July is almost over, and for me that will end my internship experience with the VCE of Alexandria city. The season brought new experiences in dealing with scores of summer camp kids, as well as honing my container garden skills and knowledge. The kids learned how to plant, water, and tend their container gardens, along with identifying new plants and of course getting their hands dirty!
The pizza garden idea was very admirable; however, the amount of kids and lack of a bountiful harvest proved otherwise. At home base in the Nannie Lee Center, I experimented in harvesting the loads of basil that grew with three different methods: The first was air drying several leaves at a time by hanging them from the stems inside a perforated paper bag. The microwave also proved successful in drying the herb; and the final method was simply freezing the leaves (which hasn’t been tested yet).
At the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless leadership academy, the kids have been slowly coming alive as we traveled to the Natural History Museum last week, and are making welcome baskets for the carpenter shelter this week. The B2i summer program will also finish up this next week, before joining the other members once school starts
The school year is over and many kids are transitioning from school time to rec time. As the summer thermostat increases, the heat is on to organize and gather the hundreds of kids ready to learn and play.
All the container gardens have been delivered and several of the centers have also set up other gardens as well. Some of the kids were able to help in the planting and initial set up of the garden and enjoyed getting their hands dirty and took pride in the plants they watered and will be taking care of this summer.
The 4-H program will be implemented next week as well as the start of the B2i leadership academy program. B2i helps kids connected to the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless gain leadership skills and build confidence through various activities, trips, speakers and spending time together.
This past Monday Reggie, Megan our nutrition specialist, and myself held a training session informing the different Rec. centers about our program package this summer for the kids. At the meeting we gathered to discuss ‘what the heck is 4-H?’
After finding their seats with a plate of mixed veggies and a special bag of a homemade popcorn, Reggie informed our Rec. center officials about the diverse programs including public speaking, gardening, nutrition, and STEM among others. 4-H is geared to help the kids grow in confidence and skills hands on, as well as better prepare them for community involvement as a citizen and neighbor in the future. Many different components make up the program and frankly would take a powerpoint from me to explain all that it entails.
After this we split up into three groups and had demonstrations of three of the different activities that could be conducted throughout this summer program. The training session gave the opportunity for leaders to evaluate and become accustomed to the purpose and teaching skills involved, as well as any immediate modifications that would better suite their individual kids.
We then ventured outside to our bustling greenhouse, and with many helping hands, we put together our first container garden that each Rec site will hopefully be hosting this summer and throughout the year, as the kids will take primary responsibility of tending the garden daily with a couple weekly check-ups by yours truly.
Two weeks down and a fifth of my summer internship is over, as it’s crazy how fast time goes especially since I feel like I’m just getting started (which we are to some degree). We had a board meeting with the Arlington and Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless (AACH) and discussed the growth we plan to implement in the program this coming year.
Later on we had our biweekly meeting with the group of highschoolers that included gathering all the necessary paperwork for camp, skyping with a former professional football player (Euro football), and a very tasty taco dinner.
More recently I ventured to my first Rec Center and we did a little project on electro-magnetism with the kids. This was my first encounter with the kids at Mount Vernon Rec but not my last as the container gardens are almost ready to be shipped out to the different sites allowing the kids to help grow their own pizza ingredients.
One of the things I have noticed from hanging out with Reggie are the many different meetings that he is invited to like the All-staff Parks and Rec meeting we had in the Lee Center the other day, and then a Regional 4-H meeting in Harrisonburg yesterday (I’m not sure on the titles of these meetings btw).
Well, I would just like to start by introducing myself as the future weekly blogger for the summer. My name is Monte McCarthy and I am rising junior studying Environmental Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, and currently interning with the Alexandria extension agency under a Mr. Reginald Morris. Hopefully my blog posts will encapsulate our weekly goals and accomplishments and keep our readers in the loop for the summer!
My first day (May 19) I sat in on the bi-monthly ELC board meeting to debrief of the nova agent’s recent activities, and helped put together a green house in preparation for some 4-H kids. The end goal for these kids will be to use and grow their own pizza ingredients. These plants will include tomatoes, peppers, oregano, and basil, and eventually be used to have a pizza party at the end of the season. Not that we’re pizza masters, but I’m sure the finished product will be one of the better pizza pies the kids will have!
All in all it was a welcoming inauguration as we continue to set up for the approaching wicked-fun summer camp in Front Royal.