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Let Freedom Ring

Let Freedom Ring

American Flags along a curb

Celebrate our Freedom

The boom of fireworks, an outdoor concert, a lively parade, the smell of hot dogs on the grill, sweet cold watermelon slices, and a day spent with friends and family, for many, this is what the Fourth of July means. We get so busy enjoying the celebration that we often forget to stop and reflect what the holiday is about.

The Fourth of July is a celebration of independence from British rule and the formation of America. The holiday has been celebrated since 1776 and became an official federal holiday in 1870. The succession from British rule and creation of the Declaration of Independence would not be possible without the formation of a military. In the United States, we are fortunate to still enjoy the freedoms awarded though the Revolutionary War (and military) and work of the Continental Congress. These Founding Fathers of the U.S. paved the way for independence, but our dedicated service members and their families work every day to ensure that our freedom and independence continues. No one loves their country more than a Soldier, Airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman or Sailor; they are willing to sacrifice all to protect and preserve our freedom. They are passionate about their mission and give all they can to serve the U.S. and her citizens.

In a discussion of what Independence Day means to military members, SSgt. Quade, USMC (Vet), states “Military wide, Independence Day is one of the most quintessential days of the year. Not only because of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but that signature represents the freedoms and liberties that were fought for by all brothers and sisters of all branches and earned through blood, sweat, and tears.” It was interesting to hear his perspective and learn that Independence Day is celebrated all over the world by U.S. Military members – maybe not always with fireworks, but a group picnic-style lunch with hotdogs and hamburgers.

We also have to recognize the many sacrifices made by the military members that affect their family, such as missed birthdays, holidays, family functions, and milestones. What makes the time away tolerable is knowing that back home the active duty spouse is stepping up to the plate and taking care of the family. Children assume different roles within the family to help keep the household running and provide support. Military families are resilient and fluid, adjusting to relocation and changes in family dynamics.

This year, as you celebrate the Fourth of July, I hope you enjoy fireworks, grilled hot dogs, and a cold slice of watermelon. During your celebration, I encourage you to take a moment and thank military members and their families, many who are 4-H members, for their efforts and sacrifices in protecting our freedoms so we can enjoy independence every day.

UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H are proud to be a part of the military family – 4-H works with military youth centers across the nation and overseas to create some consistency for youth in these situations.  For more information about the 4-H opportunities available in your county, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.

Special thanks to Jennifer Sims, 4-H Military Partnership Coordinator, UF/IFAS Bay County, for providing this article and picture.

April – Month of the Military Child – Purple Up! for Military Kids

April – Month of the Military Child – Purple Up! for Military Kids

Symbol stating April is the month of the Military Child

Show your support by wearing purple and posting in support using #fl4h or #monthofmilitarychild

Most people think of the color green when they think of 4-H, but on Friday, April 17, 2020, 4-H youth and volunteers in Florida will Purple Up! for Military Kids. They will be sporting the color purple to show support for our military families.

April was designated as the month of the military child in 1986. We use this month as an opportunity to recognize military kids for their bravery, sacrifices, and service. Purple Up! Day is a chance to show your support and celebrate our young heroes!  By wearing purple and sharing in a visible way, you are showing support and thanking military children for their strength and sacrifices. Why purple? Purple is the color that symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is the combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red and Navy blue.

This year, there are many changes to the way we do business, but we need to continue to show support for our military families. We’ve made it easy to participate in Purple Up! Day even from your own home.  Simply wear purple and take photos.  Attend the UF/IFAS Extension Bay County’s virtual Facebook event. Post on the event page to show how you are celebrating Purple Up! Day. #fl4h, #purpleup. If you can’t join us, then do your own purple up celebration and share it during the month of April.

Did you know…Florida has the fifth highest number of school-age military children in the country according to the Department of Defense Manpower Data Center. We also have over 50,000 active and reserve military members whose families worry that they are in harm’s way when they deploy.

Military youth have unique challenges. Imagine how you would feel about having long and repeated separations from your parent or having them miss important events like birthdays, holidays, and school events. How would you feel about frequent relocations/moves, having to make new friends, get familiar with new schools, and find new 4-H clubs and teams to join? These are just a few common experiences for military youth!

Many military children take these changes in stride, but it is also hard – having to rebuild their world every time they move. UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H are proud to be a part of the military family working with youth centers across the nation to have some consistency for youth in these situations.

 

image of children in purpleSo, be creative….the goal is for military youth to see the support! If you don’t have or own a purple shirt, wear a purple ribbon, tie, headband etc. Just show your support and let our military youth know we care about them! Can’t make the Purple Up! date? Then do something another day in April, the Month of the Military Child! Remember, please take pictures of yourself/family wearing purple and share them on our Facebook event using #fl4h, #purpleup, #monthofmilitarychild. This allows us to collectively honor military children and their families and reach our goal of letting military youth see the support of their community and thank them for their commitment and sacrifice.

 

For more information on Purple Up!, or about the 4-H opportunities available in your county, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.  4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations and includes people from all economic, racial, social, political, and geographic categories. There are no barriers to participation by any young person. Participants are given the opportunity to engage in activities that hold their personal interest, while being guided by adult volunteers.

 

By Paula Davis, Jennifer Sims, and Janet Psikogios

4-H Needs You! Consider Volunteering Today

4-H Needs You! Consider Volunteering Today

This is a photo of volunteer training. Volunteers are sitting around table cutting out hearts for a relationship building activity.

4-H Volunteer Training about healthy relationships!

Make 2020 the year you learn something new or share your talents with a young person in your community. 4-H, the nation’s largest youth development and empowerment organization, cultivates confident youth who tackle the issues that matter most in their communities. It allows youth to learn by doing. 4-H relies on screened, dedicated volunteers to promote its mission to help youth gain the knowledge and life skills they need to be productive, responsible citizens.

In the Florida Panhandle, we have 4-H programs in schools, afterschool settings, and on military bases where we provide curricula and training to enhance our youth experiences while being active in 4-H. We also have school enrichment programs offering youth 4-H experiences on a specific subject while in school. We have community clubs and special interest groups that are currently active and we need more caring compassionate adults to help! These opportunities are great for families to do together.

If you only have time for a short-term event and like sewing, grilling, cake decorating, gardening or love bugs and outdoor education, consider volunteering. Contact your local Extension Office to see what spring and summer workshops and day camps are being offered that need caring adults to act in the role of 4-H volunteers. Your time as a volunteer will provide our youth the safe place to pursue whatever interests, causes, and leadership roles are most important to them. It also allows you to learn from the youth about current trends, fashions and technology. It really is a two-way learning opportunity where all involved learn by doing.

A picture of a heart full of descriptive words about volunteering

To volunteer, even for the summer workshops, you will need to be screened and trained, so contact us now. The screening and training process takes a little time. Please considervolunteering in your community. With over 70 different 4-H project areas from money and finances, gardening to computer science and rocketry, there are plenty of areas to work with youth to share your knowledge and skills.  Please consider helping us live up to our motto of “making the best better” with 4-H by volunteering today.  Simply contact your local extension office or check out our website for more information.

Helping Youth Become Financially Savvy

Helping Youth Become Financially Savvy

Money between the University of FL Extension and 4-H logo

Are you financially savvy?

As a parent, I worry about children and their money habits! They often have trouble distinguishing between a need and a want.  I often wonder if I am empowering them to be financially savvy. I know this is a topic that I continually work on for myself. It is important to start teaching healthy money habits early!  It is also important for children to hear about personal finance to understand how money works in a variety of settings: home, school, and youth organizations. I know my children receive money as gifts and it tends to “burn a hole in their pocket” until it is gone. Like adults, children need to practice making “healthy financial” decisions so that those decisions become “healthy habits,” reducing stress in their lives.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you might think of helping your children or grandchildren start a savings account to provide some financial security for the future. Then, encourage them to keep adding 10-20% of any money they receive to the account for a rainy day or that big purchase they desire.

 

RESOURCES AVAILABLE

Extension and 4-H have several publications and project books that provide guidance in the area of personal finance on spending, saving, investing, and donating. These projects can be done in a group setting or as a self-study project. National 4-H Curricula include “Financial Champions 1: Money FUNdamentals.” This piece has activities allowing kids to develop a money personality profile and style, understand the difference in needs and wants, make informed money decisions, set financial goals, and develop a money plan.

“Financial Champions 2: Money Moves” allows kids to learn how to predict outcomes and analyze their finances. They calculate interest; determine the cost of credit; learn how to manage a checking account, explore selecting financial services, make informed marketplace decisions and discover ways of handling money. National 4-H also has free curricula you can download for older youth.

UF/IFAS Extension also has free resources about money and financial management for adults and families on a wide range of topics such as Consumer Rights, Credit and DebtManagement, End of Life Issues, Finance and Family, Personal Finances Insurance, Retirement Planning, and Saving and Investing. University of Maryland 4-H also has a program called Financial Nuggets. This is a free download giving ideas on how to teach financial decision making to youth. It is designed for family involvement. Therefore families will increase their basic financial capacity and ability to make both short-and long-term decisions regarding spending and saving. It explores topics like needs verses wants, planning and managing money using a budget, how wealth is created and built, and managing risks.

Extension and 4-H want to encourage children, teens, and families to learn about personal finance, to practice what they learn and to teach others. We really want to get 4-H members and their families on the road to being money smart consumers. For more information on financial education and tools to help you become financially savvy or get out of debt, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org. 4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations and includes people from all economic, racial, social, political, and geographic categories. There are no barriers to participation by any young person. Participants are given the opportunity to engage in activities that hold their personal interest, while being guided by adult volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact your local office.

 

Control Those Germs Gathered from Going Back to School

Control Those Germs Gathered from Going Back to School

Youth is looking at hands under black light for dirt left after hand washing lesson

Looking for spots missed during hand washing by using black light and glow germ lotion that fluoresces under black light.

It’s hard to believe it is August already, with that we are getting ready to go back to school. Going back into the large group gathering requires a reminder to wash your hands often. You and your child will be around so many people and exposed to all kinds of germs. Regular hand washing helps you avoid getting sick and spreading your germs to others.

The CDC recommends that we wash our hands:
• Before, during, and after preparing food
• Before eating food
• Before and after caring for someone who is sick
• Before and after treating a cut or wound
• After using the toilet or after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet or been ill
• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing,
• After touching an animal, animal/pet feed or treats, or animal waste
• After touching garbage

Take a moment to sit down and talk with your child about hand washing and the importance of washing their hands, especially when they get home from school.

Try this activity written by Tennessee 4-H to help youth see where they may be missing germs. This simple activity uses items you probably have in your kitchen. Begin by coating hands with a tablespoon of cooking oil. Next, sprinkle the oily hands with ground cinnamon. Have your child wash their hands using the steps outlined below. Once they have finished washing, have them smell their hands to see if they can still smell cinnamon. If they washed their hands correctly, the cinnamon smell and brown color should be gone from their hands.

A. Hands coated with cinnamon before hand washing
B. Quick wash like youth often do missing in between fingers, top of wrist, around nails
C. Thoroughly washed hands (all clean even between fingers)

Here are the steps we teach youth when they take our 4-H hand washing classes:
1. Wet your hands with clean, running water.
2. Apply soap and rub your hands together to make a lather. Make sure to get in between your fingers, under your nails, and on the top of your hands. Youth often miss these areas when we do a lesson on hand washing during 4-H events.
3. Scrub for at least 20 seconds—about the same amount of time needed to sing the Happy Birthday or ABC Song twice.
4. Finish by rinsing your hands with warm running water.
5. Dry hands with a clean towel or let air dry if a towel is not available.
6. Use the towel to turn off the water faucet to prevent re-contamination of your clean hands on a dirty faucet knob.

Have a fun and germ free day! 4-H is a family affair, offering many opportunities where both children and parents can participate in common interests. 4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations and includes people from all economic, racial, social, political, and geographic categories. There are no barriers to participation by any young person. Participants are given the opportunity to engage in activities that hold their personal interest, while being guided by adult volunteers.

To find out more information about other 4-H programs like this or volunteer your time to work with youth, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.