Select Page

The Heart of a Handwritten Note: The 2nd “H” in 4-H

My Heart to Greater Loyalty...

My Heart to Greater Loyalty…

A handwritten note or card can express one’s gratitude, thankfulness, care, or encouragement and has not gone extinct even in this age of technology. Just think about the last time you received a personal handwritten note from someone. You may have gotten emails, texts, or posts relating to the same event and you appreciated it all but isn’t there just something a little extra special about receiving a written note?

Florida 4-H helps youth develop life skills. Life skills are those competencies (measurable or observable knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors) that assist people in functioning well in the environments in which they live. Life skills are transferable which makes them different from task specific skills like tying a bow or knot.

In February we think of all things related to the heart due to Valentine’s Day. The second H in 4-H stands for the Heart. Looking at Targeting Life Skills in 4-H, the Heart has two life skills subcategories; caring and relating. The specific life skills under caring are empathy, sharing, nurturing relationships, and concern for others. Youth need an opportunity to demonstrate these skills throughout the year.

This takes us back to the handwritten note and your call to action to cultivate the art of note writing in our youth and give them another outlet of expressing the life skills connected to the second H in 4-H.

Tips to Get Started

  • Collection of note cards (Cards could be club themed and can even be hand-made by youth)
  • Good writing pens
  • Stamps (Unless personally delivering them)
  • Keep supplies in your 4-H club box so that you will have them when you need them

According to David Horsager, notes should be specific, personalized, and authentic (S.P.A.)  The note does not have to be long. Younger members, such as cloverbuds may just want to draw a picture that expresses thanks or encouragement. If having youth write cards, teach them want should be included in an artful handwritten note:

  • What they are thankful for or what they want to encourage or motivate someone about
  • How the person has benefited them or how they will use the gift

Even as adults we can demonstrate the life skills under caring. One of my goals this year is to more deliberate and intentional when writing personal notes for work, family, or friends. With practice, this will become easier and having my supplies at work and home will help me get that personalized out and make someone’s day a little brighter and better.  What will you do differently this year to model the 2nd “H” in 4-H?  Leave us a comment below!

~this article was written by Yolanda Goode, 4-H Agent in Gadsden County

Making a Difference: Gary Clark

Gary Clark, Sure Shots 4-H Club Leader

Gary Clark, Sure Shots 4-H Club Leader

In Washington County, the name Gary Clark is synonymous with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Gary decided to start a club because he wanted to do something that would benefit the next generation of hunters, conservationists, and shooting sports enthusiasts. When asked what he most enjoys about being a 4-H volunteer, he replied “It is a way to give back to a community that has always supported me.’

Gary takes his role as a mentor and role model very seriously. “There are young people watching and listening to your every word, not so much for guidance and inspiration, but to see if you are walking the talk.  Working with young people today is not so much about passing along knowledge and teaching life skills as it is about making investments in their lives. Showing the same care and concern for every youth you are working with, no matter what skill level or potential, is critical to that young person viewing themselves as successful.” Relationships with caring adult volunteers is one of the Essential Elements of Positive Youth Development that 4-H is built upon.

I believe that we all have not only an opportunity, but an obligation to help to make our communities a better place to live. I think back on the people who gave their time and resources to coach and mentor me when I was young and I am thankful for the generosity. No amount of time spent investing in the lives our youth is ever wasted!

Seeing kids succeed is what keeps Gary motivated to continue his volunteer service. “Our teams have been extremely successful, but most of that success is measured on the personal level.  When you see a student achieve a new personal best or overcome an obstacle that has held them back and you see that little light go off inside their brains, you can’t help but be inspired and so proud of their achievements.” Gary also finds motivation when his 4-H Alumni return to the program as volunteers. “Two former students are also now certified coaches in the program and help out on a regular basis. Seth Pemberton is one of those youth. Seth shares, “Gary has positively impacted my life through 4-H shooting sports by making me strive for excellence, work hard, and give my best.”

Gary shares what inspires him most about being a volunteer is working with youth who would otherwise not have the opportunity to be part of a team. “Unlike so many other sports, shooting is a pretty level playing field- it isn’t only for the most athletic, the smartest, the most popular or the kid that can afford the best equipment. Every member comes into the program with an equal opportunity for success. It is all based on their commitment, focus, and [goals they set for themselves].”

Gary is very modest about his impact his club has on youth, but Julie Dillard, the Washington County Extension Director says, “Gary’s dedication to his community and his 4-H’ers is inspiring and has been the key to the success of Sure Shots 4-H Club.  He encourages, praises, corrects and motivates each individual to be his or her best.”

When asked what he feels youth get out of the 4-H Shooting Sports program, he says “They learn about respect for others, commitment, teamwork, goal setting, cooperation and even how to handle disappointment [sportsmanship]. All of these traits come from being part of a program like 4-H. I do not know of any other organization that offers so many different ways for youth to be involved in their community in a structured, safe and nurturing environment that is built on the values and principles that we all hold so dear. I also believe that these skills will follow them throughout their adult lives as well.” Gary’s experience with 4-H is backed by research. The Tufts Study of Positive Youth Development found that compared to other youth, 4-H members are:

  • Four times more likely to contribute to their communities
  • Two times more likely to be civically active
  • Two times more likely to participate in science, engineering, and technology programs during out of school time; and
  • Two times more likely to make healthier choices.

Would you consider making the investment of a lifetime by becoming a 4-H volunteer? 4-H offers a variety of volunteer roles based on your interests and schedule. To find out more about being a volunteer, contact your local Extension Office or visit

Pinterest Fails can be Teachable Moments

I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. I am, admittedly, a perfectionist. And Pinterest sets me up for failure. Perhaps it’s because I am the least crafty person you will ever meet, but nothing ever turns out the way it looks in the photos. Yet, I keep searching and trying new things.

Today’s Pinterest find was a neat little project I found here. I was immediately drawn in by the cute little hearts and the idea that no sweets are involved! Upon exploring this project further, I came to believe this had success written all over it: find crayons, chop up crayons, melt. Easy peasy. Turns out, things were a little more complicated than that, but I would still suggest this as a doable project for 4-H’ers of any age (with proper adult supervision, of course).

Crayon Hearts

1. Collect used crayons. Ask members to bring them to your meeting. You want a good mixture or bright and dark colors.
2. Peel paper off crayons. This was by far the most tedious task. If you will be doing this activity with younger 4-H’ers, I would bring the crayons already peeled.
3. Cut crayons into small pieces. Upon completing this, I realized I should have cut mine a little smaller to help with their melting.

cut crayons

cut crayons

4. Put crayons in silicone baking tray. 230 degrees for 15-20 mins.

baking crayons

baking crayons

5. Let heart crayons cool and remove (more like peal) from tray.

Now what?
There is so much more to this activity than breaking crayons and melting them into hearts.

  • Teamwork is required to prepare all the materials. Don’t forget, crayons won’t peal themselves!
  • Planning and organizing are required if youth want to have hearts turn out a certain color. Check out these crayons.
  • Decision making is necessary to figure out what will be done with the crayon hearts.
    • Should the hearts be donated to a local children’s hospital or Ronald McDonald House?
  • Older youth can figure out the per item cost of each heart and compare it to the cost of store-bought gifts.

Whether you need something related to your specific project area or you are seeking an idea for a fun, themed activity, Pinterest will certainly not disappoint. Don’t forget, even if your activity turns into a Pinterest fail, celebrate the teachable moments and successes along the way!


A Pinterest success!



Crayon hearts:

Nifty crayon hearts:







Bad Weather Blues: Ideas for Indoor Club Meeting Recreation

Don't let the weather ruin your club's recreational time.  Play inside!

Don’t let the weather ruin your club’s recreational time. Play inside!

It’s that time of year in North Florida when we’re not sure what we’ll wake up to each morning. We may be in short sleeves, sweatshirts, or hip waders and that can make planning a club meeting tough. During this time of year, between the cold and the rain, it’s seldom that our youth are allowed to go outside for PE.  And in lower grades, where a gym may not be available, they are often not getting any significant amount of physical activity during the school day. This is neither good for their mental or physical health, so how can we combat the winter-blues in our club meetings? Here are a few suggestions:

Indoor relay and tag games: If space permits, move the furniture out of the way, and let the kids play freeze tag or have a relay race. Relays are often easy to relate to the educational topic of your meeting. Examples include:

  • Set the table relay: where youth draw a piece of a table setting out of a paper bag, run to a table across the room, and put it in its proper place on the table. (the floor can be used in place of a table if need be.) The first team to correctly set the table wins.
  • Salsa relay: youth put plastic tomatoes or peppers or onions or garlic between their knees and “run/waddle” around a cone, chair, or tape mark, at the other end of the room back to their team where they pass on their piece of food to the next team mate. The first team to have each player complete the task wins.
  • Traditional balloon and ring races are always good too.

Exercise bingo: Contact your local extension office for a copy of exercise bingo. In this high intensity game, each youth or team of youth, is given a bingo card and a stack of exercise cards which face down on the floor. A teammate flips an exercise card, and each team member completes the task on the card (arm circles, pushups, jumping jacks, etc.) If their bingo card includes this exercise, the team captain marks that spot off of their card. Teammates take turn flipping exercise cards until they have Bingo. The first team to get Bingo wins.

Simon Says, Duck-Duck-Goose, London Bridge: These games require only a little space, and are still fun for younger youth, especially Cloverbuds (4-7 yrs). Simon says can often relate to your educational program as well. Ex – “Simon says comb your steer.” “Simon says, stir the batter.” “Simon says bait your hook.”

Legos, board games, etc.: It’s not very active, we know, but sometimes space just doesn’t allow for much physical activity, but it’s still important for youth to have time to interact with each other and relax. Be sure not to pick board games that may take hours to complete. Things like Charades, Guestures, Win, Lose or Draw, etc. are great options.

Now it’s your turn.  Get creative, and in the comments section below, share with us the ideas you have for indoor recreation!