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NDSU Extension Service, Published September 12 2012

ND 4-H clubs promote good health

FARGO - A record number of North Dakota 4-H clubs practiced eating smart and playing hard in 2011-12.

Twenty-six clubs were recognized for demonstrating their commitment to a healthy lifestyle and are designated as a "Healthy North Dakota 4-H Club" for 2011-12.

The 4-H clubs, with a total of 467 members, earned the special recognition for making "Eat Smart. Play Hard." lessons part of their club meetings for the past year. Three clubs also earned extra recognition for completing the "Family Mealtime Challenge."

"Eat Smart. Play Hard. Together" is a statewide campaign that emphasizes the importance of making healthful food choices, getting regular exercise and families eating together. The North Dakota State University Extension Service and Bison Athletics teamed up to launch the initiative in 2005.

This was the fourth or fifth year some clubs were named a Healthy North Dakota 4-H Club. This year, each club member received a certificate of recognition, flexible cutting board and 4-H Frisbee or sun visor.

The clubs recognized this year are by county, number of members and number of years they have received the Healthy North Dakota 4-H Club recognition:

* Barnes - Valley Friends, 17 members (third)

* Burleigh - Caring Hands, six members (first); Driscoll Handy Helpers, four members (first); Haystack Butte, 29 members (second); McKenzie Magnums, 15 members (third); Sterling Livewires, 12 members (second)

* Cass - Absaraka Crows, 10 members (first); Dragonflies, 26 members (second); Kindred 4-H Friends, 41 members (fifth); Page Power, 13 members (fifth); Rainbow Kids, 17 members (fourth); Uniters, eight members (fourth); Valley Adventures,

26 members (fourth); Wheatland Pioneers, 10 members (fifth)

* Divide - Flickertails, 13 members (fifth)

* Grand Forks - Eagles, 30 members (fifth)

* Grant - Dakota Sky, 12 members (second)

* LaMoure - LaMoure Cloverleafs, 15 members (first)

* McLean - Lakeside 4-H, 40 members (first)

* Morton - Missouri Valley Bunch, 26 members (fifth)

* Ransom - Aliceton, six members (third); Helping Hands, 18 members (second); Hill and Valley, 13 members (first); Sandy Critters, 23 members (first), Tri County Ag, 30 members (first)

* Stark - Western Roughriders, seven members (first)

"We are very pleased to see the commitment of these club members and volunteer leaders to promoting healthy lifestyles within their 4-H club," says Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist and Healthy North Dakota 4-H Clubs program coordinator. "We hope that these habits remain with them for the rest of their lives."

Clubs are required to incorporate at least one nutrition or fitness activity into a minimum of six regular meetings during the year to be named a Healthy North Dakota 4-H Club.

"As a club, we took this year to focus on eating healthy and getting regular exercise," says Tracey Harter, leader of the Driscoll Handy Helpers 4-H Club.

"Even though most of our members participate in regular extracurricular sports anyway, after meetings, we took turns playing a member's sport of choice. We tried basketball, volleyball, baseball, football and a lot of trampoline time.

We learned a lot of new ways to make our favorite snacks a little more healthy, such as incorporating more fresh fruits and veggies instead of the more processed ones."

Other activities that helped clubs earn recognition included taking walks, fishing, bowling, archery and swimming; attending demonstrations on first aid, CPR and hand washing; learning how to use a food thermometer; volunteering at a local food pantry; and taking care of gardens in the community.

"Our club was surprised at how simple strategies can make such a difference in making your life healthier," says Susan Schneider, leader of the Absaraka Crows 4-H Club.

4-H clubs interested in participating in the 2012-13 North Dakota Healthy 4-H Clubs program should contact their county Extension office or visit this

website: http://www.ndsu.edu/4h/projects/group_projects/.