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4-H clover Erica Kazin goes the eggs-tra mile in 4-H

A teenage girl stands at a stove cooking scrambled eggs.
Erica Kazin, member of the 4-H poultry project in Wright County

Talk to Erica Kazin, a member of the University of Minnesota Extension 4-H poultry project team in Wright County, and she’ll tell you all about eggs. But as far as which came first for Erica at the 4-H National Poultry and Egg Conference in Kentucky last year, it was almost the chicken.

“There are three contests that we do at National: the chicken barbecue, the turkey barbecue and the egg contest,” says Erica. “The two girls ahead of me picked first and then I was left with the eggs.”

Erica was familiar with eggs, having raised chickens. Still, she had a lot of studying to do because 4-H contests are more rigorous than one might imagine. Egg contest participants demonstrate the preparation of a dish while presenting to judges about the nutritional value and versatility of eggs. She had to hit the American Egg Board’s Eggcyclopedia hard.

Already a veteran of the 4-H barbeque contest at the Minnesota State Fair, she was naturally excited to choose a recipe. She settled on a crustless quiche. The options for fillings are endless, but she used canned tomatoes, green chili peppers, hot breakfast sausage and “a lot of cheese.”

Kazin won first place, becoming the first Minnesota 4-H'er to win the egg prep demonstration. 

Back to those nutrition facts

Carton of brown eggs.

“Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there,” says Erica, explaining that they contain a high amount of nutrients in comparison to calories. She says eggs have at least 13 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D. They provide healthy fats and antioxidants and are a great source of protein, all for only 72 calories per large egg.

“The reason the egg contains so many of these vital nutrients is that when a chick hatches it absorbs the nutrients into itself —  the yolk sustains the chick for up to three days without any food or water,” she adds.

Although prices are rising right now, Erica says eggs still pack a lot of nutrition per dollar. “Eggs are very economical, which makes them a great way for cooks to add protein and nutrients to their dishes without breaking the bank,” she says.

About more than chickens and eggs

Four youth stand arm-in-arm, smiling, against a curtain backdrop.
Erica Kazin, right, pictured with her team at the 4-H National Poultry and Egg Conference in Kentucky.

Erica has clearly amassed a mountain of knowledge while competing, but it’s not the color of the ribbon that has made 4-H so rewarding.

Positive youth development isn’t as much about the activity as the approach. Mark Otto, the volunteer 4-H poultry coach in Wright County, meets with around 20 youth every Sunday. “They're learning some real skills about dealing with how things sometimes go in a positive way, or sometimes don’t quite go so well,” he says. “Overall, it’s a little bit of education and a lot of life skills.”  

It's also about the sense of belonging. “I have great friends in 4-H between my club and the poultry project,” says Erica. “With poultry, we've been on the same team literally since fourth grade and we have a great coach.”

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