TN 4-H’ers are learning about cooking and culture virtually

Creating delicious food is a valuable talent, no matter your age. Some Tennessee 4-H members are gaining kitchen skills through a virtual cooking lesson.

On tonight’s virtual menu-- southwest cuisine, coming via your computer screen. Homemade potatoes tacos, tortilla, salsa, and churros. Cooked in kitchens in Arizona, and seen nearly 1,500 miles away in the “Volunteer State.”

“For me, I just wanted to learn how to cook better,” 4-H’er Emily Lawrence stated. “I know here in Tennessee, we do southern foods a lot, and for me to just be able to learn, really.”

Lawrence was one of about three dozen teens representing both states on this 4-H Zoom cooking lesson.

As the Tennessee kids watched and listened, they also created the dishes themselves in their homes.

“I think it’s an important skill to learn because as you grow up, I feel like that’s just a basic and natural skill that everyone should know,” Hayden Wilson explains.

Arizona 4-H agent Liz Sparks was one of the online instructors, coming live from her own kitchen, which must smell delicious. She leads a project in Tucson where gardeners grow fresh vegetables that her 4-H’ers then cook and consume.

“We have a farm called Tucson Village Farm, and it’s a 4-H program here in Pima County where we have several acres under cultivation, and we teach kids to grow, prepare, and eat fresh foods,” Sparks states.

During the pandemic 4-H went virtual, like so much of the world. This cooking lesson is a prime example. Agents want kids to safely experience 4-H and to keep learning.

According to Tennessee 4-H’s Shelby Brawner, “This is just a great opportunity for, once again, kids to do something virtually, but also with their families too, or siblings.”

Brawner like the opportunity for Tennessee 4-H’ers to see what life is like in another part of the country.

“Part of this is, of course, the kitchen skills and those kind of life lessons that we learn, but it’s also kind of the cultural experience as well, somewhere else in the United States, what their typical kind of supper or family meal looks like.”

It was an evening with a duel benefit-- learning cooking and culture.