Breckenridge Texan

AgriLife Extension offers variety of healthy living programs for Stephens County kids, adults

AgriLife Extension offers variety of healthy living programs for Stephens County kids, adults
January 27
15:04 2022

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

From gardening and cooking to walking and playing tennis, the Stephens County AgriLife Extension Service offers a variety of activities for local residents of all ages.

Sumer Russell, the Stephens County Family and Community Health Extension Agent, presented her annual report to the County Commissioners on Monday morning and detailed the organization’s 2021 projects.

Children’s Programs

Third graders at South Elementary plant vegetables in their Learn Grow Eat Go garden as part of an AgriLife Extension project. (Photo courtesy of Sumer Russell/AgriLife Extension)

The Extension Service continued to work with Breckenridge Independent School District for its Learn Grow Eat Go program. The gardening project originally started at North Elementary but was moved to South Elementary when the school district consolidated the schools in 2020. Also, last year, the gardens were rebuilt.

Russell works with the students to plant and grow a variety of vegetables.

“Once they grow their own garden, they harvest it and then we take all of our vegetables and we put them into recipes,” she said. “And then they get to taste the vegetables. And the biggest thing about this that you see when you’re in there is the response of students…they taste these vegetables that they’ve never had. So that is, I feel like, our biggest achievement … giving the kids the experience of tasting these vegetables and giving them an idea of what eating healthy is, and being able to do it from the ground up.”

Additionally, the students research all the vegetables in their garden to understand vitamins and the nutrition each plant provides, displaying that information in the gardens on their vegetable stakes (donated by Higginbotham’s), Russell said. During the program, they learn about the USDA’s My Plate food groups and how to create healthy, balanced meals at home.

Also, during the summer, the Extension Service offers several workshops for children, focusing on topics such as cooking, arts and crafts.

As part of the 4-H organization, Russell works with students on a variety of interests, including robotics, sewing, photography, horse club and livestock show projects.

Adult Programs

For the adults in the community, the Family and Community Health department of the Extension Service lives up to its name, concentrating on topics related to health, fitness and nutrition.

Each year, Russell organizes the local Walk Across Texas program, which encourages residents to join teams and walk or do some other exercise at least five times a week for at least 30 minutes a day. In 2021, 37 people participated in the program.

Also, this past year, she added the Play and Talk program, during which 15 participants gathered to play tennis and then talk about healthy eating. The eight-week program was so successful that she plans to offer it again this year.

For more information about children or adult programs through the Extension Service, visit the Healthy Living in Stephens County Facebook page or the Stephens County 4-H Facebook page or call the Extension office at 254-559-2313.


Cutline, top photo: Sumer Russell, the Stephens County Family and Community Health Extension agent, presents her annual report to the Stephens County Commissioners on Monday, Jan. 24. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan/Breckenridge Texan)


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