Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Passport to the World!

4-H youth and certified volunteers presented their passports at 4-H Clover Customs this summer at Camp Rotary near Monarch.  The 
4-H camp, which offered a global perspective and three-day whirlwind tour of the world, was planned by sixteen 4-H teen camp counselors who were supervised by two camp directors, Marla Holmquist and Lynda Allen, and by the two MSU Extension agents in Teton County, Brent Roeder and Jane Wolery.  The teens developed the camp theme, planned the activities, taught the classes, and supervised younger 4-H members throughout camp.  The sixteen counselors this year included Hanna Antonsen, Katelyn Antonsen, Daniel Asselstine, Delaynie Beadle, Cassidy DeBruycker, Michaela Gunderson, HonorĂ© Holmquist, Nicholas Konen, Hannah Konen, Rebekah Major, Brigid Miller, Caroline Roeder, Watson Snyder, Zane Somerfeld and Annie Townsend. The Teton County 4-H Camp is open to    4-H members in Teton County, as well as non-members. 

HonorĂ© Holmquist and Caroline Roeder taught about the refugee situation around the world from a child’s perspective and led the campers in creating emergency relief hygiene kits that included a thin towel (easier to dry), soap, toothbrushes, combs and nail clippers.  The kits will be donated through a world relief program.  Michaela Gunderson taught an African plant art class featuring the cassava plant and African symbols.  Nicholas Konen led a longitude and latitude string art workshop, and Cassidy DeBruycker told the legend of the Japanese lantern and guided youth in making their own lanterns.  Kirtland Briscoe taught a very fun four-person German dance, followed by Daniel Asselstine and Delaynie Beadle teaching Western two-step and jitterbug classes.  Brigid Miller taught youth how to finger knit and discussed where in the world knitting might have originated and why.  Caroline Roeder gave some earthly etiquette lessons to help 4-H members learn proper customs around the world.  Campers enjoyed an opportunity to use a bow and arrow in an archery session led by Watson Snyder.  4-H members donned gumball leis that Rebekah Major taught them how to make, along with learning the Polynesian art of hula dancing.  Hannah Konen helped youth learn recycling and paper making skills, along with some global communications games.  Youth were able to sample an important world protein source, crickets, during Hanna Antonsen’s class on planet proteins.  Youth also learned about pulse crops and that this is the Year of the Pulse.  Katelyn Antonsen taught youth to make dream catchers, a Native American tradition.  To provide fun, active breaks, Kirtland Briscoe taught some games from around the world, and Annie Townsend coordinated a version of 4-H Olympic Games.  Kirtland Briscoe also taught a class on packing for a variety of adventures.  Zane Somerfeld showed campers how to make pizza planets, which campers enjoyed as they departed camp.

Photo courtesy Daniel Asselstine
Photo courtesy Daniel Asselstine
This whirlwind tour also included stops at flag ceremonies to develop citizenship skills, campfires, singing, vespers and cabin activities.  Each cabin was based on a country, from England to Australia to India and Russia, and counselors planned activities for their cabin based on the country.  Of course, a large portion of the world is made of water, so camp included a water fight.  The camp also included a few 
international flavors and foods.  Camp would not be possible without the adult volunteers, including Lynda Allen, Brad Asselstine, Cathy Campbell, Marla Holmquist, Carolyn Major, Leona Somerfeld, Katie Townsend and Tammy Townsend.  Each adult plays a vital role from camp cook to nurse and everything in between to support the camp counselors as they develop their leadership skills. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How Solid Are Your Finances?

Solid Finances:  2016-2017 Series

Please join the Solid Finances webinar series this year.  We have made a few changes to improve the series. This year North Dakota State University Extension Service joins South Dakota State University ExtensionUniversity of Idaho Extension and Montana State University Extension in sponsoring the series. This new multi-state format will bring new expertise to the series to better serve you.

The 2016-2017 Solid Finances schedule will consist of 18 sessions, with the first session on October 5th.  The first 14 sessions will focus on issues important to residents of all states. The final four sessions will focus on issues specific to participants from Montana and Idaho.  Solid Finances will feature 7 different presenters sharing their expertise and answering your questions.

Lyle Hansen (UI Extension) will open the series on October 5th by addressing Credit ScoresJoel Schumacher (MSU Extension) will lead the next two sessions on Car Loans and Creating a Debt Repayment Plan.  Luke Erickson (UI Extension) and Carrie Johnson (NDSU Extension) will address Kids and Money in November.  Health and Finances will be the focus of three sessions in late November and early December. Retirement and Financial Awareness will be the focus of sessions in January and February.  For a complete schedule please visit:

If you would like to participate in the 2016-2017 series, you will need to register:
  • If you are using the same email address with which you registered last year; please register here
  • If you are registering with a different email address; please register here
There is no cost to participate in the Solid Finances program, howeverregistration is required.

We record all of the sessions in the webinar series.  Recordings of past sessions are available for viewing at:

Here are few participants’ comments about last year’s program:
  • The presenters were very knowledgeable on the topic and quick to answer questions typed it during the webinar.
  • I know what I am supposed to do but actually doing it….well that is where the webinars help keep me inline and on track to follow through.
  • Really appreciate the course instructors' wealth of knowledge & experience on the subject matter being presented.
  • I love the resources that are shared each session.
  • The webinars got me motivated to quit procrastinating.
I hope you will participate in this year’s Solid Finances series.
Please contact me if you have any questions about Solid Finances.

Joel Schumacher

This program is made possible by a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

2016 Montana 4-H Congress

The 2016 Montana 4-H Congress started and ended well for Teton County.  The event began with a Montana 4-H Ambassador meeting where the new slate of State 4-H Officers was announced.  After announcing four officer positions that fourteen youth from across the state were vying for, it was announced that Watson Snyder, of Teton County, was selected as president.  4-H members applying for state officers complete a two-day interview process. 

The second day of Congress, all of the Teton County 4-H delegates competed in contests.  Maria Murnane, Caroline Roeder, Kylee Ruckman, Claire Ruckman and Watson Snyder made up the livestock evaluation team for Teton County, judging several classes of livestock and giving reasons.  Hanna Antonsen competed in the Stir-Ups contest, a “top chef” style cooking event.  Antonsen made zucchini boats using green pulses.  The theme for the event focused on pulse crops, as it is the International Year of the Pulse.  In addition to being judged on her food safety, cooking and plating skills, Antonsen also gave an oral presentation for judges.  Daniel Asselstine competed in the new video contest with his video on the importance of character and what builds character.  The video contest entailed showing a video, giving a presentation on the video and an interview with judges.  An additional benefit to this contest was that one of the judges, Aaron Pruitt with Montana PBS, was very instructional and offered an impromptu tour of the PBS facilities for all video contestants.  Annie Townsend and Hannah Konen both competed in the fashion revue with wool lined ensembles. The fashion revue contestants are judges on sewing, poise, modeling and an interview with judges.

After competitions were completed, Teton County 4-H members enjoyed guest speakers and a range of workshops including robotics, natural resources, agriculture, career exploration and self-defense.  The state contest winners were announced with Teton County Livestock Judging Team placing sixth, Hanna Antonsen placing sixth in Stir-Ups and Daniel Asselstine placing second in video.  During the closing banquet, Kyra Bouma was recognized as a Barbara Edens Memorial 4-H Scholarship winner.  Townsend and Konen modeled their wool outfits in front of a crowd of 400 people.  Konen was announced as the first place winner in the fashion revue, earning trip to National 4-H Congress in Atlanta.  Townsend, who had submitted a state award application, story and creative project, was announces as a 4-H State Award winner in textiles.  She will also attend National 4-H Congress to represent Montana. 

The delegation was chaperoned by Brent Roeder and Jane Wolery, MSU Extension Agents in Teton County.  The group was also joined by Janae Ruckman who assisted with the livestock judging contest, Tammy and Katie Townsend, Jason Asselstine and RT and Susan Snyder.  Jayelyn Ruckman, Teton County 4-H Alum, was in attendance as an MSU Extension intern serving in Gallatin County. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Don't let the TRAINing leave the station without You!

Are you a community, church, 4-H, or school volunteer or teacher who works hard to do your best to keep youth on the track to a successful future?  Do you sometimes find yourself dragging your caboose because of the energy it takes to keep things from derailing? You are invited to get “On Track to Volunteer Success” at the annual Montana 4-H Leadership Forum, which MSU Extension and 4-H in Teton County are helping to plan with other counties in District 3.  The event is September 30-October 2 in Lewistown, Montana.  There are tickets available to several topic tracks and there are OPI (Office of Public Instruction) renewal units available for certified teachers.  Jump on board now and register by August 31 to receive a discounted ticket for $80.  If you need more time to consider, you can get a main cabin registration between September 1 and 14 for $100, and for those bringing up the caboose, registering between September 15 and September 23 the cost will be $150.

On Friday, September 30, the train leaves the station for several different tour locations. Tours at Bear Gulch Pictographs, Bos Terra and a tour of three manufacturing businesses in the heart of Montana, are just three of the eleven tours that should capture the interest of volunteers who serve in a wide variety of roles.  On Saturday, October 1, there are educational tracks including Family Consumer Science, Art, Agriculture, Communications, Science, Natural Resources and some general track items such as curriculum exploration and leadership.

Holly Hoffman, Keynote
Holly Hoffman, Survivor
There will be keynote speakers to keep some steam in your volunteer engine.  Holly Hoffman will help you not only survive, but thrive as a youth volunteer or educator.  Hoffman is the author of Your Winner Within and was a contestant on the Survivor television show.  Hoffman teaches how to focus thoughts, emotions and energy to succeed.  She offers encouragement and optimism and lays the tracks for self-discovery and enlightenment.  She will be the keynote speaker on October 2, as well as teaching one of the workshops on Saturday called, Lead Simply. 

Be sure to get your ticket on the Track to Volunteer Success. Contact MSU Extension in Teton County for more details or look online at  Consider this message your first boarding call.  Thank you to all of you out there who are the conductors and engineers of educational opportunities for youth in our communities.  We appreciate the tracks you are laying with youth as they are fundamental to our future. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Off to a Good Start!

I’ll admit, I wasn’t always a breakfast eater.  When I was growing up, I got on the bus just after 7 a.m. and had an hour on the bus before I got to school.  My stomach didn’t seem to wake until later in the morning.  On weekends, I remember enjoying breakfast more.  My mom made Cream of Wheat or Cream of the West, I'm not sure why, but we were never oatmeal eaters back then.  On a rare occasion, my dad made breakfast.  Though we didn’t camp often, it seemed he always took over breakfast at the campfire and the meals were delicious.  
Oatmeal breakfast to go in jar with one-piece lid and jar of milk!

As an adult, I started eating breakfast consistently when I was eating for two.  That first "baby" is now 15 years old! Once the breakfast-eating habit was formed, it stuck, but I wanted easy items that I could enjoy every day without much hassle.  I also became more interested in adding oats to help with cholesterol levels and to make sure I was getting the recommended fiber in my diet.  Below are some of my favorite, quick, easy, inexpensive, whole grain options. 

For the past year, I have alternated between some of my favorite oatmeal recipes.  I generally make the recipe on Sunday and then portion into containers for easy "grab and go" breakfasts.  I'm a big fan of canning jars with one-piece, reusable plastic lids for transporting breakfast.  These containers and recipes work well for freezing in individual portions, too.  I typically eat breakfast at work around 9 a.m.  If you don't need a transportable breakfast, many of these recipes are easy to make in a pan and store in the refrigerator with a lid to enjoy at home.  

Baked Berry and Peach Oatmeal

3 c. old rolled oats
½ c. brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 whole eggs
1 ¼ c. skim milk
¼ c. canola oil or applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 can peaches chopped (I use kitchen shears to chop in the jar and use the juice and all)
1 c fresh or frozen berries (my personal favorite are huckleberries)
A few finely chopped nuts can also be added

Yum!  Peaches, huckleberries and oats!
In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  Whisk eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, peaches and berries.  Bake in 9x13 cake pan lightly coated with spray.  Bake at 350 degrees F, for 35-40 minutes. This recipe has been a hit when I’ve made it for 4-H members.  A light sprinkle of cinnamon goes great with this oatmeal and milk. 

Steel Cut Oats

1 c. steel cut oats
3 c. hot water

In a bread pan, mix oats and water.  Put in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  When done, stir and put ½ to 1 cup in pint-size canning jars with lids and refrigerate.  To serve, add chia seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, dried blueberries or chopped nuts.  To add extra fiber, dice a few apples and treat them with a fruit preserver (Fruit Fresh or lemon juice) to keep them from browning and put them in a container in the fridge.  Each morning, heat the oatmeal in the microwave for a few seconds, stir in a spoon of yogurt, add the diced apples and any other extras.  Eat from the jar.  Each morning, hot oatmeal, dairy, fruit and only one dish to clean!

Steel Cut Oats

3 ½ to 4 c. water
1 c. steel cut oats

Place in slow cooker on low for 8 hours.  Can serve them with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. This same recipe can be made in the oven by placing items in a baking dish in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. Stir once about 30 minutes into cooking time

 Make Your Own Oatmeal Packets

4 c. Rolled Oats
Chia seeds
Sugar (brown or white)
Dried Fruit

Quick cook oats can be used, but I had rolled oats on hand when I made these packets.  Put rolled oats in blender or food processor (I used about 4 cups).  Blend for a bit, until you get some fine powder and some regular oat shapes.  You could probably powderize about 1 c. of oats and then add 3 cups regular or quick cook oats to that powder.  The powder should make a creamier and faster cooking product.  If doing different flavors of packets, take about ½ c. of the oats and put in snack-size bags or containers.  I think I’m going to try half-pint jars with one piece lids next time I make these, so that I have my serving container for adding the water.  Add about 1 tsp of sugar, dried fruits, nuts, chia seeds, etc. per each “packet.” If doing all the same, mix “extra”  (fruit/seeds/nuts/sugar) ingredients into one large container with oats and then portion out 2/3 c. or so into snack-size bags.  I like dried blueberries, cranberries, chopped pecans, chia seeds and brown sugar in my oatmeal packets. You’ll have to experiment with the sugar for a bigger batch or just add it to each portion.  When ready to use, pour contents of packet into a bowl, add hot water and let sit until oatmeal is creamy.  Not only will making your own oatmeal packets save you sugar in your diet, they will also save you money.  Making your own is generally far less expensive. 

Baked Oatmeal

1 can pears pureed in blender
2 ½ cup milk
2 ½ cups sugar (brown or white, honey also works as substitute)
4 egg whites
7 ½ cups oatmeal
5 tsp. baking powder
2 ½ tsp. salt

Mix together sugar, sugar and eggs.  Add oatmeal, baking powder, salt, milk and cinnamon.  Put in 9 x 13-inch pan that has been greased.  Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes.  Can be frozen in individual portions to be heated later.  This is a recipe I adapted.  I was looking to reduce the oil, since I eat oats to help my cholesterol levels.  A can of pears (canned in juice) happened to be sitting on my counter as I analyzed the recipe.  I decided to blend it and try it out.  It worked well.  I think other types of fruit could be blended and used as a substitute for the pears. I've had friends who have reported peaches and apricots also work well.  

Baked Oatmeal from Glenn Deuchler

6 cups old fashioned oatmeal
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. honey
¾ c. egg substitute or 4 whole eggs
2 tsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
½ c. oil
½ c. apple sauce
1 c. raisins (optional)
2 c. bran cereal (optional)
1 ½ c milk (separate into 1 c. and ½ c.)

Stir all together.  Dry ingredients first, then liquid ingredients.  Use 1 c. of milk with all other liquid ingredients.  Mix all together well.  Add additional ½ c. of milk (approximately) to create a consistency like bread pudding.  Grease 9x9 pan.  Bake in oven at 375 degrees F for approximately 45 minutes, or until center is set (if toothpick comes out clean, it is set).  Enjoy!

Hit the Road Oatmeal

Last summer, I was trying to keep up with healthy whole grain breakfasts, but we leave super early on Saturday mornings for swim meets.  On a whim, I made oatmeal in a wide mouth thermos and packed along a container of fixings (brown sugar, chopped pecans, cranberries and a spoon).  I was surprised how well it worked.

½ c. rolled oats
1 c. hot (near boiling) water

Put oats and water in a thermos.  Wait a few minutes (or until you reach your destination).  Stir in extras and enjoy. 

Whole Wheat Cereal
1 c. cleaned raw wheat
2 c. water
½ tsp salt

Cook overnight in slow cooker on low.  Can triple. Remainder keeps in refrigerator. Reheat portions needed for cereal or use as ingredients in soups or salads. Can replace dry beans as in chili or rice in many dishes.

Cooked Wheat Berries
1 c. raw whole kernel wheat berries
5 c. water
½ tsp. salt

Rub slow cooker wall with 1 Tbsp. butter. Cover the ingredients and cook on low 8-9 hours. Cook until tender. Drain and cool. Cover; store in refrigerator or freeze to use in recipes, thaw first.

There are so many ways to get off to a good start nutritionally in the mornings!  I hope you enjoy these recipes and ideas and use the comment space to share some of your own.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Canning the Montana Meat Harvest

Growing up, my family raised beef.  I would guess about 85% of our meals were beef-based.  No one in my family did much hunting or fishing.  A few of the hired hands occasionally enjoyed hunting, so every once in a while, we would get some delicious elk jerky or deer salami as a treat.  Not only did we have several cuts of beef in the freezer at all times, we also had meat stored in our food room on the shelves in jars. (We lived pretty far from town, so it really was a room, not a pantry.  We had both a food storage room and root cellar in the basement. We could have been stranded on the farm for months and we would not have starved. )

My mom always canned beef.  I didn't pay much attention to the canning process, until I got older, but I always loved the soft, tender, juicy canned beef.  Mom would open the cans, boil the meat (as an extra precaution) and serve with noodles and soy sauce.

According to the USDA, "If it is possible that any deviation from the USDA-endorsed methods occurred, to prevent the risk of botulism, low-acid and tomato foods should be boiled in a
saucepan before consuming even if you detect no signs of spoilage. At altitudes below 1,000 ft, boil foods for 10 minutes. Add an additional minute of boiling time for each additional 1,000 ft elevation. However, this is not intended to serve as a recommendation for consuming foods known to be significantly underprocessed according to current standards and recommended methods. It is not a guarantee that all possible defects and hazards with non-recommended methods can be overcome by
this boiling process."

The USDA gives the following directions:
"All low-acid foods canned according to the approved recommendations may be eaten without boiling them when you are sure of all the following:

  • Food was processed in a pressure canner.
  • Gauge of the pressure canner was accurate.
  • Up-to-date researched process times and pressures were used for the size of jar, style of pack, and kind of food being canned.
  • The process time and pressure recommended for sterilizing the food at your altitude was followed.
  • Jar lid is firmly sealed and concave.
  • Nothing has leaked from jar.
  • No liquid spurts out when jar is opened.
  • No unnatural or “off” odors can be detected."

I do know families who process their meat and then, without boiling, add mayonnaise and make it into a sandwich spread.  While that sounds delicious, I am like my mom and I always like to take that extra precaution of boiling.

My upbringing on beef didn't deter me from canning game meat when it has been available to me.  I have canned venison and elk and find I like it just as well as, if not better than, the canned beef I grew up eating.

Meat is a low acid food and must be pressure canned.  Acidic foods are hot water bath processed. Some people find pressure canning intimidating, but it is actually pretty easy.  Honestly, meat is one of the easiest products to can.  I generally do a raw pack, so it is a matter of putting the meat cubes in the jar, sealing with a lid and starting the processing.  Once while I was canning, a neighbor stopped over and watched the process.  She could not believe how simple it was.  Her family does quite a bit of hunting and fishing and they have since started to can portions of their harvest.  It is a great way to preserve meat tying up the freezer.  (The meat doesn't have to be pressure processed right away, it can be frozen first, until a more convenient time -- provided you have the freezer space.)

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has prepared this video on canning meat from your hunting and fishing.

Right now I'm thinking about using a can of meat to prepare supper. When my Mom cooked the meat and noodles, it was a nice, simple meal with salad and veggies added. My family also enjoyed canned Flathead cherries as a dessert. I know it was great to have the canned goods when Mom had lots of mouths at the table and little time to prepare.  It was not uncommon for 8-12 people to be around our farm table.  Lots of good food and stories passed around that table! Fortunately, some good food preservation skills got ingrained, too.

You can find MontGuides here for your food preservation needs or you can access the National Center for Home Food Preservation or the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning.  While home canning and food preservation is relatively simple, there are still some scientific principles at work and food safety concerns, so be sure to follow tested, recommended guidelines and recipes from reliable sources.  Also, remember to get your dial-gauge pressure canner tested for accurahere to find an MSU Extension Office near you and call to see if they offer the free pressure canner testing service.
cy yearly. Click

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Depression: What’s the hook?

When we teach the Powerful Tools for Caregivers class, one of the assignments for caregivers is to make an action plan to do something they enjoy each week.  Sometimes when we care for others, particularly in long-term caregiving situations, we can “lose ourselves” in the process.  The focus is so much about the other person that slowly parts of us erode away.  One of my colleagues tells about a caregiver who had “lost herself” for so long that she could not even remember anything that she enjoyed.  My colleague prompted the participant, “Did you ever do any crafts?  Sewing, knitting, crochet?”  As it turned out, the woman used to enjoy crocheting.  The instructor asked her to use crocheting as her action plan for enjoyment.  The woman balked.  She didn’t think she could do that.  In a stroke of inspiration, the teacher said, “Do you think you can either find or buy a crochet hook sometime this week?”  Sometimes, you just have to start somewhere.  

Graphic used under license agreement from
As it turned out the caregiver found her crochet hook, and with it she found some skeins of yarn.  Eventually she found a few minutes to start crocheting.  Before she knew it, she was taking a bag of crocheting supplies with her to her husband’s medical appointments.  She still enjoyed crocheting!  When she found the crochet hook, she started to find a little part of herself that she had lost along the way.  
Sometimes depression can be a slow losing of yourself or a lack of joy and enjoyment. I have been reading about depression and one author suggested finding four things you can enjoy each day.  I think of the woman and the crochet hook.  When you are truly depressed, finding one thing may seem daunting.  A booklet from the National Institute of Health, explains that depression affects different people in different ways.  Depression is a real illness that is treatable.  And, if you have depression, you are not alone.  According to a Center for Disease Control site, during 2009–2012, 7.6% of Americans aged 12 and over had depression (moderate or severe depressive symptoms in the past 2 weeks). Depression was more prevalent among females and persons aged 40–59.
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities is just one of the signs of depression.  A persistent sad or empty feeling, along with feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness can be signs of depression.  Decreased energy and difficulty concentrating or sleeping are also symptoms and are worthy to note, particularly when these symptoms stretch out over several weeks.  Depression not only affects mood, but also cognitive abilities and can manifest in physical symptoms.  

There are many components that play a factor in depression, as well as multiple types of depression.  Depression can be different throughout the lifespan.  While there is much to study and learn about depression, one of the most important things to know is that depression is treatable.  The treatments may be as varied as the individuals who have depression.  I met a person once who even used an app on his phone to assist his mental health.  More commonly, though, treatment for depression includes medication or one of several types of therapies, or a combination of medication and mental health counseling therapies.

If you feel you have been dealing with depression, be sure to consult with a medical or mental health professional to see what therapies and/or medications might be recommended for you.  As well, there are some other things you can try.  Being active and exercising can provide a huge mental boost.  Spending time with others can be an uplifting activity.  Doing something good for someone else can go a long way to make you feel better.  Of course, doing something you enjoy or used to enjoy is particularly important.  

If you are feeling depressed, you need to find your “crochet hook,” whatever that positive thing might be in your life.  Like a string of yarn, you may feel unraveled or knotted up, but seek help until you find the pattern that works for you and your depression.  

The links below may be the hook you need for help:

Depression and College Students
Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens
Bipolar Disorder
Depression in Women