The National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences meets annually to conduct professional development, networking, and recognition for Extension Agents. The 2022 conference was held in Raleigh, North Carolina September 11-16. Over 750 Extension family and consumer sciences professionals and administrators from across the nation attended the conference.
Johanna Hicks, Extension Agent for family and community health in Hopkins County, attended the conference as a presenter and award recipient. Hicks was named as recipient of the Master Volunteer Excellence in Programming award for the 4-H Grab-and-Go Foods Project kits, spearheaded by the Hopkins County Master Wellness Volunteers (MWV) in 2021.
Knowing that the usual face-to-face 4-H foods project meeting could not take place in the midst of COVID, Hicks’ team of volunteers suggested providing kits for the youth to complete at home. Each 4-H member who signed up for the project received five separate kits along with everything needed to complete the tasks:
- Set the Table; Read the Label;
- Mix and Measure;
- Gadgets and Gizmos;
- Herbs, and Spices, and Extracts, Oh My!; and
- Crockin’ Kids.
Volunteers researched ideas, recipes, activities, and assisted in preparing and labeling the kits. The goal was to provide a strong 4-H Foods and Nutrition experience during COVID while allowing the Master Wellness Volunteers to use their strengths in planning and preparation. Sixteen youth participated in the project. Results indicated that 100% increased understanding on how to read a nutrition label and increased knowledge in recognizing various kitchen tools as well as how to use them. Ninety-four percent increased knowledge of using herbs, spices, and extracts, and learned to correctly measure dry and liquid ingredients using the appropriate measuring utensils. Ninety-four percent increased understanding of the food groups in MyPlate.
As an award recipient, Hicks was asked to lead a session on the project during the conference. She shared other activities in which the Master Wellness Volunteers are involved, the training they receive, and copies of the Volunteer Connection newsletter which she sends to all trained volunteers 6 to 8 times per year.
During the conference, Hicks received first place honors on the Southern Region and National levels for the Master Volunteer Excellence in Programming Award.