4-H Day at the Capitol is a unique day where our State Capitol in Tallahassee is overrunning with a sea of 4-H green! Youth from all 67 counties in Florida will travel to our Capitol on February 22nd to learn about their state government and experience the political process first hand. Throughout the day, youth will hear from public officials, participate in educational workshops, and see their legislators in actions! 4-H’ers have the opportunity, on this special day, to have their voices heard by the leaders of our government and make an impact with their 4-H story.
The day begins with an address from the 4-H State Officers and from our Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam himself. Putnam is a 4-H alumni and a leader in our Agriculture Industry. He takes pride in sharing his story annually to the #TrueLeaders of upcoming youth in 4-H. Listen to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s interview with Southeast AgNet about how participation in 4-H helped him develop the citizenship, speaking, organizational and leadership skills that he draws on to this day. Listen Here
“(4-H) Shaped my outlook on life and prepared me for the world beyond just county fairs and livestock shows. Even my exposure to campaigns and elections came through participation in 4-H programs and the State 4-H Council.” – Adam Putnam, Florida Agriculture Commissioner
After the address from Mr. Putnam, youth explore the new and old Capitol buildings, can listen in on an official meeting, and have the opportunity to meet one on one with their legislators. We do encourage 4-H Agents, Volunteers and youth to make appointments with their legislators prior to 4-H Day at the Capitol to ensure a meeting space and time. You may be surprised to discover that many of the professionals working throughout the Capitol are 4-H Alumni and continue to utilize the life skills they learned during their 4-H experience to aid them in their careers daily.
Walton County 4-H’ers enjoying their Capitol tour.
In addition to meeting with legislators, youth may participate in mock sessions, scavenger hunts around the Capitol and educational workshops! For example, youth can sign up to take a tour of the Big Bend Farm at the Tallahassee Museum, experience IMAX National Parks and learn about the national parks while completing science labs, or they may visit the Governor’s Mansion to learn about Florida’s First Family’s official residence! Come take advantage of this annual event that exemplifies how 4-H Grows our future leaders and why “you’re going to need us.” Sign up on 4honline today through January 31st!
Florida 4-H members judge beef rounds at the UF/IFAS Animal Science Department meat science clinic. Photo Credit: Brian Estevez, UF IFAS Escambia County
Florida 4-H provides learning opportunities, camps, contests, shows and events in a multitude of areas for its members. The 4-H meat science project allows youth to learn about the different cuts of meat including quality factors that affect the safety and taste of the meat products we consume. The project culminates each year in April at the Florida 4-H Meat Judging Contest. The 2018 contest is April 21, 2018 at the Meat Processing Center at the University of Florida. The UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences also hosts a Livestock/Meat Judging Clinic on January 12-13 in Gainesville to prepare 4-H and FFA members for the contest.
What is 4-H Meat Judging?
Many Florida 4-H members are already in the production of meat products through exhibiting market steers, swine, sheep, and goats at livestock competitions. Through participation in judging contests and other leadership contests, agents, leaders, and youth learn valid, science-based information to consider when evaluating and making decisions, as well as learning proper meat storage and handling procedures. This knowledge and expertise to purchase safe, nutritious meat products gives future agricultural and food industry leaders a broader view of the livestock industry.
The 4-H Meat Judging Contest is composed of three areas, retail cut identification, carcass, wholesale, and retail placing classes, and oral reasons. 4-H members have to identify 50 retail cuts, including the species, primal, retail name, and cooking method. Youth then have to rank eight placing classes (carcass, wholesale, and retail classes). Finally youth have to give two sets of reasons on the placing classes that they have ranked.
This project area helps youth improve life skills, such as decision making, communications skills and confidence, but it also provides them a very practical skill they can use every time they visit the grocery store or butcher shop. Youth learn how to examine a cut of meat to determine which will be of the highest quality and flavor. Whether they cook for themselves or others, this useful skill will be perfected over time.
Another exciting aspect of the Florida 4-H Meat Judging Contest is the opportunity to attend National 4-H Meat Judging Contests. The first place senior team earns a trip to Kansas State University to participate in the National 4-H Meat Judging Contest as part of the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City. The second place senior team earns a trip to Denver to participate in the National Western Roundup Meat Judging Contest as part of the Western National Livestock Show.
In addition to the meat judging contest, Florida 4-H offers the Hog and Ham program and the Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest:
The Florida 4-H Hog and Ham Program is a statewide 4-H program which takes the participant through the total process of pork production from beginning to end. Youth select a feeder pig and grow it to harvesting weight, all the while keeping records on feed amounts and costs, health care, expenses, weights, etc. Youth harvest the hog and process it into wholesale or retail cuts. The project concludes by participating in a retail comparison project, completing a record book, and presenting a demonstration or illustrated talk to the other participants.
The Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest was created to further enhance the 4-H meat project by allowing youth to demonstrate their food and fire safety, meat selection, and outdoor cooking skills. Youth grill one of four proteins: beef, pork, poultry (half chicken or whole turkey breast), or shrimp. Youth are judged on their food and fire safety and meat palatability. Four regional contests throughout Florida are held between April and July, with a state contest held in the fall. Over $18,000 in scholarships were provided for winners in 2017.
The Florida 4-H meat judging contest is a fun event that can enhance your knowledge of the agricultural and food industries. The Florida 4-H Meat Judging Contest, in conjunction with the Florida 4-H Hog and Ham Program and the Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest, provides a well-rounded animal science education to all Florida 4-H members!
For more information about getting started (either as a youth member or as a volunteer), contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.