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Register Now for State Marine Camp!

Register Now for State Marine Camp!

by Laura Tiu | Jan 10, 2020 | Laura is a UF/IFAS Sea Grant Agent in Okaloosa and Walton Counties in the Panhandle of Florida

Discovery in the bay is one of the highlights of Marine Camp.

Are you interested in learning about marine life, going fishing, or exploring the underwater world with a mask and snorkel? If so, Marine Camp is the camp for you! This opportunity for budding marine scientists will be happening this summer at Camp Timpoochee in Niceville, FL.   Marine camp enables participants to explore the marine and aquatic ecosystems of Northwest Florida; especially that of the Choctawhatchee Bay. Campers get to experience Florida’s marine environment through fishing, boating snorkeling, games, STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) activities and other outdoor adventures. University of Florida Sea Grant Marine Agents and State 4-H Staff partner to provide hands-on activities exploring and understanding the coastal environment.

If Marine Camp sounds interesting to you or someone you know, visit the Camp Timpoochee website at for the 2020 dates and registration instructions. The camps fill up quickly, so early registration is encouraged. Marine Camp is open to 4-H members and non 4-H members between the ages of 8-12 (Junior Camp) and ages 13-17 (Senior Camp). In the summer of 2020, there will be the following Marine Camps:

2020 Marine Camps:

  • Senior Camp – June 22-26
  • Junior Camp – July 13-17
  • Junior Camp – July 20-24

The cost for Senior Camp is $350 for the week and $300 for Junior Camp. A daily snack from the canteen and a summer camp T-shirt are included in the camp fees, along with three nutritious meals per day prepared on site by our certified food safety staff. All cabins are air-conditioned. So many surprises await at Marine Camp, come join the fun!

Valentine’s Day
Marine-Themed Craft 

Just in time for Valentine’s day, this site has some free, printable, marine-themed Valentines!

For more information on the 2020 State Marine Camps, your county’s residential summer camp, or other 4-H programs, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit

This article was adapted from Laura’s original post to the Panhandle Outdoors website.  To read the original article click here:

4-H Judging Teams

4-H Judging Teams

Judging teams are a part of the 4-H curriculum that helps to build life skills.  Arising as part of the early 4-H club work, judging teams were noted to have begun prior to 1921.  In fact, 4-H Clubs were originally called corn clubs, because youth were taught how to grow a better crop of corn and in turn, would bring their corn into town to be judged.

4-H judging teams are short-term, intensive trainings in a particular subject area.  The goal of the trainings is to compete at judging team competitions.  Judging teams are typically comprised of three or four youth in the same age division, from the same county.

According to the Florida 4-H website (, the following are sanctioned state-wide judging teams:

  • 4-H Consumer Choices/LifeSmarts
  • Insectathon
  • Dairy Judging
  • Dairy Quiz Bowl
  • Dairy Goat Judging
  • Dog Quiz Bowl
  • Forest Ecology
  • Hippology
  • Horse Quiz Bowl
  • Horse Judging
  • Horticulture ID and Judging
  • Livestock Judging
  • Land Judging
  • Meat Judging
  • Poultry Judging

For our panhandle 4-H members, the North Florida Fair has the following contests:

  • Consumer Choices
  • Agriculture Judging
  • Horticulture Judging
  • STEM Challenge
  • Wildlife Ecology

Each judging contest has its specific rules and activities; however, the basic components of a judging contest include identification, judging classes, and oral reasons.  A good judging team member has the following characteristics:

  • A clear idea or mental picture of an items characteristics
  • Quick and accurate observation skills
  • The ability to weigh objectively and evaluate what is seen
  • The ability to defend choices made

Now we want you to try your hand at judging.  We will use the meat judging contest as an example.  The following is a class of pork sirloin chops.  A high quality sirloin chop has lots of meat, little fat, and little bone.  A poor quality sirloin chip has little meat, lots of fat, and lots of bone.  The sirloin chops are labeled 1, 2, 3, 4.  Your job as a meat judge is to rank them in order of best to worst.

Four cuts of siloin chops from poor to superior quality.

Your job as a meat judge is to rank meat in order of best to worst.

This class of pork sirloin chops are ranked 4-3-1-2, with cuts of 3-4-4. Four was placed first because it had the best combination of meat and little fat/bone.  Three was placed second because it most resembled number four and had more edible meat than number one.  Number one was placed in third because it had less fat and more meat than number two.  Number two was placed last because it was the fattest sirloin chop with the least amount of meat.

Each judging class is worth 50 points.  If you ranked this class 4-3-1-2, then you received 50 points.  If you placed it another way, then you dropped points based on cuts.  To learn more about how cuts work, please visit

A 4-H meat judging team member would mark their 4-H judging card as seen below.

An example of a 4-H meat judging score card.

An example of a 4-H meat judging score card.

4-H judging teams provide a safe, positive environment for individuals to learn and develop life skills. Judging teams emphasize experiential activities, organization, allowing youth to take part in leadership activities, and providing opportunities for volunteers to act as mentors to youths.

Benefits of 4-H Judging Teams

  • Build self-confidence and problem solving skills
  • Communication and public speaking opportunities
  • Meet new friends
  • Travel the state and country
  • Receive a scholarship for college
  • Learn observational and critical thinking skills
  • Find a new career
  • Selecting an animal for a 4-H project

Participating on 4-H judging teams offer many benefits to participants.  Team members are exposed to team work, effective communication skills and analytical thinking.  Team members also build self-confidence as they become comfortable with all components of judging and evaluation.  Development of these skills benefits every area of the 4-H judging team member’s life.  An additional benefit from participating on a judging team is having the opportunity to travel to new places and meet and interact with industry leaders.  Many times these relationships will aid 4-H members in the future as they choose career paths in any industry.

Many of our 4-H judging contests have national contests associated with them.  If you are willing to put in the time and effort to develop skills in one of our contests, then you have the opportunity to travel across the country with 4-H and interact with industry leaders.  Locally, several 4-H judging teams from the panhandle have recently participated in national 4-H contests.  Members from Jackson County 4-H have been to the national poultry judging contest and national livestock skill-a-thon contest in Louisville in 2019 and the Escambia County 4-H meat judging team will be competing in Colorado in January 2020.

For more information on 4-H judging teams, please visit  Good luck and happy judging!

Special thanks to Brian Estevez, UF/IFAS Escambia County 4-H Agent, for providing this article and pictures.


Florida 4-H Horse Shows: Important Dates and Forms

Florida 4-H Horse Shows: Important Dates and Forms

Two youth riding horses

Photo Credit: Julie Andrews Photography Youth at the 2019 Area North Horse Show in Clay County, FL on May 11, 2019.

As 2019 is drawing to a close, there are a few things we want to remind you of before the holidays set in. As many people are aware, the Florida Horse Program offers many opportunities for youth to get involved with their horses, and a few are coming up quickly in the New Year. Each year, Florida 4-H hosts Area Shows to qualify for the State 4-H Horse Show. If you want to compete at your Area Horse Show, you need to be aware of the following items:

December 31, 2019

The Florida 4-H Horse Certification Form should be submitted to the county 4-H on or before December 31, 2019 to qualify to participate in the Area North Horse Show and the State 4-H Horse show. This form must be completed each year, even if you are using the same horse as a previous year. A youth should do this for each horse they intend to show or use to participate in 4-H shows with.

Find the form here:

Horse Lease Form should be completed and submitted if a youth wants to participate with a horse that is not owned by the youth. Even if you are borrowing the horse without a fee, youth must have a Horse Lease Form on file with the local county 4-H office.

Find the form here:

Youth posing with horse at horse show.

Youth at the 2019 Area North Horse Show in Clay County, FL on May 11, 2019.

Horse Project Book

The Florida 4-H Horse Project Record Book is a great way to track and demonstrate your growth throughout the year.

Find the project book here:



Important Reminders

Youth on horses competing in area at horse show.

Youth compete at the 2019 Area North Horse Show in Clay County, FL on May 11, 2019

Each county has their own specific guidelines and requirements. Please be sure to check when your county offices are closed for the holidays as they may not be open on the final day the form is due. Contact your county office if you have any questions or concerns regarding county specific requirements. For more information about Florida 4-H Horse Project opportunities visit the State 4-H Horse Events site (

If you would like to learn more about the Area North Horse Show or more 4-H activities and events, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit

Photo Credit: Julie Andrews

Welcome Caroline to Our NW 4-H District!

Welcome Caroline to Our NW 4-H District!

Young woman posing in a field.

Caroline Chappell, Jackson County 4-H Extension Youth Development Agent

Please help us welcome Caroline Chappell to our Northwest District 4-H Family!

Caroline is our newest 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent in the Florida Panhandle, filling the 4-H Agent position in Jackson County.  Caroline is no stranger to our area as her hometown is Graceville, Florida where she grew up on her family’s beef cattle farm with her siblings. As a youth, she showed her family’s Angus cattle all over the country, was a member of the University of Florida Livestock Judging Team as well as a member of the Meat Animal Evaluation Team.

With a passion in livestock, Caroline earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Florida and her Master’s Degree in Animal Sciences with a specialty in Beef-Forage, from Auburn University.  Although she has a strong livestock background, Caroline states that she is “excited to start all kinds of different programming for Jackson County 4-H!”

Caroline is a recent newlywed, who married Logan Chappell, an employee for Farm Credit of NW FL in Marianna. They have a Corgi puppy named Tilly, who is just a year old. When Caroline is not working or spending time with her husband and puppy, she enjoys gardening, working with her family’s beef cattle operation, or watching her favorite movie, Big Fish.

Caroline admits that she was never in 4-H as a kid, but did assist with 4-H programming as an intern in Washington County and as a graduate student at Auburn University. She has assisted mainly with livestock/meats related programming.  Caroline did report that one of her favorite 4-H experiences as an intern was when she helped put on a grilling workshop for the 4-H members in Washington County in preparation for the district tailgating contest a few summers ago.  She said she had a lot of fun learning to grill and then helping others.

I found out a few inspiring facts about Caroline to share with everyone as well…Her inspiring role model in life is her dad.  She said he loves Jackson County and over the last 25 years he has worked really hard (and still does) to make the community a better place to live. He’s impacted the lives of a lot of people through both his public service and in his career. She hopes that she can do the same in her new role as the Jackson County 4-H Extension Agent.

Another interesting fact Caroline shared is her favorite inspirational quote – “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” by Theodore Roosevelt.  And last, but not least, when asked if she could have one superpower, what would it be and why, she responded with, “the power to stop time. There’s so much to do, but it seems like never enough time to do it.”  Ah, spoken like a true 4-H Extension Agent!

Welcome to our 4-H family, Caroline!

To meet your local 4-H Extension Agent, 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, or follow us on Facebook.

4-H Day at the North Florida Fair

4-H Day at the North Florida Fair

4-H Day at the North Florida Fair, held on Saturday, November 17, 2019, was another successful day for our local youth. This event connected 4-H members and their families with each other from over ten counties. During this day, 4-H friends and family attended the fair in droves to compete in contests, enjoy fair rides, and sample their favorite fair food items. 4-Hers are recognized at a 4-H Awards Ceremony and then find themselves off to a fun-filled day of thrilling rides, laughter, and friendships in a sea of 4-H green!  4-H member, Gabby Graff, expressed her favorite fair rides this year as “zero gravity, the claw, and ring-of-fire.”

4-H members had the opportunity to compete in five different contests this year: STEM Challenge, Consumer Choice, Agriculture Judging, Horticulture Identification, and Wildlife Ecology. Members put their life skills developed through 4-H to work by displaying critical thinking, teamwork, and problem solving during these contests. 4-H member, Miles Gillespie shared that “preparing for the fair and memorizing information for the contests, I learned about patience and discipline. While at the fair competing, I learned more about patience, plus it was an exercise in keeping my composure under pressure.”

Did you miss this year’s 4-H Day at the North Florida Fair?  Catch up on all things 4-H related at the fair below, along with the individual winners for each contest.


Youth are building a structure with craft supplies.

Leon County 4-H Members work together to build their structure in the STEM Challenge
Photo by: Allison Leo

The topic of the STEM Challenge Contest this year was building hurricane safe structures. All youth competing in this contest were placed on a team based on their age division. A limited amount of materials were provided which included items such as straws, tape, paper, and popsicle sticks. The structures were awarded points based on their height and ability to withstand hurricane wind speeds generated by a fan. “The STEM Challenge was fun because I was able to work together with friends while I participated in an engaging and challenging activity” 4-H member Miles shared.

Junior Team:
1st place – Genevieve Gillespie and Caleb Roberts (Leon)
2nd place – Brook Barrios, Craig Barrios, Eliza Prince (Holmes)
3rd place – Ava Peck, Emily Flowers, Travis Archibald, Hunger Hulbert (Gulf)

Intermediate Team:
1st place – Pedro Teck, Alexis Cooper, Landon Cameron (Holmes)
2nd place – Corbin Roberts, Ander Gillespie, Miles Gillespie (Leon)
3rd place – Lydia Bowman, Cat Proud, Kaylee Dunlap, Alan Bray Crews (Escambia)

Senior Team:
1st place – Katherine Ballard, Rashidi Joseph, Robert Burnham (Escambia)
2nd place – Isabella Teck, Seth Smith, Hunter Hoskias (Holmes)
3rd place – Ethan Roberts, Sophia Laver (Leon)


Group of girls are working on a project together.

Leon County 4-H members receive instruction on the Consumer Choice Contest
Photo by: Allison Leo

The Consumer Choice Contest measured the ability of youth to be smart shoppers. The item categories this year were event venues, tents, jeans, and breakfast cereal. 4-H members had the opportunity to compete in this contest as an individual or on a team. Each individual or team was provided with a “situation card.” Based on the criteria provided in the card, members were asked to review four different choices of each item and rank them from best to worst, based on the criteria. After they were finished ranking, they had to justify their selection through an “oral reasoning” section.

Junior Individual:
1st place – Tessia Brookins (Jefferson)
2nd place – Chloe Bray-Crews (Escambia)
3rd place – Patrick Parrish (Jefferson)

Intermediate Individual:
1st place – Abigail Bray-Crews (Escambia)
2nd place – Taylor Anderson (Escambia)
3rd place – Samantha Hall (Jefferson)

Senior Individual:
1st place – Izzy Kent & Alyssa Gray (Escambia)
2nd place – Ryan Young (Escambia)
3rd place – Sydney Henderson (Gilchrist)


Youth in fair ring with cow for judging purposes.

4-H members participate in Agriculture Judging
Photo by: Allison Leo

During the Agriculture Judging Contest, individuals and teams were tested on their knowledge of beef, poultry, hay, corn, soybean, and oats. Youth competed both as individuals and on teams with their age division. Agriculture judging consists of analyzing a product (i.e. cattle, soybeans) and measuring it against a standard. Members were asked to analyze four different choices of each item and rank them from best to worst based on the standards.

Junior Individual:
1st place – Emalee Souders
2nd place – Hunt Williams
3rd place – Dullus Deadwyler

Intermediate Individual:
1st place – Peyton Ditter
2nd place – Liz Newman & Dylan Gunn
3rd place – Caylee Crooks

Senior Individual:
1st place – Kayla Daimler
2nd place – Adli June Elliot
3rd place – Stephanie Hasty


Youth judge plants and record answers on clipboards

4-H Members, Ethan Roberts and Sophia Laver record their answers during Horticulture Identification
Photo by: Allison Leo

Members were provided with over 60 horticulture specimens to identify. The specimens were divided into four separate categories. Those categories were ornamentals, fruits & vegetables, flowers, and foliage. The specimens were laid out on tables, each bearing a number that corresponded to a scoresheet that listed over 100 plant names. This contest replicates the state contest held each year in June.

Junior Individual:
1st place: Ethan Thornbury (Leon)
2nd place: Genevieve Gillespie (Leon)
3rd place: Chloe Bray-crews (Escambia)

Intermediate Individual:
1st place: Miles Gillespie (Leon)
2nd place: Taylor Anderson (Escambia)
3rd place: Alexis Green (Wakulla)

Senior Individual:
1st place: Isaac Brooks (Washington)
2nd place: Katie Ballard (Escambia)
3rd place: Sophia Laver (Leon)


Youth is looking at wildlife species on table.

4-H Member Gabby Graff competes in the Wildlife Ecology Contest
Photo by: Allison Leo

During the Wildlife Ecology Contest, members were tested on their knowledge of Florida trees, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. They identified the various items through pictures, physical specimens, and audio sounds. 4-H Member, Sophia Laver, shared that the Wildlife Life Contest is her favorite because “being able to look at a leaf and identify it immediately is the coolest thing. I love the challenge of it and being able to say that I can do these amazing things that no one else is really taught. All the competitors are really supportive of each other.”

Junior Individual:
1st place: Gabby Graff (Leon)
2nd place: Genevieve Gillespie (Leon)
3rd place: Felix Konikoff (Leon)

Intermediate Individual:
1st place: Ander Gillespie & Miles Gillespie (Leon)
2nd place: Adeline Smith (Leon)
3rd place: Sasha Konikoff (Leon)

Senior Individual:
1st place: Sophia Laver (Leon)
2nd place: Katie Ballard (Escambia)
3rd place: Alyssa Gray (Escambia)

If you would like to learn more about 4-H activities and events like these educational competitions found at the North Florida Fair during 4-H Day at the Fair each year or how to become a 4-H member in your community, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit for more information.

4-H Goes Wild at Sunbelt Ag Expo

4-H Goes Wild at Sunbelt Ag Expo

4-H Exhibit at Sunbelt Ag Expo.Photo Credit: Rachel Pienta, UF/IFAS Wakulla County

Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, GA is “North America’s Premier Farm Show”®.  Held the third week in October, land grant universities from across the southeast set up interactive exhibits about the research and programs they provide related to agriculture and natural resources.  In addition, there are thousands of industry vendors with exhibits, demonstrations and give-aways.  The UF/IFAS Extension building is no exception.  This year’s theme was “wildlife” and our building featured five interactive exhibits from 4-H, Family and Consumer Sciences, Natural Resources, Horticulture and Agriculture.  Our 4-H exhibit featured some of our most popular 4-H programs related to wildlife: shooting sports, entomology, forestry, and outdoor skills such as kayaking, grilling and orienteering.  Extension faculty and specialists manned the building, and were available to answer questions and passed out free bottles of Florida fruit juices and packets of Florida peanuts.  If you missed this year’s exhibit, you can experience it at the North Florida Fair, November 7-17th in Tallahassee, FL.  Our exhibit (along with the other program areas) will be located in the UF/IFAS Building.

Lots of photo opportunities at Sunbelt Ag Expo! Photo Credit: Rachel Pienta, UF/IFAS Wakulla County

If you have knowledge or skills related to our wildlife project areas, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer!  Our wildlife programs are in high demand and we always need volunteers willing to share their passion for our environment with the next generation of Florida’s citizens.  For more information, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office or visit our website.