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Give More Than “Stuff”

Child and adult cooking

Cooking together makes memories that last longer than gifts.  Photo:  Monica Brinkley

This is one New Year’s resolution that I can get behind –
give less stuff and give more self.  We’ve just wrapped up December – a month of massive giving. We gave gifts, we made charitable monetary donations, and we’ve overdone “bake-and-take” as I call it. It takes a lot of expendable income to give so many things, but you can choose to manage your resources wisely throughout the year and give through acts of service instead.

I particularly love this idea with small children who may want to buy gifts for loved ones but who aren’t old enough to earn money yet, but it works great for kids of all ages.  Rather than doing coupon books for hugs and kisses (cute and welcome as those may be), I help them arrange to spend part of a day with a loved one instead.  They help with household chores, do some baking or cooking with them, tackle a difficult chore and so on. Not only are they helping with age appropriate tasks, but they’re getting to spend time together and make memories.

I pledge my hands to larger service

Encourage youth in your life to look around during the year and see who needs help and what they can do to help.  Instead of giving more stuff, give more self.

4-H teaches youth  life skills such as planning/organizing, wise use of resources, social skills, and character.  By encouraging 4-H youth to serve in any large or small way they can, we help them build these and other crucial life skills.  Find your local UF/IFAS Extension office to explore how 4-H teaches youth valuable life skills through its project areas..

Putting Hands to Larger Service into Action

Hands to Larger Service…a perfect description of the amazing teens of the Jefferson County 4-H Teen Council.

Teens stand with yard tools in front of a yard they are cleaning.

The hardworking Jefferson County 4-H Teen Council.

The naturally curious Jefferson 4-H County Council put their best foot forward as they volunteered in Panama City on Saturday, October 20. The teens spent the entire day moving and piling tree limbs, garbage, housing debris and miscellaneous items.  These resilient teens worked around utility workers, fallen power line, utility poles and even worked through the rain.

“It was very devastating,”  said Sierra.

Sarah added, “The devastation that we saw was unreal compared to what we’ve seen broadcasted on the news.”

“It was just amazing to witness,” Crandall added.

Youth cleaning up yard debrisAfter spending the day in Panama City, Jada Mosley says that the trip home to Jefferson County served as a time to reflect on all they had witnessed in the city. “I was very grateful,” said Jada.

“These teens have displayed practical application of Extension’s youth leadership to the Disaster Relief efforts. They displayed service above self,” reports John Lilly, Jefferson County Extension Director.  “This experience gave the council real-world hands-on learning that will prepare them for future disasters.”

People pose as a group

Homeowner and Bay County 4-H Agent with her clean-up crew.

 

Hurricane Michael was particularly hard on the Extension family because it affected so many of our own – including every member of the UF/IFAS Bay County Extension office.

 

 

John Lilly, Jefferson County CED & 4-H Agent


Special thanks to John Lilly, UF/IFAS Jefferson County Extension Director & 4-H Agent for providing this article and pictures.

 

 

 

4-H Day of Service- Peanut Butter Anyone?

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.

Example: 

  • 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.

Project Achievement

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.

Reflections from Graduating Seniors: Kheica Jones

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.

 

Reflections from Graduating Seniors: Alex Davis Jenkins

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!