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4-H Day at Gator Football

Just a few more days until College Football season kicks off!  The Gator Ticket Office is proud to announce a special ticket offer for all 4-H members, employees, alumni, as well as their family and friends for the Gator Football game on Saturday, September, 3rd against the UMASS Minutemen! Take advantage of this opportunity to purchase game tickets at a special rate of ONLY $20 per ticket!

Here’s the official invitation from head coach Jim McElwain.  


Currently, the Florida Panhandle is in 2nd place for the highest number of tickets sold.  The northeast district is in first place by a few dozen tickets. We are close to our goal of selling 500 tickets and if we are able to meet our goal, one 4-Her will have an exclusive on the field opportunity at halftime!  It’s not too late to order your tickets- use this link.



Making a Difference by Fostering Independence

Make a Difference Monday is an online volunteer training series.

Make a Difference Monday is an online volunteer training series.

Most youth have started back to school, and soon we will roll over onto a new 4-H year as well!  We are excited to kick off our Make a Difference Monday series next month.  Make a Difference Monday is a online training series for both new and experienced 4-H volunteers.  This year’s series will focus on the concept of Independence. There are two Essential Elements for Positive Youth Development related to Independence: Opportunity to see oneself as an active participant in the future and the opportunity for self determination.

The first session will help volunteers perfect their processing skills as they facilitate 4-H learning in their club.  Learning how to lead youth through the process of learning and discovery can be easier said than done.  Sarah Hensley, our state curriculum and evaluation specialist, will provide simple resources and tips so that volunteers can become experts in our Learn by Doing Model.

The second session will really help us fine tune our skills at forging youth adult partnerships.  How we as adults see youth sets the tone of our club and county program.  This session will help us examine our own beliefs and attitudes towards youth (and how it impacts our success as leaders) and will also help us teach youth how they can have an impact on their own life rather than passively submitting to the will and whims of others.  In short- it is about empowering youth to make decisions and prepare them to be leaders to make a positive difference.   One of the most powerful ways that club leaders can foster this Essential Element is by engaging youth in the club programming planning.  4-H Agent Karen Miliffe and myself will help guide you through that process.

One of the most difficult tasks for youth is learning how to set SMART goals.  For example, this year for my daughter’s very first 4-H demonstration, she wanted to demonstrate how to make home-made pasta.  Although that was an excellent idea, I felt that that would be a difficult demonstration for an 8-year old to pull off (to be honest, making home-made pasta is a bit of a challenge for most adults).  Instead, I helped her choose a more realistic and age-appropriate goal- demonstrating how to make her favorite batch of cookies.  Success in setting a achieving goals gives youth the confidence to aspire to more challenging goals in a safe way.  This session, taught by our Positive Youth Development Specialist Dr. Kate Fogarty and 4-H Agent Sonja Crawford, will also help us better understand the ages and stages of positive youth development to guide us as we support different age groups of youth.

Sessions will start promptly at 7 PM Eastern/6 PM Central.  You can join at home on our computer, phone, or tablet or if you prefer a group setting, you can contact your local UF IFAS Extension office for the nearest location available to you.  More information is available at 

September 19 Fostering Independence with Learning by Doing Sarah Hensley
October 17 Nurturing Independence through the Club Program Karen Miliffe and Heather Kent
November 21 Encouraging Independence through Project Work Kate Fogarty and Sonja Crews

Tips for a Successful School Year

1182266_studentsWhere did the summer go?  It’s hard to believe that in many counties, school starts next week!  I wanted to share a few things that will help make this school year successful for your family.  It’s no surprise that success — or failure — at school starts at home. Studies have linked poor academic performance to factors such as a lack of sleep, poor nutrition, obesity, and a lack of parental support.

The good news is that those same studies also show higher test scores for students who live in homes with healthy habits, regular routines, and good communication. What does this mean?  Let’s brainstorm on ways you can ensure your child heads off to school this fall with the best possible foundation.

Organization is definitely a key factor to help your child. A student agenda notebook or planner is a great tool, or if they are able to use electronic devices have them use a planning program/calendar. Encourage them to review their assignments before leaving school to make sure they bring home the appropriate books and materials.

At home, remind them to look at the planner instead of trying to work from memory. Establish a place where your child can study daily and do their homework. Be sure it is free from distractions and have school supplies easily accessible. Make it your children’s responsibility to let you know when they run low on supplies. As much as possible, be available during this time in case your child needs help. Assist your child on making a list of all the things going on weekly and break down big assignments into smaller chunks they can do daily.

Have family meetings to be sure everyone knows what is happening for the week. My family usually meets on Sundays. It is a time when we work out transportation, meal plans, extracurricular activities and homework times.

Look for ways to teach your child throughout the day. For example, cooking combines elements of math and science. Use the time when you make dinner as an opportunity to read and follow directions, to discuss fractions, to make hypotheses and to examine results.

Choosing to make schoolwork a priority over socializing with friends is one of the biggest challenges facing school children. Institute a work first/play later policy. With “work first/play later,” kids are expected to get all of their work done before visiting friends, chatting online or playing games. Explain that there will be consequences if this policy isn’t met, and be prepared to follow through. Offer praise for a job well done. Though they may not act like your approval matters, it is still very important and it does motivate them. All children need down time, and playing both alone and with other children is good for both their intellectual and social skills. Eventually a well-developed work ethic will result in a big pay-off. Celebrate their successes. A family dinner out to celebrate a solid mid-year report can boost their spirits and encourage them to keep putting in the effort.

Model good learning behavior in the way you deal with your job and household responsibilities and let your children know that you are still learning. Be sure that you show your child – through your own action – that good educational habits yield great rewards.

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For more information go to or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.