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U of I Extension courses: a place to preserve your produce and make new pals

by | Jun 5, 2023 | Highlights, Newsroom

Bannock County residents can reconnect to their agriculture roots through new courses offered at the University of Idaho Extension office.

Katie Hickok is the Family and Consumer Science Educator for the Bannock County U of I Extension. For the past year, she’s been building a curriculum to improve the quality of life for people of all ages through courses in healthy lifestyles, nutrition, food safety, and financial management.

“There’s an appetite for reconnecting with the community and I think these classes help. My hope is that, not only do you learn something new, you meet someone new and become friends through these classes,” Hickok said.

As summer comes to a close, the U of I Extension will offer a community canning class for folks to bring their produce to class and preserve it with Hickok’s help.

“This course is a great opportunity to extend your harvest and make friends. Canning together is way more fun than doing it by yourself in your hot kitchen,” Hickok said.

Hickok hopes to offer a course in the fall on how to use your canned produce in recipes and meals. She also envisions offering a course around the Thanksgiving holiday to teach people how to pressure can the broth from turkey bones.

Last harvest season, Hickok began a gleaning project to rescue unused fruit from fruit trees and donate the produce to local food pantries.

“A lot of people have back yard fruit trees that go to waste, so I wanted to offer a way to easily donate that food,” Hickok said. “Within one month, I was able to donate over 200 lbs. of fresh produce to the local food pantries.”

This year, she plans to expand the program by training volunteers to pick produce. Those interested in volunteering or offering their produce can email Hickok at

Hickok hopes to inspire green thumbs by offering is a new edible garden tour in August. Gardeners can sign up to list their home garden as a stop in a self-paced tour of local gardens. Hickok is asking for a variety of gardens ranging from small containers to large raised beds. For more information or to sign up, contact Hickok at

Beyond lessons in homesteading, Hickok, a licensed registered dietitian, offers classes for parents with picky eaters or new parents who want to learn how to safely introduce their baby to solid foods.

Hickok is currently offering a course at the Marshall Public Library on Thursdays at 2 p.m. for kids ages 5 to 12 called “Be a Food Explorer.” The course offers kids a chance to explore foods, flavors, spices, and textures to help them gain curiosity to try new foods.

For more information about these courses, follow the UI Extension 4-H Bannock County Facebook page or sign up for the Extension office’s quarterly newsletter by emailing

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