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Purple Up! in Support of Military Youth

Purple poster of youth

If you can’t Purple Up on the 15th Choose another day!

Not all heroes wear capes. How many times have we heard this phrase over the last year referring to healthcare workers, first responders, and essential personnel? What about kids – specifically kids with one or both parents serving in the military?

According to Webster, a hero is “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Upon reflection, we thought about what we see in military kids. The kids of military families have make many sacrifices, they move often, lose time with family members serving, and often don’t get to celebrate events with deployed family members. Military-connected kids experience many challenges that make them resilient, but they also take their toll. We are civilians serving military youth using 4-H as the vehicle to help make them more resilient. In fact, 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.

Jen also lives in a neighborhood full of active duty military members and their families. She sat down and chatted with a teen and his dad who is active duty Navy and one of her neighbors. Their conversation was so enlightening and inspiring about being a military kid that we had to share it with you!
The conversation started with me asking the teen to tell me what he thought a hero was. His response? Someone who does for the greater good; a person who possess courage, honesty, integrity, and kindness. I followed up by asking if he thought of himself as a hero. Immediately, he said, “no, I’m just a military kid. It is nothing special, just a title.” His answer really resonated with me. Adults who sign up for military life know what they are signing up for, military kids are just handed the cards they are dealt. The kids of military families have no say in the sacrifices of time, family, and opportunities as well as the uncertainty that comes along with the job of one or both parents serving in the military. How could this teen not see how special he is? I could not believe that his perception was that military kid just a title!
As we continued our conversation, we discussed how his role changes when his dad is gone for 7 to 14 months on deployment. He has to step up as the “man of the house” to help his mom with household duties and help with his younger brother. Then when dad comes back his role to changes again. These role changes can be challenging, but he consistently steps up without complaint. This young man has also experienced a big move that involved making all new friends, adjusting to life in the south. His parents report that he has also kept a positive attitude. When ask about this his response was “that is just what you do.”

image of children in purple

Purple up for military Kids

Military kids experience change frequently – some little and some big- starting early in their lives. Their ability to adapt and overcome is admirable. This teen was so nonchalant about his abilities and skills as a military kid that I had to stop and remind him that what he possesses is something truly special. To put it into perspective, on top of everything that comes with being a military kid, he has dealt with a big move relocating to Florida, the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic and transitioned to virtual school. Compared to his peers, and many adults, he has handled the change with grace and confidence. By the end of our conversation, I asked again, “Do you think of yourself as a hero?” This time his answer was much different than when we started our conversation, “yes, I guess I am.” I thanked him for his service, which supports his dad to carry out his duties to protect our country every day. He replied thank you for caring!
Now we need your help! Being a military kid is so much more than a title. Please join us in celebrating the Month of the Military Child throughout April and Purple Up! for Military Kids on April 15. This is one way to recognize these youth and show them we care! It’s simple, wear purple and take photos to share on social media using #fl4h, #purpleup, #virtualMOMC, #4heverywhere
I encourage you to visit our website (https://sites.google.com/ufl.edu/4-h-military-partnership-4-h-m/home) and follow us on Facebook (@bayifas) to learn about how you can join the celebration and support Extension programs like these. Next time you see a military member out with their family, I urge you to not just thank the service member for their service, but also thank their kids as they serve, too. For more information on Purple Up; contact your local county 4-H Agent. 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

April Month of the Military Child

Purple flyer telling about month of military child

Help us celebrate our military youth during the month of April on Social Media! Just use using #fl4h, #purpleup, #virtualMOMC, #4heverywhere

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 military kids.  Here in Florida, we support 4-H programs at military bases in our state, as well as in a few other countries!

We need your help! Being a military kid is so much more than a title. Please join us in celebrating the Month of the Military Child throughout April and Purple Up! for Military Kids on April 15.

It’s simple, wear purple and take photos to share on social media. You can even post a photo of your family as we celebrate the Month of the Military Child while practicing social distancing all wearing purple. If you can’t join us on the 15th just post something on any day in April. Some businesses have committed to wear purple on Fridays for the whole month of April to celebrate military families!

If you are camera shy, you can decorate a door or window; create a red, white and blue dessert, cake or cupcake; to celebrate the Month of the Military Child. Then snap a picture and post on social media using the hashtags below.

These are several ways to recognize these youth and show them we care! Remember, it’s simple, wear purple and take photos to share on social media using #fl4h, #purpleup, #virtualMOMC, #4heverywhere with a statement like “we support our military youth,” tell us something you are grateful for related to our military or relate your own story of being in the military or growing up as a military kid!

Follow us on Facebook @VolunteeringInThePanhandle to learn about how you can join the celebration and support Extension programs like these. Next time you see a military member out with their family, I urge you to not just thank the service member for their service, but also thank their kids as they serve, too. For more information on Purple Up! contact your local county 4-H Agent. 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. Hope you will Purple Up! and share on social media!

Hashtags and Handles for 4-H Clubs

If you are new to social media, it can seem a little overwhelming!  Hashtags are a way to connect the social media content you post to a specific topic. They make it easier for the reader to find information around specific topics for further interest and conversation. After all- that is what social media is about- conversations! Even if you are using a private group, you can use specific 4-H hashtags and handles for your conversation. As you become more comfortable with using social media for your club, you should consider using hashtags. Both National 4-H Council and Florida 4-H have specific hashtags you can use as appropriate. This article breaks down the differences between hashtags and handles, when to use them, and includes a “cheat sheet” for 4-H specific hashtags and handles that you can use as a reference.

Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by the “#” symbol that make your post searchable. For example, if people are looking for information about 4-H poultry programs, you can add the hashtag “4HPoultry” and your post will show up in their search. As you become more comfortable with using social media for your club, you should consider using hashtags. Both National 4-H Council and Florida 4-H have specific hashtags you can use as appropriate:

Example: You have a 4-H volunteer in your club who participated in 4-H activities as a youth and is now teaching your current club a hands-on specific skill. They are doing such as great job and you want to thank them in your Facebook group. You might use these popular hashtags: #FL4HAlumni #4HGrown #FL4HVOL

You can also use hashtags for events.
Example: 4-H Residential summer camp for youth in the panhandle is at Camp Timpoochee or Camp Cherry Lake. As you advertise or post about camp, you might use: #CampCherryLake #4htimpoochee #FL4HCamps

If you are the administrator of your group, you are able to pin hashtags on your group page that group members can easily see to generate interest. This can save time, so you don’t have to search through all posts and allow you to organize topics.

Handles are the name of an individual or organization preceded by the “@” symbol. When you use a handle, it connects your post to that person or organziation’s page and can be seen by that person’s or organization’s friends or followers. Use the handle @Florida4H if you post has information relevant to the Florida 4-H population. It is always a good idea to use your county 4-H handle to connect your post to your county’s page and followers. For example, @yourcounty’sname4-H.

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.

Ultimate Guide to 4-H County Events

young man demonstrating how to cook a recipe

This young man is demonstrating how to cook a healthy recipe

What is County Events?

4-H County Events (also known as County Showcase) is an opportunity for 4-H youth to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have mastered as part of their 4-H experience. Youth can share what they have learned through several contests, from public speaking, to demonstrations, visual arts, and theater arts. While fairs offer experiences to exhibit what a young person has grown or created, 4-H County Events is an opportunity for youth to demonstrate what they have learned and accomplished because of their project work.

Why does it Matter?

One of the Essential Elements of positive youth development is for youth to have opportunities to master new skills and knowledge. Competitive events provide ways for youth to demonstrate mastery and are part of the Florida 4-H Recognition Model. County Events is also a safe space for youth to get constructive feedback and build confidence and capacity for communication skills.

How to Prepare:

young lady holding awards and ribbons

County Events gives youth an opportunity to practice communication skills, demonstrate mastery, and receive recognition

First, become familiar with the different contests and rules.  Some counties may be offering in-person, virtual or hybrid competitions this year. Check with your local UF IFAS Extension Office for details about your county contest.

Second, host a workshop!  Many 4-H programs offer a day to help youth develop and perfect their presentations. If your local office isn’t providing a workshop this year, you can host one in your club. Here are my top 5 resources I like to use when I teach a workshop for youth:

  1. Public Presentation Guidebook from Escambia County 4-H (tips for prepared public speaking, demonstrations and illustrated talks)
  2. How to prepare visual aids
  3. Clever Clover Communications (games you can play in your club to practice communication skills)
  4. Grab Bag Demonstrations (grab a bag and do an impromptu demonstration for your club)
  5. County Events Virtual Volunteer Leader Academy webinar (January 2020)

Finally, practice, practice, practice!  Practice in front of the mirror, in front of your family, or friends. Clubs will often have a practice day where members give feedback to each other on how to improve.

4-H Virtual Ag Judging Opportunity

photo of perennial peanut field

Photo credit: Evie Blount, UF IFAS Gadsden County

Are you sad about the North Florida Fair being canceled this year? Well we are too! Even though we are all going to miss the rides and the fair foods (especially the funnel cakes) we don’t have to miss out on all the fair activities! The Consumer Choice, Horticulture Identification, and Agricultural Judging Contest will all still be taking place on November 14th. They will all be virtual, and they are open to Florida 4-H members ages 8-18.

Judging contests are a great way for youth to learn skills to prepare them for work and life, such as decision making, teamwork and public speaking!  To help youth prepare for the virtual ag judging contest, we will have a workshop on November 5th at 5:30PM eastern. Registration for this workshop and the contest are available in 4Honline. Once you register, you will be provided a secure link to join. The deadline to register for the workshop and contest is November 5th. For the contest, there is a small entry fee of $5.00 per participant.

If you have any questions, please email Evie Blount (ecb1224@ufl.edu) or Chris Decubellis (cdecube@ufl.edu). We had so much fun creating this contest virtually and are super excited for youth all over the state to participate!

Check out these blog posts about how judging contests teach life skills:

Watch our webinar on judging contest basics:

For livestock judging study materials, check out these links:

Livestock Judging Guide (Kansas)

Livestock Judging Explore Guide (Texas)

Livestock Judging EDIS Factsheet (Florida)