Rural Health Success Story Contest 2012 Runner-up: Stillwater County 4-H Exchange

According to the Montana Department of Human Services, the number one cause of death in Stillwater County is heart disease. There is also an increase in teen and childhood obesity due to lack of exercise and lack of the consumption of healthy, nutritious foods. Across the board, these statistics are consistent with most teens across America.


The goals of the Stillwater County 4-H Exchange – Youth Health and Wellness Project is to encourage healthy food and nutrition choices using Montana grown foods, engage in a physically active lifestyle, enhance positive body image, and become physically active in a social setting.
Stillwater County 4-H Teen Leaders  participated in an interstate exchange program with Gratiot County Michigan during the summer of 2012.  4-H delegates from Michigan  arrived in Stillwater County Montana in June of 2012. Then in June of 2013, Stillwater delegates will travel to Michigan. During Michigan’s stay this summer, we educated them on the subject of Montana Agriculture and the foods grown here, as well as increased their awareness of the need to promote healthy lifestyles.
The 4-H Exchange program in Stillwater County has been in existence for over 18 years, however attempts to make the program a more “health conscious” one have never before been proposed. Much of the hosting time in the past has consisted of riding in buses or cars to locations outside the county with little chance for times of cardiovascular activity other than walking and little chance of eating healthy, nutritious, locally grown foods. We have changed that aspect of our program by spending more physically active times and providing healthier food choices within the boundaries of our own county. Delegates from Gratiot County Michigan and Stillwater County delegates participated in an overnight visit to Beartooth Mountain Christian Ranch where they engaged in activities such as hiking, camping, backpacking, swimming, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, skiing, riflery, archery, volleyball, basketball, paintball, climbing wall, canoeing, mountain boarding, and a low ropes course. They also ate a variety of locally grown, healthy foods during their overnight stay.
Those involved are: Stillwater County 4-H Teen Leader’s Exchange Club members, Beartooth Mountain Christian Ranch Staff members, Gratiot County Michigan 4-H Exchange, and employees of the Stillwater County Farm Services Agency.
Lisa Terry
Stillwater County Extension Agent