Sugar Beets, Hummingbirds, and more at 4-H Static Workshop Day


Brooklyn Creech, left, gets help from Mariella Myers in separating pots to plant sugar beet seeds. Laurie Zitterkopf, far right, 4-H Static Superintendent, gives instructions and hands out seeds to the 4-H youth.

The Scotts Bluff County 4-H hosted its third annual Static Workshop Day on Friday, May 31, at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. 

“This event was the brainchild of Laurie Zitterkopf (4-H Static Superintendent) in 2022 as a way of getting more youth involved with 4-H projects for inside the building at the Scotts Bluff County Fair,” said Nathan Rice, Nebraska Extension 4-H Youth Development educator. “ The goal of the day is to bring in a variety of local experts to introduce youth to multiple skills or topics they could begin to participate in.”

The 4-H youth participated in four workshop sessions. The Special Agronomy and Horticulture Project was led by Micheal Ann Relka, Western Sugar agronomist and Zitterkopf. Relka explained how the sugar beet seeds should be planted in a deep pot, but only an inch deep. “This allows the seeds root, where the sugar is, to grow down and get big.” 

After the discussion on sugar beets and how they are an important part of the local economy. The group moved to the outside lawn, where each 4-Her received a pot and planted their sugar beet seeds in it. The beets will not be mature by the time of the Scotts Bluff County Fair in late July, but they will be judged on their current growth stage. The youth also learned about this year’s Special Horticulture Project, Princess of India Nasturium. The flowering plant is a Victorian-era flower that has been grown in the United States since the 1890s. 

“Nasturtiums are a vegetable, herb, and flower,” said Zitterkopf. “They can be enjoyed in so many ways. I’m hoping we see a lot at our fair. It is one plant, but there are many ways to display it. Seeds are displayed like peas, flowers, herbs, leaves, and stems like lettuce.” The leaves and flowers contain high amounts of mustard oil, giving them a pungent or peppery flavor. She said the peppery bite resembles a radish. 

The Static Workshop Day also had an introduction to sewing, a hummingbird feeder project, and the Nebraska History Escape Room, where four teams of youth raced to complete the escape room while learning about the people, places, and events that have shaped our great state.  

To learn more about 4-H and getting involved visit your local extension office.