While this year’s hunting season is winding up, it’s never too early to think about getting ready for next year. Whether it’s deer, squirrel, ducks, dove or turkey, there are important hunting rules and guidelines both youth and adults must follow. Organizations like the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and your local UF/IFAS Extension Office provide programs to keep you on target each hunting season!
Safety is a key element of any shooting sport.
Each hunter must take some version of the Hunters Safety Education course. Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, and 16 years or older, must pass a hunter safety course before a hunting license can be purchased. There are four options to complete this requirement:
- Traditional Course and Skills Day
– Face-to-face instructor led course
– Hands-on skill day – register here
- Online Course and Skills Day (two part process)
– Complete one of the online courses
– Hands on skill day – register here
- Florida Virtual School Outdoor Education
– FREE to Florida students in grades 9-12 or ages 12-18
– Apply here
– Earn 0.5 credit for high school
- Firearms Safety Certification and Online Course
– Adults only
– Must have completed previous firearms training
– Must complete one of the online classes in Option 2
– Follow procedures outlined in the Application for Hunter Safety Certification
If you’re using the Hunter Safety Mentoring Exemption and hunting under the supervision of a qualified hunter, you are exempt from this requirement.
Our district covers Zone D – Escambia to Gadsden/Wakulla & Zone C – Leon & Jefferson. Map courtesy of FWC.
Find Your Zone
Hunters should strive to be good stewards of Florida’s resources to keep this sport a tradition for generations to come. Take the time to determine what hunting zone you live in. Your zone determines your hunting season – meaning the appropriate time you can collect specific game in that area. You can find the Florida Hunting Zones Map here: http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates/zone-map/. Next, check the annually updated hunting season dates and bag limits related to your zone to stay in compliance with FWC regulations: http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates.
4-H Shooting Sports
Find your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and determine if there is a 4-H Shooting Sports program in your county. Participation in a 4-H Shooting Sport program provides year-round opportunities for youth to not only practice their discipline but also to explore other disciplines in a safe, inclusive, environment with 4-H volunteers/mentors!
4-H grows important life skills like responsibility, goal setting and teamwork in youth through shooting sports.
4-H Shooting Sports includes air rifle, small bore rifle, archery, shotgun, muzzleloading and hunting and develops important life skills in a safe and educational environment. Shooting sports day camps are popular during the summer, so ask you 4-H Agent if one will be scheduled for you county.
Would you like to become become 4-H Level 1 Certified to coach and teach youth shooting sports? If you are already enrolled as a 4-H volunteer, log in to your profile and register for the February 16th hands-on training in shotgun and archery. You’ll also complete five online learning modules as part of your training. If you’re new to 4-H, enroll at florida.4honline.com, and let your county 4-H Agent know that you are interested in teaching shooting sports.
Explore the links below to see how you and your youth can get involved in 4-H and stay up to date on the hunting regulations for your area:
It’s that time of year again – Fair Season!
I can just smell the delicious scents of midway foods and see and hear the lights and squeals on carnival rides? But to most 4-H families, fairs go way beyond food and rides. During fair season, youth throughout the state dress up with pride in their 4-H green attire and prepare for what’s to come…fair exhibits!
Fair exhibits can range from artwork to plants to animals and finally, the epic fair booths. The most important thing for youth and adult exhibitors is knowing:
1. What counties are allowed to participate?
2. What and how many categories you may enter?
3. Exhibit requirements.
Here, we’ll cover preparing for fair booths and animal exhibits but you can find multiple links below for the state and local fairs with more information on exhibit entries and requirements.
Fair booths are the highlight of displays at the fair
Organizations, like 4-H, use fair booths to visually communicate what we offer. Fair booths can be a great way to create a sense of Belonging in your club by having all members feel like they’re part of the 4-H Family! You want your communication to be effective, so prepare a checklist:
- Research the fair you want to enter – determine the deadline and registration requirements.
- Will you earn a booth premium? If so, figure out how much your club is willing to spend on supplies based on the premium could receive.
- Determine the size of your booth. Going out of booth boundaries can be a point deficit on the scorecard.
- Pick your booth theme and layout.
- Get commitments from members and parents to help with preparation, setup and breakdown. Delegate tasks so everyone feels like they have contributed.
Check out “Exhibits and Displays” below for a full checklist and more information!
4-H’er talking to the judge of the Rabbit Show at Walton County Fair.
4-H Animal Exhibits
Rabbit, chicken, cattle, swine and goat exhibits are staples of fair week. Animal exhibits give many people the opportunity to see, learn about and interact with animals they don’t normally come across. For our 4-H youth, livestock exhibits and shows give youth the ability to gain Mastery through 4-H Project Learning. These highly experiential experiences teach youth a multitude of life skills. To get your animals fair ready:
- Research the fair’s deadlines and registration. Be sure to check deadlines for acquiring ownership and birth-dates of your animals.
- Check the vaccination and health certificate requirements for your animal and secure an appointment with a veterinarian to have this completed.
- Be on time or early to check-in. Sometimes, there is only one Agriculture Inspector and a long line of exhibitors. Some animals are required to do on-site blood testing, so be prepared with your paperwork and be patient.
- Determine if the fair provides the food and bedding and if exhibitors are required to care for their animals daily. This is not only important for the nutritional well-being of your animal but also for their emotional well-being.
Florida Panhandle Fair Opportunities:
- Escambia- Pensacola Interstate Fair (also open to Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties)
- Okaloosa- Northwest Florida Fair (also open to Escambia and Okaloosa counties)
- Santa Rosa- Santa Rosa County Fair (open to all counties in the Northwest District)
- Walton- Walton County Fair (open to Walton and Okaloosa counties)
- Holmes- Holmes County 4-H Youth Fair
- Washington- Washington County Youth Fair (Beef and swine livestock shows are also open to Holmes and Bay counties)
- Jackson- Panhandle Youth Expo (also open to Walton, Washington, Calhoun, Holmes, Liberty, and Bay counties)
- Bay- Central Panhandle Fair
- Calhoun- no county fair, but eligible to participate in regional and state fairs
- Gulf- no county fair, but eligible to participate in regional and state fairs
- Liberty- no county fair, but eligible to participate in regional and state fairs
- Gadsden- West Florida Livestock Show and Sale (open to counties west of the Suwanee River)
- Franklin- no county fair, but eligible to participate in regional and state fairs
- Wakulla- no county fair, but eligible to participate in regional and state fairs.
- Leon- http://northfloridafair.com/
- Jefferson- no county fair, but eligible to participate in regional and state fairs
If you’re a fair veteran, 4-H alumni, or just someone interested in benefiting the youth of your community, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office to find out how you can become a 4-H Volunteer and share your expertise!
Graduation has come and gone for our newest 4-H Alumni who are beginning their journeys in college, technical school or the workforce. Our 4-H Seniors have given so much to their county, district and state programs over their years of service. Here are a few ways to make sure your Senior gets all he/she can from their Senior year in 4-H and beyond:
Final 4-H Event
4-H University – July 30-August 2nd
Florida 4-H University is a week-long overnight event for young adults held at the University of Florida. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in educational workshops led by University of Florida faculty, explore career opportunities, lead community service activities, interact with youth from all over the state, and have fun while developing critical life skills that will help them become productive and engaged citizens in their communities, their country, and their world.
To be considered eligible for participation in Florida 4-H University, participants must be between the ages of 14 – 18 by September 1st of the previous year and must not have graduated high school. Late registration closes June 8th.
Were you a 4-H camper? Then consider coming back as staff next 4-H camp year. Our 4-H residential camps are always looking for dedicated applicants with youth and youth program experience.
Volunteer with 4-H
Now that you’ve made the transition from 4-H member to alumni, check with your 4-H Agent for opportunities to give back to the program that grew you into a #TrueLeader. If you’ve moved away from your home county, find the 4-H agent where you are to see how you can volunteer.
Collegiate 4-H – http://florida4h.org/youth_/collegiate/
Volunteer – http://florida4h.org/volunteers_/sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office
Alumni – https://4-h.org/4-h-alumni-community/4-h-alumni-resources/
Find a 4-H Agent – http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/
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!
Many people know 4-H as the nation’s largest youth development organization. They may also know that 4-H programs focus on life skill development through experiential learning in a safe affirming environment. However, something many may not know is that 4-H, in many cases, is a LIFESAVER! 4-H saves lives daily through positive youth development provided to youth throughout the nation ages 5-18. 4-H also influences the lives of volunteers ages 18 and beyond by providing the opportunity for them to make a difference in the world by shaping the future through our youth. How many people can actually say they had a hand in shaping the future of our nation?
Cheyenne joined 4-H during December 2014. She and her family had recently moved to the area and coincidentally her mother stumbled upon the Extension Office thinking it was a satellite location of the University of Florida that provided classes. Upon entering, she was directed to the new 4-H Agent, shared her story and passion for livestock, and was quickly recruited to be a part of the Walton County 4-H family. Soon Cheyenne began attending meetings in the Cherokee Riders Horse Club and later took leadership opportunities by becoming an officer. By the 2015 4-H year, Cheyenne was President of both the Cherokee Riders and Livestock Clubs, a member of Teen Council and volunteering whenever possible. It was clear she was on a trajectory to thrive and making great strides toward her future goals!
Sadly, in the Spring of 2015, Cheyenne soon found herself facing enormous obstacles in her life. Her father was deployed, her parents were divorcing, she was trying to escape an unhealthy relationship, and she was being bullied at school on top of facing the normal emotional struggles of being a teen. Cheyenne became depressed and withdrawn from most everyone. Her normal smile and cheerful manner had been suppressed. Her focus on clubs and school began to wither and feelings of doubt set in. It became apparent that she was facing failure to thrive and was contemplating unhealthy decisions.
After sitting down with her concerned 4-H Agent and her mother, Cheyenne agreed that 4-H Camp Timpoochee would be an excellent way to recharge and focus on herself for the summer! Cheyenne was trained as a Counselor and became very excited about her camp week with Walton County 4-H. During camp she approached her 4-H Agent and said,
“I really love it here…this 4-H stuff really works!”
She also stated that she could be herself at camp, her true self and everyone accepted her for it and even liked her. She made new friends, smiled, laughed and began to find herself again, only an improved more confident version of the girl who started camp on Monday.
Several weeks after camp Cheyenne’s mother came in to drop her off to volunteer for a day camp. She came into the 4-H office with tears in her eyes and said,
“Thank you. I don’t know what you did but thank you for bringing my baby back!”
Now Cheyenne holds officer positions in multiple clubs, has won several Blue and Grand Champion Ribbons in the Fair, was a State Qualifier at the Area A Horse Show, and has competed on the County and District level in cooking competitions. In addition, in 2016 Cheyenne won the Club Masters award from Southern States through her diligence and excellent care of her Reserve Grand Champion Doe!
4-H professionals, volunteers and youth themselves have the ability to give life back to youth in need! For more than 100 years, 4-H has been committed to the idea that youth are the single strongest catalyst for change. Based on Florida 4-H Facts and Impact, 4-H reaches 23, 954 youth through 4-H Clubs, 6,973 through 4-H camps, 21,455 through special interest programs, 148,268 through school enrichment, and 2,597 through after school programs. 4-H youth, regardless of background, socio-economic status, race, or gender have significantly lower drug, alcohol, and cigarette use than peers and are 2.4 times more likely to make healthy choices.
If you know a youth struggling to find their way, or an adult seeking to make a difference, consider researching 4-H in your community. There are endless opportunities available through 4-H clubs, camps, workshops, contests, leadership events and much more. Contact your local Extension Office to see how 4-H is shaping the future of youth in your community, or browse the links below. You can ignite a spark to improve “your club, your community, your country and your world!”