A challenge for healthy living

John Lawrence’s message from Aug. 6, 2018

A lot of people recently completed a race across Iowa. No, I don’t mean RAGBRAI; that’s a ride and this year the route covered only 428 miles. I’m talking about a greater challenge that had more than 2,000 4-H’ers and staff crisscrossing the state (figuratively, anyway) and earning up to 3,000 “miles” as they made changes for healthier living – for themselves, their families and their communities. From Nov. 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, these folks competed in the 4-H Race Across Iowa, a healthy living club challenge. Did you know?

  • The route connected a community in each extension region, starting in Region 1 and zigzagging across the state to Region 17, covering 1,400 miles (according to Google Maps). Clubs were challenged to earn at least 1,400 miles during the eight months of competition.
  • Clubs earned miles by setting goals and completing challenges at their monthly club meetings, gaining 75 miles for offering water, 100 miles for having fruit or vegetables as a snack, and 125 miles for coordinated or structured physical activity.
  • Bonus challenges involved other areas of wellness and well-being, including social (teambuilding), emotional (brain and mental health), and community outreach by engaging others in healthy living. For example, the KW Hustlers from Clarke County made potted gardens as gifts for food pantry patrons. Riverside Rockets from Fremont County were “Health Heroes” in a local parade, promoting the benefits of healthy choices to their community. Jackson Wise Owls from Jones County built raised garden beds for a care center so residents in wheelchairs could tend to the garden.
  • 4-H healthy living specialist Laura Liechty said 127 clubs and county extension office staff teams from 42 counties participated, and 71 reached at least 1,400 miles; 10 clubs reached the maximum 3,000 miles. All participating clubs are invited to a recognition event during 4-H Healthy Living Day Aug. 11 in the 4-H Exhibits Building at the Iowa State Fair.

4-H healthy living programming focuses not only on physical well-being practices, such as nutrition and exercise, but also encompasses all areas of wellness and well-being, as young people learn to make healthy life choices. This 4-H Race Across Iowa may have been imaginary, but the 4-H’ers’ enthusiasm for pledging their health to better living is real.

Interim 4-H leadership

Iowa 4-H has recently undergone a leadership transition. Andrea Nelson, director of Region 13, will serve as interim program leader while a national search is conducted for a permanent successor. Andrea has served in a variety of leadership roles with ISU Extension and Outreach in Polk County and Region 13. In addition to working directly with Iowa 4-H, she also served as county youth coordinator, where she managed a network of 200 adult volunteers to provide educational experiences for urban Polk County youth. Andrea brings more than 15 years of experience building working relationships with individuals and groups inside and outside of ISU Extension and Outreach. As a regional director, she has experience with both urban and rural counties and has served on numerous state committees. Under Andrea’s leadership, 4-H Youth Development at Iowa State University will continue its long and successful record of engaging young people across the state.

More notes

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

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