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Meet the Author-Prudence Caskey

Prudence Caskey, Santa Rosa County 4-H Extension Agent

Prudence Caskey is the 4-H Extension Agent in Santa Rosa County, Florida. Prudence grew up on Voscinar Poultry Farms in central Florida and has been raising her own chickens since the age offive. She remembers ordering baby chicks by mail with her twin sister, “We both worked all summer and put our money together and bought all we could afford, which was only 551 Rhode Island Reds. So, that’s what we started with.” Within a month, Prudence and Sara had raised the chicks and sold 300 of them. “We were able to triple our money and we were hooked.”

Prudence enjoys some time with her pardoned Royal Palm Turkey hen, Reggie.

As soon as Prudence was old enough to join 4-H, she was at the Hernando County Extension office to sign up. At the age of eight, Prudence was able to enter her beloved chickens in the county fair. Her 4-H agent, Bill Hill encouraged her to show chickens. This is a past-time she has enjoyed for the better part of 25 years. “He was an excellent mentor and taught me how to try hard and step out of my comfort zone. He was amazing!” Prudence was a Hernando County 4-H member for ten years.

Fast forward sixteen years. Prudence Caskey served as a volunteer 4-H Club leader and after a short time, she applied for the 4-H Program Assistant position. Two years later, the Santa Rosa County 4-H Agent, Vicki Mullins, retired. Prudence successfully interviewed for the 4-H Agent position. She started her dream job in March of 2014.

Prudence with one her favorite trees on her farm.

Prudence received her master’s Degree in Agriculture Education and Communication from the University of Florida in 2016. Today, as the 4-H agent, she spends much of her time working with 4-H’ers who have an eager passion to learn about everything from Art to Zoology. Embryology and public speaking are huge aspects of her program. She also works closely with Santa Rosa County school teachers to bring 4-H into the classrooms.

Prudence has been married to Kyle for 24 years and they have one son. They live on a pecan orchard in the northern part of Santa Rosa County.  For more information on 4-H, please contact your local 4-H office.  You can find your local office here.

Graduating Senior: Lawson Mathis

Graduating Senior: Lawson Mathis

Youth posing for portrait

Lawson, Santa Rosa Co Senior 4-H Member

Lawson Mathis joined Santa Rosa County 4-H because her cousin, Amanda, had been a 4-H member for years.  Lawson’s first experience was a state-wide 4-H event known as 4-H University, held in Gainesville,Florida.  She remembers having a broken toe prior to her trip and not knowing anyone but Amanda.  Amanda and Trent, another Santa Rosa County 4-H member, had to help her get around Gainesville all week.  As Lawson recalls, “they never left me behind either!”

Beginning her 4-H experience at such a significant, week-long event, Lawson could have easily been overwhelmed.  Instead, she thrived.  Lawson dived into the 4-H program and learned all it had to offer that week.  Lawson has been in 4-H ever since moving to Santa Rosa County her freshman year of high school.

“Throughout my entire time in 4-H, no one left me out or left me behind for anything.  I have made so many friends and great memories along the way, and I hope I can continue to do so in the future.”

Lawson always been part of the 4-H family.  She served every year as a camp counselor at 4-H Camp Timpoochee and made sure that the same attitude of inclusion continued with her campers.  Because of 4-H, she has made friends from all over the state as well. She has a caring and giving nature that will be hard to replace.  Lawson will be attending Troy University in the fall and majoring in nursing and minoring in American Sign Language.  She plans to be a nurse anesthetist upon graduating with her master’s degree.

To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as independence, organizational skills, and goal setting, to your children or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office.

*Please note Lawson’s pictures were taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we remind people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.*

Graduating Senior:  Madison Fendley

Graduating Senior: Madison Fendley

Youth standing in front of livestock trailer and display of ward ribbons.

Madison standing in front of some of her award-winning efforts in 4-H

Madison Fendley joined Santa Rosa County 4-H in 2010 at the age of eight.  In the beginning, her passion was showing rabbits and chickens.  As she grew up, her interest in raising livestock grew as well.  After raising show-quality dairy goats for many years, Madison had been in the show ring numerous times.  With this experience, Madison shared her knowledge with youth that were new to showing livestock.  She could always be seen in the show prep area, working with youth that were inexperienced and nervous.  Madison became one of Santa Rosa County 4-H’s best mentors for youth, new to the showing world.

Madison has learned a lot about hard work and dedication through her 4-H goat project.  Thinking back, Madison stated, “I feel accomplished for growing my goat herd from just a few brush goats when I started over ten years ago to nearly a completely registered show quality herd now.”  She said she always enjoyed helping grow the goat show at the Santa Rosa County Fair and helping teach other youth about showing goats.

“I’ve loved working with the younger kids in our club and watching everyone grow and branch out.”

Youth hugging her livestock project

Madison and her livestock project

Madison has made a difference in the Santa Rosa County 4-H program.  Many 4-H day camps had the opportunity to utilize Madison’s leadership skills as she served as a counselor. She has worked very hard while raising livestock and even received Reserve Champion Steer at the Santa Rosa County Fair.  She has also received Grand Champion Homegrown Heifer two years in a row.  Madison recalls, “4-H has been an excellent opportunity to learn leadership and step out of my comfort zone sometimes. I would say I’ve come a long way since I first joined from showing chickens and rabbits to goats and now cattle.”  When asked about her biggest lesson she has learned from 4-H, Madison replied, “I’d say one of my biggest accomplishments in 4-H, that nearly brought me to tears, was placing 1st in Steer Showmanship at the fair because it was the first year I showed cattle and the first show I’d been in with that steer.”

Madison plans to attend the University of West Florida and complete her Associate in Arts degree.  She will pursue a degree in an agricultural or animal science-related field. Madison, we thank you for your many years of service to Santa Rosa County 4-H and the Santa Rosa County Fair & Youth Livestock programs.  We

To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as independence, organizational skills, and goal setting, to your children or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office.

*Please note Madison’s pictures were taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we encourage people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.*

Graduating Senior: Haley Coons

Graduating Senior: Haley Coons

Youth leaning against lightpole

Haley Coons, 4-H Graduating Senior

Haley Coons joined Santa Rosa County 4-H her freshman year of high school as a quiet and shy young lady.  Little did she realize she would hit the ground running after attending her first state event, 4-H Legislature.As a 13-year-old young lady, Haley found herself in Tallahassee with 350 other 4-H youth from around the state of Florida.  She was overwhelmed with all that was going on.  She was able to lean on one of her friends, Jordan, during the busy week and was able to learn the ropes from 4-H members who had experienced the fast pace, encompassing program.

“4-H brought out the best in me and was a big part in making me who I am today!”

As a graduating senior, Haley is a confident, well-spoken, and determined young lady.  She remembers her time in 4-H and how many new friends she has made.  Haley said, “The people I have met in 4-H have been like family to me and have impacted me in a significant way by showing me what it means to have a 4-H family.”  Haley’s family includes people from all over Florida 4-H.  Haley improved her leadership and mentoring skills to a professional level while serving as a Camp Counselor at 4-H Camp Timpoochee.

Haley has utilized the skills in 4-H to accomplish many goals already.  She has been a dual-enrollment student and will be graduating with her Associates in Arts degree this fall at Pensacola State College.  She will then attend the University of West Florida to obtain her Bachelors’s degree.  She is undecided on her major at this point.  Haley, we are very proud of the wonderful young woman you have become!  Congratulations on your graduation and the many accomplishments you have already achieved!

To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer your child essential life skills, support and guidance from positive adult role models, and educational activities in which they can learn and grow, or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office.

*Please note Haley’s picture was taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we encourage people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.”

Senior Continues to Serve After Graduation

Sydney English, Santa Rosa 4-H member and FL 4-H Officer serving as Sergeant-at-Arms.

All Sydney English ever knew was Louisiana. It was home. At the age of five, Hurricane Katrina hit and Sydney’s life was turned upside-down. With a complete loss of her town and neighborhood, her family decided to move back to Santa Rosa County, Florida where her parents were raised. Little Sydney found herself in a new town, in a new county, in a new state. Soon her mother reached out to Santa Rosa County 4-H to help Sydney make connections and allow her to feel part of something.

Prudence Caskey, the current Santa Rosa County 4-H Agent, met Sydney and her family at the county fair. Shortly thereafter, Sydney was enrolled in 4-H and attended her first meeting in hopes of finding some new friends in her new hometown. Over the next few years, Sydney would find many friends and even find herself.

One of the first events that Sydney attended was 4-H Day at the Capitol. Sydney was enamored with the Legislative process as well at the respect of the elected positions. Sydney decided she would attend 4-H Legislature as soon as she was old enough. Elected as a district officer, Sydney also became a member of the 4-H Executive Board. This was a time in her life where she had to make a tough decision.  She wanted to serve on the Executive Board, but would be unable to due to her volleyball practice obligations.  After much thought, Sydney told her parents, “I have decided to step down from the volleyball team.  I have been thinking about it and I thought, what would volleyball do for me in the years to come?  4-H will do a lot more for me! I’m gonna stay in 4-H.”

Now, all these years later, Sydney has given more to 4-H than she could know.  She has served as a camp counselor and mentor for over 50 youth from across her 4-H district.  Sydney also had the distinction of representing the entire Panhandle of Florida as a 4-H State Officer, serving as Sergeant-at-Arms.   This summer, she is excited to have the role as Camp Staff at 4-H Camp Cherry Lake.  As she plans for graduation, Sydney hopes to attend law school and become a political attorney. 4-H has made her who she is and with her service, she is helping to make Florida 4-H even better!

To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as independence, goal setting, and decision making to your children so that they will grow up to become successful leaders like Sydney, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office, or follow us on Facebook.