Teens teach campers to make nutritious snacks

DeKALB – University of Illinois Extension and the DeKalb Park District’s Camp Maple Leaf collaborated to offer 4-H Food Smart Families Summer Cooking School as part of the summer camp program to students 9 to 12 years old.

4-H members were recruited to serve as “teen teachers” for the program. The teen teachers trained in best practices and basic nutrition education and practiced their lessons before teaching at the camp.

Under the supervision of Janelle Stein, Illinois Nutrition Education Program educator, 4-H teen leaders Natalie Baert, Lori Drake, Carson Groezinger, Justene Jennings, and Madeleine Schneider taught students how to create simple and nutritious recipes they could make on their own with little to no assistance.

Kids created healthy snacks while they learned important math and reading skills by following recipes and measuring ingredients. Children also learned about food safety, meal planning, and knife skills.

“It was fun to work with the teens and campers each day,” Stein said. “The campers responded well to the teens as teachers and especially liked the hands on cooking – and eating – parts of the lessons. Most of the campers were willing to try a new food and some of the parents told us that their student enthusiastically insisted on making the recipes again at home. This program not only taught the campers some basic cooking skills, but also empowered them to help their families make healthy food choices. I hope the families continue to support and encourage their students to keep building cooking skills.”

“This is a great program that teaches youth how to make healthy nutritious snacks, and allows them to try some new foods and recipes,” 4-H Youth Development Educator Johnna Jennings said. “What is also another neat benefit of the program is that we have teen 4-H leaders teaching the lessons to the participants. The participants learn new things and our teens get to enhance their leadership skills. It is a win-win situation.”

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