Many years ago, a young girl attended a 4-H livestock club meeting along with her brothers and her father, who was serving as the volunteer club leader. During the meeting the local county 4-H Agent paid the club a visit to talk to the members about participating in the upcoming 4-H County Events Contest. The agent shared different project areas and types of demonstrations and speeches that could be done. Up until that point, the 4-H member had not been exposed to any projects outside the realm of livestock.
The agent had brought a colorful Fleishman’s Yeast Bread Cookbook that caught the eye of the young girl (at that time, Fleishman’s Yeast was a national sponsor for the 4-H Breads Project). The girl went home excited and told her mother that she wanted to do a demonstration on yeast breads. Her mother smiled and said, “I’ve never made yeast bread, but we will give it a try.” The 4-Her and her mom began practicing and discovered great success at baking yeast breads, so the girl began organizing her food preparation demonstration.
The 4-H breads category was very popular that year with a record number of competitors, but that didn’t scare this member. She won the county and district contests her first year competing which pushed her on to state competition in which she placed third in the state. For this 4-H member who had struggled in school, much needed confidence began to grow. From that point on she began considering a career as an Extension Agent.
After high school, this young lady went on to college and obtained a degree in Home Economics. She has served 30 years as an Extension Agent encouraging youth to be all that they can be in whatever their interests and desires. Yeast breads have been a vehicle for this agent to teach people many life lessons and skills. You may know this agent as Monica (Lewis) Brinkley, UF/IFAS Extension Liberty County Extension Director.
In honor of November, National Bread Month, and the fond memories of learning to bake yeast breads with her late mother, Monica and her Family and Consumer Sciences colleagues across the Florida Panhandle have put together a workshop titled, Rediscover Bread Baking And Jam-Making to teach families how to make bread in a bag and preserve jam. The families work together and carry home whole wheat yeast bread and preserved jam to enjoy together. Although the bread and jam do not last long, the memories created and skills learned will last a lifetime. If you are interested in this workshop or other workshops similar to this, please contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org. You never know where this may take you or a member of your family!