Finney County Extension agents

Perhaps you have set some goals for yourself this year, but what about your children? 4-H is one avenue of encouraging youth to set goals. A 4-H project is planning and experiencing activities around a topic.

When 4-H participants select projects, it helps them explore topics they are interested in and to set goals. 4-H has lots of fun materials that help youth explore many different topics, from woodworking, electricity, animals to photography and more. When kids glance through a project manual, they may see lots of things they would like to do in the project. Setting a goal can be as simple as stating, "I want to learn about..." or "I want to make..." As youth get older, they have more and more 4-H areas they can set goals in.

Different ages are at different stages with goal setting. For a 5 to 8 year old, exploring possibilities is more important than reaching a goal; 9 to 11 year olds are setting short-term goals; 12 to 14 year olds are planning strategies to reach goals; 15 to 18 year olds are implementing strategies to meet goals and looking toward life planning.

Information from Targeting Life Skills Model by Patricia A Hendricks.

One key to helping youth set goals is to help pick an area your child is excited about. One model that is fun to explore is the idea of sparks. Everyone has something that provides a spark for them, something that excites them and that they are passionate about. By age 11, youth are starting to develop a spark for something.


Because studies from Tufts University on 4-H youth and the Search Institute in Minneapolis show that teenagers who know and develop at least one spark and have three or more caring adults who help them with their spark are likely to have some great advantages and benefits: Higher grades in school; better social skill; better physical health; better school attendance rates; more likely to volunteer to help others; more likely to care for the earth and its resources; more likely to have a sense of purpose; more likely to say they are "on the road to a hopeful future. 4-H research also shows the same results.

When youth write a goal, consider things like: What your goal is, when you want to reach it by, what you need to learn to reach your goal, what steps you can take to reach your goal, who can help you reach it, and what resources can help you reach your goal.

So when a youth gets a spark idea it is more than just a passing interest or a talent. It's what they are passionate about. It's what releases energy and joy, give them life purpose and focus, and makes a contribution to the world.

It's time to talk turkey!

It's hard to believe the holidays are almost here. Food safety should be emphasized to not give the gift of foodborne illness. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service has many resources on turkey preparation and seasonal food safety. Here are a few:

Is pink turkey meat safe?

The color of cooked poultry is not always a sure sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that poultry has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F throughout the product. Turkey can remain pink even after cooking to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F. The meat of smoked turkey is always pink.

Safe thawing

Turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature during "the big thaw." While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely. However, as soon as it begins to thaw, any bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to grow again.

There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave oven.

* Refrigerator thawing

Plan ahead: allow approximately 24 hours for each four to five pounds in a refrigerator set at 40 F or below. Place the turkey in a container to prevent the juices from dripping on other foods.

A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for one to two days before cooking. Foods thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking but there may be some loss of quality.

* Cold water thawing

Allow about 30 minutes per pound. First be sure the turkey is in a leak-proof plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination and to prevent the turkey from absorbing water, resulting in a watery product. Submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed.

A turkey thawed by the cold water method should be cooked immediately. After cooking, meat from the turkey can be refrozen.

* Microwave thawing

Follow the microwave oven manufacturer's instruction when defrosting a turkey. Plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving. Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed.

A turkey thawed in the microwave must be cooked immediately.

Safe cooking

A food thermometer should be used to ensure a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 F has been reached to destroy bacteria and prevent foodborne illness.

* Roasting instructions

Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 F. Preheating is not necessary.

Be sure the turkey is completely thawed. Times are based on fresh or thawed birds at a refrigerator temperature of 40 F or below.

Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2 inches deep.

For optimum safety, cook stuffing in a casserole. If stuffing your turkey, mix ingredients just before stuffing it; stuff loosely. Additional time is required for the turkey and stuffing to reach a safe minimum internal temperature.

For safety and doneness, the internal temperature should be checked with a food thermometer. The temperature of the turkey and the center of the stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 F. Check the temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

Let the bird stand 20 minutes before removing stuffing and carving.

Call the USDA Meat and Poultry hotline at (888) 674-6854 for more answers. They are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"Let's Talk Turkey A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey" sheet is available at the Finney County Extension Office or at

Have a safe and happy thanksgiving!

Kansas State Research Extension Finney County is the front-door source to your everyday questions for information and knowledge. Every question is of value to you and us. Give us a call at 272-3670, or better, walk in our front door at 501 S. Ninth St., for information to help you make a better decision.