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November is National Role Model Month!4-H Volunteer Dedication:  A Decade and Counting

November is National Role Model Month!4-H Volunteer Dedication: A Decade and Counting

November is National Role Model Month

4-H Volunteer Dedication: A Decade and Counting

4-H volunteers are the vital precious gems of our 4-H programs.  Each volunteer brings his/her own unique perspective, skills, and resources to the club or event they are working in.  Whether a volunteer’s role is long-term as a 4-H Club Leader, or short-term as an episodic volunteer, they each donate an immense number of hours annually to ensure the youth of our Nation receive the best positive youth development opportunities. 

A woman wearing a cowboy hat smiles for the camera

Missy attending graduation at UF

Walton County 4-H is extremely fortunate to have a 4-H Club Leader that has dedicated 12 years to her Naturally Balanced Homesteading Club.  Missy Bolen had only attended two club meetings as a youth because she didn’t have a project horse to be able to fully participate in club activities.  This may have been the initial spark that led Missy to develop her own 4-H club decades later, in which youth get the opportunity to experience a broad spectrum of activities.  Within Naturally Balanced Homesteading, a homeschool (in-school) club, youth have completed projects and demonstrations in leather working, gardening, sheep shearing, leadership training, conservation, and numerous educational field trips to name a few.  Due to Missy’s passion towards 4-H, she currently has the largest club in our county, with more than 30 youth in attendance each month!

As a veteran 4-H volunteer and Club Leader, Missy’s advice to new volunteers is, “If you have a passion for youth and there isn’t a club already established, follow that passion; start a club and try to reach as many youth as you can!  If you’re doing something that you’re passionate about, you won’t get bored and you will remain energetic and enthusiastic.”

A mother and son pose for a picture together.

Missy and son, Jesse, attending Bee College at UF

Volunteering in 4-H gives you the opportunity to be a role model to upcoming generations by providing them with activities and resources that target development of life skills.  The life skills youth gain in 4-H programs afford them the foundation to build on as they become productive adults in society.  When asking Missy to share the most rewarding part of being a volunteer, and what keeps her going after 12 years, she states, “My children are a huge factor because they have a club where they can do what they love alongside other youth with the same interests.  It’s very rewarding to see them graduate, go on to great universities, and become productive adults!  They recognize 4-H as the main reason for their accomplishments because many of their most valuable skills were developed through their clubs such as social skills, leadership skills, networking and confidence.” 

A group of youth stand in a circle outside, listening to a law enforcement officer teach.

Missy’s club learning about careers in Law Enforcement.

Volunteers are truly the HEAD, HEART, HANDS, and HEALTH of the 4-H organization.  As Missy would say, “Most importantly, you must keep your focus on one thing:  It’s all about helping the children.”  If you are a new or current volunteer, club leader, or even 4-H Agent, the resources below are an excellent source of information as an orientation to 4-H or an annual refresher:

·       Volunteer Orientation

·       Volunteer Resources

·       Volunteer Training Series

If you would like to learn more about how to get involved as a 4-H volunteer in your 4-H community, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org

 

The Fourth “H” is for HEALTH

The Fourth “H” is for HEALTH

In continuing this week’s theme and celebration of National 4‑H Week, we want to highlight our last “H” in 4-H, Health.  As the 4-H pledge states, I pledge my…health to better living.”  Just living a healthy lifestyle in general is a huge endeavor for anyone to accomplish and it takes a lot of awareness of self to accomplish it well.  As a 4-Her, not only are we committing to make healthy choices for our own mind, body, and spirit but we are also striving to make healthy choices and conduct ourselves in a manner that is healthy for our club, community, country, and world.

Our agents and volunteers do an amazing job in guiding and inspiring our 4-H youth to learn just how to be aware of and make decisions that lead to such healthy living.  Through hands-on learning activities and the experiential learning model, these positive adult role models engage youth to challenge themselves and apply critical thinking skills in order to gain additional essential life skills that aid in balanced physical, mental and emotional health.  From healthy living clubs to competitive events such as the Consumer Choices Contest to enrichment programs such as Health Rocks, 4-H brings real life situations and choices to the forefront and teaches youth to be empowered in their healthy decision making.

 

HEALTH FOR YOU, HEALTH FOR ME

 

Are you looking for certain areas to help inspire your children or neighborhood youth to make healthy decisions?  Is there a particular area in the healthy living realm that you feel your children need some hands-on learning?  The Northwest 4-H District have shared some wonderful publications over the recent years, highlighting varying aspects of 4-H Healthy Living.  From inspiring youth and volunteers to helpful tips and resources, the articles below are short reads that give great overviews of the 4-H healthy living lifestyle.

National 4-H Week's theme is Inspire Kids to Do.

The Application of Healthy Living

Healthy Living Tips & Helpful Hints

Inspiring Healthy Reads

Would you like to become a volunteer that inspires youth to invest in their future?  Visit your  local UF IFAS County Extension Office and meet your 4-H Extension Agent for additional information on how to become a 4-H Volunteer today to inspire youth to make healthy decisions and conduct themselves in a manner that is healthy for their club, community, country, and world!

RESOURCES

 

Welcome, National 4-H Week!

Welcome, National 4-H Week!

National 4-H Week's theme is Inspire Kids to Do.

National 4-H Week’s theme is Inspire Kids to Do.

National 4‑H Week is October 6 – 12. Take advantage of this important week to highlight the remarkable 4‑H youth in your communities.  The Northwest 4-H District recognizes the incredible experiences that 4-H offers young people and the remarkable 4-H youth in our community who work each day to make a positive impact on those around them.

The theme of this year’s National 4-H Week is Inspire Kids to Do, which highlights how 4-H encourages kids to take part in hands-on learning experiences in areas such as health, science, agriculture and civic engagement. The positive environment provided by 4-H volunteers ensures that kids in every county, from urban neighborhoods to suburban schoolyards to rural farming communities, are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles and are empowered with the skills to lead in life and career.

WHAT IS 4-H EXACTLY?

 

4-H is the nation’s largest youth development and empowerment organization which cultivates youth to become confident individuals that can tackle difficult issues in their communities right now. In the United States, 4-H programs empower six million young people through the 110 land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension in more than 3,000 local offices serving every county and parish in the country. Currently, Florida serves over 230,000 4-H members in the state.  Outside the United States, independent, country-led 4-H organizations empower one million young people in more than 50 countries. National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of the Cooperative Extension System and 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Florida 4-H is the youth development program of Florida Cooperative Extension, a part of the University of Florida IFAS.


4-H STANDS BY THE CLOVER

A volunteer is helping a child with a hammering craft project.

A teen volunteer helps a Cloverbud member during a summer workshop

 

4-H is known best by its emblem, the four leaf clover, one of the most recognized logos in America.  Our emblem represents a standard of quality in youth development which is experiential in nature, meaning that young people learn all kinds of things through 4-H in a hands-on way.  The four leafs depict four Hs, representing the following:  “Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.”  For a better overview of the meaning of the four H’s and our iconic clover, be sure to review a great article from the past, What Do The Four H’s Mean Anyway? written by Heather Kent (http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/4hn/2017/06/30/what-do-the-four-hs-mean-anyway/).  This week, we will be touching more on our iconic emblem as we spotlight each H of our four leaf clover to inspire kids (and families) to do!  Be sure to check back daily for more during National 4-H Week!

 

So Happy #National4HWeek! The Northwest 4-H District is proud to #InspireKidstoDo, and we invite you to celebrate with us all week by showing your @4-H spirit on social media and in your community!  Visit your  local UF IFAS County Extension Office and meet your 4-H Extension Agent for additional information on a variety of 4-H topics and activities that can benefit you and your family.

 

Not a member?  Join the 4-H family today.  The process to become a 4-H member or 4-H Volunteer is relatively simple:  visit http://florida4h.org to apply online or stop in to your local UF IFAS County Extension Office and meet with your 4-H Extension Agent for assistance.  There is no better time to join us then during National 4-H Week!

Control Those Germs Gathered from Going Back to School

Control Those Germs Gathered from Going Back to School

Youth is looking at hands under black light for dirt left after hand washing lesson

Looking for spots missed during hand washing by using black light and glow germ lotion that fluoresces under black light.

It’s hard to believe it is August already, with that we are getting ready to go back to school. Going back into the large group gathering requires a reminder to wash your hands often. You and your child will be around so many people and exposed to all kinds of germs. Regular hand washing helps you avoid getting sick and spreading your germs to others.

The CDC recommends that we wash our hands:
• Before, during, and after preparing food
• Before eating food
• Before and after caring for someone who is sick
• Before and after treating a cut or wound
• After using the toilet or after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet or been ill
• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing,
• After touching an animal, animal/pet feed or treats, or animal waste
• After touching garbage

Take a moment to sit down and talk with your child about hand washing and the importance of washing their hands, especially when they get home from school.

Try this activity written by Tennessee 4-H to help youth see where they may be missing germs. This simple activity uses items you probably have in your kitchen. Begin by coating hands with a tablespoon of cooking oil. Next, sprinkle the oily hands with ground cinnamon. Have your child wash their hands using the steps outlined below. Once they have finished washing, have them smell their hands to see if they can still smell cinnamon. If they washed their hands correctly, the cinnamon smell and brown color should be gone from their hands.

A. Hands coated with cinnamon before hand washing
B. Quick wash like youth often do missing in between fingers, top of wrist, around nails
C. Thoroughly washed hands (all clean even between fingers)

Here are the steps we teach youth when they take our 4-H hand washing classes:
1. Wet your hands with clean, running water.
2. Apply soap and rub your hands together to make a lather. Make sure to get in between your fingers, under your nails, and on the top of your hands. Youth often miss these areas when we do a lesson on hand washing during 4-H events.
3. Scrub for at least 20 seconds—about the same amount of time needed to sing the Happy Birthday or ABC Song twice.
4. Finish by rinsing your hands with warm running water.
5. Dry hands with a clean towel or let air dry if a towel is not available.
6. Use the towel to turn off the water faucet to prevent re-contamination of your clean hands on a dirty faucet knob.

Have a fun and germ free day! 4-H is a family affair, offering many opportunities where both children and parents can participate in common interests. 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 interest, while being guided by adult volunteers.

To find out more information about other 4-H programs like this or volunteer your time to work with youth, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

Teaching Mindfulness to Children

Mindfulness is the act of creating awareness of your surroundings, emotions, and physical self in the present moment. It helps you connect to the world around you, while providing cognitive, social, and emotional benefits. Practicing mindfulness is not just for adults. Children can reap a multitude of benefits from learning and practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness equips children with the ability to adjust and deal with conflict encountered in their daily lives. It can also help children foster an optimistic outlook in life, react to stress in a healthy way, and develop a positive self-concept.

The practice of mindfulness is foreign to many adults, making it tricky to teach young children. The best thing to do is keep the message simple and model the behaviors you are teaching. Being taught by an adult that models mindful behaviors daily will assist kids in mastering the techniques. Below are a few mindfulness activities you can do at home as a family or in a group learning environment, such as a 4-H club meeting.

Zen Garden

A zen garden is a miniature landscape made with items such as moss,

Zen garden created during Leon County 4-H Mindfulness Camp

rocks, and water features. Zen gardens are filled with sand and contain a small rake that you can use to create designs in the sand. The motion of raking the sand creates a sense of calmness. Zen gardens are often found on desks in the workplace because they are known for building focus and reducing stress. Building a zen garden is a fun and easy activity you can do with kids. Use a shoebox lid as the base and collect various stones and other items from outside to fill the box. Small rakes and sand can be purchased at a local craft store.

Mindful Safari

Taking a nature walk around your neighborhood or park is a simple way to exercise your mindfulness skills. Make it exciting by telling them you are going on a “mindfulness safari” and the goal is to see how many different birds, insects, and animals you can find on your journey. By searching for these items, you are fostering an awareness of the world around you. Similar to the mindful safari activity, you can take children on a “sound hunt.” This activity teaches kids to increase their awareness of the sounds in their environment. You can make the “sound hunt” more challenging by asking them to distinguish which sounds are close and which sounds are far.

Breathing

Breathing exercises are an important tool children can use to practice mindfulness. Learning how to control your breath and increase awareness of your breathing can help clear your mind in times of distress. You can practice breathing anywhere and no equipment is needed. Have kids sit on the floor or lie down. Instruct them to close their eye and take a huge breath in, filling up their lungs. Count to three and have them release. Breath activities can be completed sitting or lying down on your back. It is a good practice to have kids place their hands on their belly to feel the breath as it enters and leaves the body.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating teaches children to understand when they are hungry and when they are full. It is important to eat without distractions, such as the television or your phone. Provide them with a variety of snack items. Ask them to look, listen, touch, smell, and taste the food in steps. They should pause after each step to reflect on what their senses are showing them about their food. First, look at what colors and shapes the item has. Next, listen to see if your food is making any sounds. Then, feel your food and describe the texture. Smell the item and define the scent. Finally, taste the food while paying attention to how the food feels and if the flavors change.

Yoga & Balancing

 

Practicing our “downward dog” pose during Leon County 4-H Mindfulness Camp.

Yoga is a great way to practice concentration, balance, and connection. Kids enjoy trying different yoga poses and stretches. A variety of free educational videos are available online that you can use to help guide you and your child through yoga sequences. Breathing techniques can be coupled with yoga and balancing. If kids do not have a yoga mat, a towel can be used. Practicing yoga shows kids that mindfulness does not always mean you are still or quiet.

Mindful Drawing

It is important to keep distractions to a minimum while drawing. This can be achieved by putting on relaxing music or simple sounds, such as rain falling or waves crashing. There are a variety of different drawing activities you can do with kids to practice mindfulness. If you have different sounds available, you can select a sound and instruct them to close their eyes and think of what that sound looks like to them. Then, have them open their eyes and draw what they heard. You can repeat this activity a few times with different sounds.

Body Appreciation

This activity works best in a group learning environment. Have kids break up into pairs and instruct them to take turns tracing each other on a large sheet of paper. Once everyone is finished, they will focus on their own bodies and write or draw what each body part does for them. For example, they can write “my head helps me think” or “my legs help me run.” Finally, they will write positive words on their body such as “I love to read.” This activity makes kids reflect on all the important ways their body helps them each day. It teaches them to appreciate and love their body.

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Journals are a simple mindfulness activity kids can complete every day

When we feel and express gratitude to people in our lives, it creates loving connections, builds trust, and makes us feel joyful. Gratitude can be shown by giving someone a hug or telling them how much you appreciate them. Gratitude journals can easily be made at home or you can print off a pre-made template. This version is simple and is a great start for kids: https://researchparent.com/gratitude-journal-for-kids/

For more information on how your family can learn more healthy activities such as these mindful ones, find your local UF IFAS Extension Office and contact your 4-H Agent to explore what 4-H programs are offered in your area.

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.