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.
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.
Collecting and pinning insects are just some of the fun things we will be doing at entomology camp.
We’re revving up for the NW 4-H District Exciting World of Insects Day Camp set for July16-18. At this camp, youth from counties across the district will come together to learn everything from what an insect is, to insect parts and orders, and how to collect and pin insects, and create insect art.
This camp is a great springboard to competitions and events later in the year. By participating in this day camp:
- Participants will leave the camp with all of the supplies they need to continue collecting and pinning insects on their own
- Collections and art projects can be entered in local fairs and in the state 4-H contests
- Participants will also be ready to compete in the state 4-H Insectathon insect ID, skillathon, and quiz bowl contests and in county and district demonstration contests
Stay tuned to our Facebook page for pictures and follow-up from camp. If you’d like to learn more about 4-H day camps in your area, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.
Hurricane Michael was the first ever Category 5 hurricane on record to impact the Florida Panhandle.
Are you ready? The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season began June 1. The official hurricane weather season continues until November 30, 2019. For Florida residents, it is never too early and not too late to prepare for this year’s hurricane season. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released a forecast prediction reporting a 40% chance of a “near-normal” Atlantic hurricane season and a 30% chance “above normal” indicating a range of 4-8 hurricanes, including 2-4 hurricanes of category 3 or higher. With this information provided as a means to increase disaster preparedness awareness, it is imperative that our families take action now to minimize the anxiety, stress, and hardships that occur when a disaster strikes. The following information details three family-friendly disaster preparedness activities to complete during the month of June to be hurricane ready for the 2019 season followed by useful informational links.
Build a Disaster Preparedness Bucket
The contents of a disaster bucket assembled by Wakulla County Emergency Management Director Jennifer Nagy.
One annual activity that families can do together is “build a disaster preparedness bucket.” Families may prepare large plastic storage containers with lids for hurricane snacks and other necessary items. In a storm situation where conditions may require you to move to safety, preparing a 5 gallon bucket with a lid full of recommended essential items will provide a portable, easy-to-store alternative that the whole family can use. Buckets may be purchased at local hardware or home improvement stores. In your area, organizations like your local city or county emergency management department or the Red Cross may offer a bucket giveaway program with pre-stocked disaster preparedness kits.
Talk About Your Communications Plan
As a family, decide who will be the point of contact for all members to contact in case of emergency. This activity is an excellent way to engage your child in critical thinking and problem solving. The person or people should be located outside the impacted area – a grandparent or other relative or family friend in another state would be one possibility. Provide each family member with a laminated contact list – with emails, phone numbers, and addresses – that can be kept in disaster preparedness kits, saved in phones, or stored in wallets and backpacks. Local business supply stores, mail or copy centers in your area may offer laminating services to make waterproof contact lists for safe storage and easy reference.
Have a “Meals To Ready” Taste Test Dinner
After a disaster, your family may be without power for several days or longer. To enjoy safe, hot meals, one option is “meals ready to eat” also known as MREs. MREs are a complete, filling & nutritious way to feed your family. MREs can be purchased online or in the camping section of stores like Bass Pro or Wal-Mart. These meals have a long shelf life and can be stored for months until needed. Some MREs include built-in heaters while others require boiling water to prepare. Camping MREs tend to be an entrée only. Military style MREs will have most, if not all, of the following components: entrée, side dish, bread, spread, dessert, cold drink mix, instant coffee, spoon, condiments, napkin, moist towelette, and a flameless ration heater.
Completing an MRE taste test as a family planning activity will help you determine which products your children will eat when the time comes to use the MREs. The taste test can be fun for the whole family – have everyone taste and then rate each meal or meal component on a scale of 1 to 5 – with 5 being the best possible in flavor and food quality. When you get ready to purchase a supply of MREs, you will know whether your family is going to prefer lasagna to white chicken chili and can shop with confidence!
For more information about hurricane season preparation or 4-H programs in your county, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.
Sydney English, Santa Rosa 4-H member and FL 4-H Officer serving as Sergeant-at-Arms.
All Sydney English ever knew was Louisiana. It was home. At the age of five, Hurricane Katrina hit and Sydney’s life was turned upside-down. With a complete loss of her town and neighborhood, her family decided to move back to Santa Rosa County, Florida where her parents were raised. Little Sydney found herself in a new town, in a new county, in a new state. Soon her mother reached out to Santa Rosa County 4-H to help Sydney make connections and allow her to feel part of something.
Prudence Caskey, the current Santa Rosa County 4-H Agent, met Sydney and her family at the county fair. Shortly thereafter, Sydney was enrolled in 4-H and attended her first meeting in hopes of finding some new friends in her new hometown. Over the next few years, Sydney would find many friends and even find herself.
One of the first events that Sydney attended was 4-H Day at the Capitol. Sydney was enamored with the Legislative process as well at the respect of the elected positions. Sydney decided she would attend 4-H Legislature as soon as she was old enough. Elected as a district officer, Sydney also became a member of the 4-H Executive Board. This was a time in her life where she had to make a tough decision. She wanted to serve on the Executive Board, but would be unable to due to her volleyball practice obligations. After much thought, Sydney told her parents, “I have decided to step down from the volleyball team. I have been thinking about it and I thought, what would volleyball do for me in the years to come? 4-H will do a lot more for me! I’m gonna stay in 4-H.”
Now, all these years later, Sydney has given more to 4-H than she could know. She has served as a camp counselor and mentor for over 50 youth from across her 4-H district. Sydney also had the distinction of representing the entire Panhandle of Florida as a 4-H State Officer, serving as Sergeant-at-Arms. This summer, she is excited to have the role as Camp Staff at 4-H Camp Cherry Lake. As she plans for graduation, Sydney hopes to attend law school and become a political attorney. 4-H has made her who she is and with her service, she is helping to make Florida 4-H even better!
To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as independence, goal setting, and decision making to your children so that they will grow up to become successful leaders like Sydney, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office, or follow us on Facebook.
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.
Have you ever had one of those kids in your life that just towered over you? You know, the kid in your 4-H club, the student in your classroom, or maybe your next door neighbor’s child that just grew every year and made you feel like you were not eating your Wheaties enough. He would be the one that, if you had to have a talk with him, you have to stand on a chair with your tip toes to look eye level, yet he would be just as mild mannered as a teddy bear. He is the youth whose laugh is contagious and his presence fills the entire room. Well, Holmes County 4-H has one of those gentle giants in our midst, Jamin Marks, and I assure you, he is going to be missed in our 4-H family!
Jamin Marks, Holmes County 4-H Member and graduating Senior.
Recently, I went to a local K-8 grade school to recruit new campers for our 4-H Camp Timpoochee summer camping program. While speaking to some students, they initially acted like they might be “too cool” for summer camp. I realized I needed to change my approach of introducing 4-H summer camp to this audience so I stopped mid-sentence into my introduction and simply asked them who knew Jamin Marks, the graduating senior football player from our community. Almost all of the student body raised their hands and I heard quite a few kids throwing out comments such as “he is so cool,” and “Jamin’s my man.” I then asked how many knew that Jamin was a 4-Her and has been to 4-H Camp Timpoochee almost every year since he was 8 years old. Some hands went down, then gasps, and then a rumble started to occur. Finally, I told the group that this was Jamin’s last year at camp and then asked who wanted to sign up for 4-H Camp Timpoochee this year. Every hand in the room shot straight to the ceiling! I knew this was the way to reach my audience because I knew that Jamin has been such a profound impact in the community for many of these younger kids without him even realizing it. That is Jamin, our gentle giant with a giant impact that has made a lasting impression for years to come.
Jamin as a camper in 2014.
Jamin began his 4-H journey by participating in 4-H summer camp at Camp Timpoochee as a camper. Then, in the summer of 2016, Jamin excelled in the role of counselor. He used his gentle gift of humor to ease the fears of new campers, create a sense of belonging, and lighten the mood if tensions were high after a long day of fun and sun. In addition, Jamin began using his leadership skills to help his peers understand the effects of bullying. It did not take long for Jamin to become one of the most requested counselors at summer camp every year. That is our Jamin, our gentle giant, creating a safe environment for every child to feel included.
Jamin believes that being involved in Holmes County 4-H is like being part of a big family and his reference to me as “Mama Niki” tells me where I rate in his circle. His expression of gratitude to all of the 4-H volunteers for their support over the years generates a huge thanks and expressive hug. And, as we conclude the interview for my blog, Jamin can’t help himself. He ends it with, “Mama Niki, you know I am going to become a 4-H volunteer, so I can come back to camp every year and help you with your campers.” I just end the conversation with a huge smile. That is our Jamin, always our gentle giant.
To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as independence, organizational skills, and goal setting, to your children or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office, or follow us on Facebook.