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Announcing the New 4-H Insectathon Event

Photo credit: UF

There are two kinds of people in the world- those that think bugs are really cool and those that run screaming from anything that slightly resembles an insect.  If you or a family member are the former, then prepare to be excited!  We are happy to announce that there will be a new competitive event coming to Florida 4-H.  It is being developed by a team of specialists, volunteers and youth who are passionate about the exciting world of entomology.  The Florida 4-H Insectathon will be held January 20th, 2018 in Gainesville, FL and will include the following events:

  • Insect Collection Contest
  • Honey Bee Essay Contest
  • Insect Art Contest
  • Entomology Identification and Skill-a-thon Contest
  • Educational tours for both contest participants and their family members

This event will help youth master skills such as how to use a dichotomous key, how to make observations, record keeping skills, pinning skills, and communication skills- it may even aspire some youth to pursue a career related to entomology!  To help volunteers, parents and youth get started, the experts will be teaching a workshop here in the Panhandle on Saturday, May 6th, from 10AM-2PM.  Registration is open March 1st through April 28th via 4HOnline.  Participants will receive hands-on experience collecting, identifying and pinning insects, as well as a startup kit of resources to share with other youth in your county.  Counties are encouraged to send a team of youth and adults to this workshop.  Lunch will be provided, so there is a small fee of $15.00/person.

If you have a passion for nature and would like to inspire the next generation, consider sharing your expertise as a 4-H entomology project or resource leader.  For more information, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.

Other Resources of Interest:

Using LEGOs to Grow Literacy Skills in 4-H Clubs

4-H Leader and Librarian, Renae Roundtree, found a way to teach not only STEM, but help youth develop a life-long passion for reading.

Books, DVD’s, audio books, magazines and…LEGO’s?  Yes, all of these can be found at the Washington County Public Library along with enthusiastic 4-H Club Leader, Renae Rountree.  Renae, Director of the WCPL, partnered with Washington County 4-H three years ago to “LEGO My Library” and start the Brick Bratz 4-H Club that meets twice a month at the library.

The secret to this club’s success (that always has a waiting list) is Renae’s commitment to providing a fun, educational experience where kids are free to explore, question, succeed, fail and try again.  Using the LEGO StoryStarter program, youth listen to a task that gets them and their partner started on an adventure of writing a comic-style story.

The StoryStarter kit includes LEGO pieces with five small panels and a computer based program.  Working with a partner, youth illustrate their story with LEGOs, panel by panel, then take pictures of each panel and upload them to their laptop.  They add dialogue and background scenes to finish their story.  It’s so much fun, the kids don’t even realize they’re practicing skills like communication, teamwork, decision making and conflict resolution.

Rebecca Lee, a Brick Bratz 4-H Club member for three years,  said “I like Lego club because it’s very fun to create our own stories and make the Legos move.  Ms. Renae makes us laugh too!”  Rebecca and her brother, Sam, “…always look forward to club days and are excited to share their creations with me and their father,” says their mom, Terri.

Youth practice creativity while building sets that serve as the backdrop for their robots to act out scenes from their favorite books.

Why does Renae volunteer her time with 4-H?  She wants to give kids access to new and exciting ways to learn and grow that appeal to their sense of curiosity.  Her enthusiasm for learning and sharing is infectious, and her club members are thriving with her guidance and direction!

Thanks to volunteers like Renae Rountree, 4-H is growing in Washington County!  If you would like to provide the spark to ignite a youth’s interest in a field or hobby that you are passionate about, consider becoming involved in your local 4-H program.  4-H offers a variety of roles to fit your schedule and interests. If you’d like more information on how to get involved as a 4-H volunteer, contact your local 4-H agent or visit http://florida4h.org.

Which Breed is Best for Backyard Poultry?

The term “Backyard Chickens” is one many people use today.  The idea of having a pet help you make breakfast is growing in popularity.  I am often questioned as to which breed of chicken is the best breed.  When asked, I always reply, “What do you want the chicken to do?”  The reason I ask is because The American Poultry Association recognizes 65 different breeds of chickens. Each breed can meet a different need.  Many people will blurt out, “I want eggs!”  Well, do you care what color eggs? Do you care how often you get eggs?  Does the size of the egg matter? Each breed is different and there are pros and cons to each breed.  Some of the more popular breeds that you can find at your local feed store during upcoming “Chick Days” are described below:

  • Rhode Island Red: This is a breed that is a large-bodied bird that lays a large to extra-large brown egg.  These hens are very personable and can have a great personality.  This breed can become a pet in no time.
  • White Leghorn: This particular bird will lay a large white egg on a very regular basis. The Leghorn is not friendly and is often referred to as “flighty”.  Leghorns will not, as a general rule, become pets.  They will lay you an egg almost daily, but will run from you when it’s time to collect those eggs.
  • (Buff) Orpington: Usually sold in the color buff, additionally available in other colors.  This is a large-bodied friendly bird.  Orpingtons can become fast friends and will serve as a dual-purpose member of your flock.   This means that they are great egg layers, and will also serve as a good meat bird if the desire or need arises.
  • Sex-link varieties: With this breed, you will not get a breed, but they have great production. Sometimes called Red Star, or Black Star, the chicks show a difference when day old chicks.  It will be easy to determine between the two.  If chicks are not your thing, you can always purchase young hens that are just starting to lay.

Many people are not ready to wait five to six months to get their beloved eggs from their new pets.  If that is the case, you can always check with your local extension office to inquire if a local 4-H member might have some young hens for sale.  On September 30th, 4-H members from across the panhandle will have a “Chick Chain” show and Auction.  Save the date and get the best breed for you!

If you have children between the ages of 5-18 (as of September 1st, 2016) and you are interested in starting a backyard flock, you may want to sign up for the 4-H Chick Chain.  This program teaches youth how to raise, care for, and show chickens.  Registration is open February 1st-24th via 4HOnline.  Youth will receive 12, day-old pullets on March 29th.  Throughout the spring and summer, youth will learn the ins and outs of poultry farming, and how to market their eggs and hens for profit.  They will keep business and health records, learn about bio-security, and gain poise, confidence, and communication skills while showing their hens in the fall.  For more information, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or read about last year’s program.

4-H Poultry Project

4-H Embryology Project

4-H Chick Chain

Poultry Breeds:

Care of Baby Chicks

Factors Affecting Egg Production in Backyard Chicken Flocks

Intestinal Parasites in Backyard Chicken Flocks

Prevention and Control of Fowl Pox in Backyard Chicken Flocks

Small Flock Poultry Nutrition

Vaccination of Small Poultry Flocks