By Shanna Northway

Oregon State University Extension agent in Grant County

The role of county based Extension as well as the 4-H (Head, Heart, Hands, Health) program has evolved greatly over the past several years. Statewide Extension programs transitioned to be housed at the university level under the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. This transition had a trickledown effect that allowed county 4-H programs to focus more heavily on health “H” of 4-H. Federally funded SNAP-ED (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education) educators are also housed and facilitate their education through country extension programs. This allows for a great partnership between 4-H and SNAP-ED that helps us better educate our youth as well as their families on; where their food comes from, how it is produced, how to eat a healthy well balanced diet, the importance of good hygiene, how to eat healthy on a budget, exposure to new foods and new ways to eat them. These programs help youth learn from an early age not only how to fuel their bodies with good, healthy, nutritious foods, but also to focus on the importance of good overall healthy.

What does this mean for Grant County? We currently have several programs running that educate our youth on good health and proper nutrition. Christal Culley who coordinates our SNAP-ED program in Grant County teaches up to 3 hour long classes a week in our elementary schools. Students learn how to eat from all of the food groups and what those food groups are, they learn how to prepare healthy snacks, and they are exposed to new foods and new ways to try foods. Every lesson also incorporates physical activities that gets students up out of their desk and moving. Students are provided with fun colorful handouts and recipes to share with their families. The program does an amazing job exposing students at an early age how to make better choices about the foods they put in their body. For more information on the SNAP-ED program and ways you can get involved please contact our office. You can also visit www.foodhero.org for healthy kid friendly recipes and tips to better nutrition.

Last year our 4-H program focused on providing clubs and activates that would help our 4-H members have a better understanding of their overall health. We started a YA4-H (Youth Advocates for Health) club, were teens get involved with their schools and communities to promote healthy choices. Over 40 junior high and high school students participated in the club. They contributed to their community in several ways; help plan and attend Healthy Together community meetings, participated in the 1st annual Teen Health fair, taught classes at our local elementary schools with an emphasis on nutrition and physical activity, and participated in trainings to learn how to become better teen teachers and improve their own personal healthy. We also launched our 4-H afterschool programs in two of the schools in our county with the hopes of adding more this school year. The afterschool program is designed to provide students with a healthy meal or snack and teach nutrition lessons around what they are eating, engage them in exciting physical activities that all students are comfortable participating in, and lastly give them the opportunity to have hands-one science experiences.

Last year we received a significant grant from Bob’s Red Mill that allowed us to educate our community on the importance of incorporating whole grains into their everyday diet. This grant allowed us to do several community outreach events promoting whole grains, a series of adult cooking classes, as well as our “Smoothie Bike” events at Humbolt, 4-H camp, and the Teen Health fair. Currently we are receiving funding from Walmart for a Youth Choice Youth Voice Healthy Living grant. That allows our YA4-H Teens as Teachers to partner with our SNAP-ED educator to teach nutrition lessons to 3rd-6th grade students. We strongly feel that education and exposure to a healthy life style and a better understanding of nutrition will help shape our youth to lead happier healthy lives. We are always looking for people that want to get involved with our health and nutrition programs. Help make Grant County healthier and get involved!

Contact our office for more information at 541-575-1911 or email us at shanna.northway@oregonstate.edu.

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