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Announcing the 4-H Tailgating Cookery Contest

The 4-H Tailgating Contest is a great way to learn about nutrition and food safety.

The 4-H Tailgating Contest is a fun way to learn about nutrition and food safety.

The “unofficial start of summer” was Memorial Day and nothing makes me think of summer more than the sounds and yummy smells of grilling out with family and friends.  Not only do I get to spend time with the people I love, but I also have the added benefit adding protein to our diets using low calorie preparation methods and cuts of meat or seafood.

So what’s the connection between grilling out and 4-H?  Florida 4-H is excited to introduce the First Annual 4-H Tailgating Contest.  To get youth ready for the contest, many of our counties in the Northwest District will be hosting summer day camps.  Youth will learn step by step how to choose the equipment needed to grill, how to build the fire and how to stay safe while grilling.  They will also learn about beef, poultry, seafood and pork and how to select the right cuts of meats for grilling.  A big part of grilling is enhancing the flavor of meats, so they’ll learn how to make rubs, sauces and marinades as well as the time needed to grill meats to bring out the best flavor.

This program was developed by a team of 4-H faculty led by Dr. Chad Carr, Associate Professor and Meat Science Specialist at the University of Florida.  When asked what inspired him to develop this program, he shared:

“Tailgating is popular- when the weather is good people enjoy cooking outside.  It’s also a great way to promote animal protein in the diet to combat childhood obesity by improving youth’s nutritional knowledge and food preparation skills.  Last but not least, this program will impart knowledge about safe handling and proper degree of doneness to ensure safe and palatable meat dishes.”

After county day camps, youth have the opportunity to participate in a district level contest (July 23rd) where they can earn their way to the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest.  Grilling out while you “tailgate” is a tradition before football games, so the state contest will take place on September 10th before the Gators take on the University of Kentucky in The Swamp.  An awards reception sponsored by Sonny’s and Winn Dixie and an interview during the Gator Pre-Game Show will be the highlight of the contest.

Besides one of the obvious benefits to 4-H membership of learning new skills, 4-H youth are two times more likely to make healthier choices and participate in science programs outside of school time when compared to other youth programs.  So join us as we light our grills up and find new ways to grow Florida 4-H!

Day Camp Dates and Locations:

Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office to inquire about other Florida 4-H Tailgating Day Camps and to register for the District Contest.  For more information, visit these sites: