How Did You Spend the Summer?
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We had an NC State University summer intern who wrote an article with this same title in 2015. That happened to be the first summer I worked for 4-H in Lee County. I recently stumbled on his article and I realized that, even though I am not an intern, my 2021 summer resembled his experience and “graduation” back in 2015. Last year I decided to work towards a master’s degree in Youth, Family, and Community Sciences at NC State University and I was able to re-experience the joy of a summer break without school assignments due. It has been nearly 30 years since I graduated from Appalachian State University and I had forgotten the breath-catching freedom of a summer void of classes. Now, as I return to school this fall with other students of all ages, I have a tale of how I spent my summer vacation. I thought this would be the perfect time to revisit the question, asking myself and you, how did we spend the summer?
I spent my summer getting out and about and it has been so nice to renew face-to-face acquaintances. In my first year with 4-H, I spent my summer with youths of all ages offering several STEM workshops. As you might expect, that wasn’t the case the past two summers. This summer we were able to offer many work-at-home kits for families reluctant to jump into face-to-face camps, and we offered a few face-to-face outdoor camps and clubs for those who were ready to meet in person. I enjoyed seeing smiling faces and excited energy as 4-H’ers dug into the electric project. Several groups also worked with Master Gardener volunteers and Minda Daughtry on horticulture and nature projects like Just Grow It! The program reached private, public, & home school students by teaching them many things including how microgreens are amazing and packed with more nutrients than the “adult” versions of the same plant.
Nature Kids 4-H club met four times, with the help of great Master Gardener℠ volunteers and our Horticulture Agent, Minda Daughtry, who loves to teach the science of plants to the young and young at heart. I learn so much every time she puts on her educator cap. Did you know that seeds are created with exactly the amount of energy they need to reach the top of the soil where they begin to receive energy from the sun before they rot? Be sure to check that planting depth on the seed packet so your seed doesn’t starve before it reaches the sun.
It’s okra season, and the intern’s article reminded me how I learned to love okra grown in his raised bed garden project. The County Extension Director at the time, Susan Condlin, made me taste the batch she had just roasted. A quick word of advice, don’t tell someone that whatever they are cooking smells good until you identify what it is! I am now paying that forward and forcing others to taste roasted okra with some thanks and some groans. Join me and try it roasted and see what you think.
I learned that there are microscopic creatures that might be living on the backs of bumblebees during the intern’s 2015 4-H Summer horticulture camp and I now have a microscope in my home because you never know when you might need to see that splinter up close or discover what IS on the back of the dead bumblebee you just found. On our summer beach trip, I was able to catch zooplankton with a special net and view tiny jellyfish, crabs, and barnacles among other unidentified microscopic creatures on my slide. I got to collect macro-organisms in nets on the banks of San Lee Park with the 4-H Nature Kids Club members.
How did YOU spend the summer? For me, this has been a different summer, but yet, a very fulfilling one. Next year I look forward to even more in-person youth camps and clubs, more beach trips, and family camping trips. Thank you to that 2015 summer intern, Mart Bumgarner, who now serves as Agriculture Extension Agent for Orange County. Reviewing Mart’s article, and the subsequent trip down memory lane, reminded me to appreciate everything I learn and do today because I am building memories for the future. I hope to revisit his article down the road again and be able to celebrate my graduation in a similar fashion!
Pam Kerley is the 4-H Program Assistant for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center. 4-H is a positive youth development program offering programs that suit a variety of backgrounds, interests, budgets, and schedules. From in-school to after-school, clubs to camps, 4H’s programs are available in Lee County and we welcome children who want to have fun, learn and grow. In North Carolina, 4-H is brought to you by the NC State Extension. N.C. Cooperative Extension’s experts and educators share university knowledge, information, and tools you can use every day to improve your life.