Category Archives: 4-H

Taste of Extension Showcases 2015 Successes of VCE

On December 4 more than 76 people attended VCE-Arlington and Alexandria’s annual breakfast event for local, state, and federal elected officials and community leaders. Each year we showcase the recent successes of our programs and this year we focused on new developments at VCE in 2015. There was a lot of new information to share: Energy Masters is expanding into Alexandria thanks to a grant from the city; our full-time financial coach started in March and will be with us for more than two years through special arrangement with the CFPB; our new 4-H agent, Caitlin Verdu, started in October; a new SNAP FCS agent, Van Do also started in October and will be providing nutrition education to SNAP clients in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun Counties; and Paula Kaufman joined VCE in June as our new Master Gardener Coordinator.

Another new feature of this year’s event was that the Master Food Volunteers prepared the breakfast that was served to attendees. In past years the breakfast has been catered, but after Master Food Volunteers saw how unhealthy and tasteless last year’s breakfast was they volunteered to prepare the meal. Dishes included a leek and feta cheese frittata, chard, red pepper, and sweet potato frittata, homemade preserves, and parfaits made with yogurt, granola, and cranberry chutney. The fresh and healthy food was much appreciated by the guests.

Also at this year’s event we had the opportunity to honor Toby Smith, a long-time 4-H volunteer who received a Connect with Kids award from the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth, and Family. Toby runs a Junior Master Naturalist club and has served as chair of both the Arlington and state Extension Leadership Councils.

Every year this event is attended by Arlington county board members, state delegates and senators, aides of federal legislators, and community leaders such as the heads of Arlington and Alexandria departments of parks and recreation. They get to talk with volunteers and staff as they visit stations set up around the room highlighting all of VCE’s programs. This is an important event to help spread the word about the exciting work that Extension is doing and we look forward to having an even bigger and better event in 2016.

Family Nutrition Program Assistant Haregowoin Tecklu demonstrated how coffee is roasted and prepared in her home country of Ethiopia.

Family Nutrition Program Assistant Haregowoin Tecklu demonstrated how coffee is roasted and prepared in her home country of Ethiopia.

4-H club members Aziza Hasen, Areli Ibarra, and Rebecca Nance joined 4-H volunteer Maria Jechoutek (center) and Alexandria 4-H agent Reggie Morris to represent local 4-H programs.

4-H club members Aziza Hasen, Areli Ibarra, and Rebecca Nance joined 4-H volunteer Maria Jechoutek (center) and Alexandria 4-H agent Reggie Morris to represent local 4-H programs.

Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation Deputy Director (DPR) Jennifer Fioretti, Emergency Services Director Debbie Powers, and DPR Director Jane Rudolph were among the guests who attended the breakfast event.

Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) Deputy Director Jennifer Fioretti, Emergency Services Director Debbie Powers, and DPR Director Jane Rudolph were among the guests who attended the breakfast event.

From Russia to South Arlington

Extension has received a $7,500 grant from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to teach Russian city and nonprofit leaders about our volunteer program modules. We will be sharing best practices for volunteer-driven nonprofit work.

The grant is through the Embassy’s U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program, which supports projects focused on peer-to-peer collaboration. Extension partnered with the nonprofit WSOS Community Action in Freemont, Ohio, on the grant application. The total grant is worth $95,000. In addition to visiting with us, the Russian delegation will meet with nonprofits in Ohio and Utah.

How About Those Holidays: Children ages 4-6

Guest post by Karen DeBoard, Ph.D., Family & Human Development Extension Specialist

Holidays come so quickly and are gone just as swiftly. It seems Jack-o’-lanterns and goblins soon give way to pilgrims and turkeys and are almost immediately replaced by the red and green symbols of Christmas holidays.

If you’re attempting to fit the joys of parenting in with shopping, decorating and your usually hectic schedule it’s a good idea to remind yourself about what behavior is normal and predictable from your young children.

Most children act their age. While pictures in magazines show beautifully attired, clean, calm children sitting patiently for hours on end and behaving themselves, you must keep in mind those are just pictures. Real children go through stages. Let the stages of your young ones help determine your activities at holiday time. Take time to enjoy the phase your child is in – stressing that how a child acts is tied to his or her age and stage of development.

As parents, we need [to be] reminded to keep everything in perspective during the hustle bustle of the holidays–especially where children are concerned. Holiday money woes, stressed schedules, and excited children are a formula for family stress. Children learn from you how to manage stress. They will mirror your behavior. The holidays can be a wonderful time but also there is added stress and a snowball effect of everyone’s stress coming into play.

Much like younger children and older children, four year olds are enthusiastic, silly, eager and fun. They love the holidays and love celebrations. Whether it is a birthday or an extended vacation, they now can remember last year and can anticipate activities. Stretch out the holidays for them. Take them to events, but not too many or for too long. They may have highs and lows and may sometimes be cranky, but they generally behave well. Most four-year-olds are dramatic and imaginative, so this is a perfect holiday for them.

Typically five year olds are composed and “together.” They are much improved in behavior over previous years because they are beginning to set their own limits. At this age, they may actually keep Grandma’s surprise gift a secret long enough to let her open the package. Since they like to help and do things alone, this would be a good year for projects. This year it might be a good idea to take them shopping. It may also be a first year for really liking the man in the big red suit rather than being afraid of the jolly old character. Expect a long list of gifts, but remember they are better off with just a few.

Six year olds may want to be the hub of it all, but they can’t take it all in. This is not the easiest Christmas for them them, however. They might brag, think no one else can compare to them, and forget their manners. They like making things and can stretch a project over several days, so try more involved projects.

Whatever you do, take time to enjoy your children and the holidays. It is a once-in-a-lifetime role!


Virginia Cooperative Extension celebrates 100 years, showcases Arlington and Alexandria programs

Volunteers Bill Guey-Lee and Desiree Kaul manage the Master Financial Education display.

Volunteers Bill Guey-Lee and Desiree Kaul manage the Master Financial Education display at Virginia Cooperative Extension’s breakfast showcase at Fairlington Community Center.

Virginia Cooperative Extension‘s breakfast showcase, highlighting Arlington and City of Alexandria programs, made the news.

A few 2014 highlights:

  • Staff and Master Financial Education volunteers started Money Smarts Pay, which combines money management classes with financial coaching to help participants adopt positive financial habits. Extension partnered with Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing and The Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless to offer Money Smarts Pay to affordable housing tenants.
  • Staff and Master Food Volunteers addressed childhood obesity by organizing healthy cooking classes for teens in foster care and low-income teens, and 4-H Food Challenge events.
  • VCE–Arlington, with Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, won the national Extension Housing Outreach Award.

Read the full story here.



#IAM4H Afterschool Leadership Training Series


Are you 4-H? If you answered no… here’s your chance to get involved. With start of the 2014-2015 4-H Year only a few days away, Alexandria 4-H would like to give everyone an opportunity to join the Revolution of Responsibility! Our adult volunteer leaders are the true backbone of our program and without their caring and positive attitude we wouldn’t have the ability to impact the lives of so many youth; BUT we always have room for more.

The #IAM4H Afterschool Training Series is a series of learning sessions designed to introduce a 4-H programming opportunities available to: parents, teachers, afterschool programmers, childcare providers, faith-based organizations, and other caring adults wishing to improve the quality of their current youth development program. 4-H Afterschool is unique in that it “trains the educators” so that you can go back and implement 4-H programming in any youth development setting.

NYSD 2014

These sessions are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Each session is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Lee Center Exhibit Hall (1108 Jefferson Street, Alex. VA 22314). The first training, on Monday October 6, 2014, will focus on the 2014 4-H National Youth Science Experiment: Rockets to the Rescue. Registration deadline is Wednesday October 1, so SIGN UP NOW. To register please log on to:

For information please contact Reggie Morris, Alexandria 4-H Youth Development.

Check out the link below to learn about additional training sessions!

IAM4H Afterschool Leadership Training Series

Fairlington Day Festivities

Virginia Cooperative Extension participated in Fairlington Day this past weekend. Agents and volunteers showcased Extension Arlington’s many faces by preparing delicious healthy eats, giving tours of the food gardens, organizing 4-H kids’ activities and providing information on the many great programs we coordinate. Getting out into the community and sharing information is what we do so if you have an event coming up that you would like us to participate in, please get in touch with our Marketing and Communications Associate,


It’s National Volunteer Week! THANK YOU! And How to Get Involved…

This week we celebrate National Volunteer Week.
It is time to say THANK YOU to all our volunteers.
Cooperative Extension relies on volunteers, and we believe that active citizen involvement in our programs ensures success.  The work of volunteers at state and local levels helps leverage our paid faculty and staff resources into a much greater impact and benefit for the people of Virginia.

For Extension Volunteer Stories see

Get Involved
There are many ways you can get involved as a volunteer with Cooperative Extension to bring your talents and skills to benefit the community.  Some of them are listed below. If you are interested in volunteering, but not sure in what way, contact our offices: Arlington 703 228 6400 and Alexandria 703 746 5546.  Staff will be happy to help you find a way to share your time and talents.

Here’s how to get involved volunteering locally with Cooperative Extension programs:

Arlington and Alexandria Extension Leadership Council (ELC)
The Arlington and Alexandria Extension Leadership Council is composed of interested residents, Cooperative Extension staff, and county and city liaisons who identify community issues and help ensure programs are responsive to real needs. Also, the ELC advocates in support of local programs and staff, and promotes greater awareness of the work of the Extension staff and volunteers.  The ELC meets every two months. If you are interested in joining, please contact the Arlington or Alexandria Extension Office and come to an ELC meeting. ELC 2014 Brochure

.4-H Youth Development
4-H stands for head, heart, hands and health.

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Every 4-H program benefits from this integrated approach to civic engagement and hands-on learning – and the dedication and service of caring volunteers.  If you are interested in contributing your time to help further the development of youth in our community, please contact Reggie Morris, 4-H agent for Alexandria or Emily Reiersgaard, 4-H agent for Arlington,

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Master Gardeners
Master Gardeners encourage and promote environmentally sound horticultural practices through sustainable landscape management education and training.
Kirsten picking greens

Here serving Arlington and Alexandria we have the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.  Master Gardeners training will be offered in the fall. For details contact: Agriculture and Natural Resources agent, Kirsten Buhls or Arlington’s Interim Master Gardener Coordinator, Jocelyn Yee

Arlington Regional Master Naturalists
The Arlington Regional Master Naturalist program is part of a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. If you’re interested in becoming an Arlington Regional Master Naturalist, go to


Master Food Volunteers
Master Food Volunteers help support Extension’s family and consumer sciences (FCS) agents through education and outreach programs related to food preparation, nutrition, food safety, and physical activity. Contact FCS agent Katie Strong for information about programs and trainings in the Arlington and Fairfax area.


Arlington Energy Masters
Arlington’s  innovative Energy Masters program promotes a more energy efficient and sustainable Arlington community. We engage professionally trained volunteers in retrofitting, weatherization, and water conservation techniques serving low-income apartment residents. If you are interested in applying for the 2014-2015 program later this summer, please complete the volunteer interest form.


Master Financial  Educators
Financial volunteers receive a comprehensive training on budgeting, retirement planning, home buying, and many other finance topics, instruction in counseling techniques. Volunteers can choose to help individuals or community groups with financial education programs – including learning to reconcile debts, set goals, budget spending, and organization to improve money management skills. Please contact Jennifer Abel for details of the next training.


Volunteering Counts!
Here is how volunteering counts in Arlington and Alexandria.
In 2012: the Arlington and Alexandria staff and volunteers of Virginia Cooperative Extension reached over 50,000 people with 650+ education programs.  850+ active volunteers contributed over 32, 000 hours. That outreach was conducted with a local office staff of about a dozen people. That’s the power of volunteers!

Interested in volunteering statewide or at national level for Virginia Cooperative Extension? See:




19 April – join us for a Family FUN RUN, WALK or JOG at the beautiful NOVA 4-H Center and benefit 4-H Camp Scholarships!

Feeling like a spring day out and a fun run, walk or jog in a beautiful setting in the foothills of the Shenadoah near Front Royal?


Bring the whole family out to the NOVA 4-H Center on Saturday April 19th morning and run, walk or jog to raise money for your County’s 4-H Camp Scholarships.

On Saturday, April 19th, at 9:00 AM, the NOVA 4-H Center will be hosting a kids 1 mile fun run, a 4-K (about 2.4 miles) and a 4-mile run/walk, to raise money for 4-H Camp scholarships. Every cent raised by your county will go to your county!

Click here: if you would like to register on-line

T-shirts and medals for the first 75 folks to register and treats for all at the finish line.

As an added bonus, the NOVA 4-H Center will match the amount raised by the County who raises the most money, up to the cost of one full scholarship.

Look forward to seeing you on the day, bring your shoes and dress for the weather. You might also take time to visit the extensive grounds of the NOVA 4-H Center and hike up to the Appalachian Trail!
Any questions?  Please contact the NOVA 4-H Center
or call 540 635 7171


Inspiration and Impact:

In January, Arlington and Alexandria VA Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners and 4-H Youth Leaders and agents trained Arlington County staff on some Junior Master Gardener projects. Tomorrow staff at Westover Library are hosting Kids in the Garden – a program inspired by what they learned at the Cooperative Extension training.
The kids will plant some seeds to take home – and see how they grow…

Look out for more youth gardening activities this season at the libraries and in Arlington County Dept of Recreation after-school programs.

And let’s grow these inspirational and successful VA Cooperative Extension training programs!

Poster by Westover Library staff.

Poster by Westover Library staff.




Alexandria / Arlington 4-H Leadership Program Explores Natural History

Teen 4-Hers from Alexandria and Arlington braced the winter cold for a Saturday of exploring at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. These young people are participating in a year-long special interest 4-H project focusing on career exploration in partnership with the Arlington Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless and the Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships. The program is designed to assist the participants in acquiring the skills and knowledge  base necessary to become thriving members of workforce.

The students have adopted the mission statement: “As a group we will: Have fun and work as a team, to communicate, learn, and prepare for our jobs and goals. We will become more organized, confident, and successful, and choose a career path this is just right for us.

In April the participants will spend a week at one of the Smithsonian museums completing a brief internship based on a career field of their choice. We are always looking for volunteers to come and speak to the group; if you are interested please contact Reggie Morris 4-H Agent at 703-74-5546.

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