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Hosting Exchange Students with the 4-H Academic Year Program

The 4-H Exchange Experience in the NW District 

Two exchange students pose for a picture.

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.

People gather in front of hurricane relief supplies they collected.

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 – gmbender@ufl.edu.

For more information about this program or other 4-H programs in your county, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.

Additional Resources:

Looking for 4-H Leadership Opportunities? Join us at Third Exec!

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?

Group of youth sitting on floor talking

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.

Youth in costume contest

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!

picture of 4-H state officer, Kata Muellerleile

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.  

Sea of 4-H Green at the Florida State Capitol

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.

4-H Day at the Capitol Group Photo 2018

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

Schedule

  • 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

Resources

For more information on 4-H Day at the Capitol or 4-H in your county, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office.

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.