Family Focus in the Garden; National 4H Week

San Antonio Express News
Gardening, Etc.
Sunday, October 3, 2004

Sometimes our lives are so busy, we feel torn between our hectic lifestyles and our desire to spend more time with family. There are several gardening activities that families can participate in together, and consequently improve the quality of time that they do have together.

A really nice tradition seemed to emerge in the late 70’s…the planting of a tree to celebrate the birth of a child. The growth of the tree reflects, and can be associated with, and compared to, the growth of the child. One day, the tree will provide a cool, shady place for the child and the family to enjoy playing games or just relaxing together.

You can teach children the names of plants by making a game out of it. The “A B C” game can be a learning experience for both the children and the parents. The A might be for alyssum, B for begonia, C for chrysanthemum and so on. Try incorporating a characteristic for each plant, in addition to identifying it by name. This is a good way to teach children which plants are harmful, which plants provide food for birds, butterflies and animals, which plants require less water, etc. Children can learn their colors, counting, time of day, seasons…the possibilities are endless!

Planting a vegetable garden is a wonderful way to bring the family together. Children will not only realize the work and care needed to produce food, but the hands-on experience will also give them a sense of accomplishment. Children that participate in growing their own vegetables will learn to eat more vegetables, and may be encouraged to develop healthier eating habits.

Parents can teach children about sharing through gardening. The family can share fresh produce with friends and family members, neighbors or the local food bank. Since many holiday projects and gifts can be made from plant life, this gives children a creative outlet to explore, in addition to sharing with others. Growing gourds to make birdhouses is one way to share gifts from the garden. Making pictures with pressed flower is a fun activity for children, too. There are a number of books available at the library and your favorite bookstore on this subject. Children will experience a real sense of accomplishment, and appreciation by sharing plants with others. These positive motivations could possibly result in the child developing a real love of gardening.

Gardening is a wonderful way for families to grow together. It can merge generations and provide a common denominator between the young and the elderly. Gardening can teach a child responsibility, a sense of nurturing, sharing, and help develop a more positive self-esteem.

Gardening can be fun and educational for the entire family. Let your family bloom in the garden.

National 4-H Week is October 3 – 9, 2004

For many, 4-H still conjures up a low-tech image of cows, sows and plows. But 4-H=ers are hoping this year=s National 4-H Week theme, A4-H Online,@ will remind people that the organization is Aonline@ with 21st century technology.

The theme, 4-H Online!, was chosen this year to show the connection between 4-H and technology. We want to make the 4-H site more appealing to 4-H=ers and potential 4-H=ers. Hopefully the 4H site will show the size, diversity and value of the whole 4-H adventure. The newly redesigned web site was created by a group of fourteen 4-H teens from across the nation.

To kick off National 4-H Week, Bexar County 4-H is starting their annual Chocolate Sale Fundraiser beginning October 3 through November 8, 2004. Money earned from the sale is used to purchase county ribbons and awards, conduct leadership trainings and sponsor 4-H members and volunteer=s participation in 4-H programs and activities. If you would like to support the Bexar County 4-H Program by purchasing some chocolate, contact our office at 210/467-6575.

4-H is an informal educational program that focuses on the needs, interests and concerns of young people. 4-H programs are open to all youth, age eight and in the third grade, through age 19. The official 4-H emblem in a green, four leaf clover with a white H on each clover leaf. The H’s stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health.

Bexar County 4-H Youth Development Program reached 23,132 youth in Bexar County in 2003-2004. There were 1,208 volunteer adult leaders who gave of their time and talents to assist with the program.

There are over 40 projects that youth can choose from including photography, veterinary medicine, computers, dog, foods & nutrition and more. For 4-H information, list of projects, list of Bexar County 4-H clubs and more go to the Texas Cooperative Extension web site at and click on 4-H.

If you are interested in joining 4-H, contact the Texas Cooperative Extension office at (210) 467-6575 or visit our web site at

This article was written by County Extension Agents, Lynn Rawe-Horticulture-and Shane Browning -4H, both with Texas Cooperative Extension in Bexar County.

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