“Where’s the beef?”
For Union Parish 4-H’ers that’s an easy question to answer, thanks to a partnership formed with a local veterinarian. For the past two years, Drs. Charles “Chuck” and Ashley Edwards have teamed up with Union Parish 4-H Agent Brandon Reeder to conduct grilling workshops utilizing beef and pork products.
Family and Consumer Science Agent Markaye Russell and nutrition educator Marianna Langston also joined the team, providing food safety lessons during the workshop. Chuck also competes in cooking competitions as part of the High Steaks Cooking Team. Aside from that, he enjoys teaching others the art of grilling. So, when Reeder asked if he would be willing to help with a 4-H grilling workshop, Chuck Edwards was all in. The first grilling workshop happened just before the COVID-19 pandemic began. That first class in 2020 and the second in 2021 have allowed over 20 Union Parish youth to learn proper grilling techniques.
During the workshop series, the youth learned about different models of grills, grill safety, cuts of meat, how to check the temperature of the meat and where the meat came from. For Chuck and Ashley Edwards, it is their love of grilling and of teaching that makes this a perfect fit. The cost of the workshop series was offset through sponsorships from P&L Steaks Grilling Supply Inc., which donated the seasonings; Royal Oak, which supplied charcoal and fire starters; GrillGrate, which provided grilling gloves; and High Steaks LLC, which supplied grates for the grills, food safety gloves, thermometers and other grilling supplies. Reeder anticipates this event growing over the next few years.
“I think once the kids start talking about how much fun they had learning how to cook hamburgers and pork chops, others are going to want to join in,” he said. The Edwardses are hoping the workshop series participation grows, too. “We would like to get grants and more sponsorships to purchase the grills and needed supplies,” Chuck Edwards said.
Ashley Edwards has grand plans to offer the opportunity throughout the Northeast Region of the state. The Edwardses have already conducted the workshop in Concordia Parish. Once the success of the Union Parish events got out, Concordia Parish 4-H Agent Paige Dickey offered this opportunity to her 4-H’ers.
“They loved it and learned so much,” she said, “we hope to be able to offer it again.”
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture