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Cultivating Communication Skills: Non Verbal Cues

Last week, we shared Five ways to Cultivate Listening skills with 4-H youth. These strategies focused on listening with your ears, but did you know that you can listen with your eyes too?  The quote to the left is an astounding fact- much of what we “hear” does not come from the words that are said, but how they are said. We use our whole body to communicate- not just our mouth and ears. Learning how to read non-verbal cues can help us (and the youth we serve) build empathy and understanding, which help us foster a sense of belonging in our 4-H clubs and groups.

 

What are non-verbal cues?

Non-verbal communication is about how words are spoken and less about which words are used. This includes things like voice tone, pitch and pace. It can also include sounds like yawning, sighing, clapping and hand gestures. For example, someone may be speaking at a normal pace, but you can hear trembling in their voice (which may indicate fear or anger). Body language is a also a great communication cue. This includes not only facial expressions, but also posture.  The infographic to the right is a handy guide for learning non-verbal communication cues.

Tips for “reading” non-verbal cues

  • The eye’s have it! A person’s eyes speak volumes. Look to see if the speaking is making direct eye contact or not. Inability to make direct eye contact can indicate boredom or even deceit. But it can also indicate shyness or lack of confidence. In some cultures, not looking directly into a person’s eyes is a demonstration of respect and in other cultures, it is a sign of disrespect, so be aware of how cultural differences can influence body language.  Where a person looks is telling. People often look to the right when they are using their imagination, but look left when they are recalling a memory.
  • Facial expression is harder to detect, because most people focus on controlling it. Is the person smiling? If so, is it a genuine smile? Sarcastic smile? A slight grimace before a smile is usually the indicator of a fake smile. Tight lips can also indicate annoyance, whereas a relaxed mouth means a positive mood. Covering the face (especially the mouth) often indicates lying. Nodding the head usually means the person is interested, as is tilting the head to the side. Titling the head backwards can mean uncertainty.
  • Hands can leak important information about another person’s thoughts and feelings. Hands in pockets can mean nervousness or even deception. Supporting the head with a hand means that the person is trying to focus on what is being said. Supporting the head with both hands means boredom.
  • Stance and posture provide hints about a person’s attitude. If the person’s feet are pointed towards you, they have a good attitude towards what you are saying. If their feet or pointed towards someone else, that probably means they would rather be talking to that person (even if they are carrying on a conversation with you). In addition to looking at a person’s feet, notice how they are holding their arms. Crossed arms could indicate a closed mind, but crossed arms with a smile normally means that the person is confident and relaxed.

While these tips are helpful, they don’t apply 100% of the time, and should be used along with active listening to foster true understanding and healthy communication.

Strategies for teaching non-verbal communication skills

Take this 5-minute non-verbal communication quiz!

Brainstorm It!  

  1. In one minute, have participants write down as many examples  of nonverbal communication as they can.  
  2. Go around the room and have people share their list, writing down all the  examples. This part can be turned into a competition (inspired by the game Scattergories) by giving individuals get one point for each unique answer they  have. (If no one else wrote down that same nonverbal cue they get a point.) The  person(s) with the most points after everyone has shared wins!  
  3. Review the list and group cues by the following categories:  
    • How words are spoken (tone, pitch, pace),  
    • Body language (gestures, facial expressions, posture),  
    • Non-language sounds (whistling, clapping, sighing),  
    • Visual cues (symbols, motions), and  
  4. Tactile responses (touching)
    Review and discuss. What type of cue was most commonly mentioned? What  cues do you think have the most powerful communication? What cues could be  misinterpreted?  

The Power of Nonverbal 

  1. Ask individuals to work in pairs. One person in the pair will be the designated  speaker and the other person will communicate with nonverbal cues only. 2.) Challenge: The speaker will continue talking (about any subject) regardless of  the cues the other person is giving to two minutes. The non-speaker will roll a  dice to determine what message they will be giving off with nonverbal cues. (If  the facilitator wants to keep the adjectives secret from the speaker, they can  simply whisper the desired cue or have pre-labeled pieces of paper.)

    • 1- Engaged – Super interested in what the speaker is saying!
    • 2- Apathetic – Not interested one bit.
    • 3- Angry – Very opposed to what the speaker is saying.
    • 4- Distracted – Interested in speaker, but really need to go to the bathroom.
    • 5-  Distracted – Not very interested; anxiously waiting for a call, text, or email.
    • 6- Tired – Exhausted and having difficulty concentrating.
  2. After two minutes, have the speaker try to guess what nonverbal cue was  communicated.  
  3. Switch roles and repeat for two additional minutes.  
  4. Discuss and reflect on the impact nonverbal cues have on the speaker  

Decipher the Message 

  1. Search YouTube for some non-verbal communication video clips. Play the video so youth can observe examples of nonverbal  communication.  Some examples are linked below.

 

2. Discuss possible interpretations (starting with the participants’ perspectives) and  describe why those interpretations are valid. (Share in small groups of 4-5 if the  audience is more than 15 people. Each group can report back to the larger  group.)  

3. If there is an alternative interpretation, the facilitator can share it to emphasize  the importance of context, culture, or other meaning in nonverbal communication. 

Cultivating Communication Skills: Learning to Listen

Listening is a skill that can be learned, and is just as important (if not more so) than speaking. However, when it comes to teaching communication skills in 4-H, we have a tendency to focus on the speaking or writing part more than the listening part. So…we are kicking off our series on communication by focusing on this very important skill!  This blog post will cover, how active listening can benefit adults and youth, tips for active listening, and some activities you can do with your 4-Hers to help them begin building and practicing solid listening skills.

Why focus on listening?

Listening and hearing are not the same- listening involves processing what you have heard, and for many people (including myself) it takes practice! A better description of listening well is active listening. Active listening requires the listener to fully concentrate, understand, respond, and, then….remember what is being said. Being a good listener also requires being mindful of what you are hearing. Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment – and non-judgmentally. The goal of mindful listening is to silence the internal noise of your own thoughts, so that you can hear the whole message, and so that the speaker feels understood.

Benefits of Active Listening

Infographic developed my Julie Dillard, Washington County UF IFAS Extension

There are several benefits to being a good listener.

  1. Prevent and resolve conflict
  2. Build trust
  3. Helps you learn
  4. Most importantly, good listening skills foster a sense of belonging, which is the most basic measure of a quality youth development program.

So how can we become better listeners? Here are a few tips:

Just listen. Be attentive when you are listening. Do not let other thoughts, like what you are going to say in response, distract you.
Express interest. Use eye contact, posture, and facial expressions to let people know you are interested in what they have to say and that you are ready to listen. Listening is a form of non-verbal communication, which we will delve more deeply into next week during our Virtual Volunteer Leadership Webinar.
Reduce distractions. If possible, refrain from doing other tasks while you are listening so that you can focus on hearing what is being said.
Listen for emotions. Emotions can be expressed through tone, but also through body language- what does the tone and body language of the person tell you?  Are they expressing excitement, frustration, joy or sadness? Be very careful not to judge what the other person is feeling.
Repeat it back. Once the person has finished talking, summarize what you heard and ask them to clarify if necessary.
Don’t be afraid of silence. A silent moment allows the speaker and the listener to process what has been said through words, tone and body language.

How can we teach listening skills to youth?

Here are a few activities you can do virtually or in person with youth of all ages (and adults too). For instructions, click the link or read the instructions below the table. For more ideas, and strategies for non-verbal communication, sign up for our webinar series every third Thursday of the month at 6PM central, 7PM eastern.

Activity Cloverbuds

(5-7 yrs.)

Juniors

(8-10 yrs.)

Intermediates

(11-13 yrs.)

Seniors

(14-18 yrs.)

Adults
Simon Says X X
Paper Tearing X X X X
Listening Inventory X X
Shh…Just Listen X X X
What’s your Problem? X X

Paper-Tearing Exercise
1.) Pass out a sheet of paper to everyone and tell them the following: “We’re going to play a game that will show some important things about communication. Pick up a sheet of paper and hold it in front of you. Now, close your eyes and follow the directions I will give you—and no peeking! You cannot ask questions.”
2.) Give the following directions, carrying them out yourself with your own sheet of paper and pausing after each instruction to give the group time to comply:
• Fold your sheet of paper in half.
• Tear off the upper right-hand corner.
• Fold it in half again and tear off the upper left-hand corner.
• Fold it in half again and tear off the lower right-hand corner.
3.) After the tearing is complete, say something like, “Now open your eyes, and let’s see what you have. If I did a good job of  communicating and you did a good job of listening, all of our sheets should look the same!”
4.) Hold your sheet up for them to see and discuss outcome.
• It is highly unlikely any sheet will match yours exactly.
• How are our papers different?
• Why don’t our papers match?
• How could a different communication method have helped us with this
activity?

Source: Strieter, L. (2008). Communications: Overview of Communications.

Shhhh. Just Listen… 

1.) Work in pairs – Select one person to be the listener and one person to be the  speaker.  

2.) Challenge: The listener has to get the speaker to continue talking for five minutes, but can only make three statements during the time period.  The speaker will talk about a situation that was a joyous occasion (ex.  might be an award, a special event, a new job, etc.). 

3.) Switch roles after five minutes. 

4.) Return to whole group for reflection and discussion. The discussion that follows  concentrates on how: 

  • The speaker felt when the person just listened and did not exchange  information 
  • The nonverbal signals encouraged the speaker 
  • Uncomfortable the silence was 
  • It felt to just listen without having the pressure to contribute 
  • The speaker felt having the freedom to say whatever they felt 

Source: Listening & Communication Exercises by Work Smart Blog, Posted online by Leslie Orr  

http://blog.trainerswarehouse.com/communication -exercises

What’s Your Problem?  

1.) Work in Pairs: One person is the listener and the other is the speaker. 

2.) Role play: The listener practices active listening and tries to diffuse the tense situation. The speaker is upset because of [fill in any scenario].

3.) Discussion: The best way to diffuse a tense situation is to use active listening – it  is important that the person knows you hear what they are saying. It is also  important not to make any promises at that stage of the exchange. Acknowledge  the person’s frustration and let them vent. Then, move on to problem solving – get the person to help in solving the problem and then work on solving it  together.  

Source: Listening & Communication Exercises by Work Smart Blog, Posted online by Tom Lord  http://blog.trainerswarehouse.com/communication-exercises 

 

 

Spirit of Giving through Community Service in 4-H

Care stockings for elderly residents.

Amid holiday season, one of the busiest times of the year, it’s a great opportunity to find ways to serve others.  There are many activities that will allow you to safely relieve the fatigue of quarantine, virtual school and zoom meetings by getting into the spirit of giving through 4-H service projects.

Traditionally, community service projects would include a group of 4-H members banding together one day to clean yards for the elderly or visit nursing homes or volunteer at local shelters.  Although COVID-19 limits many forms of our traditional service projects, youth and their families can still coordinate amazing opportunities amidst our new normal of social distancing.  Remember, while participating in any 4-H affiliated programs or projects, all members, families, and volunteers must adhere to our safety protocols which include but are not limited to wearing masks the entire time, remaining 6-feet apart, hand sanitizing and washing regularly, and more found here.

Here are some safe alternatives to implement with your local 4-H program, club, or businesses:

  • Power Hour Yardwork– If outside activities are your forte, have families sign up to clean one location together as a family unit. Remain masked, gloved, and wash hands regularly to ensure safety of yourself and others.  Set obtainable goals for your one-hour timeframe to limit traffic and need for the use of facilities.
  • Business Lawn Decorating- Some business, such as Elderly Rehabilitation Centers and Nursing Homes, allow outside groups to decorate the outside areas of their facilities for the holidays. This is a great way to show off your creative side and even drum up some friendly competition. Remember to follow UF COVID guidelines (wear masks, social distancing, etc).
  • 4-H Care Stockings- Pack stockings with hygiene items, socks, word games, and/or prewrapped snacks and deliver them to long term care facilities or even local businesses. Be sure to include information on 4-H, whether it be a card, business card, or 4-H pledge bookmark!  You never know where we may find new 4-H Volunteers or members.
  • 4-H Book Buddies- Find a facility that would allow you to read a book (even better if you dressed in character) to their clientele. While this may not be feasible in person with COVID restrictions, offer to pre-record a session and either email or share the link!
  • Food Drives- Set up a location (preferably at your 4-H office) for locals to donate unperishable items in containers that can be sprayed with disinfectant spray. Work with your 4-H Agent or other adults to set up where these items will be distributed to.
  • 4-H Furever Gifts- Put those sewing (or tying) skills to good use and make some dog toys, blankets, or beds out of old t-shirts or jeans. These make perfect donation pieces to pet shelters and rescue facilities!
  • 4H Pen Pals- Contact your local elderly residential facilities to see if 4-H members could submit cards/letters to residents. Be sure to speak to someone in management to get approval for contact information.  Another alternative to this would be to contact classroom teachers and ask if you can send a letter or card to the class.  This would be a great way to recruit future 4-H’ers too as you share your own stories!

    4-H’ers packed pillow case hygiene packs for residents at the Chautauqua Rehabilitation Center.

Service projects are an excellent method of targeting life skills in the “head and heart” areas of the targeting life skills model.  Teaching our youth to care about others instills empathy while teaching them the spirit of giving activates community service volunteering.  For more ways to volunteer in your county, check with you local 4-H office and seek ways that you can volunteer with 4-H today!

It’s a New Year in the Florida 4-H Horse Program

It’s a New Year in the Florida 4-H Horse Program

Did you know the Florida 4-H Horse Program offers horse shows, horse judging, Hippology, public speaking, demonstrations, illustrated talks, quiz bowl, horsemanship schools, and even scholarships?

January kicks off the new year of the Florida 4-H Horse Program, and now is the time to get involved! The Florida 4-H Horse Program consists of all the programs mentioned above, and only a few of those events actually requires owning a horse. The horse program has something for everyone, and the best part is that you get involved with youth focused, horse loving community. Below, we will introduce you to each part of the program, but if you have more questions, be sure to reach out to your county agent. For this article, we will look at programs where you do not need to own or lease a horse, and programs where you do. So let’s get started!

Horseless Programs (No horse needs to be owned or leased)

Horse Judging

About: In horse judging, youth are presented classes of horses, and they are asked to evaluate each class, place them, and present oral reasons. This competition teaches youth to look at horses and evaluate the based on both confirmation and function. To watch a short video outlining the details of the competition, click here.

Important Dates:

February 8, 2020: Florida State Fairy Horse Judging Contest, Tampa, Florida

April 4, 2020: State 4-H and FFA Horse Judging Contest, Gainesville, Florida

For More information, please visit the UF 4-H Horse Judging Website.


Quiz Bowl

About: Quiz bowl is a trivia style contest with both individual and team components. Topics range from practical hands on knowledge to horse industry knowledge. To learn more about these events, watch a short video here.

Important Dates:

June 1, 2020 – State Entry Deadline

June 20, 2020- State 4-H Horse Quiz Bowl Contest, Gainesville, Florida

For More information, please visit the State 4-H Horse Demonstrations and Public Speaking.


Hippology

Youth visiting a local veterinary office for a tour.

About: Hippology includes all aspects of horse knowledge and covers topics ranging from judging to feedstuffs identification. Hippology includes practical horse management knowledge combining it with the experience and knowledge from all the other contests (Judging, quiz bowl, public speaking, etc.). To watch a short video outlining the details of the competition, click here.

Important Dates:

April 4 & 5, 2020: State 4-H Contest, Gainesville, Florida

For More information, please visit the UF 4-H Hippology Website. 


Public Speaking/Demonstrations/and Illustrated Talks

About: In these events, youth get to explore an area of interest as it relate

Tucker Padgett gives a public speech at the 2020 Escambia County 2020 County Events.

s to horses, then create a presentation to share it with others. These events have a county, district, and in some cases a state level. To learn more about these events, watch a short video here.

Important Dates:

Most counties have a qualification process, that differs across the state. Check with your county agent for the specifics on the county and district qualifying events.

June 1, 2020 – State Entry Deadline

June 20, 2020- State 4-H Horse Demonstrations and Public Speaking Contest, Gainesville, Florida

For More information, please visit the State 4-H Horse Demonstrations and Public Speaking site.


Scholarships

About: The Florida 4-H Horse scholarship program aims to reward youth who are demonstrated an intense passion and advancement in the Florida 4-H Horse Program. These scholarships have their own specific requirements and awards. For More information, please visit the Florida 4-H Equine Scholarships Summary here.

To watch a short video outlining the details of the opportunities, click here.

Important Dates:

June 1, 2020- Scholarship Applications are due

*Be sure to work closely with your county 4-H agent to ensure this process goes smoothly.

Project Horse Programs (A horse must be owned/leased by youth)

Area and State Horse Shows

About: Each year, Florida 4-H hosts Area Shows to qualify for the State 4-H Horse Show. To learn more about these shows watch this short video which introduces the Florida 4-H Horse Shows.

Important Dates and Information:

If you want to compete at your Area Horse Show, you need to be aware of the following items:

  1. December 31, 2020- The Florida 4-H Horse Certification Form should be submitted to the county 4-H on or before December 31, 2020 to qualify to pa

    Youth displaying ribbon after placing in a horse show class at the 2019 Area North Horse Show.

    rticipate in the Area North Horse Show and the State 4-H Horse show. This form must be completed each year, even if you are using the same horse as a previous year. A youth should do this for each horse they intend to show or use to participate in 4-H shows with.

    1. Find the form here: Florida 4-H Horse Certification Form
  1. December 31, 2020- A Horse Lease Form should be completed and submitted if a youth wants to participate with a horse that is not owned by the youth. Even if you are borrowing the horse without a fee, youth must have a Horse Lease Form on file with the local county 4-H office.
    1. Find the form here: Horse Lease Form
  1. The Florida 4-H Horse Project Record Book is a great way to track and demonstrate your growth throughout the year.
    1. Find the project book here: Florida 4-H Horse Project Book

Each county has their own specific guidelines and requirements. Please be sure to check when your county offices are closed for the holidays as they may not be open on the final day the form is due. Contact your county office if you have any questions or concerns regarding county specific requirements. For more information about Florida 4-H Horse Project opportunities visit the State 4-H Horse Events site.


Horsemanship Schools

About: Horsemanship school is a week long program geared at teaching and equipping youth with the knowledge and tools needed to be successful and grow as horseman. There are three program offerings: Western week, English week, and Cowboy Camp (male 4-H youth). To watch a short video outlining the details of the opportunities, click here.

Important Dates:

Youth at Horsemanship School in Niceville, Florida before camps were moved to Gainesville.

May 31-June 5, 2020 – Cowboy Camp, Gainesville, Florida

June 7- 12, 2020 – Western Week, Gainesville, Florida

 

June 14-19, 2020 – English Week, Gainesville, Florida

For more information, please visit the UF Horsemanship School website.


The Florida 4-H Horse program is abounding in opportunities, so come join our community of horse loving youth and adults focused on “making the best, better”!

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us!

You can find your local county 4-H office here.

*Photo Credits belong to:

Julie Andrews Photography, 2019 Area North Horse Show, Clay County, Florida.

Anne Peterson, Escambia County 4-H Volunteer

Aly Schortinghouse, Escambia County 4-H

*All Photos were taken prior to COVID-19 lockdown and policies.

4-H Celebrations in October

National 4-H Week Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

October is an extraordinary month of celebration for UF/IFAS Extension Florida 4-H Programs. We start with National 4-H Week October 4th – 10th. The theme for this year’s National 4-H Week is Opportunity4All. This campaign was created by National 4-H Council to rally support for Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program and identify solutions to eliminate the opportunity gap that affects 55 million kids across America.

With so many children struggling to reach their full potential, 4-H believes that young people, in partnership with adults, can play a key role in creating a more promising and equitable future for youth, families and communities across the country. In 4-H, we believe every child should have an equal opportunity to succeed. We believe every child should have the skills they need to make a difference in the world.

It is amazing how many youth are growing up with 4-H in Florida with over 230,000 youth involved. 4-H is open to all youth, ages 5-18, determined as of September 1 of the current 4-H year for everyone in the State of Florida. 4-H serves youth from all backgrounds and interests. It reaches both boys and girls through 4-H clubs and project work. 4-H is at schools, community settings, virtually, military bases, and in combination with afterschool programs. There are also special workshops, camps and individual and family learning opportunities. We also have state-wide virtual club opportunities including Dairy, Horse, Poultry, Teen Life Ready and Young Leaders clubs. The Northwest District also offers 4-H virtual projects. These include: Chick Chain, Backyard Livestock, Honeybees, Wildlife, Baking, Culinary Arts, Leadership, Plant Science, Tailgating, sewing and shooting sports.

National 4-H Week Events Include:

Monday, October 5, 2020 join us at 1:00 PM EST / 12:00 PM CST for a webinar on How to Teach Kids to Prepare Healthy, Fun Snacks. Register Here

Tuesday October 6, 2020 Shout Out Day & Hall of Fame
Take to social media to share a 4‑H memory, express how 4‑H shaped who you are today, describe what 4‑H means to you, post an old 4‑H photo, or shout-out your 4‑H club or use our photo frame for sharing on Social Media be sure to include following hashtags #Opportunity4All, #Florida4H and tag @Florida4H in ALL posts!

6:30 pm EST/ 5:30 CST– 4-H Hall of Fame  (FB Live Event) @florida4h

Wednesday, October 7, 2020, National 4-H Week Spirit Day image showing 4-H Spirit Day OCtober 7, 2020
We want to invite you to help celebrate by wearing green or the 4-H clover. You could also wear a 4-H or Green facemask. We even have a photo frame you can use for sharing on Social Media and tag #Opportunity4All, #Florida4H and tag @Florida4H in ALL posts!

Thursday, October 8, 2020, Support the FOURWARD Fund, and Trivia Night
The forward fund helps ensure kids and families in need have access to educational resources and support all year long.

4-H Trivia Night from 6:30 pm EST/ 5:30 CST– (via FB) @florida4h

Youth exploring 4-H STEM Challenge-Mars Base Camp Challenge

Are you ready for the 4-H Mars Base Camp Challenge?

On Friday October 9 Florida 4-H at 4 and Camp Night

Join Florida 4-H at 4 online at 4:00 PM EST 3:00 CST as we blast off on a mission to the Red Planet – MARS! We’ll be learning about the process that NASA goes through when sending a rover to Mars. We’ll learn about the stages of launching from earth, attempting to land on Mars, and discovering the key features of the Martian surface. Using real images and data Generated from NASA missions we’ll be introduced to some of the key characteristics of Mars and how we have discovered these features through decades of scientific exploration. Bring your supplies and join us. Click to Register

4-H Camp Night 6:30 pm EST/ 5:30 CST Come hang out with our camping team via zoom Click to Register and celebrate National 4-H Week.

Saturday October 10 #Opportunity4All Forum at 6:30 pm EST / 5:30 CST @florida4h  (FB Live Event) Kids face a widening opportunity gap in America. Nothing should hold them back.  Not Now.  Not Ever. For more information about the national Opportunity for all Campaign materials and PSA

October 7-18 Tractor Supply Paper Clover Fundraiserimage from 4-H Tractor Supply Paper Clover CampaignThe paper clover campaigns help by providing funds to conduct hands-on learning experiences through projects in STEM, agriculture, healthy living, and civic engagement locally and nationally.

JOANN stores also support 4-H by providing local 4-H Clubs with resources and tools to run impactful programs. JOANN even provides current & alumni members, parents of members, and volunteers with a 15% off total in-store and online purchases every day with a 4-H Rewards Card. You can register for this card at https://www.joann.com/4-h/ . They also run a paper clover campaign in the spring similar to Tractor Supply.

Please, help us celebrate National 4-H Week 2020 and participate in as many activities as possible. Also, Be sure next time you are visiting one of our sponsors locations to thank them for their continued support of 4-H Youth Development Programs. I cant wait to see your photos on social media please be sure and tag @Florida4H in ALL posts!

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. As you can see October is a wonderful month to be involved with and join Florida 4-H An Equal Opportunity Institution.

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Why Horses?

Why Horses?

Individuals gathered around horses at a show.

A 4-H family gathered together at a show.

Are you looking for another way that you can aid your child in becoming a healthy well-adjusted adult? You help can them by allowing them to enter a relationship with a horse. Most kids are naturally drawn to horses and may benefit greatly in what they can gain from them. Some life skills learned from caring for equine are character building, healthy living, leadership skills, and responsibility, just to name a few. Plus, if your child is out at the barn caring for their horse, they are less likely to be stuck on their phones on the couch. Therefore, their physical health will benefit from doing chores and riding as well. Horseback riding offers many aerobic-exercise benefits such as building muscles, boosting balance, and increasing coordination and flexibility. Lifting saddles, water buckets, and cleaning require physical movement as well as gives a sense of self accomplishment of “I can do this all by myself.” When youth are responsible for the care of a horse, it teaches them to put others needs above their own and they learn empathy.

Youth sitting on horse

Emily, 4-H member, sitting on her horse, Slyder.

Did you know 4-H has a horse program? The goal of the program is to teach and provide young people with an opportunity to participate in activities that foster the love for the animal and achieve their goals. The activities are designed to improve citizenship, sportsmanship, horsemanship, character, competitive spirit, and discipline while making youth aware of life around them. When thinking about the 4-H horse program, there is the potential for participation in horse judging, public speaking, demonstrations, hippology and quiz bowl. Participation in these activities can help a youth improve in many areas to gain a better education and they don’t have to necessarily have a horse. There is also horse showing for those who own a horse. Showing equine will connect youth from all over the world as horse family while teaching them to prepare, build the courage to compete, enjoy the rewards and deal with disappointments. Hopefully, the disappointments will drive them to succeed and work harder while furthering their leadership skills. Afterall, taking control of a thousand-pound animal to work through challenging tasks will require skills that promote a child’s self-competence.

If you are looking for something new to spark an interest in your child, consider the 4-H equine project.  Horses are fun, help teach great life skills, and kids adore them. They will keep youth positively engaged during their difficult years from pre-teen and into adulthood. If you are unsure of what your county has to offer in the way of equine 4-H programs, give your local UF IFAS County Extension Office a call and they will help you or connect you with someone in the field or visit http://florida4h.org.

*“Please note pictures were taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we remind people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.”