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Graduating Senior Serving Club, Community and Even His Country

Santa Rosa 4-H member, Private 1st Class Wolf, serves his country in the United States Army.

Receiving an official title can be very exciting for a new employee.  Santa Rosa County 4-H member, Payton Wolfe has a new title and he hasn’t even graduated from high school yet.  His new title is now Private 1st Class Wolfe.  You see, Payton is serving the United States of America in the Army.  Wolfe completed his Basic Combat Training during the summer between his Junior and Senior years of high school.  He has officially been in the Army for quite some time now.

Payton Wolfe has a love of animal husbandry and has hatched over 5,000 eggs throughout his high school career.  During his many years in 4-H, he has raised numerous types of poultry including quail, chickens, pheasants, turkeys and ducks.  “I even had a couple of cows, but they were really just for pets, I never showed them,” Payton explained.

Along with animals, Payton has learned to have a heart of service for a long time.  He has completed over 300 hours of community service while in Santa Rosa County 4-H.  He has served his club as an officer, his community in service projects whenever needed, and now Payton will serve his country in the United States Army for six years.  Enrolling in the Army Veterinarian Specialist program seemed like a natural fit for him.  He will be helping care for bomb dogs and horses. Thank you for your dedication and service to our country Private First Class Wolfe!

We are proud that Payton is using the skills he learned as a member of 4-H to protect our country and are excited to see how he will continue to serve his world in the years to come.  To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as leadership, independence, and goal setting to your children so that they will grow up to become successful members of society and have a heart of service like Payton, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office, or follow us on Facebook.

 

Graduating Senior:  Gentle Giant, Giant Impact

Have you ever had one of those kids in your life that just towered over you?  You know, the kid in your 4-H club, the student in your classroom, or maybe your next door neighbor’s child that just grew every year and made you feel like you were not eating your Wheaties enough. He would be the one that, if you had to have a talk with him, you have to stand on a chair with your tip toes to look eye level, yet he would be just as mild mannered as a teddy bear.  He is the youth whose laugh is contagious and his presence fills the entire room.  Well, Holmes County 4-H has one of those gentle giants in our midst, Jamin Marks, and I assure you, he is going to be missed in our 4-H family!

Jamin Marks, Holmes County 4-H Member and graduating Senior.

Recently, I went to a local K-8 grade school to recruit new campers for our 4-H Camp Timpoochee summer camping program.  While speaking to some students, they initially acted like they might be “too cool” for summer camp.  I realized I needed to change my approach of introducing 4-H summer camp to this audience so I stopped mid-sentence into my introduction and simply asked them who knew Jamin Marks, the graduating senior football player from our community.  Almost all of the student body raised their hands and I heard quite a few kids throwing out comments such as “he is so cool,” and “Jamin’s my man.”  I then asked how many knew that Jamin was a 4-Her and has been to 4-H Camp Timpoochee almost every year since he was 8 years old.  Some hands went down, then gasps, and then a rumble started to occur.  Finally, I told the group that this was Jamin’s last year at camp and then asked who wanted to sign up for 4-H Camp Timpoochee this year.  Every hand in the room shot straight to the ceiling!  I knew this was the way to reach my audience because I knew that Jamin has been such a profound impact in the community for many of these younger kids without him even realizing it.  That is Jamin, our gentle giant with a giant impact that has made a lasting impression for years to come.

Jamin as a camper in 2014.

Jamin began his 4-H journey by participating in 4-H summer camp at Camp Timpoochee as a camper.  Then, in the summer of 2016, Jamin excelled in the role of counselor.  He used his gentle gift of humor to ease the fears of new campers, create a sense of belonging, and lighten the mood if tensions were high after a long day of fun and sun.  In addition, Jamin began using his leadership skills to help his peers understand the effects of bullying.  It did not take long for Jamin to become one of the most requested counselors at summer camp every year.  That is our Jamin, our gentle giant, creating a safe environment for every child to feel included.

Jamin believes that being involved in Holmes County 4-H is like being part of a big family and his reference to me as “Mama Niki” tells me where I rate in his circle.  His expression of gratitude to all of the 4-H volunteers for their support over the years generates a huge thanks and expressive hug.  And, as we conclude the interview for my blog, Jamin can’t help himself.  He ends it with, “Mama Niki, you know I am going to become a 4-H volunteer, so I can come back to camp every year and help you with your campers.”  I just end the conversation with a huge smile.  That is our Jamin, always our gentle giant.

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.

Graduating Seniors Breaking Barriers

Graduation is that bitter sweet moment of finally closing the high school chapter of life and diving into adulthood.  Involvement with 4-H can help ease this transition for many young adults.  4-H teaches youth life skills through positive youth development opportunities.  These opportunities allow them to navigate the world through experiential learning, the “learn by doing” approach, so they may develop skills to rely on for many years after their time spent in 4-H.  Two Walton County 4-H’ers are preparing to do just that, but it hasn’t always been an “easy row to hoe.”

JACKSON LEATH

Jackson receiving his annual Clover Award

Jackson Leath started his journey in Walton County 4-H at age eight.  He was involved in local clubs and even traveled to Washington D.C. and summer camp.  However, after several battles with anxiety, Jackson took a break from 4-H for many years.  In 2015, he decided to try out the Walton County Teen Council Club with a few friends.  This led him to volunteering at day camps, leading group recreation with campers, and ultimately becoming a Junior Counselor for summer camp!  Jackson overcame many hurdles along the way but regained his confidence and independence so greatly that it fueled his passion for leadership and service to others.  

 

Jackson’s goal has always been, “to show kids that 4-H is fun and to give them the memories I’ve had here.”  After conquering any fear or doubts, Jackson has been active in multiple community clubs, has been a Camp Timpoochee Camp Counselor for 4 years, volunteered at numerous day camps, and held multiple offices on the county level.  Jackson’s confidence has also led him to accomplishments at school which include Captain of the soccer team and officer positions in various clubs.  

CHEYENNE DUNCAN

Cheyenne competing at State Tailgating competition

Cheyenne Duncan moved to the Florida Panhandle in 2014.  Within her freshman year of high school, Cheyenne battled bullying, abusive relationships, and depression.  Through her involvement with 4-H and becoming a Junior Camp Counselor to “try camp,” (as an effort from her mother and 4-H Agent to turn negatives into positives), Cheyenne blossomed!  During a heartfelt conversation on a Camp Timpoochee bench, Cheyenne shared with her 4-H Agent that “this 4-H stuff really works!”  Cheyenne not only conquered her adversaries, but she also became driven to share her story with others in 4-H, the community, and the State to help other teens that may be facing the same battles.  Cheyenne has led many community clubs in all offices, competed at County Events, shown livestock in the local Fair, volunteered countless hours during day camps and will be serving her 5th year as a Camp Timpoochee Camp Counselor.  Her champion spirit has also led her to complete the following in school:  2 years as Soccer Team Captain, 1 year assistant coach for spring soccer, multiple years dedicated to soccer, track and cross country along with 4 years of Jr ROTC and Drill with the accompanying ribbons to match!

Furthermore, not only have both Jackson and Cheyenne displayed what #TRUELEADERS are in 4-H and school extracurricular activities, but both are successfully working multiple jobs in the workforce as well!  Through their experiential learning, both have seen many times of great achievement and possibly a few failures; however, 4-H provided a safe place for our youth to experience failure, learn from it, and ultimately Make the Best Better. 

To get more involved in 4-H, find your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and ask your County 4-H Agent how to join!

4-H University is 4 U!

Yes, 4-University is 4 U!  4-H University is one of the premiere state events in Florida 4-H.  Teens get the chance to participate in leadership workshops, explore career opportunities, interact with other 4-Hers from across the state, and have fun while learning how to better successfully engage in their community, country, and world.  Below you will find useful information as well as why you should attend this flagship state 4-H event.

WHY PARTICIPATE?

2018 Gadsden County 4-H University Delegation

  • Fun: We like all things we sign up for to be fun but sometimes they turn out not to be. We assure you, this IS a FUN event.
  • Network:  Connect with like-minded teens from across Florida.
  • Focused learning: Subject matter focused workshops offered are interesting and engaging.
  • Explore:  Visit an awesome college campus!  There are many things to see and do at UF.  It is your chance to visit a college campus.
  • Dorms:  Sleep in a college dorm.  Yes, you and your roomies get a little taste of future dorm life.
  • Leadership: True leaders know that leadership and learning is an on-going process.
  • Service Learning:  Giving back to others feels good.  Fresh ideas keep us focused and committed.
  • Goal Setting: Goals help us to expand our visions.  4-H U helps you set some goals for the future.
  • Being Supportive:  Fellow attendees are competitors and/or candidates running for State 4-H Officers we want to support.
  • Fun: Yes, I mentioned this twice! My Gadsden County 4-H senior youth have enjoyed 4-H U for many years for all the reasons above.  They stress FUN twice!

IMPORTANT REGISTRATION INFORMATION

Dates: July 29-August 1, 2019 (multi-day overnight state 4-H event)
Location: University of Florida, Gainesville
Who: Youth who are 4-H age 14-18
Registration: Opens on May 1 and closes June 30 at 11:59 pm Eastern. The cost is $275.00 for full week. Special one-day only registrations are available. Check out the website for more information.
How: Contact your local 4-H office
Learning opportunities: You do not want to be late registering so that you can have a better chance of getting your choice of track workshop: http://florida4h.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/4HU_2018_Workshop_Descriptions.pdf
More information: For more information, please visit this http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/4-h-university/


CALL TO ACTION:

  1. Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office
  2. Begin the journey as a 4-H Member
  3. Engage in local programs as well as district and state: http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/
  4. Read and share the other great 4-H In The Panhandle blogs by my colleagues
  5. Follow us on Facebook

Purple Up! for Military Kids

Child hugging his military parent

Purple Up! on Friday, April 12th

Most people think of the color green when they think of 4-H, but on Friday April 12, 2019, 4-H youth and volunteers in Florida will Purple Up! to show support for our military kids and families.  Join us in showing support and celebrate our young heroes! Participation in the 10th annual Purple Up! day is easy – wearing purple and take photos to share on social media using #fl4h and #purpleup.

Why Purple Up?
Military youth have unique challenges. Imagine how you would feel about having long and repeated separations from your parent.  Imagine your mom or dad missing important events like birthdays, holidays, and school events. How would you feel about frequent relocation or moves, having to make new friends, get familiar with new schools, and find new 4-H clubs and teams to join? These are all common experiences for military youth!

Many military children take these changes in stride, but it’s also hard to rebuilding a world every time they move. UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H are proud to be a part of the military family – 4-H works with military youth centers across the nation and overseas to create some consistency for youth in these situations.

Why the Color Purple?
Purple symbolizes all branches of the military and is the combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red and Navy blue.  By wearing purple and sharing in a visible way, you can show support and thank military children for their strength and sacrifices.

Did You Know?
Florida has the fifth highest number of school-age military children in the country according to the Department of Defense Manpower Data Center. We also have over 50,000 active and reserve military members whose families worry that they are in harm’s way when they deploy.

Be creative….the goal is for military youth to see the support in their school, youth groups, and the community! If you don’t have or own a purple shirt, wear a purple ribbon, tie or headband. Just show your support and let our youth know we care about them!  Can’t make the Purple Up! date? Then do something another day in April, the Month of the Military Child!

Remember, take pictures of your group wearing purple and share them on social media using #fl4h and #purpleup.
This allows us to:

  • collectively honor military children and their families
  • let military kids see the support of their community
  • thank military kids for their commitment and sacrifice

For more information on Purple Up!, contact Dr. Paula M. Davis at UF/IFAS Extension Bay County at 850-784-6105.

For more information on 4-H in your county, follow us on Facebook, and contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.

By Paula Davis, Janet Psikogios and Jennifer Simms

Get More Value from 4-H Service Projects

Generosity is one of the four essential elements youth need for positive youth development. 4-H clubs should do at least one community service project a year as part of their plan of action. This benefits our high school students because most students need service hours as part of graduation requirements. But with all the “have-to-do’s” in life, service can become just a thing to check off and have no real value.

How can we help our 4-H youth get more value from service projects? 

Use the Experiential Learning model (Do-Reflect-Apply) used by 4-H programs across the nation. Incorporating the reflect and apply portion of the model does take some effort, but it is not hard to do. If your club does many community service activities, choose which ones to incorporate all the steps of the Experiential Learning model.

How to take it deeper beyond just a thing to do:

Get buy in from youth concerning the service project(s) planned for the year.

UF/IFAS Extension Gadsden County 4-H Club members out delivering Thanksgiving baskets to families in need.

Pre-activity – Have youth do a presentation related to the service project activity:

  • Who we are helping: Details about the group/organization
  • What type of service(s) will be done for the group
  • How will our community service benefit this group/organization

Post activity – have a casual conversation:

  • Enquire about how they felt about the service activity
  • What was an ah-ha moment
  • What did they find challenging
  • What could we do differently for next project
  • What is something you learned by doing this project that you could use in other areas of your life.

Here’s a great article in the Florida 4-H Volunteer Training Series that really breaks down the process.   You can also give your local UF/IFAS Extension 4-H Agent a call for more help.

How can you keep up with the great things we’re doing in our 4-H extension district?

  • LIKE the 4-H in the Panhandle Facebook page – @volunteeringinthepanhandle
  • LIKE your county’s 4-H Facebook page
  • SUBSCRIBE to the 4-H in the Panhandle blog