Quincee Messersmith serves as the Wakulla 4-H Advisory Council chairwoman and as co-leader of the 4-H IncrEdibles Cooking Club. When she is not volunteering with Wakulla 4-H, her duties as a Wakulla County Commissioner keep her busy.
This devoted volunteer and public servant is a wife, mother, and a cancer survivor. There are few events in Wakulla where Quincee cannot be found making a difference. She is just as likely to don an apron to wash dishes in the kitchen as she is to be acting as mistress of ceremonies.
Quincee, along with other 4-H volunteers distributed supplies after Hurricane Michael.
What is a role model?
According to Quincee, “A role model is someone who shows passion and inspires, has a clear set of values, demonstrates commitment to the community, is selfless and accepts others, and has the ability to overcome life’s obstacles.” Quincee believes role models can make a big difference in a child’s life. She believes that “role models, like goals, can truly be the emotional or intellectual bridge to a child’s future. A child who finds an adult who “lives-out” the selfless image they portray, and who engages in hands-on activity with that child to help them accomplish something by their own efforts, no matter how simple, then has a mental picture of whom they want to be when they grow up.”
Why Volunteer with 4-H?
In Quincee’s own words, “Children need direction, discipline, leadership and something positive to guide their lives and to help them pick the right path as they go and grow.”
Quincee believes that the youth in 4-H programs are no different from youth involved in any other service club. Each has different passions and interests, and each also has different economic structures and parental involvement..”
She explained, “The common goal for me with regard to being a 4-H role model is that we all are in need of an adult or mentor to whom we can look to for help and direction. If children find someone assisting them at their level that has a community reputation for leadership, someone who is involved at high levels of neighborhood activity and the daily conversations of their communities, they are not only interested, but also often fascinated. Situations such as this can make the positive difference in a child’s life.”
Living the 4-H Way
The four “H’s” have inspired Quincee in her approach to service and being a role model.
She said, “for me personally the 4-H Head, Heart, Hands and Health embodies something that we could all use more of in our lives, I believe that concentrating on these four H’s can help make our communities stronger and more sustainable for the future
Quincee led 4-H youth in serving cake at the county’s founding day celebration on “Wakulla Wonderful” Day.
Exploring New Activities with 4-H Club and Camp
When Chase Weston arrived at a meeting of the Panacea 4-H Explorers Club for the first time, he was not sure he wanted to be there. Chase’s normal activities of choice included reading and playing video games. He rarely played with other children and did not usually enjoy playing outdoors.
The Panacea 4-H Explorers Club meets weekly and offers youth the opportunity to sample activities ranging from painting and cooking to outdoor skills. Members march in parades and volunteer together at community events.
Getting Active With Archery
Chase receives archery instruction from Club Leader Trena Gooding.
From that first day attending an Explorers Club meeting, during his time with 4-H, the once very reserved and quiet boy has undergone a dramatic transformation. This summer, Chase had the opportunity to participate in a two day archery summer camp. On the first day, he did not want to participate and asked to go home. On the second day he started to warm up to archery and by the end of the day he did not want the camp to end!
Club Leader Rhonda Lundy said, “I have seen a drastic change in Chase through his participation in 4-H. He is definitely trying things outside his comfort zone and his parents couldn’t be happier.” Chase accepted the opportunity to attend Camp Timpoochee with support from a 4-H state scholarship. During his week at camp, Chase enjoyed activities like dance class and kayaking. He was able to continue with his newfound love for archery during residential camp.
Happiness in a Hammock at Camp
Chase enjoys free time in a hammock at Camp Timpoochee.
While he has stepped outside his comfort zone and tried many new activities during the week, Chase declared his favorite thing at Camp Timpoochee was enjoying the view from the vantage point from one of the many hammocks strung between trees throughout camp.
Links to Resources
For more information on how your family can participate in 4-H, find your local UF IFAS Extension Office and contact your 4-H Agent to explore what programs are offered in your area.
Benefits of Summer Camp
Camp Choices with 4-H
Youth Development Outcomes of Camp Experiences
Hurricane Michael was the first ever Category 5 hurricane on record to impact the Florida Panhandle.
Are you ready? The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season began June 1. The official hurricane weather season continues until November 30, 2019. For Florida residents, it is never too early and not too late to prepare for this year’s hurricane season. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released a forecast prediction reporting a 40% chance of a “near-normal” Atlantic hurricane season and a 30% chance “above normal” indicating a range of 4-8 hurricanes, including 2-4 hurricanes of category 3 or higher. With this information provided as a means to increase disaster preparedness awareness, it is imperative that our families take action now to minimize the anxiety, stress, and hardships that occur when a disaster strikes. The following information details three family-friendly disaster preparedness activities to complete during the month of June to be hurricane ready for the 2019 season followed by useful informational links.
Build a Disaster Preparedness Bucket
The contents of a disaster bucket assembled by Wakulla County Emergency Management Director Jennifer Nagy.
One annual activity that families can do together is “build a disaster preparedness bucket.” Families may prepare large plastic storage containers with lids for hurricane snacks and other necessary items. In a storm situation where conditions may require you to move to safety, preparing a 5 gallon bucket with a lid full of recommended essential items will provide a portable, easy-to-store alternative that the whole family can use. Buckets may be purchased at local hardware or home improvement stores. In your area, organizations like your local city or county emergency management department or the Red Cross may offer a bucket giveaway program with pre-stocked disaster preparedness kits.
Talk About Your Communications Plan
As a family, decide who will be the point of contact for all members to contact in case of emergency. This activity is an excellent way to engage your child in critical thinking and problem solving. The person or people should be located outside the impacted area – a grandparent or other relative or family friend in another state would be one possibility. Provide each family member with a laminated contact list – with emails, phone numbers, and addresses – that can be kept in disaster preparedness kits, saved in phones, or stored in wallets and backpacks. Local business supply stores, mail or copy centers in your area may offer laminating services to make waterproof contact lists for safe storage and easy reference.
Have a “Meals To Ready” Taste Test Dinner
After a disaster, your family may be without power for several days or longer. To enjoy safe, hot meals, one option is “meals ready to eat” also known as MREs. MREs are a complete, filling & nutritious way to feed your family. MREs can be purchased online or in the camping section of stores like Bass Pro or Wal-Mart. These meals have a long shelf life and can be stored for months until needed. Some MREs include built-in heaters while others require boiling water to prepare. Camping MREs tend to be an entrée only. Military style MREs will have most, if not all, of the following components: entrée, side dish, bread, spread, dessert, cold drink mix, instant coffee, spoon, condiments, napkin, moist towelette, and a flameless ration heater.
Completing an MRE taste test as a family planning activity will help you determine which products your children will eat when the time comes to use the MREs. The taste test can be fun for the whole family – have everyone taste and then rate each meal or meal component on a scale of 1 to 5 – with 5 being the best possible in flavor and food quality. When you get ready to purchase a supply of MREs, you will know whether your family is going to prefer lasagna to white chicken chili and can shop with confidence!
For more information about hurricane season preparation or 4-H programs in your county, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.
People choose to volunteer for a multitude of reasons. In the case of Wakulla County 4-H volunteer Greg James, there seem to be few reasons why he wouldn’t want to volunteer to meet a need in his community – especially if it helps youth.
Why Greg Volunteers
“Volunteering in my community is very important to me. I believe serving your community in some fashion helps create a sense of pride, belonging and ownership. I think it’s important to provide our children a positive environment in which to grow. Volunteering for 4-H allows me to foster that environment.”
Greg James joined a 4-H Club member to promote an upcoming community event.
Thirty Years of Investment
While Greg (and his wife of close to 30 years, Karen) live in Sopchoppy, there are few areas of the county where Greg’s volunteerism has not had an impact. While Greg and Karen’s children have grown up and left the county to pursue college and careers, involvement with area youth has remained a constant in his life since moving to the county in 1995.
In his professional life, Greg wears two hats – he serves as the Wakulla County Finance Director and the Deputy Clerk of Court. Some community members may know him best as the minister of the Sopchoppy Church of Christ.
On almost any given day, Greg can found serving his community – as a volunteer cross country coach, stirring a pot at a Low Country Boil charity event, cleaning up the coastline or lending time to a local civic committee. For the last two years, Greg has served in a leadership role with the Wakulla County 4-H and Extension Advisory Councils, and he started a 4-H Finance Club last summer to help local teens learn financial management skills.
Hands On Leadership
Greg observes a 4-H Poultry Club member demonstrate chicken handling at a community event.
In service to 4-H, Greg give his financial expertise and his hands – figuratively and literally. To celebrate the success of the 4-H Chicken Champs Club, he made people-sized chicken figures that have become a popular photo opportunity at 4-H events. His most recent undertaking is still in progress – refurbishing old metal bleachers by hand for the 4-H Archery Club range.
Sali Polotov, a Future Leaders Exchange Program student from Tajikistan, is a member of the 4-H Finance Club and shared his thoughts on learning with Greg as club leader. “He is a great leader and speaker. Every time I go to Finance Club, I explore something new. He explains difficult things so easily. Also, he has a great collection of foreign coins!
Greg wasn’t introduced to 4-H until his own children were growing up and completed swine projects. “Now that I know all of the great programs 4-H offers, I wish I had been more involved.”
As a volunteer leader, Greg also works to recruit more volunteers to help grow 4-H programs. His advice to anyone who thinks they might want to volunteer is simple – “Don’t wait!”
Make a Difference with 4-H – Volunteer
Greg said, “I would ask that (people) stop thinking about it and just do it! Our 4-H program depends heavily on volunteers, and what we are able to accomplish is only limited by the number and caliber of our volunteers. Please volunteer and make a positive impact on your community and our kids!”
For more information on how to become a 4-H volunteer in your community, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office. To see how 4-H is positively impacting the lives of Panhandle youth, follow us on Facebook.
Greg James prepares to swear in new 4-H Association leaders for 2019.
The 4-H Exchange Experience in the NW District
Sali and Gregor received a brief orientation to 4-H and life in the United States soon after their arrival.
Wakulla 4-H welcomed two international students via the Future Leaders Exchange Program at the beginning of September. The students, who are living with volunteer host families this school year, have become active 4-H members during their stay. Sali Polotov is from Tajikistan and is interested in studying geological science. Gregor Johanson is from Estonia and is interested in the performing arts. Both students attend 11th grade at Wakulla High School.
Eye Opening Experiences
Since their arrival, they have been part of the 4-H District III Council and attended Leadership Adventure Week where Gregor led a workshop on trust and communication.
During a recent interview with the 4-H Academic Year Program (AYP) FLEX students, Sali and Gregor reflected on their experiences at the midpoint of their year. Gregor shared it had always been a dream to study overseas. He saw an Instagram advertisement and decided to apply. He did not know about 4-H and learned about it after being accepted to the Academic Year Program. Since coming to the United States, he said has experienced some surprises. He was surprised by the American “addiction to fast and unhealthy food” and he has observed “that it seems to be more prevalent in rural areas.”
“There have been a lot of things that have surprised me, good things and bad things. Some of the good things include much friendlier and welcoming customer service, as well as a wider range of options for everything everywhere.”
– Gregor Johanson
Sali shared that he was motivated to come to the United States because he wanted to see the reality versus what was depicted in movies he had seen in Tajikistan. While Sali said that he knew nothing about 4-H before coming to Florida, he has enjoyed the opportunities to participate in 4-H clubs, special events and volunteer work.
Sali Polotov joined other Wakulla 4-H members to deliver relief supplies to the NFREC office after Hurricane Michael.
One thing that surprised Sali about American life was how “American people love holidays. They do all of their best to spend an unforgettable moment.” Sali shared he has especially enjoyed his experiences volunteering in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, snorkeling with manatees and celebrating Christmas with his host family.
Both young men are looking forward to an upcoming trip to Disney World and having more adventures with 4-H before their year in the United States concludes.
The Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX)
Since 1993, the FLEX Program has provided scholarships for high school students from Europe and Eurasia to spend an academic year in the United States while living with a family and attending an American high school. Florida 4-H partners with the FLEX program through the States’ 4-H International Exchange Programs. Students have opportunities to engage in both short-term summer programs and academic year exchange experiences. Nearly 60,000 youth and families have been positively impacted by international exchange through States’ 4-H programs since 1997.
The FLEX program is a competitive, merit-based scholarship program funded by the U.S. Department of State. Students gain leadership skills, learn about American society and values, and teach Americans about FLEX countries and cultures. The primary goal of the FLEX program is to improve mutual understanding and develop and strengthen long-term relationships between citizens of the United States and other peoples and countries. There are currently 17 countries that participate in the FLEX program: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine. Not all 4-H AYP students come to Florida through the FLEX program and students may come from other partner countries.
How to Get Involved with the 4-H AYP Program:
Families can become qualified to host an international student for the 10 month Academic Year Program by applying at https://states4hexchange.org. For more information, contact Georgene Bender, Florida 4-H AYP Coordinator, UF/IFAS Extension Faculty Emeritus – firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about this program or other 4-H programs in your county, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.