The 4-H Exchange Experience in the NW District
Sali and Gregor received a brief orientation to 4-H and life in the United States soon after their arrival.
Wakulla 4-H welcomed two international students via the Future Leaders Exchange Program at the beginning of September. The students, who are living with volunteer host families this school year, have become active 4-H members during their stay. Sali Polotov is from Tajikistan and is interested in studying geological science. Gregor Johanson is from Estonia and is interested in the performing arts. Both students attend 11th grade at Wakulla High School.
Eye Opening Experiences
Since their arrival, they have been part of the 4-H District III Council and attended Leadership Adventure Week where Gregor led a workshop on trust and communication.
During a recent interview with the 4-H Academic Year Program (AYP) FLEX students, Sali and Gregor reflected on their experiences at the midpoint of their year. Gregor shared it had always been a dream to study overseas. He saw an Instagram advertisement and decided to apply. He did not know about 4-H and learned about it after being accepted to the Academic Year Program. Since coming to the United States, he said has experienced some surprises. He was surprised by the American “addiction to fast and unhealthy food” and he has observed “that it seems to be more prevalent in rural areas.”
“There have been a lot of things that have surprised me, good things and bad things. Some of the good things include much friendlier and welcoming customer service, as well as a wider range of options for everything everywhere.”
– Gregor Johanson
Sali shared that he was motivated to come to the United States because he wanted to see the reality versus what was depicted in movies he had seen in Tajikistan. While Sali said that he knew nothing about 4-H before coming to Florida, he has enjoyed the opportunities to participate in 4-H clubs, special events and volunteer work.
Sali Polotov joined other Wakulla 4-H members to deliver relief supplies to the NFREC office after Hurricane Michael.
One thing that surprised Sali about American life was how “American people love holidays. They do all of their best to spend an unforgettable moment.” Sali shared he has especially enjoyed his experiences volunteering in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, snorkeling with manatees and celebrating Christmas with his host family.
Both young men are looking forward to an upcoming trip to Disney World and having more adventures with 4-H before their year in the United States concludes.
The Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX)
Since 1993, the FLEX Program has provided scholarships for high school students from Europe and Eurasia to spend an academic year in the United States while living with a family and attending an American high school. Florida 4-H partners with the FLEX program through the States’ 4-H International Exchange Programs. Students have opportunities to engage in both short-term summer programs and academic year exchange experiences. Nearly 60,000 youth and families have been positively impacted by international exchange through States’ 4-H programs since 1997.
The FLEX program is a competitive, merit-based scholarship program funded by the U.S. Department of State. Students gain leadership skills, learn about American society and values, and teach Americans about FLEX countries and cultures. The primary goal of the FLEX program is to improve mutual understanding and develop and strengthen long-term relationships between citizens of the United States and other peoples and countries. There are currently 17 countries that participate in the FLEX program: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine. Not all 4-H AYP students come to Florida through the FLEX program and students may come from other partner countries.
How to Get Involved with the 4-H AYP Program:
Families can become qualified to host an international student for the 10 month Academic Year Program by applying at https://states4hexchange.org. For more information, contact Georgene Bender, Florida 4-H AYP Coordinator, UF/IFAS Extension Faculty Emeritus – email@example.com.
For more information about this program or other 4-H programs in your county, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.
My very first Executive Board I was terrified! The thought of having to meet new people from across the state of Florida and having to plan an event made my stomach weak. Little did I know that my best friends would come from 4-H Executive Board weekends. I was able to make connections with people I never thought I would ever talk to, and I am so grateful that 4-H is the place where I am able to continue to make lifelong friendships. So don’t miss the chance of a lifetime.
What is the 4-H Executive Board?
Learn more about 4-H state events at Third Exec.
The Florida 4-H State Executive Board consists of four delegates from each of the 13 4-H districts, up to 30 Executive Board Appointees, and the eight Florida 4-H State Officers. The members attend working committee meetings at Executive Board Weekends, where they offer input into our state events. Committee members also play a vital role in the implementation of those events. Other committees work on planning and implementing a state-wide community service project, fundraising, parliamentary procedure education, entertainment, and communication/marketing.
Work hard…play hard!
The Florida 4-H State Executive Board invites youth (4-H ages 13-18) to immerse themselves in the planning process behind state events including 4-H University, 4-H Legislature, 4-H Day at The Capital and Intermediate State. First and Second Executive Board sessions are reserved for those delegates appointees and state officers only, but any 4-H member can attend Third Executive Board.
Join us at Third Executive Board!
At Third Executive Board, you can expect to learn more about events you may not be familiar with. Throughout the weekend, you’ll also have to opportunity to participate in state-wide service projects, the Ways and Means fundraiser, Parliamentary Procedure contest, camp-wide games, dances, and more. The weekend of Third Executive Board is one like no other!
“Executive Board is the 4-H event that has something for everyone. It’s more than just ‘everybody is welcome.’ It’s that the event was made for them regardless of who they are or what background they come from.”
– Jared Heady – 4-H Executive Board Member, Walton County.
4-H friends are the best friends!
Third Executive Board will be held at 4-H Camp Cherry Lake in Madison, FL, on March 1-3, 2019. The cost for non-Executive Board Members is $120, and $110 for Executive Board Members. Registration for this event opens February 1, 2019 and closes February 22, 2019 in 4honline.
I hope to see you at Third Executive Board to make memories that will last a lifetime!
Kata Muellerleile, Florida 4-H State Council Reporter
Special thanks to Kata for being a guest writer this week!
For more information on 4-H in your county, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.
Last year, 520 youth and 170 adults from 34 Florida counties told the 4-H story filling the state capitol with 4-H advocates. Youth educated their representatives, senators, and legislative aides on how 4-H has made an impact in their lives while experiencing the political processes of state government.
A sea of green will flood the Florida’s state capitol Thursday, April 4, 2019, as Florida 4-H members, faculty, volunteers, and families participate in the annual 4-H Day at the Capitol event.
2018 attendees on the steps of Florida’s historic capitol building.
4-H Day at the Capitol
- Who: All 4-H Members, Friends, Family and Alumni
- When: April 4, 2019
- Where: Tallahassee, FL
- Cost: $15 (includes lunch and a 4-H polo)
- Registration: February 1-28, 2019 in 4-H Online
- 7:30-8:15am – Check-in
- 8:30am – Opening Assembly
- 9:00am – Group Photo
- 9:15am – Meetings with Representatives and Senators begins
- 12:00-1:00pm – Lunch Available for Pick-up (Chik-Fil-A)
- 1:00-1:30pm – Closing Assembly
Each county is encouraged to make appointments with senators and representatives and should schedule their day how it best suits the group. For detailed information on the schedule and to prepare for the event, be sure to read the The 4-H Day at the Capitol Guidebook.
Places to Visit/Things to do
Close to the Capitol, you’ll find several things to do to fill in the rest of your day.
- Governor’s Mansion
- Knott House
- Riley House and Museum
- 4-H Day at the Capitol Scavenger Hunt
- Florida Historic Capitol Museum
- Museum of Florida History
- Big Bend Farm
- For more information, check out Explore Tallahassee
For more information on 4-H Day at the Capitol or 4-H in your county, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office.
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.
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..
Hands to Larger Service…a perfect description of the amazing teens of the Jefferson County 4-H Teen Council.
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.
After 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.”
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.
Special thanks to John Lilly, UF/IFAS Jefferson County Extension Director & 4-H Agent for providing this article and pictures.
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: