Cooking and 4-H: from a project to a career

Through caring adults that serve as 4-H leaders, 4-H offers youth the opportunity to participate in cooking projects which can spark a future career interest.

Attention all youth and adults interested in cooking! Healthy living is a focus area of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, with healthy eating and nutrition being one area of exploration in Michigan 4-H. Ones’ interest in cooking with the focus of healthy eating and nutrition can lead to a great 4-H project. Surprised that there are cooking projects in 4-H? 4-H teaches life skills and cooking is a life skill that all youth can learn.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development has many opportunities for youth to become involved and learn about food, health and well-being. Youth can also enhance their knowledge of healthy eating and nutrition through community service projects. They can coordinate learning opportunities for younger youth by teaching them how to cook meals and educating them about the nutritional value of foods. Their cooking skills can also be enhanced by participating in contests sponsored by the community or display their cooking projects at the county fairs.

Participating in a cooking healthy living project can also lead to a career. Youth who become interested in careers related to cooking, nutrition, and healthy living can get their start with 4-H. Some careers related to cooking and nutrition include chefs and head cooks, food scientists, dietitians and nutritionists. Training for these careers can vary from a high school diploma to a Ph.D. For example, students interested in becoming chefs or head cooks can receive on the job training or attend community colleges, technical schools, culinary arts schools, or four-year colleges.

Food scientists, dietitians and nutritionists, require at least a bachelor’s degree. At MSU, the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition offers a bachelor’s degree in food science, dietetics, and nutritional sciences. Students may also attend graduate school to pursue a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in food science and human nutrition. A dietetics internship program is also offered for students to become dietitians.

The key to sparking this lifelong interest in youth is this is the caring adults who serve as 4-H volunteer leaders to teach youth about healthy nutrition and cooking. These volunteers give their time to teach youth the skills necessary and get them involved in different activities. Adults can make an investment in the careers of youth through 4-H and reap a great reward as they become productive citizens with successful careers.

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