What’s to Come in 2021?

— Written By and last updated by Tamara Carawan
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There are two things I like to do at the end of the year, to reflect on what I’ve learned and what I’m grateful for, and to make plans for the next year. Looking back on the plans I made for 2020, many of them went sailing out the window or underwent a significant transformation. As unexpected and unsettling as this year has been, I have had the chance to learn a lot of new things and to become even more flexible. As grateful as I now am for those experiences, I’m rather anxious to begin thinking of what Pamlico 4-H can do in 2021.

If I’m thinking about it, maybe all of you are too. We’re still making plans and dreaming up projects, but there are a few things that you can add to your own ‘2021 Must Do’ List. So what’s on the roster? The Coastal Plains Chicken show, the NC 4-H Foreign Pen Pal program, and Pamlico County Book Explorers, among others.

The Coastal Plains Chicken Show is a project we look forward to every year! If you haven’t heard about it before, you might be wondering what the fuss about chickens could be? Have we all developed a shared increased love of eggs? Perhaps. Who doesn’t love an herb omelet with fresh eggs?

While fresh eggs have some associated health benefits such as higher vitamin E, omega-3s, beta carotene and they may also have lower levels of cholesterol. Fresh eggs are not the only benefits of having chickens in your backyard. Chickens are great for pest control and are a great help to keep all those bugs that want to feast on your fruit and vegetables to a minimum. In addition, chickens are a great benefit to your compost process. (For more safe composting ideas contact the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Pamlico County Center.)

Help in the garden and added nutrition aren’t the only things chickens help us with. Chickens also have the same stress-reducing and immune-boosting effects that all animals have. With the greatest need for a strong personal immune system since 1918, now might be a good time to think about a 4-H Chicken Project. With all of these benefits, there is the wide variety of learning opportunities that the 4-H Chicken Project affords. We are super excited that registration has opened.

Before you register, you might be wondering what a 4-H Chicken Show Project is? 4-Her’s who participate in this project raise chicks from February until the beginning of May. They learn the proper care of chickens through all stages of development, how to safely water chicks when they are very young, to prevent drowning as well as, learn how to ensure proper nutrition for birds to grow.

Our 4-Hers will also learn how to show their chickens. One of the key aspects of participating in a chicken show is ensuring that all of the birds are healthy and meet state and federal regulations for safe transport. Another important step to showing chickens is proper grooming. Bathing chickens is a three-step process, that should take place two days before the show. First a bath in warm sudsy water, then rinse in apple cider vinegar, finally a rinse in warm water. Chickens should also have their feet carefully brushed with a soft toothbrush.

The most important aspect of showing chickens starts from the moment 4-Hers get their chickens. Working with the chicks so that on the day of the show, their chicken is calm and easily handled. A chicken should be carried with the arm beneath the chicken with the chicken’s head tucked into the crook of the arm. The chicken will also be put through several different poses during the show, to exhibit the chicken’s wingspan, keel, feet, and tail. The tail will also have to be flexed up and down in order to show off its carriage. It is very important for the bird to remain calm throughout these various poses.

You can learn more about the Coastal Plains Chicken Show and access registration information on our website. The chicks will be sourced and purchased by the 4-H Staff. But that’s not the only thing for you to check out. If you are interested in a program that will take you a little further afield, check out the 4-H Pen Pal Program, a new twist on the much-loved 4-H Foreign Exchange Program.

How does the  4-H Pen Pal program work? If you sign up for the program, your 4-Her will be connected to a same gender, similarly aged youth in a country of their choice (if possible). The 4-Her and their pen pal will exchange letters at least twice a month, beginning in mid-January and continuing until at least mid-April. At the end of the program, NC 4-H will facilitate an online forum to allow participants to share their experiences, what they learned, and what they are going to take with them going forward.

One of the things I value the most about 4-H as a program, are the friendships not just within the county program, but across the state, the nation, and internationally that I and so many others have been able to create and keep. The ability to connect with others, to learn about their world, traditions, and to share our own in turn is a paradigm-shifting experience. If you are interested in participating in this program or would like more information you can access it on our website.

If you are interested in learning about the cultures of other countries, consider our Pamlico County 4-H Book Explorers’ program for ages 5 – 10. Each session we read a book from another culture, learn about the geography of that country, the food, and create some traditional art from that country. Some of the countries we have visited are Poland, Cambodia, Spain, Nigeria, and many more. Our next Book Explorers will be December 16, 2020, and we will be going to Denmark.

If you are interested in participating or learning more about any of these programs, follow us on social media for real-time updates or give our office a call at 252-745-4121. To register for these or any 4-H program, check out our website. All registrations are online. We will ensure that registered participants are able to complete our adventures and challenges even in their own homes. If you are interested in our Spring Fun Programs or want to learn more about the 4-H Program in Pamlico County contact Kait Neeland at (252) 745-4121, or kait_neeland@ncsu.edu, or check us out online. Don’t FORGET to REGISTER, spaces will fill up!!