April is National Volunteer Month. Throughout the month of April, 4-H programs in counties across the Northwest UF/IFAS Extension District from Jefferson to Escambia counties take time to recognize volunteers and the contributions those volunteers make with their time and talent to youth development in their communities. Ken Gooding is a 4-H Shooting Sports Volunteer Leader in Wakulla County. Ken serves as President for the county’s 4-H shooting sports advisory group. He also provides organizational and content expertise for the program in a volunteer coordinator capacity.
Ken Gooding volunteers on the range teaching archery and skeet shooting.
Ken co-founded the Wakulla 4-H Shooting Sports Club now known as “4-H Sharpshooters” in 2018. Since that time, the club has grown to include over forty youth members who learn archery and skeet shooting and ten adult volunteers who support club activities. In his volunteer role with Shooting Sports, Ken leads adult volunteers and develops youth leaders.
Leading Leaders of All Ages with 4-H
After he became a state certified Level One Shooting Sports Instructor in 2018, Ken continued his training at the national level. In 2019, Ken became nationally certified as a Level Two shooting sports archery instructor. This credential qualifies Ken to teach adult volunteers seeking Level One certification in archery.
For Ken, volunteering with 4-H is an expression of his passion for giving back to the community. Ken said, “I volunteer with 4-H because I believe I have a responsibility to share the skills I have with next generation and 4-H gives me the tools I need to effectively pass on this skill to a wide variety of youth in my community that would not otherwise have the opportunity that 4-H provides.
Giving Back to the Community
4-H volunteers help UF/IFAS Extension to amplify their reach into the community. Volunteers are said to be the civic heart of most communities. Ken shared his perspective on why he believes it is important to volunteer in the community:
“To actually be a member of a community, a person must have a vested interest in the success of the community. In the past, that interest was expressed in the general desire to see the community as a whole grow and flourish. Each member brought a particular skillset that when joined with others enabled the community to flourish. But each member also felt a duty or responsibility was owed to the community they helped to build, the community that provided for their individual success and prosperity. This is where 4-H, only one small opportunity for our community members can give back, comes in. Every one of our neighbors has a skill or a passion that they are uniquely qualified to impart to the youth of our community and 4-H has the tools each one of us needs to see that the lessons we’ve learned over a lifetime are not lost to time.”
Ken had a message to share about why he believes everyone should take time to volunteer. He noted the tremendous efforts often exhibited during times of emergency and shared that he often wonders what good things would happen if we all put a tenth of that energy into their community on a daily basis. In closing, Ken said that if he could make an ask of the community, he would ask that, “Each and every member of every community give a little bit of themselves back to their community. Think about, with that small commitment, what kinds of changes for the better could be achieved. I’ll be willing to bet, you’ll receive a greater return for your efforts.”
When Ken is not busy with 4-H, he works as a barge captain on the Mississippi River and volunteers with the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office at the Sheriff’s shooting range. He also raises rabbits and chickens with his wife, Trena. Ken also shares his talents as a professional deejay with 4-H. Whether he is teaching archery or making the party happen with music, Ken is a valued volunteer and an inspiring role model for aspiring leaders of all ages.
For more information about UF/IFAS Extension programs, follow this link to connect with your local office.
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.
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
While this year’s hunting season is winding up, it’s never too early to think about getting ready for next year. Whether it’s deer, squirrel, ducks, dove or turkey, there are important hunting rules and guidelines both youth and adults must follow. Organizations like the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and your local UF/IFAS Extension Office provide programs to keep you on target each hunting season!
Safety is a key element of any shooting sport.
Each hunter must take some version of the Hunters Safety Education course. Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, and 16 years or older, must pass a hunter safety course before a hunting license can be purchased. There are four options to complete this requirement:
- Traditional Course and Skills Day
– Face-to-face instructor led course
– Hands-on skill day – register here
- Online Course and Skills Day (two part process)
– Complete one of the online courses
– Hands on skill day – register here
- Florida Virtual School Outdoor Education
– FREE to Florida students in grades 9-12 or ages 12-18
– Apply here
– Earn 0.5 credit for high school
- Firearms Safety Certification and Online Course
– Adults only
– Must have completed previous firearms training
– Must complete one of the online classes in Option 2
– Follow procedures outlined in the Application for Hunter Safety Certification
If you’re using the Hunter Safety Mentoring Exemption and hunting under the supervision of a qualified hunter, you are exempt from this requirement.
Our district covers Zone D – Escambia to Gadsden/Wakulla & Zone C – Leon & Jefferson. Map courtesy of FWC.
Find Your Zone
Hunters should strive to be good stewards of Florida’s resources to keep this sport a tradition for generations to come. Take the time to determine what hunting zone you live in. Your zone determines your hunting season – meaning the appropriate time you can collect specific game in that area. You can find the Florida Hunting Zones Map here: http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates/zone-map/. Next, check the annually updated hunting season dates and bag limits related to your zone to stay in compliance with FWC regulations: http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates.
4-H Shooting Sports
Find your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and determine if there is a 4-H Shooting Sports program in your county. Participation in a 4-H Shooting Sport program provides year-round opportunities for youth to not only practice their discipline but also to explore other disciplines in a safe, inclusive, environment with 4-H volunteers/mentors!
4-H grows important life skills like responsibility, goal setting and teamwork in youth through shooting sports.
4-H Shooting Sports includes air rifle, small bore rifle, archery, shotgun, muzzleloading and hunting and develops important life skills in a safe and educational environment. Shooting sports day camps are popular during the summer, so ask you 4-H Agent if one will be scheduled for you county.
Would you like to become become 4-H Level 1 Certified to coach and teach youth shooting sports? If you are already enrolled as a 4-H volunteer, log in to your profile and register for the February 16th hands-on training in shotgun and archery. You’ll also complete five online learning modules as part of your training. If you’re new to 4-H, enroll at florida.4honline.com, and let your county 4-H Agent know that you are interested in teaching shooting sports.
Explore the links below to see how you and your youth can get involved in 4-H and stay up to date on the hunting regulations for your area: