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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
CONSUMER CHOICE CONTEST
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.
1st place – Tessia Brookins (Jefferson)
2nd place – Chloe Bray-Crews (Escambia)
3rd place – Patrick Parrish (Jefferson)
1st place – Abigail Bray-Crews (Escambia)
2nd place – Taylor Anderson (Escambia)
3rd place – Samantha Hall (Jefferson)
1st place – Izzy Kent & Alyssa Gray (Escambia)
2nd place – Ryan Young (Escambia)
3rd place – Sydney Henderson (Gilchrist)
AGRICULTURE JUDGING CONTEST
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.
1st place – Emalee Souders
2nd place – Hunt Williams
3rd place – Dullus Deadwyler
1st place – Peyton Ditter
2nd place – Liz Newman & Dylan Gunn
3rd place – Caylee Crooks
1st place – Kayla Daimler
2nd place – Adli June Elliot
3rd place – Stephanie Hasty
HORTICULTURE IDENTIFICATION CONTEST
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.
1st place: Ethan Thornbury (Leon)
2nd place: Genevieve Gillespie (Leon)
3rd place: Chloe Bray-crews (Escambia)
1st place: Miles Gillespie (Leon)
2nd place: Taylor Anderson (Escambia)
3rd place: Alexis Green (Wakulla)
1st place: Isaac Brooks (Washington)
2nd place: Katie Ballard (Escambia)
3rd place: Sophia Laver (Leon)
WILDLIFE ECOLOGY CONTEST
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.”
1st place: Gabby Graff (Leon)
2nd place: Genevieve Gillespie (Leon)
3rd place: Felix Konikoff (Leon)
1st place: Ander Gillespie & Miles Gillespie (Leon)
2nd place: Adeline Smith (Leon)
3rd place: Sasha Konikoff (Leon)
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 http://florida4h.org for more information.
Natasha Roberts was a member of Leon County 4-H for over 10 years
Leon County 4-H was fortunate to have veteran 4-H member, Natasha Roberts, return this past summer to work as a University of Florida Intern. “I was a member of this program for much of my childhood, so it was exciting to be a part of it again, except as an intern this time!” said Natasha. She is currently attending the University of Florida, majoring in Agricultural Education and Communication.
Natasha remarked “because of my major, I got to apply a lot of what I’m learning in school during the internship. Becoming an Extension Agent is my dream career, so I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had to work with Extension over the summer and learn from the people who have been mentoring me my entire life”. Natasha’s assigned project for the internship was to develop educational teaching tools for 4-H members with the goal of increasing participation in the North Florida Fair Horticulture ID Contest. She did a phenomenal job and we could have not asked for a better intern!
Natasha was able to use the life skills she developed through her years in 4-H to successfully teach youth about horticulture. She developed a variety of study materials, including an electronic identification tool and an interactive bingo game. Natasha led educational workshops for 4-H members in Leon and Washington Counties with the materials she developed. In addition to the development of materials, Natasha created an entire program that can be implemented by Extension Agents and Program Assistants now that her internship is complete.
Natasha teaches a workshop on Plant ID
Natasha put her 4-H leadership skills to work by helping lead multiple days camps and 4-H activities over the summer. She helped lead Plant Science Camp, Culinary Camp, and Mindfulness Camp. She worked with Extension Agents to develop activities for each of the camps. When I asked her what her favorite part about returning to Leon 4-H was she answered “My favorite part of coming back to Leon 4-H as an intern was getting to design educational materials that I had wanted to make while as a member, but simply hadn’t found the time to. It was wonderful to play a part in preparing kids for the competition I had looked forward to every year as a child. I particularly loved getting to play the plant ID bingo games with kids in our county and watching them get excited about horticulture”.
Natasha Roberts leads an activity during Plant Science Camp
During her time with 4-H as a youth, Natasha won the State Horticulture Contest and traveled to St. Louis Missouri where she placed 7th in the National Horticulture Contest. When a 4-H member from Wakulla County wanted help preparing for the State Horticulture Competition, Natasha was delighted to help her fellow 4-H member prepare. She dedicated an entire day to helping her peer prepare and they went on to compete at both the State the National Horticulture Contest!
Natasha attributes her experience in 4-H to inspiring her to become a future Extension Agent. She desires “to help provide the same opportunities to others that the 4-H program gave me.” Natasha attributes her passion for community service and leadership to her involvement with 4-H. We cannot wait to see what is next for veteran 4-H member, Natasha!
Inspired by Natasha? Consider becoming a 4-H Volunteer today! The process to become a volunteer is simple: visit http://florida4h.org to apply online or visit your local UF IFAS County Extension Office for assistance.
Succulent garden at entry of NSA-PC Youth Center
In September 2018, Ms. Bettina started the 4-H Garden Club at NSA-PC in Panama City, Florida. She had big plans for the garden and couldn’t wait to get started. These Navy youth, led by a caring adult staff member, started their 4-H journey. Then Hurricane Michael came, which devastated the area on October 10, 2018 and could have easily derailed all of their plans. Instead, the storm allowed youth to start with a clean slate and a renewed sense of vigor in rebuilding the garden at the NSA-PC Youth Center. The youth redesigned some of their beds using debris from the storm.
When the Youth Center reopened following the storm, most of the outdoor areas were off limits to the kids due to damage from the storm. That meant that the playground and other outdoor activities were not available. However, the 4-H Garden Club was allowed to function and allowed the youth itching to be outside and yearning for a way to cope with the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael to come together as a team and, along with Ms. Bettina, a garden to restore a sense of balance and ownership.
Whimsical garden bed designed by NSA-PC youth
The kids were eager to get started planning, implementing, and maintaining the new garden area. They created a plan for different types of gardens within their facility spaces. They researched which plants were best suited for the season and zone as well as which flowers would attract pollinators, because they hoped to see hummingbirds and butterflies. Ms. Bettina says that the kids came in every day asking if they were going to get to work in the garden. It created a healthy, active, and creative outlet for all involved. Soon the garden began to take shape with imaginative details and originality everywhere you looked.
All visitors to the Youth Center are welcomed by exquisitely maintained flower beds that surround the entrance to the building. The youth have created and maintained a beautiful area that enhances the building and greets visitors with beauty and color. These raised gardens are filled with hardy greenery as well as seasonal color and elevated containers that hold a cascade of many varieties of succulents.
NSA-PC youth recycled old materials to create a new space to hold their flowers.
The 4-H Garden Club at NSA-PC is a perfect example of how sometimes a storm that seemingly derails plans actually presents an opportunity for growth, learning, and creating something more beautiful. Ms. Bettina’s 4-H Garden Club could not have come at a more perfect time. The gardening activities allow the youth to get outdoors while learning about different types of plants and how to care for them. Many students initially joined the Garden Club to get outside after the storm due to the playground closure. Youth participating in the 4-H Garden Club at NSA-PC have learned about more than just the science of plants; they are learning to work as a team with improved communication skills in order to continue maintaining their garden as well as environmental awareness and recycling by taking used items to make new treasures for their flower beds.
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 interests while being guided by adult volunteers. If you would like to learn more about 4-H programming in your local area, or how to get involved as a 4-H volunteer, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.
For more tips and ideas to help build your personal garden, visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ as there are many documents available to help build your personal gardens.
This article was written by Jennifer Sims and Paula Davis.
Wildflower seed bombs are a great indoor or outdoor project with unlimited potential for learning.
Wildflower seed bombs are the perfect project for kids itching to get outside. Even if you don’t have a green thumb or you don’t have outdoor space or the weather isn’t cooperating, you can make seed bombs that will help beautify roadsides, vacant areas and neighborhoods.
Give Them a Toss!
These little beauties don’t get their name from any explosive properties but from the fun you have “launching” them around your yard or neighborhood. As you toss them into places that aren’t frequently mowed, you beautify your neighborhood and provide an invaluable food sources for native Florida pollinators like bees, wasps, butterflies, and more.
Even though you may be more fond of some pollinators than others, there’s no doubt we need them all. Their pollination services are critical to fruit development in many of our fruiting crops. So if you like squash, cucumbers, melons, almonds and so much more, here’s what you can do to help:
Gather Your Materials
- Air-dry clay
- Wildflower seeds
- Potting Soil
Make Your Seed Bombs
- Pinch off a small amount of air-dry clay – enough to make a ball about the size of a bouncy ball or about 1″ diameter.
- Work equal parts seeds and soil into the clay and form it into a ball.
Amounts really are up to you. More seeds = more flowers.
But, too much soil will keep the ball from holding it’s shape. If this happens, add more clay and either have a bigger bomb, or divide it into two smaller bombs.
- Store them in a cool dry place and let them dry out completely in an air-tight container until you’re ready to spread some wildflower cheer.
- Now for the fun part! Toss them where you want flowers to grow.
Things to Consider…
- The air-dry clay acts as a binder only. It’s natural, non-toxic, and when wet, it will soften and allow the seeds to grow.
- Before storing in an airtight container, allow your seed bombs out to dry completely. Even a little moisture will allow the seeds to sprout.
- Be careful when throwing your seed bombs.
- Don’t hit people, animals, or other anything else with them – just the ground.
- Throw them where areas don’t get mowed very much. Some people throw them out along roadways or in abandoned lots. If these places are mowed regularly, they won’t last long if they even get to bloom.
- Get permission if you’re throwing them in public places.
Gardening is just one of the many Florida 4-H programs. To see what programs are available in your county, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office, or contact your 4-H Agent about starting a gardening program in your county.
4-H Judging Contests, like horticulture identification, teach essential life skills for work and personal success.
Horticulture is one of our state’s leading industries, and for decades, the 4-H Horticulture ID contest has helped youth learn about this industry and demonstrate mastery of horticultural identification skills. Even if a youth does not pursue a career in the horticultural industry, learning the material for this contest can benefit them in other ways. To learn more about how judging teams teach workforce skills, check out this previous blogpost.
This year, the State 4-H Horticulture Judging Contest received an extreme makeover, to expand the program to even more youth. The state contest was held this past Saturday, June 10th at the Hillsborough County Extension Office in Tampa, FL (previously, the contest was held in Gainesville during 4-H University and was only open to 4-H seniors). For the first time ever, the contest is now open to youth between the ages of 8 and 18 (juniors, intermediates, and seniors). Study materials were adapted and revised to be age appropriate, and a webinar for coaches was offered. The webinar was archived and can still be viewed by anyone interest in coaching a team.
There are five parts to the contest:
- Woody Ornamentals identification
- Flowers and Foliage identification
- Fruits and Nut identification
- Vegetable identification
- Judging classes (youth look at a group of four fruits, plants, vegetables or nuts and rank them from best quality to poorest quality).
The contest is organized by a group of University of Florida Extension Specialists and volunteers. In addition to the resources online, youth can contact their local Master Gardener Program through their local UF IFAS County Extension Office for support. Many master gardener volunteers are willing to help teach plant identification, and may be willing to serve as a coach for your club. In fact, Master Gardeners can earn bonus points towards their state contest for helping 4-H clubs and teams prepare!
If this program interests you, sign up for 4-H! 4-H is open to youth ages 5-18. Adults can join 4-H as volunteers. Florida 4-H offers a variety of volunteer roles to fit your specific interests, skills and schedule. For more info, visit http://florida4h.org or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.
Russell and Julie McMillian, Gulf County 4-H Alumnae and 4-H Leaders
Russell and Julie McMillian both grew up in Gulf County and together have established a thriving business based on their love of horses. They now own a small farm in Dalkeith, just south of Wewahitchka, and their business Rockin’ M Ranch, consists of horseback riding lessons for beginners and beach rides for tourists and locals alike along the beautiful beaches of Cape San Blas.
How did this all begin? Russell and Julie both grew up as Gulf County 4-H members of the Big River Riders 4-H Club. They both participated in a variety of 4-H programs; including Horse Camp, Camp Timpoochee, Congress (now known as 4-H University), District Events, North Florida Fair Ag Judging, Area A and State 4-H Horse Shows, etc. They both learned the values of 4-H through learning how to raise and compete with their animals, agricultural commodities, leadership skills, public speaking, community service, good decision making skills, and much more…
As adults, they both went in separate directions, but still maintained their love of horses and the farm life. Russell began his career in flooring and tile work, while Julie received her education degree and taught Kindergarten at Wewahitchka Elementary School. After reconnecting as adults, they married on September 25, 2010 and turned their passion for horses into a full-time love by creating their own business, Rockin’ M Ranch. Russell still does flooring, tile work on the side, and helps his grandparents with their hay business. Julie decided to leave the teaching field, and she manages their business full time. She began giving beach rides on the Cape at the age of 14 and still loves it as much today.
Julie and Russell McMillian pictured with Brooke (left) and Hayleigh (right).
Russell began his time with 4-H at the age of 12 and Julie was 8 years old. As members of the Big River Riders 4-H Club, they adored their 4-H leaders, Mr. Jesse Eubanks and Ms. Jean McMillian (Russell’s grandmother), and the Gulf County Extension Director, Roy L. Carter (now retired), whose passion for horses was contagious. Julie explained that she was a very shy child and that participating in public speaking for District Events really helped her come out of her shell. They both loved learning the values of the four H’s: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. They feel 4-H has helped them develop into productive adults with good decision-making skills and in-stilled in them the importance of giving back to their community. They have served as 4-H volunteers for the Big River Rider’s 4-H Club since Russell’s daughters joined 4-H years ago; Brooke (17) and Hayleigh (15) also ride horses and have competed in a variety of Gulf County 4-H programs throughout the years. Russell and Julie have also taught a variety of horse riding classes at multiple Gulf County 4-H day camps.
As 4-H and community leaders, their most important goal is to give back to the community that gave to them as 4-Hers growing up here. They really love introducing new riders to the love of horses and 4-H. On any day, Russell and Julie can be found throughout the county at various events supporting 4-H members and any youth for that matter.
When asked what advice she has for someone thinking about becoming a 4-H volunteer she said, “Do not have regrets…just do it. Do not be scared off by the fingerprinting and application process. It is quick and easy, and maintains the safety for you and the children. Get started! 4-H is a great opportunity for youth and adults.”
“As a 4-H extension agent, you can only hope to find 4-H volunteers as dedicated as Russell and Julie McMillian. Their passion and love of 4-H is infectious and draws in youth looking for a place to belong.” -Melanie Taylor, Gulf County 4-H Agent
For more information about Rockin’ M Ranch, please go to http://www.therockinmranch.com/. For more information about how to become involved in 4-H, either as a youth member or adult volunteer, visit florida4h.org or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office. 4-H offers a variety of roles for volunteers to share their passions, skills and interests.