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5 Steps to Poultry Showmanship

4-Hers are waiting for their moment with the poultry judge. Photo Credit: Misty Smith

4-Hers are waiting for their moment with the poultry judge. Photo Credit: Misty Smith

I am often asked, “How do you wash a chicken?” I reply, “Just like a turkey, only on a smaller scale!” But for many 4-H’ers, washing chickens is part of showing chickens and is a skill they have to master.

Raising and showing poultry is quickly becoming a hobby for people of all ages. Youth who are active in a 4-H poultry project, are already one step ahead of the rest. Not only do they learn about poultry health, bio-security, and nutrition, they also learn about sportsmanship and other aspects of the poultry industry through showmanship.  Many UF/IFAS Extension Offices offer day camps and clinics to help youth learn how to raise and show poultry, so contact your local office for more information- there’s one in every county!  Here are a few steps 4-H youth can take to prepare for a poultry show:

Step 1: Handle your chicken daily. By handling your chicken daily, this will ensure that it is used to people, and will be friendly to the judge. A friendly chicken shows the judge that the chicken’s owner has been dedicated to preparing the bird for showing, not just ignoring it and bringing it to the show on show day.

Step 2: Practice holding your chicken. There is a correct way to hold a chicken when you are showing it and you will need to practice, practice, practice. When you and your bird feel comfortable around each other, you can start practicing holding and walking around with the bird the correct way, by placing your middle and fourth finger between the bird’s legs. Using your first finger and pinkie, hold the bird’s wings down.  For carrying, put the bird’s head under your arm. When youth practice holding and carrying their bird, the bird becomes very docile and calm which makes for a great show chicken.

Step 3: Know the parts of the chicken. This step is one of the hardest in the entire showmanship procedure.

Poultry Showmanship can help youth build communication skills and confidence. Photo Credit: Julie Dillard

Poultry Showmanship can help youth build communication skills and confidence. Photo Credit: Julie Dillard

It is based on simply remembering the steps and practicing with your bird. Youth are quizzed on the parts of the chicken and whoever knows the most, does the best. Make sure you know about the head, wings, under color, width of body, breast, vent, abdomen, pubic bone, legs and feet, and how to cage a bird. All of these will ensure to the judge that youth have studied about their bird and are very knowledgeable on the parts of a chicken. Also, know about the breed of your chicken. You will want to do your homework on the breed of chicken that you are showing so any questions that the judge may ask about your bird you will know how to answer correctly.

Step 4: Know how to bathe your chicken. The easiest way to bathe a chicken is with a 5 gallon bucket of lukewarm water and dish soap. You want to “dip” the chicken 2-3 times in the soapy water, avoiding getting the head wet, and then dip them in clean water to rinse them off. Never submerge a chickens head in the water due to the fact that the chicken can aspirate and die. If your chicken’s head is soiled, use a wet cloth to wipe it clean. The chicken will take care of the rest by preening itself so make sure that you bathe the chicken 48 hours prior to the show so that there will be time for natural oil replacement. Place your chicken in a wire cage to ensure it stays clean before the show.

Step 5: Have fun! Showing chickens is a great and rewarding experience for youth. Poultry shows are a great opportunity for youth to demonstrate their skills, gain confidence, make lifelong friends and practice responsibility.  The 4-H poultry project can be the spark that leads youth to a career in animal science industry where the possibilities are endless!

Do you have a passion for poultry?  If so, consider using your knowledge, skills and interests as a 4-H poultry volunteer.  We could use your expertise planning shows, teaching workshops and helping youth experience success with their poultry project.  Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office or visit for more info.

Recommended Resources for Poultry Showmanship:

How to Address Bullying at School

LyraEDISServletResearch shows that 20-40% of children are bullied in some way. Whether bullying is verbal, physical, or done online it is a very real problem that can happen in any school, even among young school-age children. A safe and secure environment is key for the Essential Element of Belonging, one of the foundations of 4-H positive youth development.  Being educated about what bullying is, knowing how to spot the signs of bullying, and learning what to do if your child is affected by this behavior can help parents address bullying if and when it happens.

How to recognize bullying- Bullying can take several forms. It can be observable or secretive behavior.

Observable Behavior: Secretive Behavior:
  • Intimidation and threats.
  • Name calling, insults, and comments about disability, gender, and race.
  • Teasing about personal characteristics or sexual harassment.
  • Physical assault, tripping, hitting, pinching and other physical abuse.
  • Destruction of property, demanding money or other possessions.


  • Rejecting, excluding, and isolating victims from others.
  • Spreading rumors and other public humiliation.
  • Manipulating friends and relationships, passive aggression.
  • Passing damaging notes or posting threatening or damaging emails or web material.
  • Blackmailing, harassment, and dangerous dares.

Left unaddressed, bullying can cause depression and lasting psychological damage to the victim. It can result in poor attendance or psychosomatic illnesses. Violence can escalate into serious property damage, and injuries to students and adults. Bullying at school also affects others who are not involved directly but who simply witness or are aware of mistreatment of another student. These students may suffer from fear and concern about their schoolmate who is targeted. They may feel guilt but also may fear the bully so much that they do nothing to help. Worse, they may become offenders themselves because they fear the perpetrator will target them.

Bullies tend to seek out victims who:

  • Are unable to defend themselves.
  • Have little social support, or few friends.
  • Are not involved in extra-curricular activities.
  • Are low achievers in academics or sports.
  • Are not popular or focused on by adults in the school.
  • Have less developed social skills.
  • Have difficulty communicating.
  • Have low-self esteem or are unassertive.

Know the warning signs of bullying- It is not uncommon for a child who may be the victim of school bullying to be reluctant to tell his or her parents out of shame or fear. Children fear that the adults will not be able to help them or that they may make the situation worse. They may also believe the bully will retaliate against them or their friends. If you suspect that your child may be a target of school bullying, look for these signs:

  • Sadness, anxiety, difficulty sleeping or eating, temper or emotional outbursts, picking on younger siblings.
  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, or damaged clothing or school supplies.
  • Fear of school, not wanting to go to school, or sudden drop in school performance.
  • Dislike of recess and avoidance of unsupervised school areas such as the bathroom, despite the need to go.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family, fear of parent communication with teachers.
  • Complaints of physical problems without a medical reason.
  • Any abrupt behavior change or sudden lack of self-esteem.

What Parents Can Do to Prevent and Stop Bullying –Parents are the key to preventing and stopping bullying. Here are a few ways that parents can help respond to bullying.

Stay connected with your child. The more you know about your child’s friends and their interactions with classmates and peers, the more likely you are to spot any changes in their social circle. Talk with your child every day about specifics at school and extracurricular activities such as what the best or worst part of their day was. This is also an important way to establish good communication with your child so that they can come to you when they have a problem.

Explain to your child what bullying is. Children understand that hitting or pushing another child is wrong, but you can also explain that other forms of bullying, such as excluding or ignoring someone, can also be hurtful.

Tell children what to do in case they experience or witnesses bullying. Talk with your child about the basics of what to do if they encounter hurtful behavior directed toward them or someone else. Tell your child to alert a teacher right away if they see or are subject to bullying behavior, and that it is important to stop someone from getting hurt.

Teach a child the importance of empathy. Research has shown that emotional intelligence and empathy skills may be even more important for success in life than intellectual intelligence. A child who is able to understand what it may feel like to be bullied and can understand and regulate their own emotions is less likely to engage in that kind of behavior.

Set a good example. Do you ever make fun of other people or gossip about others in front of your child? Have you ever spoken rudely to a waiter at a restaurant or to a store clerk in a shop? Even if you think your children are not listening or observing your behavior, the fact is that kids learn a lot about how to conduct themselves from watching their parents.

Talk to your school about what programs are being used to deter bullying. If you suspect that your child may be the victim of school bullying, talk to your child’s teacher about your concerns. Ask the teacher to watch out for problems and notify the school principal and counselor about your concerns as well.

As parents and volunteers, it’s our job to provide youth with a safe environment where they can learn and grow. For more resources about bullying, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office, or download some of our other resources:

Talking About Bullying

Bullying and Children with Disabilities

Bullying Related to Lack of Time with Dad


Outcomes of Bullying

Parent’s Role in Bullying Behavior

Teens and Sexual Harassment: Making a Difference

4-H Can be a Life-long Passion

Dr. Williamson helping a 4-Her at a show

Dr. Williamson helping a 4-Her at a show

There are many reasons why 4-H has stood the test of time for more than 100 years. In addition to its link with land grant universities, 4-H is family friendly and available in every state and every county in the US (and even some foreign countries like Korea, Cuba, Germany and Italy). In fact, you can be a lifelong participant in 4-H- first as a youth member, then as a collegiate 4-H member, and later as an alumni or volunteer. Dr. Reese Williamson is a great example of how to turn a 4-H experience as a youth into a lifelong passion. She joined 4-H in 1974, in McKean County, Pennsylvania and was active in horse clubs, livestock clubs, downhill ski clubs, and even a square dancing club!  As a teen, she fine-tuned her communication and leadership skills as a member of the 4-H County Council, which later led to a summer internship as the 4-H Assistant to the County agent.  “My 4-H Extension Agent in Pennsylvania was a motivator and wrote recommendation letters for me for college and vet school,” says Dr. Williamson. “I have been involved in 4-H since 1974 with the exception of the five years while I was in vet school. As soon as I moved to Florida, I looked up my local county Extension Office to become a volunteer.”

When asked why she decided to extend her 4-H involvement as a volunteer, she says “I enjoy that there is a place for everyone [in 4-H].  I enjoy sharing the joy of learning and of livestock and horses with youth.  It’s important that youth know where their agricultural products come from, that they respect animals and the impact they have on the environment. I want them to have a positive experience with horses and other animals.”

Dr. Williamson with members and alumni of her 4-H club

Dr. Williamson with members and alumni of her 4-H club

Without volunteers like Dr. Williamson, many youth would not have opportunities to learn about agriculture or develop life skills such as responsibility, confidence, and compassion. She shares, “It’s challenging to be a youth volunteer in today’s society.  Most youth are from single-parent families.  Children are living in two homes with multiple parents and grandparents often creates scheduling conflicts, but we must put the children first- they are the priority.   It’s important to me to never disappoint or extinguish a child’s enthusiasm.  If a child works towards a goal, it’s important that they are not prevented from completing that goal because of a scheduling boundary.”

Dr. Williamson’s passion for helping youth has had a tremendous impact on the Okaloosa 4-H Program over the past 25 years. Many of her members have become teen volunteers and later, as adult 4-H Alumni, come back to volunteer.

Kyle Godwin, an Okaloosa 4-H Alumni says, “Over the years of being in Dr. Williamson’s 4-H club, both as a member and then as the Club President , she laid many building blocks for me from public speaking to proper animal husbandry. She is always willing to go out of her way to help a new kid get started raising animals.”  Another 4-H Alumni, Nathan Moores, shares: “Dr. Williamson has been a dedicated volunteer throughout my 4-H experience and we are blessed to have her. She has gone out of her way to help me and my fellow 4-Hers with our projects, whether it was husbandry questions, vaccinations, or health certificates.”

Do you have a passion or skills that you would like to pass on to the next generation of parents, employees, civic leaders, and decision makers? Dr. Williamson’s advice to anyone considering getting involved is: “Step up and volunteer! With 4-H, you can have a positive influence on our next generation of citizens.  It is definitely worth squeezing the time into your schedule.” You don’t have to be a 4-H Alumni or a veterinarian to volunteer.  4-H needs caring adults from a wide variety of backgrounds, skills and experiences. For more information, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office, or visit

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Catch the Magic- Tips for Taking Photos of Fireworks

Article by guest blogger, Georgene Bender (South Central Regional Specialized 4-H Agent)

Photography by David Perkiewcz,, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Photography by David Perkiewcz,, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Photography is a popular 4-H project and this time of year, it is fun to experiment taking pictures of fireworks and sparklers. With helpful tips you will be amazed at what you can do. Let’s review some basics. The word “photography” means drawing with light….so the key is the amount of light needed for these unique shots. Basically there are two camera types a) point & shoot and b) Digital Single-lens reflex. Each camera type has various features. It is good to familiarize yourself with them in the Menu or camera manual. What? You don’t have that book anymore. No problem – search for it online.

Focus on Infinity-  Set your focus to just less than infinity (or choose a landscape setting if you can’t manually adjust focus) and use an aperture of f/8 t- f/16.

Equipment- Be sure to take a small flashlight to adjust your settings in the night and a sturdy tripod – this is the best to reduce movement and blurred photos. Another great tool for the SDLR is the cable release cord that you can control the shutter’s button or the digital remote. Digital cameras will have a setting.

Bust Shooting- Also known as ‘continuous drive’ allows you to shoot multiple shots automatically. On a DSLR go to your menu and select Self-timer and you will see two options inside. A) Self-timer delay allows you to set time after how many seconds camera should take a shot and available values are 2s, 5s, 10s, and 20s. B) Number of shots you want to take in self-timer mode. You can choose between 1 and 9 shots.

Five Top Tips:

  1. Observe the wind direction from where you are. Pick a location upwind so that your photos do not turn out hazy.
  2. Pack extra batteries and memory cards- long exposures drain battery life, and you will need to shoot lots of pictures to get a few great shots.
  3. Watch for the fireworks as they travel and push and hold the release button.  (This will take time to practice – and also the bust shooting will help for better capture)
  4. Learn more online.  A couple of good sources include the Walt Disney World (WDW) Photography series. There are YouTube videos by Cory Disbrow from WDW and
  5. Practice playing with light before the fireworks by having friends ‘air write’ their name with the flashlight or sparklers. You, with your trusty tripod and camera settings shoot pictures. You will be amazed at what you get.

This chart below gives you the areas of each camera type to prepare before shooting.

SETTINGSMenu screen or, Bulb SHUTTERControls the open/close of light into camera ISOSensitivity of the light FLASHArtificial light APERTUREControls amount of light
Point and Shoot Manual(Check your manual as compact cameras have this as a menu optionLook for information on a delay release timer. Keep open for 10– 30 seconds; find your ‘night setting’ might be a half moon with starsThere is no B setting on Compact Cameras Lowest it will go OFF N/A
DSLR M = MANUALB= BULBTurn on noise reduction


Delay release setting

On B setting, you can hold the camera button for as long as you want10 – 60 sec then went you release the button the shutter will close out the light. 100 or lower OFF Changing the aperture is changing the f-stop.Set between f2.8 and f8 

The lower the f-stop the more light

Photo by Jill Wellington

Photo by Jill Wellington

Take lots of pictures this weekend– and please SHARE your best shot on our blog, Facebook, or Twitter!  To learn more about the 4-H Photography Project and Contests, visit If you have a passion for photography, consider serving as a 4-H photography project leader or becoming a sponsor of your local 4-H photography program. For more information, contact Heather Kent at

Credits to:

Fleenor, S., Asdtroth, K. and Peters, C. 2010. “Catch the Spark” University of Arizona Extension 4-H Youth Development.

“How to Take Multiple Shots in Self-Timer Mode.”

Harnocz, A. July 1, 2014 “How to Photography Fireworks” The Cleveland Plain Dealer.