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Collegiate 4-H: Growing #TrueLeaders Beyond High School

Did you know that you can extend your 4-H experience through your college years?  If you plan on attending college consider joining Collegiate 4-H.   Collegiate 4-H is an organization that provides its members with a sense of identity on campus, enriches their lives through group projects and recreation, and develops confidence and leadership skills. At the University of Florida, Collegiate 4-H provides service and support to Alachua County 4-H and the Florida 4-H State Programs.  Collegiate 4-H is not only a professional organization, but also a service and social organization.  Some of the ways they support 4-H include serving as judges, mentors, and volunteers. Recently, the executive officers of the UF Collegiate 4-H supported our district-wide Teen Retreat.  Last year, the Collegiate 4-H chapter at UF hosted the National Collegiate 4-H Conference in Gainesville, FL.  Earlier this spring, they were invited to attend and present at the National STEM Conference in Washington, DC.  Being a Collegiate 4-H member can open lots of doors for scholarships, awards, internship opportunities, and careers.  It also helps you connect with other young people who are passionate about 4-H Positive Youth Development and who want to continue to make a difference in their “club, community, country, and world.”

Membership

Collegiate 4-H is open to all college students who wish to support youth and the 4-H program. It is not necessary to have prior 4-H experience, only to have an interest in the 4-H ideals and in serving your community. Prior membership in the 4-H organization is not required.  If there is not a Collegiate 4-H Chapter at your local college or university, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office to inquire about securing a faculty advisor.

Questions?

To find out more about the Collegiate 4-H Program at the University of Florida, contact Joshua Clay Hurdle, UF Collegiate 4-H President jchurdle@ufl.edu

To find out more about Collegiate 4-H in general, visit http://www.collegiate4h.org/ or contact Dr. Kate Fogarty, Ph.D. Youth Development Specialist, Florida 4-H kfogarty@ufl.edu

Bleeding Green with Senior 4-H’er Danielle Tinker

Danielle with her state officer team and Adam Putnam, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and 4-H Alum.

Danielle with her state officer team and Adam Putnam, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and 4-H Alum.

How do you 4-H? Through 4-H, youth can participate in clubs, mentorship, project mastery, competitions, local, state, and international trips, and service opportunities unlike any other youth development program in the country. Along with specific skills, 4-H also works to impart life skills, or workforce readiness skills, to its youth. One of the best ways 4-H teaches leadership and responsibility to youth is by giving youth the power to choose how involved they will be and take ownership over what their experience will look like. When youth choose in fully to 4-H, the results are remarkable and inspiring. When our Senior 4-H’ers (14-18 year olds) take advantage of all that is available to them, the impact is a rewarding one. One can observe Senior aged 4-H’ers youth who are both driven to challenge themselves and who take ownership of their own success in 4-H and of their county and state program at large. One such extraordinary example is State 4-H Council Treasurer, Danielle Tinker of Escambia County, FL. 

Danielle affectionately says she had to “beg” her mother to get her involved in 4-H. That kind of drive is indicative of the approach Danielle has taken in her 4-H experience overall. “One of the greatest things about 4-H is that it has given me opportunities to try so many new and different things. Some of them… I am glad to have been exposed to them and had opportunity to learn about those things…Then there are areas and events that have changed who I am and where I will end up in life.” Because Senior 4-H youth are able to define their experience, they can explore the depth of their interest area. Sometimes only by trying on various projects do youth find the field that drives them most of all. After pursuing projects like hiking, camping, drama, participating in the fair exhibits, and consumer judging competitions, Danielle got involved in leadership and livestock raising. Here Danielle found her niche. She has passionately pursued many leadership roles at the club, county, and state level and succeeded in her goal to be part of the process of improving the program and spurring others to be involved. Her love of leadership and livestock together have helped Danielle to define her goals in a way that captures both areas, saying that “Through 4-H I have discovered that I love raising livestock and I hope someday to have my own farm where I can raise and care for livestock.”13096312_10154159026847558_3125887732858775077_n Her entrepreneurial spirit, developing mastery in hog raising, and the leadership skills she has learned will translate into the lifelong values and behavioral change we see in many of our 4-H’ers that have let their experiences direct how they think of others, themselves, and their place in the world.

Being able to translate skills like leadership, responsibility, communication, resourcefulness, and being goal oriented from a specific task or project to all aspects of life is the type of behavior change positive youth development strives for. When asked about the benefits of 4-H, Danielle said,

4-H has helped me develop skills that I can use in my future such as self confidence, public speaking and time management…Maybe most importantly through the leadership opportunities, events, and trainings that I have had in 4-H, I will never be the same.  I have gained confidence, skills, and abilities that I can carry with me into whatever my future holds.”

Though all 4-H youth develop these skills, as youth age into being a Senior 4-H’er, many new opportunities become available that put them at the center of their county and state programming. Projects, leadership opportunities, and travel for this group is much more challenging and autonomous than the mentor heavy experience of younger 4-H’ers. Youth are able to meet with their peers throughout the state and nation who are delving into making what they experience in 4-H part of their lifelong vision and goals for themselves.

12295444_1008171835891965_3627116461056797003_nOne of the most important skills 4-H teaches is to use your head, heart, hands, and health not only for oneself but for club, community, country, and world. Years of community service through 4-H have helped to mold Danielle into an empathetic and thoughtful young woman.
I have learned about compassion for others through community service, and gained a passion for teaching and helping others get the most out of the opportunities afforded them through 4-H and that understanding will go with me in whatever I am passionate about as an adult.” While Danielle has pursued 4-H to the hilt, there is something to be gained through every experience.  

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Senior 4-H’ers can choose to be part of many incredible experiences that are exciting, rewarding, and continually challenge them in the moment as well as throughout their lives. 4-H is a program for all ages. Get on board. Contact your local county agent or look into all the incredible opportunities at the Florida 4-H website.

Reflections from Graduating 4-H Seniors

Trey is a graduating senior from the 4-H Buckaroos Horse Club

Trey is a graduating senior from the 4-H Buckaroos Horse Club

One of the most important milestones in one’s life is completing their high school education. Such is the case for Trey and Savannah, two bright young Jackson County 4-H members who are graduating this month. Both youth were asked to reflect upon their 4-H experience and share their thoughts in this week’s blog post.

Trey joined 4-H six years ago and has been a member of the Jackson County 4-H Buckaroos Horse Club for two years. Trey is a homeschool student. He has competed in the 4-H Horse Project at the local, State and Regional levels and has also participated in community service events for Sunland and the Florida Sheriff’s Boys Ranch. He has competed in the District and State 4-H Horse Shows since 2014 and even qualified for the Regional Show last year. He will compete in the 2016 State Show in July.

Trey shares that he got involved in 4-H through a neighbor. When he joined, there wasn’t a horse club in Jackson County, so he participated in the Gadsden County 4-H Horse Club. He transferred his membership back to Jackson County when the 4-H Buckaroos horse club started a couple of years ago. When asked what he has learned through 4-H, Trey states:

“I have learned that 4-H is not just about horses and cattle. It’s about meeting new people and learning how to come together as a club and a family. Participating in 4-H has helped me to be more confident and has helped me overcome being shy and having trouble speaking in front of people. I definitely see myself coming back as a volunteer because I loved my 4-H experience and would like to see more kids have that same experience.”

Much of his positive experience in 4-H is a result of the relationships he has had with caring adult volunteers. “Mr. Terry Harris has helped me with everything that I can think of with my horse project. He and Mrs. Katricia Edenfield are not just 4-H volunteers to me, they are family and I love my 4-H family! I would like to add that I have had a great time in 4-H and it has helped me grow into the young man that I am today. I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to be in 4-H.”

Savannah is a graduating senior from the Jackson County Livestock Club.

Savannah is a graduating senior from the Jackson County Livestock Club.

Savannah is a member of the Jackson County 4-H Livestock club and joined 4-H two years ago. Savannah will graduate from Cottondale high school this month. Savannah has exhibited cattle, competed on 4-H livestock, poultry and meat judging teams, and has also been a member of the Jackson County 4-H Youth Council. She has attended 4-H University as a voting delegate and she also attended the inaugural 4-H Youth Teen Retreat held in February of this year.

Savannah got involved in 4-H after attended an Open House event in 2014. Although she has only been in 4-H two years, she says:

“4-H has taught me how to be a leader. I have been encouraged to believe in myself and to never give up. Being in 4-H has helped me to develop self-confidence and the ability to speak in front of people. I definitely want to come back to 4-H as a volunteer. 4-H is my second family. The volunteers in our 4-H Club have taught me to never give up and to always follow my dreams. They have helped me develop confidence in myself and the things that I can do. They have also taught me the value of teamwork and sportsmanship. When we win, we win together and when we lose, we lose together. 4-H helps kids to step out of their comfort zone and try new things. I am so very thankful for my 4-H club and leaders. I would not be where I am today without them.”

On behalf of the Northwest District 4-H Agents, we wish all of our graduating seniors the best. We thank you for your involvement in 4-H and invite you to join our 4-H Alumni Group. Later this month, we will share how graduating seniors can extend their 4-H experience through Collegiate 4-H.  As you can see, 4-H has lots of opportunities to fuel the extraordinary efforts of young people so that they are prepared to face a complex and changing world. We strive to help youth develop life skills to prepare them to be productive members of the community and workforce. If you would like to get involved as a member, volunteer, advocate or even donor, please contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.

 

4-H Alumni Growing the Next Generation of #TrueLeaders

“First you are a part of it, then it becomes a part of you.”

What better way to describe that inside “IT” factor that drives our 4-H Alumni to continue supporting our programming in order “To Make the Best Better.” In the case of the Walton County Cherokee Riders Horse Club, they are doubly blessed with two club leaders who are 4-H Alumni of that exact club!

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Rebecca & Ashly as 4-H’ers in Cherokee Riders .

Rebecca Morales and Ashly Rogers became involved in 4-H at ages 13 and 11 after their mother discovered a homeschool club in the community. Soon after joining they were addicted and became actively involved in other clubs involving horses, livestock, gardening, and county and district events. It has been a goal of both club leaders to have their club involved in as much community service and county events as possible. When asked what they enjoy most about their role, they stated “We enjoy giving back to our county 4-H. All of our 4-H leaders and agents spent their precious time pouring their knowledge into us kids. We hope to do the same for others. And we want our kids to experience 4-H the way we did.”

Inspiration is pivotal in volunteer retention within your program. Resources can be extreme or minimal but if there is inspiration within and for your volunteers then they will make miracles happen. When asked what inspires Rebecca and Ashly to continue their service as Club Leader they stated, “Partly because of the great example we had when we were young. Our 4-H Program Assistant Jamie spent so much time and effort making sure we had a well-rounded 4-H experience, and partly because we have a great 4-H agent who is so supportive and always brings her A game.” Jamie is a 4-H Alumni as well (featured here http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/4hn/2016/04/11/4-h-grown-raised/ ) and I have had the opportunity as the 4-H Agent to see how she has positively influenced Rebecca and Ashly in their club management, program development, and community involvement.

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Rebecca & Ashly with Cherokee Riders in Christmas parade.

As with paying jobs, the most frustrating task can be time management. This hurdle is no less stressful for the 4-H Volunteer who not only works their own job and has their own families but also has their “4-H family” to support as well. Rebecca and Ashly state that, “We do not think people understand how much 4-H volunteers give. We give up a lot of our free time, [but] even through all the hard times, in the end it is worth it. If we have made a difference in one kid’s life, it is worth every second.”

4-H has obviously influenced Rebecca and Ashly in many ways throughout their childhood which gave them the life skills needed to make healthy decisions as adults. In regards to what they believe 4-H has done for them, their club, and the community they stated,

“When you are in 4-H you really do learn so many life skills [such as] how to overcome difficult situations, how to work together with so many different personalities, public speaking, how to show and care for all livestock, and how to present yourself in a professional way. There are too many things that we could list, 4-H is just that great!”

It is an absolute privilege to have a group of talented alumni who are dedicated to give back to your program and your community. Alumni can be instrumental in broadening your capacity to reach all corners of your county! If you are an alumni interested in connecting to your 4-H family contqact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit these sites for more information:

Florida 4-H Alumni homepage: http://florida4h.org/alumni/

Florida 4-H Connections: http://florida4h.org/alumni1/FL4-HConnection.pdf