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Extending Opportunities

September 5, 2019
woman working in a garden
Cent$ible Nutrition Educator Kelly Pingree.

UW Extension provides a host of outreach education options—from nutrition to agriculture.

By Micaela Myers

On the Wind River Indian Reservation, they are growing not only gardens but also Junior Master Gardeners. During farmers markets, parents now have a little extra time to shop, as children enjoy hands-on 4-H activities. Agriculture producers attend tailored workshops, and families learn to cook healthy affordable meals. All this and more is offered by University of Wyoming Extension—a leader in outreach education.

Growing Gardeners

Extension offers two youth-gardening projects on the reservation—one with the Eastern Shoshone Boys and Girls Club and one with the Northern Arapaho Tribe and Wyoming Indian Schools. Students in both programs are going through the Junior Master Gardeners curriculum.

“The ultimate goal is that these kids learn how to grow a garden, take care of it and eat the fruits of their labor,” says Amanda Hitshew-Small, who focuses on natural resources and 4-H youth development for UW Extension on the Wind River reservation. “We’re also going to have chickens,” she says.

The second project is a partnership with the Northern Arapaho Diabetes Awareness Program and Wyoming Indian Schools. A grant-funded hoop greenhouse helps youth with a longer growing season. Some of the project will take place at Wyoming Indian High School, where there’s a heated greenhouse.

“Some of the food we’re hoping we can put right back in the schools,” Hitshew-Small says. “We’re also going to try to do some Native food gathering. We’ll pick chokecherries and other foods that are Native and indigenous, so we’ll teach the kids about edible plants. They’ll have cooking lessons. We also set up a beehive so we can talk about pollinators.”


Nutritious and Affordable

To support adult gardening, Extension’s Cent$ible Nutrition Program partnered with the Eastern Shoshone 477 Program to get a hoop house donated and start a gardening project that went from 12 families to 20. Cent$ible Nutrition is also partnering with White Buffalo Recovery Center to create a hoop house and garden.

Families gain knowledge about affordable meals via the Cent$ible Nutrition Program. “Cent$ible Nutrition teaches low-income families how to stretch that SNAP benefit dollar every month,” says Nutrition Educator Kelly Pingree, who is based in Fort Washakie. “We teach cooking classes along with healthy eating and recipes.”

The free adult classes take place once a week for eight weeks, and participants each take home a cookbook and goody bag of kitchen items.

man tending vine plants
Terry Roberts works in the garden that Cent$ible Nutrition helped support at the 477 Program.

“We also teach menu planning and how to look at prices and compare—lots of things to do with nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle,” Pingree says. “We also incorporate physical activity in our lessons.”

In addition, Cent$ible Nutrition teaches second-, third- and fourth-grade public school students about nutrition via a series of lessons that are tailored for each grade.


Youth 4-H

Hitshew-Small is working to grow the 4-H program on the reservation. Founded in 1902, 4-H is a practical and hands-on program for youth development. In addition to a club, the 4-H program had a summer camp and is active at the farmers markets.

“We’re trying a thing called 4-H at the market,” she says. “We travel around and have hands-on activities and crafts—mostly trying to expose people to 4-H. It also gives parents the opportunity to shop a little more at the farmers market.”

This summer’s camp included several days of crafts and projects, such as cooking, building rockets, beading and leathercraft.


Workshops and More

In addition to ongoing programing, UW Extension offers a number of one-time workshops to meet a variety of needs—from gardening to pest management to agriculture-related marketing and livestock nutrition.

Food preservation classes are also popular. Classes help tribal members learn to preserve the produce they grow to enjoy in the colder months.

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