By Judy Halterman and Joy Paterson

Veggies for Kids partnered with The Boys and Girls Club of Mason Valley to provide healthy eating educational activities to local youth

Judy teaches kids who enthusiastically join her activities

Judy teaches kids who enthusiastically join her activities

during a week long summer institute. Youngsters from 5 years old to 8th grade participated in the activities. Each day, of the 4 day institute, they were taught a different lesson on “Food from Plants” to help them understand where food comes from and about healthy eating choices. A total of 180 youth participated throughout the week.

The first lesson’s question was, “What parts of plants does food come from?” An interactive game had youth running to different stations that identified which parts of the plants that a particular fruit or vegetable came from. For example, Judy would yell “Pineapple” and the kids would select their answer by running to a station labeled “seed, root, stem, leaf, flower or fruit”. The kids would then learn the correct answer and why that pineapple was a fruit and that fruits are formed from the ovary part of a flower. After learning about plant parts, they went outside on a scavenger hunt looking for various parts of plants. The kids loved moving around and exploring familiar plants in new ways.

Day two focused on what plant parts are in common foods. “Do donuts come from plants?” All the kids originally said “NO”, but they learned  flour and sugar comes from plants. They tasted crackers, jelly, pickles, raisins, ketchup and pickles and learned what plants these foods came from and the course the food would take to make it to their plate in the form they were tasting. Do you know what the 4 most eaten foods in the world are? Youth learned they are: wheat, rice, corn and soybean. Discussions included how these foods are used in our everyday eating.


Youth show the bunnies hiding in the grass, before eating their art

A boy arranges a peach on his plate to create his fruit and veggie masterpiece

A boy arranges a peach on his plate to create his fruit and veggie masterpiece

Cooking or combine things from plants into tasty dishes was the focus of the third day. They were given items from plants and allowed to create their own style of humus from scratch. They added their own spices, mashed the chickpeas and tasted on crackers to see if they liked what they made. While some were fine, most of them added too much salt or pepper. Fortunately, Judy had some tasty humus for the kids to eat.

Example garden map where youth could plan what they wanted to grow in their ideal garden

Example garden map where youth could plan what they wanted to grow in their ideal garden

The final day children designed their perfect garden. They studied what vegetables could be grown together and what vegetables should be grown apart. Youth created a garden map with different aspects of a garden with different sun exposure, soil fertility and other real-life challenges that gardeners face. The kids had a great time learning where plants would grow best. Art and science met in an hands-on activity creating food art. Food art activities engage the creativity of kids using fruits and vegetables to make a a bunny hiding in the grass. Is anything better than art you can eat?

Youth plants seeds into the window box they created

Youth plants seeds into the window box they created

Over the course of the summer institute, vegetable and herb window gardens were created by the kids using milk carton boxes, soil and  four different types of seeds. Youth learned about what plants need to be able to grow and designed the outside to with information about each plant. These were made out of 4 milk cartons taped together with white duct tape. They then designed the boxes using magic markers and crayons. The kids then planted spinach, mache (lettuce), and several types of herbs. They learned how to take care of their boxes once they were taken home. Visits to the school garden at Yerington Elementary School served as a real garden where participants picked green beans, tasted fresh-off-the-vine cherry tomatoes, and pulled weeds. Learning how the garden grows and where food we eat everyday comes from. The hoop house became a regular learning experience, with the club helping throughout the summer to collect produce, tend plants and pull weeds. Vegetables were then eaten fresh by the kids or cooked into delicious food at the club for all to try.

Veggies for Kids will continue to educate youth about fruits and vegetables throughout the school year. Special thanks to the Boys and Girls Club of Mason Valley and Darci Beaton for facilitating all weeks activity and help with the hoop house garden over the summer. For more information about the Veggies for Kids program, contact Judy Halterman.


20150821_140232 (863x1280)

Judy with her class motto “Eat Smart, Play Hard, Drink Water…Not Soda”

By Judy Halterman and Joy Paterson

“Eat Smart, Play Hard, Drink Water, Not Soda” is a motto that most K and 1st graders who attended Yerington Elementary School or 2nd and 3rd graders at Smith Valley Elementary School last year know by heart. Veggies for Kids is a funded State of Nevada SNAP-ed program designed to teach kids about proper nutrition and exercise. Judy Halterman has been working with Yerington and Smith Valley youth teaching them how to grow and eat veggies and fruit using demonstration gardens, twelve weeks of in-school instruction and hosts a healthy lifestyle summer institute. Kids learn through direct instruction (lecture), food tastings, worksheets, games, problem solving, questioning techniques, and vegetable growing experiences.

20150707_083241 (720x1280)

Judy picks her golden beets from the hoop house







The Veggies for Kids program was created and piloted by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension in 2005 by Mineral County Cooperative Extension, and has been implemented at Hawthorne Elementary School and Schurz Elementary School in Mineral County, Natchez Elementary School in Washoe County, and Owyhee Elementary School in Elko County. Last year the program was expanded to include Smith Valley Elementary School and Yerington Elementary School in Lyon County.

Last years classes increased their ability to identify and name the five food groups and six vegetables. Kids learned the importance of playing hard for at least 60 minutes everyday to increase physical well-being. Drinking water to stay hydrated was emphasized with lessons comparing water to sugary drinks. Eating fun new fruits and vegetables was an exciting part, with kids declaring “What are we going to have for snack today Mrs. Halterman?” This led to an increased

Judy's garden favorite, red noodle beans

Judy’s garden favorite, red noodle beans

willingness to try and consume more fruits and vegetables. Vick Williams assisted Judy in educating the youth about Native American culture including food, building materials and clothing while using story-telling to engage them. The students were also able to sample buck berries, pine nuts, and asparagus.  Hispanic foods lesson was also incorporated with tasting of corn tortillas, beans and cheese. The program is anticipated to continue in the 2015-2016 school year for Yerington and Smith Valley Elementary Schools.


By Kate Schnoor

We are pleased to announce our first ever “Lyon County 4-H Leader of the Month” to be Shannon Thompson, the Mason Valley Community Club Leader. Shannon has volunteered as a Leader with 4-H for two years and is a huge component to the success of her club. Shannon and her 4-H club members work extremely hard to ensure a strong foundation in providing community service to Yerington.

Shannon with the Mason Valley 4-H Community Club

Shannon says “our goal as a club is to make sure we help our community in any way possible, from giving our time or to go pick up trash at the parks. We are here to make our community strive to be the best it can be.” Shannon, Club Members and Co-Leader Debbie McDonald are involved in: Thanksgiving baskets for the families in need, Christmas Tree Angel, visiting long term care facilities and going to local parks to pick trash. The club hosts multiple fund raisers throughout the year to help cover the costs of baskets and presents.

Recently, the Mason Valley Community Club hosted the 2015 Lyon County Fair and Rodeo Appreciation Dinner and the Silver State Youth Livestock Show Buyer’s Luncheon lending valued support to the Lyon County Fair and Rodeo and the sister Lyon County Livestock Clubs.

We are pleased to have such a wonderful Leader, Co-Leader, parents and 4-H Members in our community. Thank you Shannon for your hard work and dedication to your 4-H Club, and your community. Please nominate your leader for next months leader of the month by submitting 3 paragraphs detailing your leaders achievements and submitting 2-3 high quality photos of your leader in action!

If you or someone you know would like to volunteer or become a leader please email Kate Schnoor. Enrollment for the 2016 4-H starts in October, if you would like to enroll your children, please contact the Lyon County Extension office or speak to any of our wonderful leaders!

USDA canning book coverTwo hours of classroom instruction in food preservation safety and home food preservation on Thursday August 27th from 6-8 p.m. We will discuss the latest food safety recommendations. Bring your equipment for safety checks or to learn what it does. The entire class can learn from the equipment or questions you bring. You do not need to have any equipment to attend the class. You will learn what items you might need to purchase for the type of canning that you want to do during the course.

Canning Green Beans and Carrots

Canning Green Beans and Carrots

Hands-on learning for beginning canners will be on Saturday August 29th with two time blocks 8 a.m.- Noon and 1-5 p.m. Space is limited and reservations are on a first come, first serve basis. You can bring your own produce, but will have to pick up canned food after the seals have set. Each group will get to choose what to can.
We will be using the book “Complete Guide to Home Canning” from the USDA. The contents of the book are available for download to any device that reads .pdf files. I prefer to have a paper copy of the book to have as a reference in the kitchen and to save my electronics from the sometimes sticky or wet canning process. Other handouts will be provided. We will have limited copies available for $15 each. First come, first served.

Raw Pack Whole Tomatoes

Raw Pack Whole Tomatoes

The course is $10 per participant.
Sign Up Today! Email me, call 775-463-6541, or stop by the office.
Like us on Facebook!

20150705_161351 (720x1280)

Bolted Scotch Thistle Plant Prior Flowering

20150705_161359 (722x1280)

Scotch Thistle Head Prior to Flowering

Invasive weeds are an issue anywhere people travel or transport things. Every month, I will highlight a weed that is either not established or is in low abundance in Lyon County. Verified records of these weeds are very helpful to weed managers and Nevada Department of Agriculture. If you see these plants, you can report them directly to Nevada Department of Agriculture, using the app EDDmaps, or email me photos and a location. Invasive weeds are everyone’s problem, so help keep them from invading your neighborhood and report them.

Scotch thistle, Onopordum acanthium, is a large spiny plant with pink to purple flowers. Thistles are difficult to identify, so confirm your identification before destroying thistles. Native thistle plants are declining for many reasons and need to be protected. Like most thistles, Scotch thistle is biennial and is a rosette of leaves the first year and bolts into a tall plant with flowers the second year. The rosette stage is difficult to identify. The bolted plant can be very tall, up to 6 feet. Characteristics of the leaves, flowers or seeds can distinguish it from other thistles.

Current distribution maps (EDDmaps or USDA Plant Database)of scotch thistle is broad across the United States. EDDmaps reports Scotch Thistle in Lyon county. I observed it while hiking in southern Lyon county. It is listed as a category B weed by Nevada Department of Agriculture. Scotch thistle can be controlled by pulling up the plant or removing the flower heads by cutting or mowing before it goes to seed. Nevada Department of Agriculture has recommendations for chemical control of Scotch thistle.