Teens teach cooking skills, become leaders in Lake, McHenry Counties
This summer, University of Illinois Extension trained local teens to lead cooking schools for youth in some of Lake and McHenry Counties’ highest need areas. SNAP-Ed Community Workers and 4-H program staff worked with 4-H Teen Teachers to facilitate the schools. The program was a collaboration between Extension’s 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences Programs, made possible by a competitive grant offered through National 4-H Council and funded by the Target Foundation. The teens received 12 hours of training in nutrition, youth-adult partnerships, and youth development. 4-H staff members met with the teens as they planned lessons for the youth using the Illinois Junior Chef curriculum. Students prepared recipes such as veggie chow mein, pumpkin pancakes, and fruit salsa, while learning basic nutrition guidelines from the USDA and the kitchen skills needed to prepare these recipes.
SNAP-Ed Community Worker Lee Kouski partnered with COOL Summer Learning Experience at the First Baptist Church in Waukegan. Kouski was assisted by two 4-H Teen Teachers, who took turns demonstrating the proper techniques and skills needed to be successful in the kitchen.
“Now I know that I want to be a chef when I get older,” said Brian, a 5th Grade participant. “I love cooking!” Campers also gained a better appreciation for how much work is involved in preparing food. “Cooking is hard work,” said Steven, after chopping a mound of vegetables for veggie chow mein.
Not wanting to be left behind after missing a day of cooking school at Brown Bear Daycare and Learning Center in Harvard, one boy made a point of asking to review his missed lesson in cutting and chopping. SNAP-Ed Community Worker Mary Flores arranged for a 4-H Teen Teacher to give him a one-on-one lesson.
In Round Lake Park, SNAP-Ed Community Worker Ofelia Delgado partnered with Mayor Linda Lucassen and the Round Lake Park Village Hall to host a cooking school. She introduced her 4-H Teen Teachers to the Mayor, who was so proud to see local teens teaching local youth. The teens spoke with the Mayor and helped secure an additional camp session to accommodate strong demand for the program. The teens told Delgado how they appreciated the opportunity to become leaders in their own community by running the cooking camps. Their initiative and success in securing space and time for an additional camp session is a testament of their leadership skills.
Programs such as 4-H Food Smart Families help ensure healthy habits in future generations while growing the leaders of tomorrow. To learn more about 4-H Food Smart Families or hosting a cooking school in your community, contact your local University of Illinois Extension office.
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