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Celebrating our 4-H Volunteers

Celebrating our 4-H Volunteers

Volunteers from a local bank help teens learn financial management during a 4-H meeting

For more than 100 years, Floridians have been volunteering with 4-H to teach life skills to youth and to help make the best better in their communities.  Florida is one of the few states in the southeast where the foundation of our program is built on community and project clubs. These 4-H clubs are where youth get the biggest benefit from 4-H membership and they wouldn’t be possible without our volunteers. There are nearly 10,000 volunteers working with 200,000 Florida 4-H members each year. Our volunteers come from many different backgrounds and walks of life, but they all have one thing in common- a desire to share their passion and skills with the next generation.

We are always grateful for the men and women who work so tirelessly to help youth become competent, caring citizens- but this month, we celebrate them to show our deep appreciation. April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, and if you haven’t been following us on Facebook, then you’ve been missing our daily videos about how volunteers are impacting lives and communities in Florida. Each day this week, we will be sharing a story of a 4-H volunteer on our blog. We hope you draw inspiration from each of these individuals (as we do).

Engineers volunteer with our STEM Challenge at the North Florida Fair every fall.

If you are a 4-H parent or member, please thank your volunteer this week.  A phone call, text, or handwritten note of thanks would make them feel appreciated and encouraged. If you have a skill or passion to share with young people, please consider being a volunteer for 4-H. We have a variety of roles to meet your interests and schedule. To find out more, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office.

4-H Goes Wild at Sunbelt Ag Expo

4-H Goes Wild at Sunbelt Ag Expo

4-H Exhibit at Sunbelt Ag Expo.Photo Credit: Rachel Pienta, UF/IFAS Wakulla County

Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, GA is “North America’s Premier Farm Show”®.  Held the third week in October, land grant universities from across the southeast set up interactive exhibits about the research and programs they provide related to agriculture and natural resources.  In addition, there are thousands of industry vendors with exhibits, demonstrations and give-aways.  The UF/IFAS Extension building is no exception.  This year’s theme was “wildlife” and our building featured five interactive exhibits from 4-H, Family and Consumer Sciences, Natural Resources, Horticulture and Agriculture.  Our 4-H exhibit featured some of our most popular 4-H programs related to wildlife: shooting sports, entomology, forestry, and outdoor skills such as kayaking, grilling and orienteering.  Extension faculty and specialists manned the building, and were available to answer questions and passed out free bottles of Florida fruit juices and packets of Florida peanuts.  If you missed this year’s exhibit, you can experience it at the North Florida Fair, November 7-17th in Tallahassee, FL.  Our exhibit (along with the other program areas) will be located in the UF/IFAS Building.

Lots of photo opportunities at Sunbelt Ag Expo! Photo Credit: Rachel Pienta, UF/IFAS Wakulla County

If you have knowledge or skills related to our wildlife project areas, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer!  Our wildlife programs are in high demand and we always need volunteers willing to share their passion for our environment with the next generation of Florida’s citizens.  For more information, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office or visit our website.

The Third “H” is for HANDS

The Third “H” is for HANDS

What makes 4-H different from other youth organizations?  One characteristic is our learn-by-doing approach!  Our programs are intentionally designed to immerse youth in learning by experiencing and doing activities.  Today happens to be National Youth Science Day.  For over a decade, 4-H has been using science experiments to use their HEAD and HANDS to connect science to their everyday life.  4-H NYSD is an annual program that provides access and opportunity for kids everywhere to take an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) by participating in a hands-on STEM challenge.  This year’s challenge, Game Changers, teaches young people coding skills through physical activity and puzzles.  Developed by Google and West Virginia University Extension Service, this hands-on experience includes a computer-based activity on Google’s CS First platform, as well as two unplugged activities that bring coding to life through games, physical activities and puzzles. Game Changers is perfect for first-time and beginner coders, ages 8 to 14.

In today’s world, computer skills are vital and can open doors for youth in every field, as well as help them excel in schools and explore careers related to agriculture, business and even the arts.

All kids everywhere are invited to participate in 4-H NYSD. Additional information can be found at 4-H.org/NYSD, including information on how to register and get involved. Game Changers kits are available for sale at 4-HMall.org/nysd. Each kit comes equipped with all the materials necessary for youth to complete the experience, including instruction booklets for both youth and adult facilitators. For more information, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office or check out this short video on 4-H NYSD.

4-H NYSD 2018 was developed in collaboration with Google, with support from our national partners —Donaldson Filtration Solutions, HughesNet, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force.

Inspire Kids to Pledge their Head to Clearer Thinking

People often ask- “what do the “H’s” in 4-H mean?  A great way to answer this question is with the 4-H Pledge.  Our pledge describes what each “H” means.  The first line of the pledge is “I pledge my head to clearer thinking.”  It is a simple yet profound statement.  How much better would the world be if we all thought clearly, more often?  4-H programs intentionally provide opportunities for youth to learn how to make decisions and solve problems.  We do this through the “learning by doing” technique.  Youth learn by doing- not just listening or watching.  During a typical club meeting, workshop or camp, youth will be getting their hands dirty learning about building robots, food safety or how to care for an animal.  Participation in contests and judging teams also help youth think on their feet with a clear head. Another way 4-Hers learn to problem solve is through service to their community.  4-Hers are asked each year to identify a problem in their community and develop a plan to solve that problem in the form of a service learning project.  As 4-Hers learn new knowledge and skills, they are given challenges to solve, which means that they not only have to have a clear head, they have to work as a team.

Our 4-H volunteers are essential to helping youth develop the first “H.”  Our volunteers use 4-H curriculum and learn-by-doing teaching techniques to help youth learn cooperation and problem solving skills.  If you are interested in inspiring the next generation of youth people, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.  Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office to find out about opportunities to share your knowledge, skills and passion to develop future leaders, scientists and citizens to think with a clear head!

4-H Day of Service- Peanut Butter Anyone?

Did you know that the Saturday of National 4-H Week is the 4-H Day of Service?  4-H Clubs across the nation will be celebrating National 4-H Week with “hands to larger service.”  Service is a huge part of the 4-H program (one of the “H”s”) and also helps teach youth compassion for others.  Service is also a requirement in order to maintain a 4-H club charter.

Younger youth typically start out with community service.  Community service is volunteering in your community.  This is usually done through food drives, such as the Peanut Butter Challenge, or volunteering at an animal shelter, collecting coats or blankets for those in need, or a toy drive during the holidays.  If you are looking for an easy but impactful service project for your club, I would encourage you to participate in the Peanut Butter Challenge.  Each county in the panhandle is collecting jars of peanut butter to donate to local food pantries.  The Florida Peanut Producers will match the donation of the county that collects the most peanut butter.  Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office for more info or refer to this flyer.

Older youth are encouraged to move from community service to service learning.  What’s the difference? Service-Learning is more than a “one-shot deal.”  Instead of spending a day or few hours helping someone, youth identify a need, and develop a strategy to address it.  It also incorporates reflection and celebration.  Service-Learning projects take community service to the next level by emphasizing both service and learning and is more meaningful for older youth.

Example: 

  • Community Service – Youth prepare and serve a meal at a local homeless shelter.
  • Service-Learning – Youth research homelessness in their community and contact local homeless shelters to learn about the types of services they provide.  Youth then decide together on a service project that will support this community need.  After planning and completing the service project, youth reflect upon both the Service-Learning process and the service project.

Did you know Florida 4-H has a state service project selected by our youth executive board?  Each year the State Project Committee of the Executive Board recommends activities in which 4-Her’s can participate that will carry out the state wide community service project of the Florida 4-H Council. This year, the committee decided that the theme for 2017-2019 will be “Living In Florida’s Environment (LIFE)”. This project is focused on creating a greener tomorrow by hosting beach cleanups, planting trees, and participating in citizen science activities.

Youth can receive recognition for their service efforts at 4-H University.  It is also a requirement for the District 4-H Spirit Stick Awards.  The State Project Committee encourages all youth to participate in at least one state project that is associated with LIFE.  The committee would also like to recognize the youth that do participate in these projects. Once a project is completed, please record it on the project report-back sheet found in the tool kit below. These record sheets will need to be submitted to Grace Carter by July 3, 2018. The committee would appreciate if pictures were included in these reports.

The report form can be found in the LIFE Service Project Guide.

Project Achievement

Bronze: Youth who complete 1 service project will receive a bronze certificate of completion.
Silver: Youth who complete 2 service projects will receive a silver certificate of completion.
Gold: Youth who complete 3-4 service projects will receive a gold certificate of completion
and will also receive recognition at 4-H University 2018.
Emerald: Youth who complete 5 or more service projects will receive an emerald certificate
of completion and will also receive recognition at 4-H University 2018.