Family Volunteering // Benefits All Around


Find out how helping others can help your family!

Service with a Smile

Volunteering as a family can be fun, but it can also be challenging.

Telling the kids that you are going to go work somewhere as a family may not be received with a “Yippee!” However, knowing the benefits may make the scheduling and needed “family pep talk” worth it.

Families that took a volunteering survey reported the benefits of volunteering as a family.

Benefits reported by parents:
• It bonded them to their children and created a team atmosphere.
• The children got along better and recognized that they need each other.
• The children focused on someone other than themselves.

Benefits reported by children:
• They gained appreciation and respect for their parents for how much they care for the community.
• Siblings were seen as role models.
• It made them feel good.

Other benefits of volunteering as a family include:
• The experience of sharing experiences and values.
• Having fun as a family.
• Individuals and families can learn about new resources (education, social support, family services and financial assistance).
• Children gain real-world experiences and learn about careers
• Parent-child bonding can promote healthy development

In addition to the benefits of volunteering together, a study reported that there are also benefits to the individual family members.

Depending on what the family is volunteering for, opportunities where the baby can tag along can benefit their psychosocial needs. Parents are able to give consistent care and continue building trust.

Who said these little ones couldn’t volunteer? Toddlers can develop sensorimotor skills and language through the different experiences and environments of volunteering.

4-7 Year-olds
Volunteering provides opportunities to look at different choices and develop decision- making skills. Children can help decide where the family will volunteer and/or how to do the project. They can begin learning about responsibility and cause and effect.

8-12 Year-olds
Volunteering as a family provides school-aged children a safe environment for making mistakes, practicing skills and eventually succeeding at different tasks and settings. Children experience encouragement from parents and older siblings. Having flexibility in volunteer activities can be motivating.

It is not a secret that adolescents are working on figuring out their identity, values, beliefs and how to accomplish tasks. Volunteering as a family provides teens with parental examples of values and civic responsibility. They are also exposed to different experiences, learn new skills and gain new perspectives.

Young Adults
Family volunteering for young adults helps to maintain and strengthen family networks. Relationships may even be mended through the experience. Volunteering together helps meet the need to have healthy relationships in their lives through opportunities as simple as talking, learning something new and bonding.

Volunteering with children provides adults with the opportunity to share their culture, beliefs and values. Volunteering for adults promotes a sense of caring, compassion and empathy. They feed their need to give back by sharing experiences, knowledge and other resources.

Elderly Adults
Volunteering brings meaning and purpose to the life of elderly adults. Volunteering with family helps their mental well-being.

1Littlepage, L., Obergfell, E., & Zanin, G. (2003). Family Volunteering: An exploratory study of the impact on families. Center for Urban Policy and the Environment. Retrieved from: http://policyinstitute.iu.edu/Uploads/ProjectFiles/31_03-C05_Family_Volunteering.pdf

2Lewton, A. R., Nievar, M. A. (2012). Strengthening Families Through Volunteerism: Integrating family volunteerism and family life education. Marriage & Family Review, 48, 7, 689-710. DOI: 10.1080/01494929.2012.700909

This article was written by Zuri Garcia, Extension Assistant Professor, Davis County Extension

Kid-Friendly Creations // Strawberry Ghosts

Strawberry Ghosts Post

A fun and easy kitchen creation for you and your little ones!

Spooky Strawberry Ghosts!

Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes


24 fresh strawberries (washed and dried)
1 cup white chocolate chips
½ cup chocolate chips
1 tsp. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla


1. Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.
2. Wash and dry strawberries. Make sure all of the excess water is gone or the chocolate will have trouble sticking to the strawberry.
3. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt white chocolate and shortening at 50 percent power; stir every 30 seconds until smooth. Stir in vanilla.
4. Hold strawberries by the stems and dip in melted chocolate, making sure to coat all sides. Place on cookie sheet.
5. Chill strawberries in the fridge for 10 minutes to allow chocolate to set.
6. Stick chocolate chips on each strawberry to create a face.

Chocolate Melting Tips!!

1. Make sure all utensils and bowls used to melt the chocolate are dry. Any amount of water will cause the chocolate to clump and harden.

2. To avoid scorching your chocolate in the microwave, melt it using a makeshift double boiler.

Makeshift double boiler:
1 medium to large glass bowl
1 medium saucepan.

Make sure the glass bowl is large enough that it rests on the rim of the saucepan. The bowl should be suspended a few inches from the bottom of the pan.

To use the double boiler, simply add water to the bottom of the saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Place bowl filled with chocolate on top of the pan and start stirring. In no time you will have perfectly smooth, melted chocolate.

3. If you’re planning on using your melted chocolate for an extended period of time, simply place your bowl of chocolate on a heating pad! It will be kept warm enough to use, but the risk of scorching will be avoided.


Photo Credit
Made it. Ate it. Loved it.

Top 10 // Ways to Practice Money Management with Kids

Teach Kids Money

It’s never too early to start educating your kids about money!

10 Ways to Practice Money Management Skills

If you teach them, they will learn. One of the most important things that parents can do to help their children develop positive money attitudes and behaviors is to get them involved with the real life, day-to-day financial workings of the family. Additionally, children need opportunities to earn, spend, and save money.

1. Hold regular family discussions about money with specific details about the family’s income and expenses.

2. Keep a family income and spending log/diary for 30 days (individual family members can also do this for their personal income and spending).

3. Solicit ideas (and commitments), especially from older children, on how to reduce spending – allow children to keep a % of the savings resulting from any of their cost-cutting efforts.

4. Have older children participate in monthly bill paying and grocery shopping. Teach them about sales and coupons.

5. Have an older child teach a younger child an important money concept.

6. Have family members get together and make short, medium and long term savings goals. Have each family member sign the agreement, and then post it in a prominent location of the home to remind everyone of the things they are working towards.

7. Have children develop a specific family spending goal (vacation, big screen TV, etc.). Allow them to contribute some of their allowance or earnings toward the goal.

8. Have each child set personal earning and spending goals. Regularly discuss progress and setbacks. Teach them to avoid compulsive buying.

9. Given a certain amount of money, regularly have children plan a meal, purchase the ingredients, and prepare the meal.

10. Regularly have a “no -frills” entertainment night (“old fashioned” board games, $1 video rental, talent shows, sandwiches in the park, storytelling, etc.). Fun activities don’t have to be expensive.

This article was written by Margie P. Memmott, M.S., C.F.C.S., Juab County.

Getting Back Into the School Routine!

School Routine

Take away the stress of going back to school by establishing fun and orderly routines!

Children may not exactly beg parents to establish routines for school-day mornings, family meals or weekend chores, but every family needs a certain amount of structure to function well.

Morning routines at home can help family members feel prepared for the day and reduce the stress they might otherwise feel if they were to rush out the front door in the morning with barely enough time to shower, get dressed and grab their backpack.

Here are some tips to help get your routines established!

Weekday morning routine. The website, www.healthychildren.org, established by the American Academy of Pediatrics, suggests that in order to make the household function well in the morning, family members should know what needs to be done in advance. The organization suggests the following:
∗ Put as many things in order as possible the night before.
∗ Keep wake-up routines cheerful and positive.
∗ Be sure your child eats breakfast, even if he or she is not hungry in the morning. It’s important to have food in the system to start the day. That goes for grownups, too.
∗ Pause long enough to say goodbye to your child. A hug goes a long way to make your child’s day go better; receiving a hug in return is great, as well.

After-school routine. When parents can’t be home to welcome children when school is out, it’s important to choose a place they can be where they are safe and cared for until mom, dad or another guardian can be with them. The majority of risk-taking, participation in pranks or juvenile delinquent behaviors from children and youth commonly take place after school when children are unsupervised.

Whether the after-school routine includes staying to participate in activities at the school, going to a grandparent’s home, or elsewhere, children who know they have a safe and caring place to go after school will remain more focused throughout the day. Parents should make every effort to see that a caring adult or responsible teen is available. Even having a close neighbor who is at home and available to call, if needed, helps children feel secure.

Dinner routine. It doesn’t really matter if the meal is dinner. Families should eat several meals together every week providing all members time to be together. In a back-to-school article posted on life.familyeduation.com it states sitting down to a family meal can be a wonderful time in the day. It should be a time to hear about everyone’s day and reinforce that family members do care. This time can be made very positive by allowing each member of the family to briefly tell about their favorite part of the day. It may also serve as a time to discuss family plans or how to best support a family member in an upcoming activity.

Bedtime routine. Children, teens and adults all benefit from having an established routine when they can wind down before crawling into bed. Younger children will benefit the most emotionally and physically from repetition each night. If parents will allow 30-45 minutes of preparation, the children will be calmer and able to fall asleep more easily. Bedtime should include story time and/or a chance for children and youth to talk about their day with mom or dad. Try to avoid rowdy activities just before bedtime. As they get older, children will be able to establish their own routine. However, parents should still have older youth stick to an established time to be in bed.

It is a challenge for families to establish comfortable, effective routines. It requires planning, creating a structure that is realistic, and getting all family members to commit to the plan. However, such efforts will pay great dividends in cutting down on disorder and confusion. It may also strengthen the family unit overall and increase children’s devotion to their family.

This article was written by Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Professor for Iron County. Questions or comments may be sent to kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or call 435-586-8132.

Top 10 // Tips for Gardening with Your Kiddos

Gardening With Kids

Make your garden kid friendly with these simple tips!

It’s Time to Play Dirty!

What child doesn’t love to have fun in the mud? Now instead of scolding them for it, you can encourage it! How is this possible you might ask? The answer is gardening.

Gardening is a great way to have fun and bond with your kids while teaching them important lessons too. The curiosity that children have and their love of playing in the dirt make them natural gardeners.

To help get your garden kid-ready and kid-friendly, the Organic Forecast has compiled 10 top tips!

Tip 2: Incorporate kids crafts in the garden. Have your kids paint ‘marker’ stones or color garden stakes to mark plants. For a fun and easy DIY stepping-stone project, click here.

For 9 other fun and helpful tips, check out the article “Top 10 Tips for Gardening with Kids.

Remember, it’s never too early to introduce your kids to the wonders of the garden. There’s nothing quite like fresh garden vegetables, colorful flowers and of course, surprise visits from eight-legged friends!

Study Up! // Back to School Shopping the Smart Way

Back to School

Head back to school in style without breaking the bank.

Here’s the Deal

It’s hard to believe that it is “back to school” time again!! Just look in the malls and “super” stores and you will see kids and families getting ready. As you prepare to “bust your budget” for these extra expenses this month, consider the following tips to help you weather the budget surge, as well as the shopping wars.

1. Prepare a list. Use the supply list that the schools may provide but also consider each child’s needs. Not everything on the school’s classroom list has to be purchased, and not everything the kids want should be purchased. Take inventory of what is already on hand at home. Have a discussion with each child about the items being placed on the list. Allow them to have some say, and some decision making power in the process.

2. Do your ‘homework’. Shop the ads and online. Know prices, know features in electronics, know what’s in fashion, etc. Children can even shop the ads for the best buys and see how they can make their money go further.

3. Set a budget. Kids need to know there is a limit and there will need to be choices. Have the children involved in pricing and deciding. Would they rather have 5 outfits at a less expensive price, or one pair of expensive jeans? Besides giving children a voice, making decisions also teaches them how to prioritize, how to manage money and how to learn the difference between needs and wants.

4. Consider options. Are there some things that can be picked up ‘second hand’, like clothes? Tees, sweaters, and jeans are usually great bargains at second hand stores. Are there some items that can wait until part way through the school year, like clothes going on sale later in the fall? Buy in bulk—usually there are “3 for ____”, etc. type sales that can help extend your budget.

5. Set boundaries before shopping. Having a talk with the kids about behavior, ground rules, etc. makes a big difference. Review the list they have helped create, and remind them this is not going to be a battle of wills, that we want this to be a fun time together. If you have a chance to go individually with the kids, that is even better, but either way, be rested and fed before going.

How to be a Good Consumer

a) Save the receipt. This should be a matter of practice for most of our purchases anyway—but especially when we may very well need to return an item, or at least the potential for returning is there.

b) Know the return policy. Sometimes in our frenzy to get the kids outfitted we don’t take the time in advance to really check sizes or needs, and end up making purchases just to get done with the shopping. We figure we will just get it now, check it out when we get home, and then return it if we need to. Be careful of falling into that thinking. Sometimes you don’t make it back to the store in time to meet their return policies to get cash back—or any refund at all.

c) Make sure the advertised offer is legit. That means watching out for bogus “sales” by knowing the standard price of common back to school items. It also means not being sucked in by the old “bait and switch” tactic some stores use. On items where you know quality counts—such as in back packs, insulated lunch boxes, or school electronics—know why you want the “higher” price.

d) Understand any warranty options and “extended warranty” on school electronics. Study this carefully, know why you want the warranty, or if you even do. Often, it is not worth the added cost.

e) Be careful if shopping for back to school items online. Clothing size, fit, quality, servicing, or any other problems, are often more difficult and time consuming to take care of when items have been purchased online.

This article was written by Teresa Hunsaker

Summer Isn’t Over! // 4 Simple Ways to Connect with Your Kids

Connect With Your Kids Feature

Summer isn’t over yet! These last few weeks of summer are the perfect time to have fun and connect with your kiddos.

The Four E’s of Summer

Summer is almost over, which means kids still need activities to keep them busy, and school isn’t too far in the future. Consider the following steps that will help you to create healthy, productive and, above all, fun activities for your children.

1. Encourage Proper Nutrition.
The risk of childhood obesity and other health factors can be combated with proper eating habits. Give your children plenty of encouragement to stay healthy this summer. One activity that is great for encouraging proper nutrition (and it also helps build strong relationships by working side-by-side on a task) is gardening. Take your children to a local garden nursery and choose fruits and vegetables to plant in your garden. As you describe how the plant will look and how the fruit of the plant will taste, allow your child to pick the fruit or vegetable. When children are involved in the planting, growing and harvesting process their knowledge of healthy eating habits are greatly increased. Another great activity is preparing healthy foods and meals. Include your children in menu planning, grocery shopping, as well as food preparation for making delicious meals. Check out eatwellutah.org and extension.usu.edu/foodsense for more healthy eating ideas.

2. Enhance Creativity.
Creativity is a very important process that helps a child gain powerful problem solving skills as well as exploring different ideas. Creativity can also lead to discovering hidden talents. A perfect activity to enhance your child’s creativity are crafts or DIY activities such as home and yard décor. Create different types of décor alongside your child, such as painting stepping stones or miniature figurines that can be placed in the home, flower beds, or gardens.
Remember an important part of creativity is allowing children to explore and play in a safe environment without restraints or distractions, with minimal guidance (i.e., let them get dirty and make a mess!). Use positivity as you accept and praise their creative projects, and limiting rejecting unusual ideas. Allow sufficient time for your child to explore all possibilities, moving from popular to more original ideas.

3. Encourage Mathematics’ and Literacy.
Math and literacy don’t need to wait for school. Did you know students can lose up to a 1/3 of the knowledge they gained during the school year? Help you student retain all that hard-earned knowledge. Encourage your child to participate in as much mathematic or literacy activities without overwhelming them. These activities can be anything that involve numbers, reading or writing, such as scavenger hunts, read-a-thons, cooking with recipes, library trips, or reading with your child for at least 20 minutes a day. Most local libraries provide lists of great read-aloud books for any ages, which can be a great source of entertainment for you and your children. By engaging your child in these activities, you are helping them to retain the knowledge they gained during the previous school year.

4. Extra Time with Your Child.
To some adults, packing a picnic or going to the park may not seem like the most exciting way to spend their afternoon, but to a child it can bring so much joy and excitement to their day as well as make them feel special. Spending extra time with their child can make all the difference in the social, mental and emotional health of your child.

If you’re unsure about what activity your child would like to participate in with you, simply ask them. Commit to your child and set aside time to participate in that activity. By spending a few extra minutes or hours, you’re guaranteeing a stronger and prolonged relationship with your child.


Check out these Pinterest Boards for more fun ideas!

Ways to Encourage Mathematics
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Places to Visit in Utah
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This article was written by Whitney Trapp, Family and Consumer Sciences summer intern and Melanie Jewkes.

melanie jewkes
Melanie Jewkes works part time in Salt Lake County and has worked for USU for 6 years. The best part of her job is learning and relearning some of the things that matter most–loving and caring for marriage and family, living within your means, and growing, cooking and eating delicious, nutritious food. She is married with two adorable children and lives in Taylorsville.


1. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/05/30/12-free-or-low-cost-summer-activities-for-your-kids
2. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/nutrition/facts.htm
3. http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Creativity_Young/
4. http://pdk.sagepub.com/content/92/7/64.extract

Ditch the Chips! // Top 10 Tips for Healthy Road Trips

Healthy Roadtrips 2

Where is your next road trip destination? Wherever you are headed, ditch the chips and follow these tips to stay healthy on the road!

Summer time is often filled with road trips. Living in Utah, there are often wide and vast stretches of highway between destinations, and most breaks include gas stations and tourist attractions that are known to stock sugary drinks, candies, sweets and salty snacks. It’s not always easy to eat healthy foods while on the road, or any vacation for that matter, but it can be done.

Here are some ideas of how to be healthy on road trips and vacations:

1. Pack a small cooler with easy-to-eat healthy snacks (and wet wipes and garbage bags for easy clean up) such as:
• Apples (Be aware of Agriculture check points that won’t allow fruit to pass through the border into California or other locations. Buy fruit after passing through.)
• String cheese and whole-grain crackers
• Pre-packaged yogurt tubes
• Trail mix and dried fruit
• Hummus and pre-cut veggies, like carrots, radishes, snap peas, bell peppers and hummus
• Celery and small individual-sized containers of peanut butter (check the peanut butter aisle for the small 1-2 tablespoon packages); pretzels also can be dipped in peanut butter for an easy snack
• Whole-grain bread and peanut butter and jam or cheese and lunchmeat

2. Take refillable water bottles to save cooler space and to avoid purchasing sugary beverages. They can also help you save money on buying beverages. Refill each time you stop for gas and restroom breaks.

3. When eating out, seek healthier options on menus, such as fruit cups or slices, milk, wraps, salads, rice and veggie bowls and whole-grain options of breads, tortillas and rice.

4. Use a navigation app on your smartphone to look for restaurants near you beyond the ones connected to the gas station when stopping to refuel. Consider non-burger fast food restaurants for variety and possibly healthier options, such as:
• Sandwich restaurants where you could split a larger sandwich with a family member and load up on those veggies options.
• Chinese food places often have more choices of veggies than other fast food restaurants.
• Mexican food where you can look for beans, rice and veggie options, but remember to eat less of the high-fat fried foods.
• Pita and wrap restaurants also offer fresh veggie options, but beware of high-calorie sauces.

5. Make farmers markets a destination around meal times. This is a great way to literally taste some of the local foods and culture. Most markets have more than just produce, so enjoy many other vendors selling fresh breads, homemade tamales, side salads and more. Plus, you’ll get to move and stretch your legs after all that driving.

6. Visit grocery stores or local bakeries at your destination to buy meals and/or replenish your healthy snack cooler. Consider whole-grain muffins, fruit and small milk containers for breakfast or instant oatmeal packets you can make by using hot water from gas stations or hotel room coffee makers.

7. Plan moving time. Search for places along the way to discover by walking, hiking, biking or swimming adventures to break up driving time and get your body moving. It might take a little extra time, but together with choosing varieties of fruits and veggies, moving your body will help you feel more energized, help you sleep better and help keep you “regular,” if you know what I mean.

8. Make gas and restroom breaks a physical activity break—walk, run, do some yoga, stretches or dance. You could even have races with the family. Consider ordering your meals take-out and head to a picnic spot at a local park to enjoy fresh air and more opportunities to get up and move your body.

9. Save treats for the events and special destinations of your trip. This will save your car from sugary, sticky spills and melts, and also help reduce calories consumed.

10. Plan non-food activities in the car to pass time and to avoid the snacking-from-boredom syndrome. Listen to audio-books the whole car can enjoy, make videos of the family rocking out to a favorite song, sketch Picasso-like portraits of each other without looking at the paper, play “I Spy,” bingo or read books and articles about the history of places you’re heading to visit.

This article was written by Melanie Jewkes

melanie jewkes
Melanie Jewkes works part time in Salt Lake County and has worked for USU for 6 years. The best part of her job is learning and relearning some of the things that matter most–loving and caring for marriage and family, living within your means, and growing, cooking and eating delicious, nutritious food. She is married with two adorable children and lives in Taylorsville.

Weekly Happenings

Weekly Happenings

Don’t know what you’re doing yet this week? Let us help you! Here’s what’s going on in your neighborhood this week:

Cache County

Thursday 6/25

11am – 12:30 pm – Going Grain: Daytime Food Sense (SNAP-Ed)

Davis County

Monday 6/22

9 pm – 10 pm – Military Kids Camp

Tuesday 6/23

All Day – Master Food Preserver Course
9 pm – 10 pm – Military Kids Camp

Wednesday 6/24

11 am – 12:30 pm – Finding Meals in your Pantry- Food $ense (SNAP-Ed)
9 pm – 10 pm – Military Kids Camp

Thursday 6/25

All Day – Master Food Preserver Course
1 pm – 2 pm – Snacking For One – Food $ense (SNAP-Ed)
9 pm – 10 pm – Military Kids Camp

Friday 6/26

9 pm – 10 pm – Military Kids Camp

Salt Lake County

Monday 6/22

All Day – USU Free Water Check Program
6:15 pm – 8:45 pm – Smart Dating – SLC
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm – Horticulture Spotlight Lecture Series: Vermicomposting-Turning Scraps to Garden Gold

Tuesday 6/23

6 pm – 8:30 pm – Smart Dating – West Jordan
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm – Parenting the Love and Logic Way

Wednesday 6/24

6:30 pm – 8:30 pm – Parenting the Love and Logic Way
6:30 pm – Food $ense (SNAP-Ed) Murray
7 pm – 8 pm – Food $ense Quick Meals Class

Thursday 6/25

6:30 pm – 8:30 pm – Couple LINKS

Swaner EcoCenter

Wednesday 6/24

7 pm – 10 pm – Owl Prowl 2015

Saturday 6/27

1 pm – 3 pm – Climbing Wall

Uintah County

Tuesday 6/23

10 pm – Public Speaking, Demonstrations & Other Related Contests

Wednesday 6/24

9 pm – Food Preparation Contests

USU Botanical Center

Tuesday 6/23

6 pm – 8 pm – Youth Fishing Camp

Wednesday 6/24

9 am – 12 pm – Enchanted Garden Fairy Camp
6 pm – 8 pm – Youth Fishing Camp

Thursday 6/25

10 am – 2 pm – Trails, Treks and Treats

Friday 6/26

6:30 pm – 8 pm – Marriage…Not So Impossible: Scavenger Hunt Date Night

Utah County

Wednesday 6/24

7 pm – 9:15 pm – Couple Links

Washington County

Monday 6/22

10 am – 3 pm – 4-H Hero’s Guide Camp – Grades 5-8

For even more events and activities in Utah, click here!

4-H Aggie Adventures and Summer Camps for Kids!

Aggie Adventure Camps Blog

4-H Aggie Adventures and Summer Camps are great for all kids over the summer. They are entertaining, fun and interactive. Youth love attending the camps and you will love knowing that they are making friends and learning over the summer!

Looking for an Adventure?

Learning. Discovery. Engagement. Sound like a great way for kids to spend the summer? Then Aggie Adventures and Summer Camps might be for you!

4-H Aggie Adventures and Summer Camps for Kids are educational day camps for children and youth in first through eighth grades in Utah. All camps emphasize hands-on learning and explore a variety of subjects including archeology, robotics, art, history, astronomy and more! Click on over to find a camp location in your area.

Aggie Adventure Camps Ring Around the Rosie

Aggie Adventure Camps Archery

Aggie Adventure Camps Robot