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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.

 

4-H Alumnae Reconnect through Love of Horses

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.

 

Florida 4-H Celebrates Global Youth Service Day

Teens from across the panhandle joined forces to take a stand against cancer by celebrating Global Youth Service Day.

This weekend, hundreds of Florida 4-H youth are taking a stand against cancer by distributing chemo kits to cancer patients.  Our 4-Hers are joining millions of others around the globe who are celebrating Global Youth Service Day during the weekend of April 21-23.

This youth-led initiative was spear-headed by Danielle Tinker, a 4-Her from Escambia County.  She and a committee of youth from across the Florida panhandle collected nearly 1,000 items for chemo kits, organized them, and packaged them with a handwritten note of encouragement.  One of the “H’s” in 4-H stands for “hands to larger service” and is a cornerstone of the 4-H positive youth development experience.  Because of programs like this, 4-Hers are 4X more likely to give back to their communities.

Regional Specialized 4-H Agent Heather Kent shares, “It has been a honor to support these youth in this project- they continue to amaze me!  I don’t know of a family that has not been touched by cancer and I can’t think of a more relevant cause to support.  This project has help our group grow compassion, and has helped the cancer patients grow courage!”

Youth collected nearly 1,000 items for the kits and organized them by age group and gender.

Each kit had a handwritten note of encouragement included.

Youth sewed fabric drawstring bags to contain the kit items.

This project would not have been possible without the support of Youth Service America, State Farm and Farm Credit of Northwest Florida.  Farm Credit of Northwest Florida not only supported this project monetarily, but their employees also collected and donated items for the chemo kits.  This weekend marks the culmination of this project during Global Youth Service Day.  Global Youth Service Day recognizes the positive impact that young people have on their communities 365 days a year. GYSD is celebrated in more than 135 countries with youth-led service projects and community events and is the largest service event in the world.

“We know that young people are uniquely suited to help solve problems – if given the opportunity,” said Steven A. Culbertson, CEO and president of YSA (Youth Service America), the leader of GYSD. “Today’s social and environmental problems are immense; we need youth in Florida to be leaders and problem solvers today, not just the leaders of a distant tomorrow.”

4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization. Over 230,000 members in the State of Florida help to make up the community of more than 6.5 million young people across America. 4-H is a non-formal, practical educational program for youth and is the youth development program of Florida Extension, a part of the University of Florida IFAS.  To find out more information, or how to get involved, visit http://florida4h.org or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

Learn more and browse GYSD activities around the world on the GYSD Map at www.GYSD.org.

Connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/youthserviceamerica and on Twitter @YouthService and #GYSD.

 

Remember the 3 R’s! – Earth Day April 22, 2017

Do you remember the 3 R’s?  If you are over the age of forty you are probably thinking of a classroom, a teacher, and learning about Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.  These are the basic standards for learning, of course.  However, it is now 2017and the 3 R’s have a new meaning to a new generation of young people:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

In today’s society, we constantly hear concerns about the environment and how we need to implement changes to make a positive impact upon its future.  It is nearly impossible to pay attention to any media without feeling bombarded by messages of conservationism.  “Go Green!”  “Green… it’s the new black.”  “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”  However, are these sentiments new?  Think about it.  “Give a Hoot… Don’t Pollute.”  “Keep America Beautiful.”  “Keep Our Forests Green.”  The use, or abuse, of our natural resources has long been an issue debated by our nation.  It has more or less been the price we have had to pay for progress; but regardless of one’s political views and beliefs, the fact that Earth is the only planet that will sustain human lives is a hard fact to deny.  It is therefore critical that all of promote principles of conservationism for our future generations.

The practice of reducing, reusing, and recycling may be easily incorporated into many aspects of your everyday lives.  As YOU reduce, reuse, and recycle in your daily lives, you will be teaching by example your own children at home.  Knowing that youth learn by seeing and doing, they will be much more likely to implement  the practices of reducing, reusing and recycling into their own daily lives if they see you practicing the 3 R’s in yours.

How does the Environmental Protection Agency describe each of the 3 R’s?                                                                                                                                                                                               Reduce the amount and toxicity of trash you throw away.  One way is to turn off or unplug lights during the day. Doing so will save energy and help your lights last longer. Use food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic wastes to create a compost pile. Adding the compost you make to soil increases water retention, decreases erosion, and keeps organic materials out of landfills.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Reuse containers and products. There are many creative ways to reuse items, which might normally find their way into the waste stream: old shoeboxes may be used for storage, plastic containers for planters, etc. You can also donate or give away items rather than throwing these items away. For a large number of unwanted items, you can hold a garage sale. It is also encouraged to shop at garage sales before buying new!

Recycle as much as possible and buy products with recycled content.  Recycling includes collecting, sorting and processing certain solid waste into raw materials for re-manufacture into new items. These all help to cut down on the amount of waste we throw away. They conserve natural resources, landfill space and energy.

In addition, the three R’s save land and money communities must use to dispose of waste in landfills.These are all things we can do daily with just a little thought and effort.  In fact, businesses are making it easier for us every day.  We can reduce our trash in many ways, but an easy way is to reuse water bottles instead of throwing them away after each use.  We can use the reusable bags that many stores now offer for our purchases; this is a great alternative to using plastic shopping bags.  Of course, we can all make more of an effort to recycle by collecting our newspapers, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass jars for local recycling centers.  If there are not recycling centers in your area maybe you should start one or pursue your community leaders about the importance of having one.

A few points to consider…

  • The average American produces about 4.5 lbs. of garbage per person per day. This equal 235 million tons a year.
  • Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees.
  • Recycling 1 aluminum beverage can saves enough energy to run a 100 watt light bulb for 20 hours, a computer 3 hours, or a TV for 2 hours. (Currently, 45% of aluminum cans are recycled.)
  • Reduce and reuse by donating old clothes and items to charities.

By instilling the importance of the 3 R’s into today’s society we will be helping  clean the planet for the future.  After all, “A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children.”  As quoted by John James Audubon.  Our state 4-H service project theme for next year is the environment.  Why not consider planning a club, county or district service learning project in honor of Earth Day?

Source:

United States Environmental Protection Agency , https://www.epa.gov