4-H duo join forces to teach children good health habits

Laura Braun

Laura Braun

Most people who are not familiar with 4-H think of it as something agricultural, but 4-H is much more than that.

It started out with a base in agriculture, but it has grown into a club for youth to make projects in areas ranging from electronics to sewing to building citizenship and leadership skills, and also to learning many life-long lessons.

4-H is a community group present in most communities in South Dakota and throughout the Midwest, whether it is represented by a club, rodeo, after-school program or even the state fair. SDSU student Amanda Tuchscherer, a junior ag education and speech studies major who has spent nine years working with 4-H, and Christine Kayl, a family and consumer sciences graduate student, both play leadership roles in Brookings and Volga 4-H by working for the Brookings County Extension Office planning and running 4-H after-school programs.

Kayl and Tuchscherer work together to teach children good habits such as exercise and health nutrition.

“Hopefully, if you reach children at a young age, healthy habits will seem to be a regular part of life and not a chore or punishment,” says Kayl.

It is important that kids are excited about nutrition and have fun with the various activities. The programs, both in Brookings and Volga, only last one hour, and within that time frame, the children do two different activities. During the first part of the program, Tuchscherer leads half of the group in an exercise activity while Kayl teaches the other half of the group about nutrition and the food pyramid. After 30 minutes, the groups switch activities and at the end of the program, the kids get to make their own fun, healthy snack.

Working with youth and their ambitions has been a rewarding experience for both students, and the 4-H after-school program has helped them use their education in a real-life setting.

“Showing the kids that you care about them and the stories they have to tell you is an important thing I’ve learned as an education major, and I love getting to practice this with the kids every time we do 4-H Afterschool,” says Tuchscherer.

Marilyn Rasmussen, Ann Michelle Daniels, Kim Wilson-Sweebe, and Rose Stee also share responsibility for the 4-H Afterschool program and its success by hiring students like Tuchscherer and Kayl and giving them the opportunity to work in this rewarding program.