
She was the recipient of the 1993 Ashland Oil Individual Achievement Award; she was one of ten teachers in West Virginia to receive this honor. Glover was also the 2000 Grant County Teacher of the Year.
Glover also received the 2013 West Virginia Alpha Phi State Achievement Award for her many contributions to education and to the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an honorary for women teachers.
Glover earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from West Virginia University.
In her spare time, she enjoys baking, playing the piano and reading. She also takes pleasure in spending time with her two grandsons.
“Chloe, the Very Special Goat” by Rosanne Harper Glover and illustrated by Jennifer Kessel Sites, is available at local and online bookstores, as well as various locations across the state.
West Virginia produce growers and family farmers are reporting plant diseases that affect their tomato and potato crops, according to a West Virginia University Extension Service specialist.Tomato plants may be falling prey to a common disease known as Septoria Leaf Spot. Septoria is typically identified by tiny spots that appear on lower plants leaves. These spots enlarge over time and eventually turn the leaves yellow before killing the leaf completely.
“Pairing the large quantities of rain we’ve had this summer with high humidity levels, it is prime breeding ground for this plant disease,” Mahfuz Rahman, WVU Extension Service plant pathology specialist, said.
Rahman warns that it can sometimes be difficult for the untrained or unfamiliar eye to differentiate between Early Blight and Septoria.
Early Blight can be identified by five to ten brown, circular sports that first appear on the leaf. These spots can reach up to one half inch in diameter and have concentric rings or ridges that are surrounded by a yellow halo. Dark, sunken spots in the fruit are a clear indication that Early Blight has spread.Septoria is most easily identified by the leaf spots, which can grow up to 1/8 inch in diameter. The spots may become gray or tan in the center with dark brown borders. As the spots mature, they may grow a dark brown, pimple-like fungus inside of the spots.
Generally, Septoria will not affect stems or fruits, Rahman said. However, prolonged defoliation of the leaves can expose the fruit and cause it to sunscald.
To treat Septoria, Rahman suggests removing the lower, infected leaves from the garden and burying or burning them as soon as possible.
Dry leaves help to prevent the disease from spreading, and a plastic canopy can help to protect the leaves from moisture.
A list of suggested plant disease destroyers is available on the WVU Extension Service website, http://anr.ext.wvu.edu/pests/diseases. Click on the article “Late Blight of Tomatoes.” Recommendations for organic and conventional growers are provided on the site.
Cases of Late Blight, another disease that affects both tomato and potato plants, are also popping up around the state.
Late blight is spread from infected transplants, volunteer potato or tomato plants, and certain weeds that are related to tomatoes. Spores of this fungus can be airborne and travel great distances in storms. Rain deposits the spores onto plants, causing infection.
“Late blight is typically favored by cool, wet weather,” Rahman said. “This summer’s forecast has been so unpredictable that conditions have and do exist for both Septoria and Late Blight. Keep a close eye on your plants to prevent the problem from getting out of control.”
“Camp is a great way for kids to have fun while learning,” says Debbie McDonald, 4-H Youth-Development program director. “Parents get peace of mind that their children are safe, and young people make friends while enjoying educational activities outdoors.”
Camp is a great way for kids to spend summertime outside and gain new experiences. However, there are some key points to consider when selecting a camp.
Camp duration and stay-time can vary. It is important to note that some camps offer overnight or extended-stay periods that range from days to weeks at a time. Select a camp that best fits your child’s experience with time spent away from home.Some agencies provide day campsparticipants return home to spend the night with their families. Day camps and resident camps of short duration are better choices for children who have little experience away from home for several nights.
The specific interests of your child impacts which type of camp they should attend. Camps can be specific or broad in what they offer. What are your child’s interests? Would they prefer a specialized experience like sports camp, or a camp with a broad range of activities and learning?
Choosing a camp that best suits your child’s interests and needs will contribute to a positive summer experience.
What does the camp say about its staff and their capabilities? All camp staff should be adequately screened and trained, holding the necessary credentials to perform their roles and job duties. Camp staffers should be agents of positive youth development. Camps should follow the suggested best practices for camper to counselor ratios, such as those published by the American Camp Association.
Does the camp have stringent policies in regard to bullying, harassment or other physical and emotional safety?What age ranges does the camp target? Is there a consistent progression of educational activities, so that older, more experienced campers have new opportunities to build on what they have completed in previous years?
If your child has special medical needs, does the camp have experience with similar children or the capacity to deal with those needs?
A little research and communication can help you and your child have a positive camp experience.
You can find more information about choosing a summer camp by visiting the American Camp Association’s “Camp Parent” website.
For information West Virginia 4-H camping opportunities in your community, contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service.
Caroline Bailey, a St. Marys native and WVU senior, was recognized for her contributions and achievements in scholarship, leadership and service.
Bailey joined the Cher-Mi-Del-Sen 4-H Club, run by the WVU Extension Service, in 3rd grade. It was through the club that she developed a passion for giving back to the community.
“Service has always been important to me but 4-H really helped me discover that,” Bailey said.
She also became active in 4-H camp programs, taking part in both county and state camps.
“Camp creates a bond amongst the campers,” she said. “It’s something you can’t experience anywhere else. It gave me a chance to learn from people my age who were from different schools and communities than I was. I developed a support system of my peers. “
Those ties continue to hold true even as Bailey prepares to graduate college. She roomed with a fellow 4-H’er from state camp when she came to WVU. She’s also a member of the University’s Collegiate 4-H Club which was recently named the National 4-H Collegiate Club of the Year and the WVU Student Organization of the Year.
Bailey attributes much of her passion for service and citizenship learning to her time in 4-H. The aspiring politician remembers the moment she first knew she wanted to pursue a career that could help her better the world.
“I realized I wanted to go into politics while attending the National 4-H Conference in Washington, DC,” she said. The program allows youths to visit with senators and state delegates to talk to them about the importance of 4-H.
“It was sitting in Senator Byrd’s office that I had that moment where I knew I wanted to make a change in the world through politics and government,” she said.
Bailey isn’t worried about the speeches or public appearances that could accompany that type of position. She says 4-H has prepared her for those tasks.
“4-H taught me how to filter and focus my messages to make me a more effective public speaker,” Bailey said. “I was never shy but presentations at club meetings and leading skits at camps helped me to gain confidence when I was in front of a group.”
Her advice to current 4-H’ers and youth is to “put yourself out there.”
“4-H gives you so many opportunities but you can’t be afraid to seize them. Do something that’s outside of your comfort zone, whether it’s leading a skit or doing a demonstration; don’t be afraid to take charge,” she said.
When it comes to finding success through 4-H or higher education, Bailey has a suggestion to children and parents, alike.
“Find your niche. Find what makes you happy and that you’re interested in. Run with it and don’t be afraid.”
The 4-H program is offered at no cost to people in all 55 counties throughout the state. For information on joining a local club contact you county office of the WVU Extension Service.
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