Gadsden County 4-H youth on campus for 4-H University. 4-HU is the premier youth leadership development event of Florida 4-H.
Leaders – Born or Made?
Many of us have heard the saying, “oh, that young man or woman is such a natural born leader.” But are leaders born that way, or do they develop into leaders? These Gadsden County delegates took advantage of 4-H University this summer – an awesome Florida 4-H state event designed to grow leadership skills. Many of them have also served as volunteer 4-H camp counselors during the summer. They understand that leaders are developed and not born.
What Defines a Leader?
Sometimes people confuse charisma with leadership abilities. Charisma is a special magnetic charm or appeal (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Many of our local to national leaders have some level of charisma. In addition to charisma, leaders should have the more important skills such as communication, problem solving, critical thinking, managing, and self-awareness. There are many definitions for leadership because there is no universal definition. Leadership involves a process while a leader is the one who carries out the process.
How Does 4-H Unlock Your Leadership Potential?
One of my favorite teaching tools used to develop my Gadsden County 4-H leaders is the “Unlock Your Leadership Potential” by UF/IFAS Extension. It has influenced how I would define a leader. The overall goal of a good leader is to move the group or organization toward its goals while building a sense of togetherness and well-being.
Florida 4-H grows leaders at the club, county, district, and state levels by creating safe and nurturing environments and providing quality experiences. Knowledge and skills are great, but being able to apply them through experience is what fortifies and matures youth as well as increases their confidence. The 4-H slogan, “Learn by Doing”, is why the 4-H Experiential model is important to UF/IFAS-Extension 4-H Youth Development Program. The more active the youth and the duration of a their engagements in 4-H positive youth development the greater the benefits not just for them but also their communities (2013, National 4-H Council). It takes a whole team of Extension professionals, staff, 4-H Seniors, and volunteers to make the “magic” happen.
Call to Action:
- Begin the journey as a youth or volunteer: http://florida4h.org/getinvolved/
- Engage in local and state 4-H programs: http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/
- Give to Florida 4-H: https://www.uff.ufl.edu/give-now/?fund_id=003603
- Read and share the other great blogs by my colleagues here: http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/4hn/
- Join the “30 Days of Doing” 4-H Movement: https://4-h.org/inspire-kids-to-do/
References and Further Reading:
Did you know that the Saturday of National 4-H Week is the 4-H Day of Service? 4-H Clubs across the nation will be celebrating National 4-H Week with “hands to larger service.” Service is a huge part of the 4-H program (one of the “H”s”) and also helps teach youth compassion for others. Service is also a requirement in order to maintain a 4-H club charter.
Younger youth typically start out with community service. Community service is volunteering in your community. This is usually done through food drives, such as the Peanut Butter Challenge, or volunteering at an animal shelter, collecting coats or blankets for those in need, or a toy drive during the holidays. If you are looking for an easy but impactful service project for your club, I would encourage you to participate in the Peanut Butter Challenge. Each county in the panhandle is collecting jars of peanut butter to donate to local food pantries. The Florida Peanut Producers will match the donation of the county that collects the most peanut butter. Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office for more info or refer to this flyer.
Older youth are encouraged to move from community service to service learning. What’s the difference? Service-Learning is more than a “one-shot deal.” Instead of spending a day or few hours helping someone, youth identify a need, and develop a strategy to address it. It also incorporates reflection and celebration. Service-Learning projects take community service to the next level by emphasizing both service and learning and is more meaningful for older youth.
- Community Service – Youth prepare and serve a meal at a local homeless shelter.
- Service-Learning – Youth research homelessness in their community and contact local homeless shelters to learn about the types of services they provide. Youth then decide together on a service project that will support this community need. After planning and completing the service project, youth reflect upon both the Service-Learning process and the service project.
Did you know Florida 4-H has a state service project selected by our youth executive board? Each year the State Project Committee of the Executive Board recommends activities in which 4-Her’s can participate that will carry out the state wide community service project of the Florida 4-H Council. This year, the committee decided that the theme for 2017-2019 will be “Living In Florida’s Environment (LIFE)”. This project is focused on creating a greener tomorrow by hosting beach cleanups, planting trees, and participating in citizen science activities.
Youth can receive recognition for their service efforts at 4-H University. It is also a requirement for the District 4-H Spirit Stick Awards. The State Project Committee encourages all youth to participate in at least one state project that is associated with LIFE. The committee would also like to recognize the youth that do participate in these projects. Once a project is completed, please record it on the project report-back sheet found in the tool kit below. These record sheets will need to be submitted to Grace Carter by July 3, 2018. The committee would appreciate if pictures were included in these reports.
The report form can be found in the LIFE Service Project Guide.
Bronze: Youth who complete 1 service project will receive a bronze certificate of completion.
Silver: Youth who complete 2 service projects will receive a silver certificate of completion.
Gold: Youth who complete 3-4 service projects will receive a gold certificate of completion
and will also receive recognition at 4-H University 2018.
Emerald: Youth who complete 5 or more service projects will receive an emerald certificate
of completion and will also receive recognition at 4-H University 2018.
Kheica’s prepared public speech at county events her senior year
I will never forget the day Kheica and little sister walked into the Jefferson County Extension Office interested in doing a 4-H Demonstration at County Events. Two shy and very timorous little girls. Perhaps they could organize their presentation, but the thought of presenting it in front of an audience- no way! They proved me wrong. They organized their demonstration and presented it at County and District Events. Receiving both blue 1st place ribbons and blue quality rosettes. Since her demonstration at age ten, Khecia made a lasting impression in Jefferson County 4-H. She embraced 4-H slogan “Learning by Doing” wholeheartedly as a member.
Khecia’s first 4-H team demonstration, as a junior
As a junior and intermediate 4-Her, Kheica was a member the Elite Sewing Club. She also served as president of the Jefferson Elementary School Clubs (both 3rd & 4th grade years). She also participated in consumer choices judging contest and received the highest individual score at the North Florida Fair.
As a senior 4-Her, Kheica served as president and vice-president of the Jefferson County Teen Council. Last year, she participated in general public speaking at the county, district & state levels. This year Kheica will be doing a team demonstration at 4-H University entitled: Creamy Shrimp Linguine. She served on the 4-H NW Teen Retreat Planning Committee. This summer will also be her fourth year as a camp counselor at the day and overnight summer camps.
Khecia has helped plan several community service projects, including a roadside clean-up this spring.
Giving back to her community is paramount to Kheica. She has accumulated over 400 hours of community service hours from roadside cleanup, the 4-H Nature Trail Clean up, northwest Florida service project (Chemo Kits for Cancer Patients), nursing home visits, and landscaped the senior citizen center.
When I asked Kheica what life skills she learned that she attributes to 4-H, she shared: “I have learned life skills such as teamwork, dedication, and perseverance. I have also learned the important of community service.” Kheica said her most memorable moment as a junior 4-Her was participating in 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking and doing her demonstrations at County & District Events.
Khecia Jones, an exemplary student, achieved top honors as Valedictorian of the 2017 graduating class. After graduation, she plans to attend FAMU on a full scholarship and major in Biomedical Sciences.
Our heart is content knowing that Jefferson County 4-H equipped this young woman with tools necessary to be successful post high school. Jefferson County 4-H takes pleasure in wishing Khecia Jones much happiness and success in her future endeavors, and we invite her to join 4-H as a volunteer to help other youth benefit from 4-H the way she has!”
If you are interested in joining 4-H to learn leadership and communication skills, or if you would like to help teach youth in your community as a 4-H volunteer, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.
Alex Davis is a graduating senior from Leon County 4-H
Six years ago, Alex’s grandmother registered her to attend summer camp at Cherry Lake with Leon County 4-H and she hasn’t looked back since!
Alex has become one of the shining stars of the Leon County 4-H program. She has held positions of Parliamentarian, Secretary, and Vice President of the Leon County 4-H Leadership Council. She has served as a member of our Banquet Planning Committee and for the past four summers, Alex has volunteered her time as a counselor at Robotics, Sewing, Cooking, and Gardening camps. She is raised by her grandparents, Suzane Parke and Sidney Jenkins and is the oldest of three siblings.
Alex’s leadership and responsibility truly shine when she is leading and helping youth. One of her favorite 4-H experiences was assisting a group of robotics camp participants complete a challenge: “We were scrambling to finish our car. It was so great to see the look of accomplishment on the kids’ faces.”
Alex has helped teach a variety of 4-H programs during her six-year membership.
Alex is a wonderful representative of 4-H. Perhaps more importantly, she is a stellar student. When Alex first joined 4-H, she talked about her future enrollment in the IB program at Rickards High School. I remember this discussion vividly because I was extremely impressed with the maturity of a then-thirteen year old explaining how she would be reducing her participation in order to focus on school. Four years, hard work, late nights, and hard choices – many times causing her to choose between 4-H and homework – she has accomplished her goal.
Alex was accepted into the University of Florida where she will begin this summer. “I plan to study animal biology. And eventually Veterinary Medicine. Real STEMMY things. And I want to have an impact on people, but not work directly with them. So I figure helping their pets is pretty close.”
One of her favorite experiences has been learning about how food is produced. Alex will extend her learning at the University of Florida’s College of Agriculture this fall.
Curious, we asked Alex why she chose to keep coming back to 4-H. As a driven student, active member of Young Marines and other youth organizations, many things could have pulled her from the program. Alex said: “It was fun. I learned things I never knew…like how to sew a pillow! That will come in handy in college. And the adults…Ms. Stefanie was awesome. Ms. Heidi was great. And the other adults were always so helpful and nice.”
We will definitely miss Alex’s smiling face and bubbling personality around our office this summer, but we are so proud of our 2017 graduate!
Jessica credits 4-H with helping her develop leadership and communication skills to help her transition into the workforce.
Super Woman has nothing on Washington County 4-H’er Jessica Wells. During her 11 years as a 4-H member, she has logged over 500 4-H volunteer hours, started and led a horse project club, facilitated agriculture judging at the county youth fair, led a highly successful community service project, served on 4-H Executive Board and the district teen retreat planning committee, been my right-hand woman at day camps, the county 4-H Tropicana public speaking contest and awards banquets…I could go on and on!
Through events such as 4-H University and executive board, 4-H involvement has broadened Jessica’s personal skill set. She has learned about opportunities beyond the county level, stepped out of her comfort zone, looked inside herself to see where she needed to grow and developed teamwork skills that have benefitted her now and will continue to benefit her in the future.
Jessica also shared that “exploring career options has been one of the biggest benefits of my 4-H involvement.”
Jessica’s involvement in the 4-H horse program has led her to start a horse club in her community, so she can share her passion and expertise for the horse industry with other youth. There had not been an active horse club in the county for several years, so Jessica was able to match her interest to serve a real need in the community.
With leadership development as the focus of her senior 4-H year, she says that 4-H University has been her favorite event that has allowed her to flex and grow her skills as a leader. Jessica lives a heads, heart, hands and health life: she has grown her personal skill set, she leads and serves with a giving and caring heart, her work ethic is tremendous and she has begun a club to serve an unmet need in the county. Jessica has balanced her 4-H life while working at her grandfather’s blueberry farm, working with her horses (even rehabilitating a rescue horse), being an awesome big sister and daughter and serving at church. Jessica is the daughter of Rodney and Karen Wells and big sister to Sarah and Joshua. She plans to attend Chipola College then transfer to either Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College or the University of Florida and major in agri-business.
Hear what Jessica has to say about what she has gained from her 4-H experience, and why she has remained in 4-H through her high school years:
UF/IFAS Extension Washington County congratulates Jessica on her high school graduation! We look forward to seeing how you move and shake the world. Love, Julie, Judy, Mark, Matt, Nikki & Cynthia
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.