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Out of Destruction Comes Something of Beauty

Out of Destruction Comes Something of Beauty

Succulent garden at entry of NSA-PC Youth Center

In September 2018, Ms. Bettina started the 4-H Garden Club at NSA-PC in Panama City, Florida. She had big plans for the garden and couldn’t wait to get started. These Navy youth, led by a caring adult staff member, started their 4-H journey. Then Hurricane Michael came, which devastated the area on October 10, 2018 and could have easily derailed all of their plans. Instead, the storm allowed youth to start with a clean slate and a renewed sense of vigor in rebuilding the garden at the NSA-PC Youth Center. The youth redesigned some of their beds using debris from the storm.

When the Youth Center reopened following the storm, most of the outdoor areas were off limits to the kids due to damage from the storm. That meant that the playground and other outdoor activities were not available. However, the 4-H Garden Club was allowed to function and allowed the youth itching to be outside and yearning for a way to cope with the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael to come together as a team and, along with Ms. Bettina, a garden to restore a sense of balance and ownership.

Whimsical garden bed designed by NSA-PC youth

The kids were eager to get started planning, implementing, and maintaining the new garden area. They created a plan for different types of gardens within their facility spaces. They researched which plants were best suited for the season and zone as well as which flowers would attract pollinators, because they hoped to see hummingbirds and butterflies. Ms. Bettina says that the kids came in every day asking if they were going to get to work in the garden. It created a healthy, active, and creative outlet for all involved. Soon the garden began to take shape with imaginative details and originality everywhere you looked.

All visitors to the Youth Center are welcomed by exquisitely maintained flower beds that surround the entrance to the building. The youth have created and maintained a beautiful area that enhances the building and greets visitors with beauty and color. These raised gardens are filled with hardy greenery as well as seasonal color and elevated containers that hold a cascade of many varieties of succulents.

NSA-PC youth recycled old materials to create a new space to hold their flowers.

The 4-H Garden Club at NSA-PC is a perfect example of how sometimes a storm that seemingly derails plans actually presents an opportunity for growth, learning, and creating something more beautiful. Ms. Bettina’s 4-H Garden Club could not have come at a more perfect time. The gardening activities allow the youth to get outdoors while learning about different types of plants and how to care for them. Many students initially joined the Garden Club to get outside after the storm due to the playground closure. Youth participating in the 4-H Garden Club at NSA-PC have learned about more than just the science of plants; they are learning to work as a team with improved communication skills in order to continue maintaining their garden as well as environmental awareness and recycling by taking used items to make new treasures for their flower beds.

4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations and includes people from all economic, racial, social, political, and geographic categories. There are no barriers to participation by any young person. Participants are given the opportunity to engage in activities that hold their personal interests while being guided by adult volunteers. If you would like to learn more about 4-H programming in your local area, or how to get involved as a 4-H volunteer, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.

RESOURCES

For more tips and ideas to help build your personal garden, visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ as there are many documents available to help build your personal gardens.

This article was written by Jennifer Sims and Paula Davis.

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.

 

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

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: