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PHOTO CAPTION:  Shyann Stolo, 10, waters a cotton plant in the APG South (Edgewood) youth center garden. Stolo won Junior Grand Champion in the Science Education Category at the Maryland State Fair for her display that showed how she grew cotton at the center.

September 18, 2013
By Rachel Ponder, APG News

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Two members of the APG South (Edgewood) youth center won Junior Champion awards this year at the Maryland State Fair.

Marisol Macias, 9, won the Junior Grand Champion award in the Fresh Herbs category for the thyme she grew at the APG South (Edgewood) youth center. Macias said she learned to garden at the youth center in kindergarten. She enjoys growing flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs.

"It was the first time I ever entered anything in the fair," Macias said. "It was exciting."

APG South youth center Director Renee Main said the herbs were judged on their size, healthy appearance and lack of damage from bugs.

"I am very proud of Marisol winning the grand champion at the state fair," said her mother Maria Quiñones, a TK Services contractor. "Overall, the youth center has been a great learning experience for Marisol in many areas. She has come to learn many new and exciting things that she wouldn't be able to learn if she wasn't at the youth center."

Shyann Stolo, 10, won the Junior Champion award in the Science Education category and was interviewed by Fox 45 Morning News in a live segment about 4-H Clubs Military on Aug. 23.

Stolo said she was judged on the display that showed how she grew cotton at the center.

"I won first place before, but never Champion," Stolo said. "I was excited."

Stolo, who has attended the center for many years, grew cotton as part the youth center's on-going greenhouse project. The greenhouse, built in 2012, allows the children to grow herbs like sage and oregano and vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage and celery.

"I think it's a great opportunity to have the chance to speak publicly about the project," said Stolo's mother, Naomi Stolo, an Aberdeen Test Center contractor. "I am proud to see what she can do when she tries. I want to thank Renee (Main) for getting the children involved in all kinds of activities. It makes them well-rounded children."

Main said the children who attend the center are responsible for watering the plants and herbs in the garden. Occasionally the center will cook dishes with vegetables and herbs that are grown in the garden.

"The garden teaches the children patience, how to be responsible and trustworthy," she said. "The children learn more than just gardening, they learn math skills, science, respect for the environment and how to work together as a team."

Main said Aug. 23 was 4-H Military Day at the fair. Children from the APG South youth center, APG North (Aberdeen) youth center and the Annapolis Naval Academy's youth center were treated to free admission, activities and food from 4-H.

"4-H Military Clubs provide much needed consistency for military children, who deal with frequent moves and deployed parents," Main said. "4-H Military Clubs are similar at every installation," she said.

Main added that she was proud of Macias, Stolo and all the youth center children who entered displays and projects in the Harford County Farm Fair and the Maryland State Fair. "I encourage the children to share their talents with others and learn new things," she said.