Local 4-H'er takes part in National Healthy Living Summit in D.C.

Katravia Burns of Anamosa, 15, was the only 4-H youth from Jones County to attend the National 4-H Healthy Living Summit in Washington, D.C. Feb. 14-18. The summit was held at the national 4-H camp in Maryland. (Photos submitted)

Accompanying Burns on the trip was Jones County Extension Youth Coordinator Molly Schmitt (left). Here, Schmitt and Burns pose for a photo in front of the U.S. Capitol.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

One Jones County 4-H’er got the chance of a lifetime a few weeks ago to attend the National 4-H Healthy Living Summit in Washington, D.C.

     Katravia Burns, 15, of Anamosa, is the only Iowa 4-H Healthy Living Ambassador in the county, which earned her a spot in representing her county at the national summit. Burns was accompanied by Molly Schmitt, the Jones County Extension youth coordinator.

     The Iowa delegation included 11 4-H youth ambassadors. The group stayed at the National 4-H camp in Maryland where the summit was held.

     Schmitt explained the opportunity arose after the Jones County 4-H clubs took part in the statewide Healthy Living Challenge last year, a new 4-H initiative. Each club that signed up had to track they miles based on healthy lifestyle choices.

     “Jones County responded very well,” she praised. “Many of our clubs placed on the top 10, with three clubs tied for first place.”

     One of those clubs that placed for first place was the Jackson Wise Owls, of which Burns is an active member.

     Her involvement and push to encourage others to maintain healthy lifestyles was another reason she was perfect for the national summit.

     Schmitt said healthy living is a topic any youth/4-H member can get behind, whether they live on a farm or not.

     “This is an opportunity for non-agriculture members to get involved in a new and trendy topic,” she explained. “It’s all about mindfulness and emotional wellbeing.”

     4-H’ers in grades 8-12 are eligible to take part in the Healthy Living program and serve as a Healthy Living Ambassador. The program allows the youth to “grow their leaderships skills, learn more about healthy living, and implement new ideas to put into action in their home communities to create a healthy change across Iowa.”

     By August of this year, Burns will have to complete a project and not only present it locally, but implement it as well.

     For her healthy living topic, Burns chose to focus on physical education.

     “I’m big in sports and fitness as a whole,” she said. “I like to eat healthy and work out.”

     As part of the summit, which took place Feb. 14-18, Burns chose several different sessions/workshops to take part in:

     • Cafeteria Coaching: Healthy Role Models in Action. This involved ways to encourage one’s peers to try new foods.

     • Empowering Me and Youth. Learning about one’s sense of purpose and self worth.

     • Grilled Cheese Challenge. How the comfort food can become a healthy meal with the right ingredients.

     • Sleep Deprivation. An interactive sleep deprivation workshop to learn about the effects sleep has the body and mind.

     • Yoga for the Whole Person Health. How physical, social, and emotional health are all interconnected.

     • Tie Dye for Troops. How colors contribute to one’s emotions and mental health.

     Burns assisted in the Cafeteria Challenge with other ambassadors, and wants to bring the concept back to Anamosa High School and area schools to encourage healthy eating and trying new foods.

     This was Burns’ first time in D.C. and her first time flying. The group from Iowa had some down time to tour the nation’s capital. Aside from seeing the historic memorials and monuments, they also met with Rep. Cindy Axne from Iowa.

     “She was a 4-H’er, too,” said Burns.

     Some highlights of the trip for Burns were the Holocaust Museum, the Air and Space Museum, and the night tour of the National Mall.

     Of the overall experience, Burns said there are so many more opportunities in 4-H than what meets the eye.

     “Not a lot of kids my age are involved in something like this,” she said.

     Schmitt agreed. “There are so many other things you can do in 4-H. It’s important to bring in the non-ag, non-livestock people into 4-H.” She said the Healthy Living curriculum allows others to explore their passions outside of the ag community.

     Burns is healthily involved in her 4-H club as vice president. She is also on the Jones County youth 4-H council. Burns has also been in FFA for two years.

     She said meeting so many different 4-H’ers from not only Iowa, but from around the country pushed her out of her comfort zone.

     “I learned not to be afraid to be myself and reach out to other people,” she said.

     To assist in the cost of the trip, Burns secured a scholarship from Jones County Extension and her own 4-H club.

     “It was anything we could do to make this a viable trip for her,” said Schmitt.

     She also raised money by hosting a can drive. Any extra funds she received will go toward her action plan/final project.

     “I feel honored and it makes me feel special,” said Burns of this opportunity. “It was a long application process, and I honestly didn’t think I’d get it. I didn’t want to get my hopes up.”

     Burns said with all that she learned from the national summit, she hopes to help make a difference back in Iowa and Jones County.

     Burns will be a Healthy Living Ambassador for 2019 as she carries out her action plan. She said the leadership skills would definitely help in her future.

     Schmitt said she could already see the impact this experience had on Burns. “She’s more outgoing.”

     Schmitt also added that the biggest take-away from the summit was the impression the youth had on mental health and healthcare overall.

     “There are difference facets to healthcare,” she said. “It’s fitness, nutrition, emotional wellbeing, stress management, financial wellbeing; it’s an overarching idea.”

     Schmitt said everyone could benefit from healthy living, healthy lifestyles.

     This is the first year a Jones County 4-H’er has ever had the opportunity to attend the National Summit.

     “It’s great awareness for our youth,” said Schmitt.

     To find out about all of the opportunities through 4-H in Jones County, contact Schmitt at 319-465-3224.


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