Angie Treadwell considers herself a people person.
The Oregon State University Extension Service nutrition educator in Hermiston usually spends her days teaching cooking classes to families, senior citizens, students, school nutrition staff and other groups. But since COVID-19 put a stop to those interactions, Treadwell said she and the other nutrition staff have missed them.
“It’s been a huge shift for us,” she said. “We all really like people, so it’s been interesting.”
Treadwell has continued teaching some classes over the video chatting app Zoom, but where she has found real success is in creating her own cooking show on YouTube with her two daughters. So far, she has posted five free videos to foodhero.org/food-hero-cooking-show.
“I’ve gotten such good feedback, especially from families with young children, that I will probably continue it post-COVID,” she said. “People like that they can do it on their own schedule.”
The videos, between six and 12 minutes long, walk participants through simple, nutritious recipes, such as a broccoli and beef stir fry or the Popeye Power Smoothie. Each recipe comes from the Food Hero website, where the extension service provides free, healthy recipes searchable by what ingredients families have on hand.
Treadwell’s 15-year-old daughter Ashley uses the skills she learned from past video production classes with Armand Larive Middle School TV to shoot and edit the videos, while Treadwell’s 8-year-old daughter Acelyn assists her on screen.
“She’s excited to be a star on YouTube,” Treadwell said.
She said the videos take a lot of work behind the scenes to produce. She has to get the kitchen camera-ready and make the dish the night before to show off at the beginning of the video what the finished product will look like. She can’t show any brand names on the video, so ingredients must be removed from their packages and placed in unmarked bowls or other containers. Videos must clearly show all the steps, but edit out unnecessary waiting.
“There’s no script,” she said.
Treadwell said other staff plan to start posting videos in Spanish soon, and the Hermiston Public Library has asked Treadwell to do some videos for their summer reading program participants as well.
Treadwell has also continued teaching classes on Zoom to her Snap-Ed class, which, through a partnership with Umatilla Morrow County Head Start, drops off fresh ingredients to participants before each class. Treadwell said the classes can be fun, but she has also witnessed a few “little disasters.”
“I can’t reach through the screen and help them, so that’s hard for me,” she said.
Treadwell’s job with the extension service is about helping people live healthier lives, so beyond teaching cooking, she also teaches participants skills, such as substituting ingredients for healthier ones or comparing labels on packages in the grocery store.
Some events she usually puts on in the summer, such as Screen Free Week celebrations and the Family Health & Fitness Day, have been put on hold by the pandemic, but Treadwell said she is happy to have found a way to use video to do parts of her job. She said she wants everyone to know that the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension staff are still “very much available.”
“The best part is working with families on something useful to them,” she said. “When you cook a lot, you take for granted everyone knows things, but the thing I’ve learned in this job is that not everyone does.”