Category Archives: News

Virginia 4-H Nets Several Wins at National Contests

The Virginia 4-H Livestock Judging Team placed first and the Virginia 4-H Livestock Skillathon Team placed third at the recent North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky. The event is the world’s largest purebred livestock show.

The Livestock Judging Team competed against 34 other teams in the 91st National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest and was the highest scoring team overall, with 2,525 points, followed by teams from Illinois and Georgia. As the 2015 National Champion 4-H Livestock Judging Team, the team is eligible to represent the United States at the Royal Highland Show in Scotland in June, along with the second-and third-place teams.

The Virginia team also placed first in cattle, fifth in swine, third in sheep and goat, and third in reasons.

Individual awards were garnered by Blake Hopkins, who placed fifth overall, eighth in sheep and goat, and 12th in beef cattle; Hannah Craun, who placed third overall, second in beef and performance cattle, and 11th in reasons; and Sarah Harris, who placed eighth in reasons, ninth in beef cattle, and 17th overall. Craun, Hopkins, and Harris were also named All-Americans for placing in the top 20 overall.

“The teams performed phenomenally well overall and individually,” said David Roper, 4-H youth livestock Extension specialist with Virginia Cooperative Extension and coach of the Livestock Judging Team. “I am very proud of all the work the students put into this competition and how they represented the state.”

The livestock team will travel to Europe in June 2016 and will be fundraising for the trip until then. In addition to participating in the Royal Highland Show, the group will have the opportunity to visit several other European countries to learn about their agriculture systems.

The Livestock Skillathon Team also performed well at the North American. The team placed second in identification and quality assurance, sixth in evaluation, and third overall.

Individually, John-Robert Hensley placed first in quality assurance, second in identification, and third overall; Hailey Shoemaker placed eighth in quality assurance and 10th overall; and Gracie Bailey placed 18th overall.

The Virginia 4-H Foundation’s 4-H Livestock Youth Development Endowment provided support for the teams’ travels this past fall.

Livestock Judging Team

The 2015 Virginia 4-H Livestock Judging Team from left, front row: Hannah Craun, Blake Hopkins, Sarah Harris, and Caley Ellington. Back row: Doyle Wolverton, sponsor; David Roper, youth livestock Extension specialist; and Todd Conway, a sponsor from Westway Foods.


Teen Cuisine Cooking Program Mixes Cooking Lessons and Life Skills

Introduce a few teenagers to some healthy ingredients, show them how to safely prepare a tasty new recipe, sprinkle in some nutrition facts, throw in a dash of fun, and voila! — those teens are on their way to making better food choices.

The Teen Cuisine cooking program is one of the many ways that Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Family Nutrition Program and Virginia 4-H are helping low-income families make informed and healthy food choices on limited budgets. The curriculum focuses on food preparation and cooking, including the safe use of knives and the importance of hand-washing.

The 4-H’ers are involved from start to finish, from the initial recipe selection to food prep, cooking, and cleanup. “The kids learn how to prepare food on their own that they would not normally cook,” said LaSonya White, a former middle school family and consumer sciences teacher who regularly used the curriculum with her students in Newport News. “We’d make colorful coleslaw to introduce the kids to a variety of vegetables. They would scrunch up their faces, but after they tried what they had made, they absolutely loved it.”

Teen Cuisine reached more than 12,000 students in 2015 and made a major impact. Nearly three-quarters of participants indicated that they are making healthier food choices as a result of Teen Cuisine. Of that group, 78 percent reported eating more fruits and vegetables, 67 percent said they drink fewer soft drinks, and 61 percent reported eating less junk food.

This program received assistance from a Walmart Youth Voice – Youth Choice grant in support of 4-H Healthy Living programs.

“From introducing these 4-H members to new foods to educating them on healthy, inexpensive food preparation techniques they can use at home, the Teen Cuisine program is making a positive impact on the healthy behaviors of these youth that will hopefully last a lifetime,” said Tonya Price, 4-H Extension specialist.

Teen Cuisine

High school teacher Katherine Morris supervises Doug Gibson, a ninth-grader at LIFES Academy, as he cuts broccoli for a chicken and vegetable stir-fry.


Expansion of the 4-H Energy Program

With generous support from the Dominion Foundation, the 4-H Energy Program has expanded by building on the long-standing 4-H Electric Project popular with junior members and school partners. Recently, middle and high school 4-H and FFA members were introduced to the basic concepts of green energy. Students also learned about the role that coal and natural gas play in our state’s energy mix.

The 4-H Electric Project develops project and life skills such as decision-making, science and technology, teamwork, and communication. The project also motivates youths to explore careers in related fields. Fun-filled, hands-on learning experiences teach students and volunteers about various energy sources and help them explore the characteristics of electricity. For example, youths erect solar panels and measure the energy produced. They also construct scale-model wind turbines and perform tests to determine the most efficient turbine designs.

This year, Virginia 4-H introduced the 4-H Electric Challenge, giving youths an opportunity to gain additional energy knowledge and to test their skills through competition. Another popular component is the Youth Energy Fact of the Week, a fun fact about energy that is shared statewide.

By investing in Virginia 4-H, Dominion is helping to create an ongoing, high-quality, statewide, youth energy program.

Solar Energy



Dan Swafford, Curriculum Specialist, teaches a group of 4-H youth about solar energy.


Up to the Challenge: Nelson Foodies Place Nationally

In just the second year of 4-H Food Challenge programming, Virginia 4-H again sent a team to the national contest at the Texas State Fair. The Nelson Foodies team — composed of Ryan Adcock, Jasmine Johnson, Olivia Johnson, and Kristyn Underwood — placed fourth overall. They were coached by Nelson County 4-H associate Extension agent Corissa Wilson.

“Our team had really strong leaders who are naturally competitive,” Wilson said. “Food Challenge pushed their teamwork and communication skills. They learned a lot about getting along and delegating tasks.”

4-H Food Challenge is a team event in which participants receive a bag of ingredients and have 40 minutes to prepare a dish, develop a presentation including the recipe’s nutrition and cost, and clean up their area. It’s fast-paced and educational, and it allows for creativity. It also tests time management, teamwork, planning, and execution skills.

Details are important throughout the contest, and each team of three to five youths must figure out how to cook the food item, incorporate at least two items from a standard pantry, practice food safety, and create a presentation that includes all the necessary requirements. One set of judges evaluates the actual preparation and teamwork, while another set listens to and scores the presentations. Presenters share information about the food groups and nutrients in their recipe. Artful arrangement of the food matters too.

Kaci Daniel, 4-H Extension agent in Orange County, served on the National 4-H Food Challenge planning team and judged the 2015 event. “It was very helpful to be on the other side of the contest, especially to see the caliber of teams at nationals,” Daniel said. “I’ve been a coach and contest organizer. Being a judge was a great professional development opportunity, allowing me to continue helping Virginia youth and volunteers improve.”

Along with Daniel, Madison County 4-H agent Kelly Mallory has been key to helping the 4-H Food Challenge spread throughout Virginia. “It’s nice to see this take off so quickly,” Mallory said. “We doubled participation from the first to the second year, and we are active in 4-H camps, clubs, special interest, and military programs. Food Challenge is relevant and accessible to urban and rural audiences, and builds the critical life skills of planning, problem-solving, and working with others.”

The Nelson Foodies’ 4-H Food Challenge career has ended, so what Virginia 4-H youth team will excel in 2016? We’ll find out at State 4-H Congress, because that’s where nationally eligible teams are decided.

Nelson Foodies

Nelson Foodies Team- 4-H Food Challenge.

4-H Mentor Q&A: Yvonne Earvin

We continue celebrating and highlighting 4-H Mentoring programs across the country, and the mentors who have changed the lives of youth in their communities by serving as role models, educators, life coaches and friends. We are proud to feature the 4-H Youth and Families with Promise (YFP) Mentoring Program at Virginia Tech.

4-H YFP Mentoring - Virginia - 3The 4-H YFP is a national program implemented to increase the developmental assets of youth and their families.

We spoke with Yvonne Earvin, Mentor Educator in Cumberland County, Virginia, who shared her thoughts and success of 4-H YFP in Virginia and her personal insights.


Click here to read more from the 4-H Today article–Yvonne-Earvin/

Honoring Clyde F. Jackson

C JacksonOn Oct. 19, 2015, Clyde F. Jackson was inducted posthumously into the National 4-H Hall of Fame. Jackson was a pioneer in every sense of the word. Jackson grew up in the 4-H program and often spoke of the importance his 4-H experience had in shaping his life. He was elected the first president of the Black Virginia 4-H Youth Program, serving from 1967 to 1968, and was one of seven African-American youth leaders to attend the first integrated State 4-H Congress. Jackson went on to attend the National 4-H Congress.

He served for more than 29 years as a 4-H agent in Fairfax and Prince William counties. He was president of the National Association of 4-H Agents and a member of the board of directors of the Joint Council of Extension Professionals. After retiring in 2008, he continued to follow his passion by establishing 4-H Clubs on military installations and working with the geographically dispersed military youth through programs and resources to help them deal with the deployment of a loved one. Jackson’s extraordinary work was recognized with several awards, including the Meritorious Service Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents for his leadership and work with at-risk youth.

Throughout his career, Jackson was a positive role model for youth and adults. His was extremely talented in making people feel at ease, finding common ground, and forming partnerships. He listened to each person and valued what each said. Jackson reminded us to remain flexible and to watch for opportunities to help people grow. He said more than once that if you try to plan everything, you’ll miss some great opportunities that just happen to come by. Jackson is remembered as a pioneer and as a champion for youth from all walks of life. He is also remembered for his gentle leadership style and his ever-present smile that warmed any room he entered.


4-H GROWS HERE – New 4-H Brand

During National 4-H Week, held Oct. 4-10, 2015, you might have noticed a different look, feel, and focus of the 4-H brand around your community. National 4-H, along with our local Extension offices, is introducing a new tagline and brand strategy to get the word out — 4-H GROWS HERE. The new brand was developed because 4-H has so much to celebrate as it helps to grow courage, compassion, curiosity, confidence, teamwork, and character by working with one youth, one leader, and one community at a time. With more than 60 million alumni nationally and growing, 4-H has the strength to empower one generation to the next, growing leaders, teaching life skills, and moving communities forward. Did you know that 4-H offers programming in environmental science, performing arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), nutrition, cooking, and robotics? While agriculture, animals, and gardening are where it all started, 4-H continues to grow opportunities from farms to towns to suburbs and cities. To learn more about 4-H GROWS, 4-H programming and ways you can get involved, visit your local Cooperative Extension office or$REO0RE1Compassion Grows Here

Food Challenge Contest – Central District

On Saturday, May 9, 2015, I had the privilege to attend Central District’s Food Challenge  Contest at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Center.  Even though this was the first year this contest was offered in the Central District, the participation level was great, four senior teams and five junior teams!  Overall,  it was a great contest and a good experience for all who participated.  The evaluation data collected at the conclusion of the contest was very positive and 100% of the participants indicated that they learned at least one new skill as a result of their participation.  A special thank you to Amber Wilson, Chair of the contest, and all the other VCE personnel, volunteers and parents who helped to make this contest a success.  Also, I’d like to thank the agents in Northern District as they were instrumental in bringing this contest to Virginia and providing training in this area.  If your unit or district is not currently offering Food Challenge to your 4-H members, I highly encourage you to do so, as this contest is a great compliment to our healthy living initiative.  Not only do participants learn how to prepare and cook a dish, they learn about MyPlate, cost analysis, and develop a presentation that is inclusive of nutritional benefits and food safety.  We will be offering a Food Challenge contest and workshop during State 4-H Congress, but if you are unable to attend and would like to learn more about this contest, please don’t hesitate to contact me,  

4-H Online

Hi Everyone,

National 4-H Council is discontinuing ACCESS 4-H mid-year on March 31, 2015. Thus, we are introducing 4HOnline, a new enrollment and data management system to Virginia 4-H. We are pleased to discover many advantages that the new system has over ACCESS 4-H, listed below. We believe that 4HOnline will increase our efficiency and save time at the local level and that 4HOnline will better serve the needs and interests of today’s 4-H youth and families and enhance their 4-H experience. Learn more about 4HOnline here: .

ACCESS 4-H will be used for the ES-237 for 2014, which is due October 17, 2014. We will use 4HOnline for the 2014-2015 club year enrollment (October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015). Since, you can’t transfer existing ACCESS 4-H data to 4HOnline, we will not enter our new club year enrollment into ACCESS 4-H.

We will first roll out, the 4HOnline enrollment package, but as you will see in the advantages, 4HOnline has many other options that we will introduce once we are up and running.

Advantages of 4HOnline:
4HOnline is designed for families to enroll themselves. Families set up their account, create a password and enter and manage their own data thus increasing efficiency and saving time on the local level.
4HOnline works well with a dial-up connection. It also works well on iPads, tablets, and smart phones.
Once the data has been entered by the families, Extension agent/staff review the records for accuracy and accept or request changes on the enrollment records.
Volunteer development opportunities through online training modules (orientation and project/curriculum content training) that includes assessments and tracking system with certificates;
4-H age and age divisions automatically calculate for specific projects, events, and competitions based on state guidelines;
Ability to communicate with 4-H members, families, and volunteers (individually and groups) through one-way messaging (text and email);
Volunteer screening tool that will maintain background screening information and document status in the screening process from the State 4-H Office;
Event registration (Congress, camp, competitions, etc.) integrated into system;
Database for online enrollment forms (health history, member enrollment, volunteer enrollment, code of conduct, standards of behavior, equine waiver, adapted forms for youth of military families);
Project animal identification database for qualifying animals, finances, and storage of applicable measurements;
Ability to track 4-H member and volunteer project enrollment, event participation, and award for portfolios and resumes completion;
Online 4-H calendar that promotes county, district, and state events in one integrated system;
Integration of online curriculum, publication, and resource hyperlinks based on project enrollment;
Customizable reports (exportable for Excel, PDF, mailing labels) with grouping and sorting features for individuals, clubs, groups, or events;
· Multiple people can access data at the same time and make appropriate changes;
· Families will be able to enter and manage their own information, look up projects, read newsletters, receive announcements for 4-H events, register for events, and more;
· Very user-friendly;
· Highly customizable to meet our needs;
· Is a proven program which has been used by numerous state 4-H programs.

Things we are working on now:

A transition timeline which will be available within the next two weeks;
Setting up the structure for Virginia 4-H. We are creating the state platform with unit and district information, organized club information, projects, delivery modes, activities and awards so they can be uploaded into the new system.
Setting up a “demo county” for you to go in and enter data and see how the system works.
Adapting materials and resources for face-to-face and online training for Extension professionals and office professionals. Materials include a manual, PowerPoint presentations and video for local units to use when creating their own customized platform.
Creating a 4HOnline webpage in which all messages, links to resources, conference call and training dates will be posted.
Creating a forum, blog to support the local units.
Adapting a brochure and a web-based video that provides step-by-step instructions for leaders and families to enroll.

We appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation as we make the best of this unexpected transition. In the end, we are confident that we will have a data management system which increases our effectiveness and builds the quality, capacity, and sustainability of the Virginia 4-H program.


Cathy M. Sutphin, PhD
Associate Director, 4-H
115 Hutcheson Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Director’s Update May 2014

It was nice to see so many of you at the VESA conference this week. Congratulations to all who received awards for their outstanding work! I vividly remember, as an agent, how busy spring schedules are with contests, livestock shows, community service projects, finishing up school clubs, and preparing for camp. I hope that you can take a little time this holiday weekend to relax and enjoy time with family and friends. Here are a few updates which I hope you will find helpful.

State 4-H Congress plans are coming together nicely. Our numbers are up well over 100 and we are thrilled with the response for our 4-H Celebration scheduled for June 18th. We can’t wait to welcome you, your volunteers, and all the outstanding teens to campus!

Virginia 4-H License Plates – Please share the news: we are taking orders for the new Virginia 4-H license plate! Virginia 4-H is seeking a revenue sharing plate. Once the minimum sales requirement has been met, revenue will be used to fund scholarships for 4-H members. We must have 450 orders complete with payment before it can be introduced in the General Assembly. The unit that collects the most orders will receive a $500 programming grant, the second most will receive $400 in programming funds, and 3-5th place will receive $250. Check out the Virginia 4-H Blog for more information, a graphic, and the form.

4-H Centers – 4-H camp is one of our primary delivery modes. Camping enables us to introduce new programs which can be extended back in the units and vice versa. Camp can also excite and motivate young people to become more involved in 4-H. Our dedicated, enthusiastic summer staff has been trained and is ready to go! This year when youth arrive at the 4-H Centers they will find that our center faculty/staff have been hard at work preparing to host them. Check out the Virginia 4-H Blog to see the facility upgrades made this year!

Save the Dates! Virginia 4-H and North Carolina 4-H have won the bid to host the 2014 National 4-H Shooting Education Certification Training. The program will be held November 3-7, 2014 at the Eastern North Carolina 4-H Center. This provides an outstanding opportunity for Virginia agents and volunteers to be certified to train other adults. For the past several years, we have only been able to send a few folks to the training. Watch for more information to follow and special thanks to Jinx Baney for submitting on our behalf and her outstanding leadership of the Virginia 4-H Shooting Education Program.

Virginia 4-H Innovative Programming Awards – Each year, the Virginia 4-H Foundation awards $1,000 programming awards to agents who are developing or expanding innovative programs. Please consider submitting a proposal by filling out the application and returning it to me by June 11, 2014. Awards will be announced at State 4-H Congress. The application can be found on the Virginia 4-H Blog.

It addition, the Virginia 4-H Foundation will offer a Revolving Programming Award. This award will use the same application format but will be available in the event that a highly innovative program emerges during the 4-H programming year and there is a documented funding need to support the effort.

The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development was recently published in The Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Please take a few minutes to read the attached article. This research highlights the need for the establishment and support of 4-H clubs which enable our youth to be retained in the program and be exposed to positive youth development programming over time.

Bowers et al.JYA.2014.Intro to special issue of 4-H Study and PYD.

4-H Finances – I understand that the transition of 4-H funds over the past few years has been a difficult one. We are interested in gathering input that could be useful as we continually work to improve the processes that we have put into place. We will be having a phone conversation with the 4-H DPLT members in the near future to discuss both Club and Foundation accounts. Should you have input, please share with one of your DPLT district members. I also understand that some groups feel misled since we are not allowing additional groups to apply for independent 501c3 status even though we initially thought that this would be permissible. Upper administration believes that our current structure ensures appropriate stewardship the resources obtained in the name of 4-H. With that said, we are committed to making the existing system work effectively and efficiently for you and your volunteers. Should you have 4-H Foundation questions, please contact Amanda Lucas. Please direct other 4-H financial questions through your DAA who will contact the state office as needed. I would like to draw your attention to an outstanding resource for 4-H Program Evaluation. This site is interactive and will assist you in building your own evaluations, using existing evaluations, and using the 4-H Common Measures. Check it out!