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PUT IT UP! A Food Preservation Curriculum for Youth

carolina canning

Carolina Canning

The “PUT IT UP! Food Preservation for Youth” curriculum is a series of lessons that Coaches and others can use with their families or, in partnership with Extension agents, can use with 4-H’ers to help them explore, understand and enjoy the science of safe food preservation.
 
The “PUT IT UP! Food Preservation for Youth” curriculum contains a leader guide and a series of six different food preservation lessons that make it easy to teach food preservation skills. Each lesson covers a different food preservation method and is divided into beginning and advanced activities. Activities may stand alone or may be completed in sequence for additional learning. Each activity contains step-by-step procedures for a hands-on experience, questions to inspire reflection, and a packet of additional exercises: a science-based fill-in-the-blank challenge, a history-based word search, equipment identification, a glossary, a list of resources, a knowledge test, and ideas for field trips and other experiences.  Lessons are most appropriate for ages ranging from middle-school to slightly older youth.
 
The Leader Guide includes a number of helpful tools. Those tools include suggestions for planning the flow of instruction, a checklist of facility needs for specific lessons (stoves, refrigerators, dehydrators), sources for purchasing food preservation equipment and supplies, teaching tips from experienced Extension agents, suggestions for introductory icebreakers and for closers when the class is over, ideas for activities during wait-time (e.g., as jars are heat-processed), canner and jar anatomy I.D. games, Get Moving! tag games, answer keys to questions in the exercises, activity record sheets and Certificates of Completion.
 
Each of the six lessons is structured similarly. Each is written and illustrated to appeal to younger readers. Each lesson includes both beginner and advanced activities that list all required materials and ingredients and describe step-by-step preparation. Both activities in each lesson include precautions for hazardous activities, fun facts, questions for reflection, suggestions for further experimentation and resources for additional information. Each lesson also includes an “Additional Activities” section that contains science-based information about microorganisms and the applicable preservation method presented in kid-friendly language. The “Additional Activities” section also includes fill-in-the-blank games, word search puzzles, glossaries of unfamiliar terms, and true-false knowledge tests. Foods prepared in the six lessons are listed in the following table. Method principles are applicable to similar foods and the methods are easily adapted to other credible recipes.

Lesson Beginner Advanced
Boiling Water Canning Crushed Tomatoes Salsa
Jam Making  Strawberry Freezer Jam Strawberry Jam with Regular Pectin
Pickling Refrigerator Pickles Dill Pickles
Freezing     Berries Corn-on-the-Cob
Dehydration   Fruit Fruit Leather
Pressure Canning   Green Beans Tomato Veggie Soup

The “PUT IT UP! Food Preservation for Youth” curriculum is authored by Kasey Christian (University of Georgia) and Dr. Susan Barefoot (Clemson University Cooperative Extension) and edited by Drs. Elizabeth Andress and Judy Harrison (University of Georgia). The curriculum was piloted in 24 sessions by 13 Cooperative Extension educators; 12 programs were led by Georgia agents and 12 by Clemson agents. The final curriculum reflects the input and suggestions of those educators. The curriculum is a free download from the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at http://nchfp.uga.edu/ and is expected to be available by the end of July. A companion book of additional recipes by Dr. Harrison is expected in 2015.
 
Please note that there are special requirements for Canning Coaches who volunteer to work with children. 4-H has a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for youth.  Therefore, all 4-H volunteers complete a screening and orientation process before being appointed.

Please note that there are special requirements for Canning Coaches who volunteer to work with children. 4-H has a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for youth.  Therefore, all 4-H volunteers complete a screening and orientation process before being appointed.

  1. Unless a 4-H Extension agent (or teacher) will be present at all times during a youth food preservation class, Canning Coaches and other volunteers who lead a class on their own must become certified volunteers (the process listed below).
  2. Becoming a certified 4-H volunteer:
    • All prospective volunteers complete a 4-H Volunteer Registration Form and a Clemson Extension Volunteer Status Form, which includes an authorization for a background check and a request for references.
    • All volunteers then participate in an orientation using the Leader Training Series.
    • When all requirements are satisfied, volunteers are appointed to their roles by the county 4-H agent

Canning Coaches and other home food preservers can use the “PUT IT UP! Food Preservation for Youth” curriculum as a kid-friendly tool to share their expertise in food preservation with children. The tested curriculum is available as a free download from the National Center for Home Food Preservation at http://nchfp.uga.edu/. Clemson volunteers who work with youth must meet special requirements.

References and Additional Information:

  • Kasey Christian, Susan Barefoot and Elizabeth Andress. 2014. PUT IT UP! Food Preservation for Youth. National Center for Home Food Preservation, the University of Georgia.
  • 4-H Volunteer Information Flier Template (http://www.clemson.edu/extension/4h/staff/resources.html)
  • So Easy to Preserve. 2006. 5th ed.  Revised by Drs. E.L. Andress and  J.A. Harrison. Cooperative Extension, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA. (http://setp.uga.edu; currently out of print; 6th edition expected late this month.) This book is the authoritative source for canning procedures and recipes and offers excellent troubleshooting tips.