Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer Youth Opportunities

by Aliesa Woods, 4-H Youth Development Director

Are you looking for some educational opportunities this summer for your child, niece, nephew or grandchild to participate in? The Post Rock Extension District Staff are busy planning some fun summer events that I encourage you to get signed up for.

Wild & Wacky Day Camps


These camps are open to all youth completing Kindergarten through 3rd grade during the 2013-2014 school year. Campers will be engaged in a variety of hands on activities that make learning Wild & Wacky and full of excitement and adventures. The dates, times, and locations are listed below. These camps have a small fee to participate in and registration is required in advance.
  • June 9th Mankato City Park 8:00-Noon
  • June 17th Wagner Park in Smith Center 8:00-11:30
  • June 18th Lincoln City Park Noon-5:00
  • June 19th Chautauqua Park at Beloit Noon-5:00
  • June 20th Osborne City Park 8:30-12:30 (For youth completing K-5)

Babysitting Clinics

Do you have what it takes to be a Super Sitter? Join us at the Super Sitter Babysitting Clinics to practice using powers that will improve your ability to keep children healthy and happy. This event is for youth 10 years of age and older who babysit other children. Two clinics will be held at the following sites:
  • Tuesday, June 24th Osborne County Fairgrounds 9:00-3:30
  • Thursday, June 26th Jewell Community Center 9:00-3:30

There will be a $5 participation fee and registration is due June 10th.
You can access the registration forms for the Day Camps and Babysitting Clincs at

If you need additional information or have questions about these events please contact any office of the Post Rock Extension District.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Family Meetings Encourage Positive Communication

by Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent


Organizing a meeting promotes positive communication, decision-making, and problem-solving. Getting into the habit of having a regular meeting may sound intimidating, but incorporating this strategy into your family’s routine will offer great reward.

Here are some tips that encourage a positive meeting experience:
  • Plan to meet the needs of the group majority. At the same time, be proactive and try to accommodate everyone’s needs (i.e. disability, medical concern, etc…).
  • Let family members decide the best place and time to meet. Schedule with plenty of notice so individual arrangements can be made.
  • Use an agenda to outline discussion topics. Distributing this to the group prior to the meeting allows individuals come prepared and focused.
  • Clearly identify who should attend in order to best accomplish the desired goals.
  • Set ground rules to help balance expectations and provide structure. 
  • Some possible rules may be:
    • Begin and end on time.
    • No electronic use during meeting.
    • Respect everyone’s opinion.
    • Decisions will be made by majority vote of those present.
    • Accept and support group decisions.
    • Practice confidentiality.
  • Effective meetings include elements of fun, business, and learning. To include all three elements you could:
    1. Gather for a meal and fellowship.
    2. After eating, conduct business according to the agenda.  
    3. Adjourn the business portion of the meeting and play board games together.
Developing a unique strategy for communicating, making decisions, and solving problems is necessary for your family’s success in both the short- and long-term. If you are interested in incorporating meetings into your family’s routine, feel free to contact your local Extension Office for additional resources.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Caregiving on the Home Front

by Kathy Lupfer-Nielsen, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent


While it can seem very simple to read about caregiving, writing an article or two or teach a caregiving workshop for participants that are in the midst of taking care of a spouse with ALS or early stage dementia, when it hits home, it is a different story. This was my April journey.

My 82 year old Dad, not unlike other Kansas farmers, continues to enjoy his cattle and his crops. However after a bout of appendical (appendix) cancer in ’09 and taking chemo pills, I think my family was like, okay this cancer deal is over and it’s worked out…he’s doing okay and still working on the farm like he enjoys. So all was good or so we thought.

Like other cancer survivors, sometimes cancer comes back to bite you in the butt…or in his case, the intestines. So while he had been dealing with c-diff (look that one up all of you that have family and friends this age) he suddenly found himself back into the hospital for intestinal surgery. Crisis time and we, my siblings and I, fall back into caregiver mode like in ’09. Only this time, I’m trying to pay more attention.

First of all, in ’09, I thought it was colon cancer he was dealing with…when I looked up appendical (appendix) cancer this time, I found out it was an extremely rare form of cancer and if it is malignant, like my dad’s was and currently is, life expectancy can be five years or so. Caregivers, especially one’s at a distance can become a resource person for keeping up to date with the disease and new treatments. I need to pay better attention.

I need to also have a list of his history in a notebook. He could tell the doctors his history but I don’t think my mother could at this point. So all caregivers need to know details, not just the women.

Also, in searching out information on this type of cancer and abdominal surgery, I found out that it is common for the elder’s gut to be slow in getting back on track…in other words, slow to wake up. So I tried to take deep breaths when we just keep hearing from the surgeon, “Oh, it’ll start working again soon.” And sure enough it did. So after 18 days in the Garden City Hospital, he finally made it back to the farm.

What have I learned this time around? My sister-in-law is a peach of a person, very kind to my parents, but when she says, “Your mother will need some support” this means it’s all getting to her. We, my sister and I, need to get on the stick and show up at the hospital. Via texts and calls we rearranged our schedules so that we could help out and Mom had some company while dealing with all of this.

And while my brother farms with dad, and needed to plant corn and so forth, he was able to spend a very long 6 hours on a Saturday while they waited their turn for surgery.

What else did I realize? People are kind and the Garden City community has a wonderful Benicasa - “The Good Home”. This is like a Ronald McDonald House, service for people staying with family members. If you find yourselves in a situation like this, be sure to take advantage of this service. Not only does is save on housing costs for an extended time period, but you also meet other people that are going through similar situations.

We’re thankful Dad made it home with his gut working and after he gains his strength back, he’ll start in on chemo. Last time he was able to take chemo pills, but this time it’ll be intravenous. But in true rural fashion, Mom’s FCE club ladies are volunteering to help with the driving. His tenacity has been a life lesson for me…he’s not willing to give up on life.

The final lesson for this past month, which I have often heard from many of my Extension coworkers from the SW, it’s a long distance out to Garden City from Lincoln. And it’s hard to drive that far when the wind about blows your vehicle off the road. I’m thankful to be one of the middle of Kansas residents and hope that it’ll rain one of these days.

As an aside, remember to use online resources available at or for information on specific cancers or caregiving suggestions.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Smith County 4-H Members Work Together for the Community

by Abbye Hendrich, 4-H Program Coordinator, Smith County

What gives you a sense of accomplishment? Meeting a deadline? Making a friend smile?
Well, for 25 4-H youth and their parents, accomplishment came in the form of dirt, shovels and garden gloves. But there was also something much bigger at work here. A mind-set of selflessness and dedication. An attitude of eagerness to give back to their community.  
It was a beautiful Saturday morning and the Home on the Range Nature Trail was all abuzz with activity. A conglomeration of 4-H youth and parents arrived at their freshly tilled plot, armed with shovels and rakes, ready to plant a beautiful array of Kansas Native Grasses.


"It felt good to give something to my community that will be enjoyed for years to come", stated Jaden Meyer, 4-H Council Treasurer. 4-H members worked together efficiently, eager to accomplish the end goal. Older youth helped the younger children, turning the job into a learning opportunity. "I like working as a team that completed a project that will last for years so come. 4-H always provides opportunities like that", explained Kendra Billings, 6 year member of Busy Bees.

Not only was it a learning opportunity for the 4-H youth, but also a way for them to contribute to Smith County. "It was a good experience for us all to work together and be outdoors to contribute to something that is important to our county!" Katelin Ifland, 6 year member of Solomon Valley, exclaimed. And that is the exciting thing about generations uniting and working towards a common good. "I love that 4-H creates opportunities for our youth to be leaders and encourages them to take responsibility for their community by working together", Robin Billings, mother of two 4-H'rers shared.

And that is really what 4-H is all about. Making the best better.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tips for Healthy Grilling

by Nadine Sigle, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
I like to grill year around and as the weather warms it becomes one of my favorite methods of cooking. It doesn’t make any difference if I’m cooking over a fire, using a Dutch oven, or a more conventional grill.

Whatever method I choose, safety comes first, whether it‘s personal safety or food safety. As a child, I loved to burn my marshmallows and hot dogs to a crisp. I’ve learned that burning my foods and cooking on charred surfaces can result in exposure to carcinogens.

The following tips can minimize the risk and grilled foods can still be flavorful, fun and safe.
  1. Marinate Your Meat – Marinating meat helps to reduce carcinogens. Kansas State University researchers marinated steaks in three different mixtures of oil, vinegar, and herbs and spices. After grilling, carcinogens in the marinated steaks were cut by 57 to 88 percent. The reason it works is not clear. The marinade may create a protective barrier between the meat’s proteins and the heat of the grill. Or the antioxidants in the marinade may combat the carcinogens head-on. Whatever the reason, marinades reduce the carcinogens and add great flavor to the meat.
  2. Clean Your Grill – Keep your grill clean by scrubbing with a brush before and after grilling food. Scrubbing keeps the buildup of carcinogens left on the grill grates to a minimum and makes your food taste so much better.
  3. Flip at the Right Time – You want to avoid burning but not rip the meat apart. Give it a gentle tug; it’s ready to flip when it comes loose without pulling.
  4. Ban Flare Ups – When you cook a fatty piece of meat, the fat that drips onto the flames creates smoke which may contain the much talked about carcinogens.
  5. Beware of Burnt – A bit of char is unavoidable (and it tastes good), but incinerated meat will contain more cancer-causing compounds. Don’t get the coals superhot and then plop fatty meat directly on the grill. The blackened part of meat may also contain carcinogens, so remove all charred or burned portions of food before eating.
  6. Reduce Bacteria in Burgers – To kill the common E.coli bacteria, USDA recommends cooking ground beef to 160°F. If you want to go for medium-rare, grind your own beef, then cook immediately. If you use store-bought meat, flip burgers frequently. A study in the Journal of Food Protection advised flipping every 30 seconds for optimal E.coli reduction. Another study found that even when two patties both reach 160°F, the one flipped more often had one-fifth the E.coli.
  7. Work the Grill – Depending on your grill, it may not be the same temperature throughout. Some have hot spots while others have cooler areas. Work the whole surface of the grill to keep certain areas from flaming more than others. If you do have flare ups, just move the food to a cooler part of the grill until the fire dies down.
  8. Size Matters – Size matters when it comes to meat grilling. Cube or slice meat into smaller portions to speed up the cook time or choose a quick-cooking option like shrimp or fish.
  9. The Shorter the Cook Time, The Better – The faster foods are cooked, the less likely they’ll develop dangerous charring. Don’t cook meat past its goal temperature: 165°F for all poultry; 160°F for ground red meats or mixtures and fresh pork; or 145°F for red meat steaks or chops.
  10. Beyond Meat – Go beyond meat and try grilling some unexpected foods like peaches, asparagus, or even bread. Throw fruits and veggies on the grill for a tasty, nutrient-rich side or dessert or give pizza a try for a quick dinner.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Post Rock District 4-H Sharp Shooters Attend Matches.

by Julie Nichols, 4-H Program Coordinator, Mitchell County
Brayson Young, standing position and his dad as his coach.

“Ready on the right, ready on the left, begin firing” is a common command heard at 4-H BB and Air Rifle trainings. Congratulations to area Post Rock District 4-H Sharp Shooter BB and Air Rifle competitors who have been attending shoots over the last few months. 4-Hers from Lincoln, Mitchell and Osborne Counties attended trainings in late winter to early spring to learn about gun safety and to practice the different shooting positions.  They then attended competitions in March and April to use these skills to compete with other 4-Hers across the state.

In BB, there are four different shooting positions: Prone or laying down, Standing, Kneeling, and Sitting. Ten shots are fired at a target at a distance of 5 meters. Each shot is scored with a 10X shot being a perfectly centered bull’s-eye. A 10 and 10X shot are both worth 10 points, but if there should be a tie between shooters 10X shots break the tie and the shooter with the most 10X shots wins. For BB, the maximum score is 400 points with 325 points needed to qualify for the State 4-H Match. BB is for 4-Hers age 7-14 and an adult is allowed to be beside the shooter throughout the competition to help coach, load and pump the BB gun for the kids. 40 minutes is allowed to complete the shooting process. 

Air Rifle is similar to BB, but differs in a few ways. The gun shoots a lead pellet instead of a BB. Air Rifle competitors only shoot in three positions: kneeling, prone, and standing; and they shoot 20 shots at each target rather than 10 as shot in BB. Scoring is the same; however, the maximum score is 600 with 400 points needed to qualify for the State 4-H Match. Air Rifle is for 4-Hers age 9-18 and is a little more challenging because the distance to the target of 10 meters is twice the distance of BB. Adults are not allowed remain beside the shooter to coach except at setup. 100 minutes is allowed to complete the shooting process.

The Bull Masters held in Holton, KS, February 22, was the first match district 4-Hers, Bryce and Kimberlyn Nichols of Beloit, attended.  Bryce shot air rifle and qualified for State at this match. Kimberlyn shot in BB.

Derek George in the kneeling position with his mom, Carmen George.
March 1 was the second match the Sharp Shooters attended and it was in Hays. Dereck George, Osborne; Brayson Young, Lincoln; and Kimberlyn Nichols competed in BB. Bryce Nichols competed in Air Rifle. They all had a great time. Dereck and Brayson said their favorite position was prone, which provides the most stable shot and usually scores are higher in this position. Kimberlyn liked the standing position, which is the hardest position to shoot, but interesting enough, is easier for girls to shoot than boys due to girls’ physical make-up.

A few weeks later, March 22-23, the Post Rock District Sharp Shooters had ten 4-Hers compete in either BB or Air Rifle in Manhattan at the Riley/Pottawatomie 4-H Straight Shooters Match. Of those, four competed in the preshot target event, which allowed them to shoot the targets at our training facility in Beloit and submit the targets for scoring. Preshooters in BB included: Erin and Lauren Schmitt, Beloit, and Steven Sporleder, Beloit. The preshooter in Air Rifle was Karsen Odle, Beloit. Their targets were scored and they competed for awards, but were not allowed to qualify for the State Shooting match due to margin of error.

Six Sharp Shooters attended the Manhattan match. They are as follows: Shooters in BB: Hadyn Graff, Beloit; Brayson Young, Lincoln; and Kimberlyn Nichols, Beloit. For Air Rifle: Kaleb Jones, Beloit; Sidney Odle, Beloit; and Bryce Nichols, Beloit. These 4-Hers learned a lot and had a good time. They all are excited about shooting and are looking forward to next year when BB and Air Rifle trainings will start again in the fall. Dirk Nichols, Beloit, was the BB and Air Rifle instructor for the kids this year.

Bryce Nichols in prone position.
Bryce Nichols competed in the State Air Rifle match, April 12, in Alma, KS, placing 10th out of 79 air rifle shooters with a score of 510 out of 600. We hope to have more shooters qualify next year and sounds like everyone is excited as four members purchased their own gun this year.


The District 4-H Fun Shoot was held April 27th which teaches the 4-Hers about the different disciplines offered, including BB, Air Rifle, Archery, Shotgun, Small Bore Rifle, and Hunting Skills. Trainings for shotgun, small bore rifle, and archery are to be offered over the next 6 months. The State Matches for these disciplines will be in September and October.

In October, the new 4-H year begins again with Archery and Hunting Skills offered in October and November. Air Rifle and BB will be offered again starting in late fall continuing into April. If you know of a youth age 7-18 who would like to be involved in 4-H Shooting Sports or any other 4-H project, please call one of the Post Rock District Extension Offices for more information: Beloit (785) 738-3597, Lincoln (785) 524-4432, Mankato (785) 378-3174, Osborne (785) 346- 5638, and Smith Center (785) 282-6823. You may also visit to learn more about 4-H, see a list of project areas, and to find a club near you! 

Please visit our Post Rock District 4-H Facebook page or our Post Rock Extension District website: