Monday, November 26, 2018

Virginia Association of Fairs Scholarship Contest Entries Due Next Week

Teens who have participated in or provided service to the Orange County Fair are eligible to compete in this year's scholarship contest, but you only have about a week to get your application packet together. Hard copy packets (no e-mails or faxes) must be received in the Highland County Extension Office by December 7 (firm deadline).

An application, resume, essay, and letter of recommendation are required at the time of entry. Seven thousand dollars in scholarship funds will be awarded by the Virginia Association of Fairs at their annual convention in January.

Read all the details at

Honey Bee Essay Contest Announced; Will Award Cash Prizes

The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees, Inc. has announced its annual essay contest for Virginia 4-H members. The top three winners in the state will be awarded cash prizes and the state winner will advance to the national contest. Entries are due February 25.

A flyer is available by clicking HERE.

2019 Essay Topic: “Honey Varietals, State to State”
Each jar of honey reflects an unrepeatable combination of climate, soil, weather and
flowers. Each state has unique honey varietals that beekeepers can market to their
customers. Please identify one unique varietal to your state and discuss the flower’s
uniqueness and how beekeepers can effectively market that varietal. In your essay, please
include a photo of the varietal’s flower, an interview with a local beekeeper who collects
this varietal and a recipe that highlights the varietal. Personal interviews with beekeepers
and others familiar with the subject are valued sources of information and should be
documented. Sources, which are not cited in the endnotes, should be listed in a
“Resources” or “Bibliography” list.
Put on Your Thinking Cap!
An essential judging criterion is the scope of research you put forth in developing the
ideas behind your essay—accounting for 40% of your score. The number of sources
consulted, the authority of the sources and the variety of the sources are all evaluated.
Personal interviews with beekeepers and others familiar with the subject are valued
sources of information and should be documented.
Note that “honey bee” is properly spelled as two words, even though many otherwise
authoritative references spell it as one word.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Learning Disabilities/Arts Benefit Children

Great article from our Guest Author,
Lillian Brooks

How the Arts Benefit Children with Learning Disabilities

Children who have learning disabilities often struggle with academics, but they may be able to excel in the arts. According to Nancy Bailey, a former special education teacher, the arts can lead them to a job in the industry if they have been exposed to a quality program. Additionally, Psychology Today reports that there is growing evidence these arts can help a child develop language and related skills. And the arts can also help kids with special needs improve their self-esteem.

Creative Arts Programs for Your Child

Those are good reasons to enroll your child in an arts program, but which one is best for your child? That depends on his or her interests. Seek local organizations, companies, and teachers that offer classes for kids with special needs in your area.


Dance is a great way to help children express themselves, especially those who are nonverbal or struggle with expressive speech. According to parents interviewed in this article for San Diego Family, dance can help learning-disabled children with:

       Body awareness

Today, more and more dance schools are offering classes for kids with disabilities. Dance teacher Lee Casuscelli says, “Emotionally, dance stimulates the ‘feel good’ endorphins through the incorporation of music and self-expression. It is a way to mix socially with other people in a fun-filled, relaxed environment.


Music is a natural choice because most kids like some form of it. According to Connolly Music, learning a musical instrument can:

       Benefit cognitive development
       Improve physical impairments, allowing a child to develop strength and dexterity
       Help kids who struggle with ADD and ADHD develop focus and concentration

While we know that music can aid kids in memorization, research shows that music can have a brain-building impact on your child. A study demonstrated the “Mozart Effect:” that is, listening to Mozart seemed to improve the spatial IQ of test subjects compared to other relaxation activities. In fact, music therapy, especially classical music, can benefit kids with ADD, ADHD, and autism.

If your child is interested in playing music, research the different instruments available to them. And if their school has programs available, consider enrolling your child in band or orchestra.


Kids with learning disabilities may enjoy going to the theater, but did you know that performing in the theater can also benefit them? That’s the mission of the Miracle Project, a theater and film program designed specifically for kids and adults with autism and all abilities. With productions like musicals, plays and even a class called “Improv for Interaction,” kids get the opportunity to overcome fears, gain life skills, and “find their voice.”

Visual Arts

Kids with disabilities can be adept or gifted in the visual arts. That’s because thinking visually is often a strength they possess, according to Visual arts can encompass fine art, drawing, photography, digital art, and more, providing children with lots of avenues to expand their skills.

Children may also enjoy more practical and traditional forms of art. Crafts like woodworking, knitting, and sewing can help improve dexterity, as well as provide a meaningful pastime. Online sewing resources and knitting tutorials make it possible to practice at home, but many local recreation centers and community colleges offer courses in these art forms as well.

Expose Your Child to the Arts

Research local programs that teach kids with learning disabilities the arts, but you should also take a few additional steps to engage your child:

       Expose your child to the arts by taking them to programs and activities for kids with special needs. For example, there are many films and live performances tailored to those with sensory challenges.
       Look for art programming for children and try it out, with the caveat that you might need to leave early or take long breaks. You might be surprised to discover your child likes ballet or orchestra performances!
       What does your child like to do at home? Play music? Follow dance routines? Snap photos? They might have a natural talent in any of these areas.

Today, there are many opportunities to get children with learning disabilities into the arts. It may even create a future for them beyond your dreams.

For more information, go to


Virginia State University's 4-H Office is offering the very first STEAMFEST on January 26, 2019 from 9 am to noon at VSU's Multipurpose Center.  This event is free to the public.  There is a limit of 300 students, so registration will be required.  Anyone between K-12 can attend.  
We will post more information about the registration link as it becomes available.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Bit N Bridle Champions

Congratulations to Emily Wright and Charlotte Manvell!

The Virginia 4-H Hippology Team is the 2018 Hippology Reserve Champions 
at the Eastern National 4-H Round Up.

Team members included Emily Wright and Charlotte Manvell, 
Orange County Bit-n-Bridle 4-H'ers.

The team also won first place in Team Problem.

Charlotte Manvell is the 2018 Individual Hippology Reserve Champion.  
She also led the awards ceremony participants in the pledges and 
shared her 4-H story with the more than 700 people in attendance.

Thank you, Orange County, for supporting Virginia youth.