By T. Scott Boatright
Christmas is coming up Saturday, but students involved with the Lincoln Parish 4-H program have already been celebrating the season since Dec. 6.
“Lincoln Parish 4-H Jr. Leadership is a project club that meets each month,” said Amanda Simmons, 4-H director for the Lincoln Parish office of the LSU AgCenter. “The Lincoln Parish 4-H Jr. Leadership Project Club is for seventh through 12th-graders and focuses on developing leadership skills, service learning, and youth voice.
“We have over 20 teens enrolled in this Lincoln Parish 4-H Project Club. These teens attend Ruston High School, Ruston Jr. High School, Cedar Creek, Choudrant High School, Simsboro High School, homeschool, and some are members at large (live in Lincoln Parish but attend school in another parish).
“At the Lincoln Parish 4-H Jr. Leader Christmas Party held on Dec. 6 at the 4-H Office we had eight teens participate. The Lincoln Parish 4-H Jr. Leaders decided to donate to the Junior Auxiliary of Ruston Toy Drive for their Christmas Clearinghouse Project. One of our 4-H Junior Leaders delivered the toys to Karl Malone Toyota of Ruston to be collected by Junior Auxiliary of Ruston.”
Part of the party involved the creation of gifts for mental-health awareness.
“Louisiana 4-H has teens from parishes throughout the state apply to serve as teen leaders for state leadership boards,” Simmons said. “One of these boards is the Louisiana State 4-H Citizenship Board. Each year teen 4-H members vote on what the service learning focus should be for Louisiana State 4-H.
“This year Mental Health Awareness was chosen as the Louisiana State 4-H Service Learning Focus. The Louisiana State 4-H Citizenship Board developed a Louisiana State 4-H Service Learning Handbook as a resource for each parish 4-H Program to use to participate in the Mental Health Awareness 4-H Service Learning Focus.
“Within this handbook are tools and techniques that can be shared as resources to help promote positive mental health. One of the tools was a recipe for homemade bath salts to help with relaxation and decreasing anxiety. The Lincoln Parish 4-H Junior Leaders created gift jars containing the bath salts to share with others to promote positive mental health.”
Simmons listed the ingredients and instructions to create the gift jars:
- 1/3 cup Epsom Salt
- 1/3 cup Baking Soda
ª 1/3 cup Sea Salt (we used the pink Himalayan Salt)
- Five drops of an Essential Oil of your choice for fragrance
“We combined the ingredients and added them to a decorative canning jar with holiday fabric, ribbon, and a gift tag,” Simmons said.
Then on Dec. 13, Lincoln Parish 4-H held a Christmas ornament contest.
“Last year, Lincoln Parish 4-H stayed relevant during the pandemic by holding many contests and events virtually for youth to participate in,” Simmons said. “This year we were able to hold events and contests in person again but many youth thrive and enjoye the virtual platform so requests were made that we continue to offer some virtual contests and events.
“Seven children participated by creating a handmade holiday ornament and then submitted a video telling us their name, your grade, your school, and how you made your ornament, in five minutes or less. They also submitted a picture of themselves with their finished ornaments on the Lincoln Parish 4-H Facebook Page under the “4-H Handmade Holiday Ornament Contest” post created on Dec. 13.”
Gift-card prizes were awarded to winners.
The organization was back in the holiday spirit Monday when 27 teams signed up for the contest (54 individuals) and took part in the Lincoln Parish 4-H Gingerbread House Building Contest.
“The 4-H members entered as a team of two students,” Simmons said. “Teams were given one hour to build their project before judges began their evaluations. That contest was for fourth- through 12th-grade students.”
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