Youth and Families

The articles below are Mary Loftis's weekly columns related to youth and families. For more information on any of these topics or activities contact Nebraska Extension in Burt County at 402-374-2929 or contact your local Nebraska Extension office.


May 17, 2017

Name that Food!

          Local schools are winding down for the year and some special annual events mark the end of the classroom year. One of these last week was the Tekamah-Herman Elementary Health Fair. School Nurse, Kathy Chatt has organized this activity for approximately 10 years, although it didn’t start out as an every year event. I’ve been involved with it as I offer the 4-H program as an excellent summer (and year round) activity for not only the students to be involved in but the entire family as well.

          My Health Fair presentations throughout the years have included topics such as: household poisons, making good snacking choices, “Think Your Drink” where sugar amounts are compared between popular beverages including one year having the students measure the amount of sugar contained in a bottle of soft drink. I’ve also done a similar demonstration showing how the sugar in beverages slows the absorption of the liquid compared to plain water when you need to rehydrate, especially during hot summer activities.

          This year I focused on fruits and vegetables. The students did a wonderful job with my Name that Food quiz, with every grade correctly naming everything from blackberries to kiwi and peppers to radishes as I pulled them out of the box. We discussed which ones you had to harvest out of the ground (carrots, potatoes and radishes) which grow on trees (pears, apples, etc.) and which grow on vines (grapes).

I got myself in trouble when I decided at the last minute to include kiwi as one of my fruits when we discussed how and where the fruits and vegetables grew. I honestly didn’t know how kiwi grew and from the blank looks the teachers gave me, they didn’t either! So I challenged some of the early groups to look it up and make sure I found out so I could learn at school too! (They reported later that kiwi grow on vines.)

          During these events I always try to offer a nutritious snack they can recreate at home. This year I engaged them in the “Food Fear Factor.”  I challenged them to eat at least a bite of the three Fear Factor Foods I had prepared. The foods I offered were small slices of yellow pepper, red pepper and celery. After they took a small bite of each they were welcome to use the ranch dip to possibly help them enjoy it even more. Those that completed the Fear Factor Food challenge got a high five and there were lots of them to give! The kids were great even though some either wouldn’t taste them, spit them out or still didn’t like them, but many of them said “Hey, I like that!” which made the two hours of cutting veggies for 260 students worthwhile!

These Tekamah-Herman first graders take on the “Food Fear Factor Challenge” as they try yellow and red peppers and celery during the Elementary Health Fair last week. Only a few were less than eager for the challenge as shown by some of the skeptical faces.


April 30, 2017

Home Alone Program

These three Tekamah-Herman 3rd graders work on making a fruit dip during the final session of the Home Alone Program presented by Mary Loftis, NE Extension Associate.

Mixing the yogurt, cinnamon and brown sugar for the fruit dip were: Landon, Grant and Lily Ann.


April 28, 2017

School and Food Prep Programs

It’s nearly the end of the school year and getting all those school programs completed has kept me on the run lately. I’ve been doing the Embryology project in the Tekamah-Herman 2nd Grades, Lyon’s Third Grades and in Oakland-Craig with the 4th grades and the High School Animal Science classes.

The Staying Home Alone Program is wrapping up with the healthy snacks session in Tekamah-Herman and Oakland-Craig’s 3rdgrades. After completing their Home Alone program book homework with their parents the students receive a coupon to get a free ice cream cone at D’Moore Pizza in Tekamah or for the Oakland-Craig students, at Andy’s Quik Stop in Oakland. Having the opportunity to discuss these important safety issues with their family members through the homework assigned in the program often leads to new understanding about the risks of staying home alone.

The Babysitting Workshop got a great start last week with an excellent group of pre-babysitters. I say “pre-babysitters” because the students are still very young, but they are able to start helping take care of older children as well as taking on some of the additional responsibilities babysitting requires. This week we will have a nurse and police officer visit as part of the program.

The food preparation part of the programs keeps me thinking especially when I am juggling 3 programs at the same time. Getting the right supplies in the right box and out of the refrigerator for the right group is a constant challenge! Then there’s the clean up!


April 28, 2017

Babysitting Clinic

This fun group of potential babysitters took part in the Burt County Babysitting Clinic last week in Tekamah and made Apple Smiles for their snack.

Showing off their smiles, both real and with their apple slices are: Piper, Amy, Shea and John.

Tekamah Deputy Police Chief Joshua Bailey shared information about safety and when to call 911 at the Burt County Babysitting Clinic last week in Tekamah.

Participants were eager to ask questions and share stories during his portion of the workshop.

Hannah practices dislodging an object from a choking infant during the Burt County Babysitting Clinic in Tekamah last week.

Sara Cameron RN from Oakland Mercy Hospital shared safety and first aid information along with hands on practice opportunities on CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver at this week’s session.

During the final session of the Burt County Babysitting Clinic participants watched a live diapering demonstration before trying their hands with a doll.

Hopefully this “committee” of future babysitters will soon feel comfortable handling this necessary skill.


February 9, 2017

The last few weeks have really been busy for me with a wide variety of activities.

PSA Radio Taping

Also last week I helped provide the opportunity for six young 4-H speakers to record a

4-H promotional public service announcement which will be aired on West Point Radio during Burt County 4-H Week, February 19-25. Taping their spots with professionalism that belies their young ages were: Cody Bachtell, Michael Bracht, Madison Enstrom and Faith, Paul and John Roscoe. Of course we celebrated their achievement with ice cream after the taping. What a great opportunity to see our young members shine!

Connecting the Dots – A Career Exploration Day

Another article gives much more information on this wonderful day watching 9th and 10th grade students from Tekamah-Herman and Lyons-Decatur really see the opportunities available to them in the future thanks to this outstanding program. The counsel and assistance provided by the local “potential employers” during this program was outstanding. Sharing part of their day with the students were: Cindy Chatt, Janis Connealy, Matt Connealy, Dan Frink, Scott Herbolsheimer, Doug Johnson, Jill Johnson, Ben Kreifels, Steve Loftis, Bob Pickell Scott and Susie Robison and Kyle Walton as well as several Nebraska Extension staff members filling in when a couple others had last minute conflicts. Outstanding help from the community helps make an outstanding program. We are truly lucky to have such a great community.

4-H Achievement Celebration – Sunday, February 19!!

Everyone is invited to help wrap up the 2016 4-H year and kick off the 2017 4-H year at our annual 4-H Achievement/Kickoff Celebration. It will be held Sunday, February 19 at the Oakland Auditorium. Fun activities will start off the event at 4:00 p.m. including your chance to participate in a wide variety of “Minute To Win It” games. Don’t come late or you may not have time to try them all out! At 5:00 we will present our 4-H individual, leader and club awards. We’ll finish up the day with a pizza supper at 5:30 so you can be on your way home by 6:00 or shortly after! Call the Nebraska Extension Office at 402-374-2929 by Friday, February 17th to let us know how many from your family plan to attend and then bring a friend too!

Lee Valley Auction – Thursday, February 16 – WE NEED YOU!

The 2017 winter Lee Valley Auction will be held this Thursday, February 16. The Flying Needles 4-H Club will staff the lunch stand at the auction . This has been a major fundraiser for many different 4-H groups over the years. We’re not sure we have quite enough people to run a smooth operation, so if you or someone from your club would be available to help it would be most appreciated. Please call the Extension office at 402.374.2929 if you are available to help.


February 8, 2017

Connecting the Dots: A Career Exploration Day

Ninth and tenth grade students from Tekamah-Herman and Lyons-Decatur Northeast Schools participated in “Connecting the Dots: A Career Exploration Day” on February 6 in Tekamah, NE. This program was brought to the schools through a partnership between the Nebraskan Indian Community College (NICC) and Nebraska Extension to help area youth gain a better grasp on their future.

The interactive career exploration simulation program is designed to help students learn more about careers of interest as well as how to “connect the dots” from where they are now through postsecondary study, to the workplace. The students experienced a “real life” simulation to learn how their high school choices impact their post-secondary study and their workplace experiences. They came to the event with a specific career field they felt they were interested in. Then they had the opportunity to learn more about their favorite careers and possibly some careers they had never considered.

Students were able to learn about the importance of networking as they begin to prepare for their careers, especially with the 14 local business presenters that came in from the community to talk and teach the youth about their specific career. These local professionals included people from a variety of fields such as human services, industrial technology, agriculture, and education. They also shared personal comments and suggestions including: “Don’t be afraid to try something new.” “Just because you start out on a career path, don’t let that stop you from changing directions to find something you really like.” “Find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Through breakout sessions they built work readiness skills including resume building and evaluation and personality traits. All of these were ways of having fun learning together and helping them understand their own strengths and weaknesses and how that might relate to a successful future career.

For more information on “Connecting the Dots” programming contact Nebraska Extension in Burt County at 402-374-2929 or ask a local student about their experience.


January 2, 2017

Just Say NO to NOROVIRUS!                                    

Barf Bucket Food Safety Training for Child Care Providers

You may have heard of Norovirus.  You may have experienced Norovirus. You should know you do not want to experience Norovirus twice!

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus. Those who contact this nasty bug may experience gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines). This leads to diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Some people may get severely dehydrated, especially young children, the elderly, and people with other illnesses.

Norovirus is commonly known as suffering from “food poisoning” or the “stomach flu”.  Noroviruses can cause food poisoning, as can other germs and chemicals. Norovirus illness is not related to the flu (influenza). Though they may share some symptoms, the flu is actually a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.

It only takes a very small amount of the norovirus particles to make you sick and it can spread easily and quickly in enclosed places such as day care centers, nursing homes, schools, and cruise ships.

Norovirus can stay on objects and surfaces and still infect people for days or weeks. It can survive disinfectants, making it hard to get rid of. It is important to clean up bodily fluids safely to avoid spreading illness especially in a child care setting.

Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Department of Education CACFP Program will be offering a “Barf Bucket” Training for Child Care Providers on Wednesday, January 25, at the Burt County Extension Office, Courthouse, in Tekamah; Thursday, January 26, at the Dodge County Extension Office, 1206 West 23rd Street, Fremont; Monday, January 30, at the Colfax County Extension Office, 466 Road 10, Schuyler; and Tuesday, January 31, at the Stanton County Extension Office, 302 6th Street, Stanton. All people that work with children in groups such as churches, libraries, afterschool programs, etc. are invited to attend the training and learn how to use the barf bucket and supplies properly   

          The “Barf Bucket” Body Fluid Cleanup Kit training includes information on how to use the bucket appropriately, and how to train your staff to utilize it.  Each child care center/home will receive one bucket which contains items that, when used properly, limit the spread of infectious disease. This information is designed to train all staff on the correct use of the cleanup kit. The class is offered to centers, in-home child care and pre-schools. A center may choose to bring more than one person but only one bucket will be given per center/program.

This training is designed to teach all child care staff and people working with children in group settings on the importance of the proper way to clean up bodily fluids to avoid spreading disease. Cost is $10 per person.

For more information on how to register for this child care provider training, contact Debra Schroeder, Nebraska Extension in Cuming County, at 402/372-6006 or  Registrations are due by January 24, 2017

SOURCE:  Debra E Schroeder, Extension Educator

RELEASE DATE:  January 2, 2017


July 15, 2016

Fundraiser for Nesemeier Family

The Craig Fire Department with the help of the Craig Alder Grove Church Parish, Oakland-Craig FFA and Argo 4-H Club will be holding a benefit fundraiser for the Steve and Terry Nesemeier family of Craig. Their home and all their belongings were lost in a recent fire. Beef burgers, beans, chips, salads and desserts will be served on Sunday, July 24 at the Craig Fire Hall from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Silent auction items are being collected by Ericka Pickell at 402-377-0555. For other questions contact Cheri Johansen at: 402-870-1711 or Mary Loftis at: 402-380-0093.