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Pin a Holiday Memory with Homemade Magnets

Magnet craft holding a photo on a refrigerator.

Here’s an example of a decorated clothespin magnet holding a photo.

Slow Down to Savor the Season

The weeks leading up to the gift-giving holiday season can be hectic and stressful. Full social schedules and crowded stores can make Christmas seem like an expensive chore. One way to restore some of the joy of the season and regain some valuable family time is to make thoughtful giftsathome.

Craft a Gift That Everyone Can Use

Every year, the postal service brings glossy family photo cards to my home from friends near and far. Our family likes to make them part of the festive décor for the holiday season by displaying them with homemade  r refrigerator magnets. This magnet craft is one you can make with your entire family or at a 4-H Club meeting and give them as gifts.


foam cut out and scissors for a craft activity

Foam board cut outs can be glued to the clothespin to make fun magnets to give as gifts.

Basic Items to Get Started

Square wooden clothespins
Adhesive magnet strips
Craft foam sheets


We have decorative magnets and like to rotate them with the season.  Decorative details are limited only by your imagination and the weight that the magnets will support. Trial and error with magnet strength is recommended and is a great way to spark a STEM discussion while creating art together!

Follow these simple instructions: 

  1. Measure the magnet strip to cover the “back” of the clothespin.
  2. Cut to length.  (Adults may need to help younger kids with this.)
  3. Attach the magnet strip to the “back” of the clothespin.
  4. Add decorations or art work like foam cutouts to the “front” of the clothespin.

Gift Ideas 

  • Packaging the magnetic clothespins with a family photo or a child’s artwork.
  • Using a decorated clothespin magnet to hold a gift tag and include with a larger wrapped gift.
  • Giving cookies or other baked treats? Clothespin magnets make great recipe holders!

4-H is a great place for your child to express their creativity.  For information about 4-H in your county, please click here.

Additional Ideas & Resources for Clothespin Magnets

DIY Clothespin Magnets!

Teachers Gifts: DIY Magnetic Clothespins

Meet Jackson 4-H volunteer Terri Hardin

Expanding Horizons and Teaching Work Ethics 

Jackson 4-H Volunteer Terri Hardin.

Jackson County 4-H volunteer club leader Terri Hardin wears many hats.  From working with youth at Golson Elementary School to working on her family ranch in Grand Ridge, Terri is one busy lady!  Somehow though she manages to find time to meet with the youth in the Country Bumpkins 4-H Club she started five years ago.  The club meets monthly at a community center in Cypress in East Jackson County.

Terri moved to Jackson County from Oxford, Texas in 2005 and is married to Jerry Hardin.  They have two daughters and two sons.  Daughter Gerri participated in 4-H and FFA and is now pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Art at Florida State University.  Daughter Faith is a sophomore at Marianna High School and is also in 4-H and FFA.  Son Sheldon is a supervisor at a lumber company and son Tyler manages a recycling facility in Arizona.  Terri is also expecting her first grandchild in August.

Terri did not participate in 4-H or FFA growing up.  However, since coming to Florida, along with her work with Jackson County 4-H, she has volunteered with the FFA Chapter of Sneads, helped start the Grand Ridge FFA Alumni and served as president for three years.  She helped reactivate the Marianna FFA Alumni and currently serves as president.

The youth in Terri’s 4-H club have opportunities to explore any project they want.  Their projects range from poultry and livestock production, exhibition and judging to geo caching.  Terri also makes sure that her youth know the value of giving back.  They do multiple community service projects each year that include tree planting, cleanup of local parks, collecting books and collecting food for local food pantries.  Terri and her club contributed clothing for adults and children during Jackson 4-H’s efforts to help victims of Hurricane Irma in 2017.

When asked what drives Terri to do volunteer work 4-H she shared, “The need to help children expand their point of views, hopefully instill good work ethics, get them outdoors, and show them there is a much bigger world out there.”

Terri’s inspiration is the need she sees to help youth and adults who are less fortunate and to improve the community she lives in.  Terri’s 4-H volunteer work meets the needs of those who might not have that opportunity otherwise. That much is evident in the number of youth who have been a part of Terri’s 4-H club and their accomplishments.

Terri shared that she has seen evidence of growth and development in the youth she has worked with over the past five years in their maturity, their ability to get along with others and the fact that they have stepped outside their comfort zones by exploring and expanding their fields of interest.

Terri sees the need for 4-H volunteers in her community and schools.  She suggests that anyone interested in 4-H consider volunteering at a school to see the needs that young people have and the guidance they need to succeed in today’s world.

Jackson 4-H is fortunate to have Terri working with youth and adults to help “make the best better”!

4-H offers a broad spectrum of projects and activities to serve a variety of interests, skills, and knowledge. If you or someone you know would like to learn more about 4-H, contact your local Extension Office.





What are 4-H Standards of Excellence?

4-H Standards of Excellence are tools to help individual members and clubs set and achieve goals and are part of our recognition model.  Recognition is an important part of the 4-H experience; it helps master skills and knowledge by providing feedback on progress towards goals.  Standards of Excellence is one of my favorite ways to recognize youth and clubs.  Here’s how it works:

At the beginning of the 4-H year, youth decide which level of recognition they would like to receive.  The levels are bronze, silver, gold and emerald.  To help youth decide, they should review the Standard of Excellence matrix with their parent or club leader. The matrix outlines what a member needs to do in order to achieve each level of recognition.  For example, if a junior member (ages 8-10) wants to achieve the gold standard, he/she would need to plan to do the following throughout the course of the 4-H year:

  • Attend at least 2/3 of club meetings (or number established by club).
  • Share project experiences by giving a presentation.
  • Attend three different activities
  • Participate in three different activities
  • Participate in three community service activities
  • Participate in four different competitions / exhibitions
  • Complete two project record reports
  • Teach one club level activity
  • Make a poster on “My 4-H Experience” or submit Building My 4-H Portfolio

But wait, that’s not all!  4-H Clubs can also achieve Standards of Excellence.  During the club organizational meeting, members can choose which type of club they want to be (bronze, silver, gold or emerald), and build those requirements into their club plan (most of the items are things that clubs would want to do anyway, so why not be recognized for it?):

  • Bronze club- 12/20 items on the list
  • Silver club- 14/20 items on the list
  • Gold club-16/20 items on the list
  • Emerald club- 18/20 items on the list

Once a member or club establishes their goal, they can submit their plan to their club leader.  Towards the end of the 4-H Year, the member submits their application to their leader, who signs off on it and submits it to their 4-H agent.  Youth are recognized during their County Achievement Night, or Awards Banquet.

Interested in helping?  We need volunteers to serve as project mentors, review/judge awards applications or help plan annual recognition programs.  Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office if you would like to get involved.


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?


United States Environmental Protection Agency ,

DIY Gratefulness Tree Tutorial

My original tree, using paper leaves.

My original tree, using paper leaves.

Have you ever heard the saying, “take time to stop and smell the roses?”  With the hustle and bustle of daily life, this can be easier said than done!  However, according to several studies, being intentional about gratitude can benefit you both physically and mentally.  A Gratefulness Tree is a fun and creative way to help you be more intentional about the what you are grateful for.

I learned this project many years ago and I keep the first rendition (pictured on the right) which was really simplistic in my office as a constant visual reminder to count my blessings. The four H’s of 4-H, Head, Heart, Hands, and Health, are incorporated into this project, so consider this for a future 4-H club meeting activity as well!

These are the supplies you will need to create your tree.

These are the supplies you will need to create your tree.

Items needed for this project:  Small branch(es) with leaves removed, vessel of choice, foam, sand, or soil to stabilize branches, pebbles for additional weight and stability, needle and thread to hang the leaves, leaf pattern and colorful paper, or purchased leaves. You will also need a gel pen or superfine marker to write on leaves, rubber bands, tape, and decorative seasonal napkins or florists’ moss to the base of the tree.

Even though this DIY project is presented in the month of November, this project can be done at any time during the year. On Thanksgiving Day or any designated day, have each family/club member and guest take a leaf off of the tree to read out loud.

Use tissue paper or florists' foam to secure the branched in your decorative container.

Use tissue paper or florists’ foam to secure the branched in your decorative container.

The comings and goings of our daily lives can consume us at times.  It can become easy to focus on the negatives or challenges we face because they cause of some sort of discomfort and forget to think of those things or people that bring joy and comfort to our lives. I hope this intentional project on gratefulness helps us all to “smell the roses” more often.

What do some of my leaves say? Well, here are a few examples of the things I am grateful for; food, good friends, willingness to forgive, sight, faith, family, and shelter. I will display the newest tree (pictured on the left) in my home and just like my first one it will gain more leaves over time.

Use a gel pen to write what you are thankful for on each leaf

Use a gel pen to write what you are thankful for on each leaf

Use decorative napkins, fabric, or even florists' moss to cover the base of the tree.

Use decorative napkins, fabric, or even florists’ moss to cover the base of the tree.

This is what your Gratefulness Tree will look like when you are done.

This is what your Gratefulness Tree will look like when you are done.

5 Ways To Celebrate Gratitude

Not much can make one happier that the warm scents of pumpkin spice, twinkling festive lights, and the joyous spirits that the holiday seasons bring many families.  As the Thanksgiving holiday season approaches and we find ourselves dashing from one from one festive event to another, it becomes a wonderful opportunity to pause with our family members and reflect on how we can continue to apply one of our very important 4-H essential elements, generosity, into the holiday season to demonstrate simple acts of gratitude, that being that one is thankful for the kindness of others.  Research supports that individuals are observed to be happier, healthier, and have a more positive outlook when they practice being grateful on a regular basis (Berrena, 2016).

4-H supports the life skills of nurturing relationships and concern for others through generosity.  Gratitude is just one of many ways that we as a 4-H family can foster generosity, compassion, and kindness for others.  By helping our children recognize and thank those that are important in their lives and also by appreciating what they currently have available to them, it will make their best better, even on challenging days.

Expressing gratitude should be a daily act and does not have to be complicated or costly.  In fact, expressing gratitude can be quite fun and can also be a creative outlet and even incorporated into a family togetherness project.  For the sake of the holidays, below are five festive ways that you and your family can express gratitude in the coming days.

  1. “I am thankful for…” Statements – Expressing gratitude can be as simple as sharing what you are thankful for aloud to others. Start a daily habit of having each member of your family create a “I am thankful for…” statement.  Remind your family as you begin this activity that they can share their grateful statements with others throughout the day.
  2. Colorful Place Mats – If you are looking for a creative outlet for your family, putting crayons to paper to design colorful place mats are a wonderful way to capture their gratitude! Simply grab some construction paper, crayons, and instruct the children to write, “I am thankful for…” at the top of the paper.  Then design away!  Once done, you can easily laminate the artwork so spills can be wiped away during the holiday meals.  These lovely gratitude place mats will become keepsakes for years to come!
  3. Acts of Kindness – When you and your family can, it is always great to give of your time to others. Organizations such as food pantries or homeless shelters can always use assistance.  You can easily find individuals in your community that may need special assistance with getting firewood or even holiday shopping. If your time is limited, contact an organization to see what other needs they have such as food or monetary donations.
  4. Tree of Thanks – Another creative activity you and your children can easily put together for the dinner table and add to it throughout the holiday season is the Tree of Thanks. Simply gather a tree limb of whatever size you prefer for your table piece and provide your family with paper leaf cutouts and crayons.  Each evening before dinner, have your family decorate a paper leaf with something that they are thankful for.  During the dinner meal, have a family discussion on gratitude and what the leaf means to them.  When the discussion is done, hang the leaf on your Tree of Thanks.  At the end of the holiday season, your family will have a beautiful display to be proud of!
  5. Thoughtful Notes – Handwritten notes are still wonderful ways to express how much you are thankful for others. Even better are notes that are handmade by children!   It takes little time, a blank sheet of paper, and a few crayons to create a thoughtful note to give to someone.  Make a point this holiday season to tell someone just how much they mean to you in the form of a written note.  I guarantee you the note will be cherished for years to come!

So, remember, gratitude is all about the positive attitude.  It is a gift not only for the person you are sharing it with but also, it is a gift for yourself.  Focusing on what you do have increases your level of happiness.  Go forth, apply generosity, and be grateful this holiday season!  Happy Holidays!


Berrena, E.  (2016).  Practice Gratitude.  [Online], Available at: