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Finding Treasure by Stepping Outside!

Finding Treasure by Stepping Outside!

Youth holding up picture

4-H Virtual Plant Science Camp Bingo Game

July 6th of this year was supposed to be the first day of our 4-H Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation Day Camp with Leon and Jefferson Counties participating.  Due to the pandemic, all of our Florida 4-H face to face camps were cancelled this summer due to safety concerns for the students and the instructors.

In spite of everything that has taken place since March of this year, there is still some good news! Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, there is an outdoor classroom in YOUR backyard that has plenty of room for young people and parents to explore. While most youth have spent more time than they probably want to with their families confined, within the four walls of their home, there is no time like the present to explore wildlife and gardening opportunities that await just outside the door. Youth that spend time outside exploring the great outdoors have the unique opportunity to stimulate their senses while engaging in “hands on” educational activities without even knowing it.

4-H provides countless opportunities for youth to gain a better understanding of how all organisms are interrelated and how they can become environmental stewards at home, school, and in the communities in which they live.  What are some of the benefits of converting backyards to outdoor classrooms?

I’m glad you asked…here are just a few!

 

1. Healthy lifestyles are encouraged –
2 kids planting a tree

Youth planting an orange tree after participating in Virtual Plant Science Camp

Active time spent outside may help address some of the health issues we are seeing in children today such as obesity, attention deficit disorders, and depression.

2. Nature deficit disorder decline –

Exposing students to nature and allowing them to learn and play outside has shown to foster sensitivity, appreciation, and respect for the environment.  It combats “nature deficit disorder” …and it can be a lot of FUN!

3. Critical-thinking skills enhanced –

Exploring what is in the backyard and starting a garden provides opportunities for experiential learning outside of the classroom and enables students to make connections that can be applied to the real world.

4. Responsible action is taken to better the environment –

By exploring outdoors either by planting or just observing nature, youth begin to understand how their decisions and actions affect the environment. It is from this point they can begin to obtain the skills necessary to address complex environmental issues as well as ways we can take action to keep our environment healthy and sustainable for the future.

 

So even though we are in the midst of a pandemic, there may be opportunities to make lemonade out of the  COVID-19 lemons we find ourselves in by unmasking the opportunities that await in our backyards!

For more information about 4-H in your county, find your local UF/IFAS Extension office or visit http://florida4h.org.

*“Please note some 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: 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.*

Volunteering Roles In A Changing World

Volunteering Roles In A Changing World

The uniqueness of today brings forth a changing world with new opportunities to grow.  Individuals are seeking ways to help make positive changes in themselves, in each other, and in their communities.  One way people are finding to make these changes is through volunteering their time, skills, and support with 4-H.  4-H volunteers are the caring adult role models that utilize a learn-by-doing approach to help youth evolve into more creative, independent, and forward thinking leaders.

4-H volunteers serve in a variety of capacities based on their interests, skills, and time constraints. Some serve as club leaders for our local 4-H clubs. Other volunteers help with organizing events, judging competitive events, and serving as advisors on boards and committees.  Because 4-H offers such a wide variety of events and activities, there are opportunities that can fit every individual’s personal goals, schedules, and needs.

New World, New Opportunities

Opportunities for people to volunteer have evolved even further in today’s world.  Everyone has always considered volunteering as an “in-person” role.  Although the in-person volunteer is still very much in demand and invaluable to the 4-H organization, another volunteer role has emerged – the virtual volunteer.  With the covid-19 pandemic, the role of the virtual volunteer has made it possible for many more individuals that normally could not volunteer in-person, be able to contribute their talents and time.  Whereas covid-19 may have restricted physical distancing, the internet has removed geographical limitations and opened doors to new volunteer roles for a larger, more diverse audience.

The virtual 4-H volunteer is an exciting alternate opportunity for many.  The goals of creating a safe environment, promoting a sense of belonging, and teaching youth essential life skills are still the primary goals of the virtual 4-H volunteer.  The only main difference in opportunity is the delivery mode.  Through new, modernized delivery modes such as virtual club meetings, social media outlets, and pre-recorded sessions, the traditional 4-H program has become more current and efficient for the modern youth and his/her family as well as the volunteers, allowing additional opportunities to expand the 4-H program.  Some 4-H programs have been converted to online programs to continue providing quality programming and meet the needs of all individuals.  4-H has been and continues to be a program that is available to young people in all U.S. states, U.S. territories and U.S. military installations worldwide, regardless of gender, race, creed, color, religion, or disability.  Regardless if an individual chooses to become an in-person or virtual 4-H volunteer, the mission of every 4-H volunteer is the same – to help ignite a spark in each youth to find what inspires them in order to carry out 4-H’s belief in “making the best better.”

It’s Time to Become a 4-H Volunteer!

There is no need to let the pandemic stop you from engaging in giving back when you have the opportunity to make a difference in your own community –in-person or virtually!  4-H is always seeking positive adult role models to serve in a variety of ways.  Volunteers have the flexibility to determine the amount of time given, location and subject area they prefer.  Volunteers will receive full assistance from their local 4-H Office to include trainings, office support, resources, and materials.

To learn more about becoming a 4-H volunteer, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.

*“Please note some 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.”

 

 

4-H Forestry Fun

4-H Forestry Fun

Youth posing, peaking around trees

4-H members have fun at the Forestry Judging Contest.

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, our state has the largest variety of native trees in the continental United States. The panhandle is home to many of the trees that range across the eastern United States.  These species find that the northern part of Florida is their southern limit. Conversely, the sub-tropical plants found in south Florida have reached their northern limits. Each year, 4-H members all across the state have an opportunity to learn about Florida’s great renewable resource.

The Florida 4-H Forestry Ecology Contest allows participants to learn and have a little fun in friendly competition. Teams of 4-H members learn about forest health, tree identification, map symbols, and other elements of forestry management. In other terms, this is forestry judging. Joining a forestry judging team can be very fun and rewarding. These programs help build up relationships with mentors and other children. Furthermore, they offer life skills to children which can be used for a life time of enjoyment in the great outdoors.  Since Florida has more than 17 million acres of forests, the benefits of learning how to use a compass, map reading, and tree identification have far greater implications than a forestry competition. One being that this skill can bring youth closer to the environment or at the very least, make them more aware of their surroundings.

Did you know that thousands of items are made from forest products?  You will find them all over your house. Your kitchen probably has food additives, spices, dish washing liquid, fruits and nuts made in part by forest products. My favorite drink is ROOT beer. You guessed it! The drink comes from forest products. The chairs or couch we lounge in, or home, wouldn’t be possible without forest products. Your medicine cabinet is loaded with forest products as well.  Our soaps, cough syrups/drops, shampoo, aspirin, adhesive bandages, skin lotions, tablet coatings, toothbrushes, and cologne are all brought to you by forestry professionals. Florida employs more than 124,000 forestry professionals. This industry contributes $25 billion dollars to our state’s economy. You can see how important forestry is to our economy.

Let 4-H introduce you or your youth to Florida’s Forestry Ecology Program. This year’s Florida’s Forestry Ecology Program contest was held virtually due to COVID-19 we but hope to be back soon for more in-person adventures in Florida’s Forests!  To find out more information about 4-H programs about forestry or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office.

*”Please note the 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.”

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.”