MFL MarMac student Macie Weigand (pictured left) is an active 4-H member, participating in both the Monona Junior Feeders 4-H Club, as well as the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative (FFI), through the school district.
Weigand is also a FEEST intern. An acronym for Food Empowerment Education and Sustainability Team, FEEST encourages youth to engage with one another, their communities and local foods through cooking. As a FEEST intern, Weigand plans MFL MarMac’s FEEST dinners.
When Laura Liechty, regional youth and nutrition coordinator for ISU Extension, told Weigand about an opportunity to attend the 4-H Healthy Living Summit in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17-20, Weigand jumped at the chance. “I wanted to get a better idea of the healthy living side of 4-H,” she said.
Weigand’s D.C. adventure began Thursday, Feb. 16. She, Liechty and fellow FFI member Kaci Rausch, from Turkey Valley, toured the Smithsonian Museum and National Archives. They also visited the capitol, where they met U.S. Senator Joni Ernst and District 2 U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack.
“I liked meeting with the representatives,” Weigand shared. “It really opened my eyes to what they have to do. It’s not just about politics.”
Weigand said she was particularly impressed with Ernst’s knowledge about the Beef Expo. “She really knows what’s going on in our state,” Weigand noted. “They really care about people and they do the best they can.”
The following day, after a stop at the Newseum, the group headed to the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Md., to participate in the Healthy Living Summit.
Over the next several days, Weigand said they participated in a variety of activities, including learning sessions with people from other states. Her favorite, entitled “Healthy Living Y’all,” was presented by Tennessee. “Students are ambassadors for healthy living,” she said of the concept. “They go around and talk about promoting healthy living.”
Mississippi presented on cooking camps, which Weigand said she liked for its focus on utilizing local foods. Among the other summit activities was a career panel, which allowed participants to speak with people in careers like dietetics or farming. A keynote speaker presented on healthy living.
“We did a community service project, too,” Weigand said. “We wrote letters of encouragement to homeless children.”
In addition, Weigand and Rausch created a futuristic newspaper heading that declared “All communities in northeast Iowa are food secure.” This approach helped them identify activities they could promote in their communities to help make that a reality, all while using their passions.
Weigand is passionate about creating a cooking club or offering more cooking classes. “I would like to do more cooking clubs, telling people ‘we’re going to learn how to make chicken strips or ranch dressing.’ It’s just as simple, but less processed,” she explained.
Through the Healthy Living Summit, Weigand said she learned “there are a lot more ways to teach about cooking classes and the science of food.” Weigand also discovered that she wants to keep FFI, and all she’s been introduced to through it, in her life as she approaches graduation and considers potential careers.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” she remarked, “but it made me more passionate about what I want to do in Food and Fitness.”
Source: Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times, 3/7/17