Extension and Ag Research News


4-H Clubs Spreading ‘Eat Smart. Play Hard.’ Message

North Dakota 4-H’ers are recognized for developing good nutrition and physical fitness habits.

Twenty-seven North Dakota 4-H clubs earned special recognition for making “Eat Smart. Play Hard.” lessons part of their 2007-08 club meetings.

They were named Healthy North Dakota 4-H clubs. They were, by county:

  • Barnes - Blazing Saddles
  • Burleigh - Creative Cool Kidz, Sterling Livewires, Silver Colts, Northern Lights, McKenzie Magnums, Haystack Buttes, Dakota Guys and Gals, Biz Kids, Country Kids Rocky Ridge, Rangers
  • Cass - Rainbow Kids, Valley Adventures, Harwood Helpers, Kindred 4-H Friends, Page Power, Wheatland Pioneers
  • Divide - Flickertails
  • Grand Forks - Eagles
  • McHenry - Balfour Roughriders
  • Pembina - Crystal Clovers
  • Towner - Handy-Thrifty Helpers
  • Richland - Helping Hands, Energizers Club
  • Walsh - Made in America Kids
  • Ward - Northern Lights

“Eat Smart. Play Hard.” is a statewide campaign that emphasizes the importance of making healthy food choices, getting regular exercise and families eating together. The North Dakota State University Extension Service and Bison Athletics teamed up to launch the initiative in 2005.

To receive the Healthy North Dakota 4-H Club designation, clubs were required to incorporate at least one health, nutrition, food safety or physical activity into a minimum of six regular meetings during the year.

“Programs like the Healthy 4-H clubs are important because we all need to think about our health,” says Eagles 4-H Club member Sarah McNaughton. “Our group had a good time being healthy and it really wasn’t as hard as we thought it would be.”

Some activities that helped the club earn its Healthy North Dakota 4-H Club recognition were learning to bake bread, climbing a rock wall and walking in a parade.

Mandy Heuchert, Crystal Clovers leader, says the program showed club members how inactive kids are today, compared with previous generations.

“They have come to realize that being active isn’t being an athlete; the little things help us stay fit,” she says. “If they have learned nothing else, they now know that there are tons of ways/resources available to you to stay fit. They just have to make the individual choice to accomplish it.”

Activities that helped the Crystal Clovers become a Healthy North Dakota 4-H Club included donning firefighting gear and practicing with water hoses, collecting hygiene products and toys for needy children overseas, holding a community event to promote Healthy Heart Month, making healthful trail mix and cleaning ditches.

Dakota Guys and Gals leader Renae Doan reports some club members have stopped drinking soda pop or drastically cut back on drinking pop as a result of what they learned. Instead, they order water or milk when they go out to eat.

“Healthy eating is making an impact on them and they see the importance,” she says.

The Dakota Guys and Gals club earned its Healthy North Dakota 4-H Club recognition by playing some old-fashioned outdoor games, such as tag and softball, and going on nature hikes, having water balloon fights and learning the art of archery.

In addition to traditional activities such as in-line skating, biking, skiing, snowboarding and sledding, others that the 4-H clubs participated in during the year included making omelets in zipper-top bags, learning about snowmobile safety, scraping and painting picnic tables and benches in a local park, touring restaurant kitchens and the produce section in grocery stores, learning proper hand-washing techniques, hosting a safety/nutrition booth at a farm day event, holding a food drive, learning how to use a pogo stick, planting a garden and taking part in the Walk North Dakota program.

“Participating in the Walk North Dakota challenge is a great way to meet the physical fitness requirement to become a Healthy North Dakota 4-H Club,” says Walk North Dakota coordinator Linda Hauge. “In the past year, 160 4-H youth from 13 4-H clubs participated in at least one of the eight-week Walk North Dakota challenges.”

4-H clubs interested in signing up for the next Walk North Dakota challenge, which begins Sept. 13, should contact Hauge at linda.hauge@ndsu.edu or (701) 231-7964.

Some 373 youth participated in the Healthy North Dakota 4-H Club program in 2007-08, the program’s third year.

“We are pleased this program continues to grow in popularity and the club members approach healthy habits in such a positive way,” says project coordinator Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist. “Several of the clubs have been recognized for at least two years. They are definitely on the right track to eating smart and playing hard, and that will pay lifelong dividends.”

Club members received recognition certificates and “Eat Smart. Play Hard.” memo boards. The NDSU Extension Service developed the memo boards with funding from the following sponsors: North Dakota Wheat Commission, Northarvest Bean Growers, North Dakota School Nutrition Association, North Dakota Nutrition Council, Midwest Dairy Association, North Dakota Beef Commission, North Dakota Dietetic Association and North Dakota Department of Public Instruction – Child Nutrition and Food Distribution.

4-H clubs interested in participating in the 2008-09 North Dakota Healthy 4-H Club program should contact their county Extension office.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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