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Graduating Senior Serving Club, Community and Even His Country

Santa Rosa 4-H member, Private 1st Class Wolf, serves his country in the United States Army.

Receiving an official title can be very exciting for a new employee.  Santa Rosa County 4-H member, Payton Wolfe has a new title and he hasn’t even graduated from high school yet.  His new title is now Private 1st Class Wolfe.  You see, Payton is serving the United States of America in the Army.  Wolfe completed his Basic Combat Training during the summer between his Junior and Senior years of high school.  He has officially been in the Army for quite some time now.

Payton Wolfe has a love of animal husbandry and has hatched over 5,000 eggs throughout his high school career.  During his many years in 4-H, he has raised numerous types of poultry including quail, chickens, pheasants, turkeys and ducks.  “I even had a couple of cows, but they were really just for pets, I never showed them,” Payton explained.

Along with animals, Payton has learned to have a heart of service for a long time.  He has completed over 300 hours of community service while in Santa Rosa County 4-H.  He has served his club as an officer, his community in service projects whenever needed, and now Payton will serve his country in the United States Army for six years.  Enrolling in the Army Veterinarian Specialist program seemed like a natural fit for him.  He will be helping care for bomb dogs and horses. Thank you for your dedication and service to our country Private First Class Wolfe!

We are proud that Payton is using the skills he learned as a member of 4-H to protect our country and are excited to see how he will continue to serve his world in the years to come.  To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as leadership, independence, and goal setting to your children so that they will grow up to become successful members of society and have a heart of service like Payton, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office, or follow us on Facebook.

 

Graduating Senior:  Gentle Giant, Giant Impact

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.

Graduating Seniors Breaking Barriers

Graduation is that bitter sweet moment of finally closing the high school chapter of life and diving into adulthood.  Involvement with 4-H can help ease this transition for many young adults.  4-H teaches youth life skills through positive youth development opportunities.  These opportunities allow them to navigate the world through experiential learning, the “learn by doing” approach, so they may develop skills to rely on for many years after their time spent in 4-H.  Two Walton County 4-H’ers are preparing to do just that, but it hasn’t always been an “easy row to hoe.”

JACKSON LEATH

Jackson receiving his annual Clover Award

Jackson Leath started his journey in Walton County 4-H at age eight.  He was involved in local clubs and even traveled to Washington D.C. and summer camp.  However, after several battles with anxiety, Jackson took a break from 4-H for many years.  In 2015, he decided to try out the Walton County Teen Council Club with a few friends.  This led him to volunteering at day camps, leading group recreation with campers, and ultimately becoming a Junior Counselor for summer camp!  Jackson overcame many hurdles along the way but regained his confidence and independence so greatly that it fueled his passion for leadership and service to others.  

 

Jackson’s goal has always been, “to show kids that 4-H is fun and to give them the memories I’ve had here.”  After conquering any fear or doubts, Jackson has been active in multiple community clubs, has been a Camp Timpoochee Camp Counselor for 4 years, volunteered at numerous day camps, and held multiple offices on the county level.  Jackson’s confidence has also led him to accomplishments at school which include Captain of the soccer team and officer positions in various clubs.  

CHEYENNE DUNCAN

Cheyenne competing at State Tailgating competition

Cheyenne Duncan moved to the Florida Panhandle in 2014.  Within her freshman year of high school, Cheyenne battled bullying, abusive relationships, and depression.  Through her involvement with 4-H and becoming a Junior Camp Counselor to “try camp,” (as an effort from her mother and 4-H Agent to turn negatives into positives), Cheyenne blossomed!  During a heartfelt conversation on a Camp Timpoochee bench, Cheyenne shared with her 4-H Agent that “this 4-H stuff really works!”  Cheyenne not only conquered her adversaries, but she also became driven to share her story with others in 4-H, the community, and the State to help other teens that may be facing the same battles.  Cheyenne has led many community clubs in all offices, competed at County Events, shown livestock in the local Fair, volunteered countless hours during day camps and will be serving her 5th year as a Camp Timpoochee Camp Counselor.  Her champion spirit has also led her to complete the following in school:  2 years as Soccer Team Captain, 1 year assistant coach for spring soccer, multiple years dedicated to soccer, track and cross country along with 4 years of Jr ROTC and Drill with the accompanying ribbons to match!

Furthermore, not only have both Jackson and Cheyenne displayed what #TRUELEADERS are in 4-H and school extracurricular activities, but both are successfully working multiple jobs in the workforce as well!  Through their experiential learning, both have seen many times of great achievement and possibly a few failures; however, 4-H provided a safe place for our youth to experience failure, learn from it, and ultimately Make the Best Better. 

To get more involved in 4-H, find your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and ask your County 4-H Agent how to join!

4-H University is 4 U!

Yes, 4-University is 4 U!  4-H University is one of the premiere state events in Florida 4-H.  Teens get the chance to participate in leadership workshops, explore career opportunities, interact with other 4-Hers from across the state, and have fun while learning how to better successfully engage in their community, country, and world.  Below you will find useful information as well as why you should attend this flagship state 4-H event.

WHY PARTICIPATE?

2018 Gadsden County 4-H University Delegation

  • Fun: We like all things we sign up for to be fun but sometimes they turn out not to be. We assure you, this IS a FUN event.
  • Network:  Connect with like-minded teens from across Florida.
  • Focused learning: Subject matter focused workshops offered are interesting and engaging.
  • Explore:  Visit an awesome college campus!  There are many things to see and do at UF.  It is your chance to visit a college campus.
  • Dorms:  Sleep in a college dorm.  Yes, you and your roomies get a little taste of future dorm life.
  • Leadership: True leaders know that leadership and learning is an on-going process.
  • Service Learning:  Giving back to others feels good.  Fresh ideas keep us focused and committed.
  • Goal Setting: Goals help us to expand our visions.  4-H U helps you set some goals for the future.
  • Being Supportive:  Fellow attendees are competitors and/or candidates running for State 4-H Officers we want to support.
  • Fun: Yes, I mentioned this twice! My Gadsden County 4-H senior youth have enjoyed 4-H U for many years for all the reasons above.  They stress FUN twice!

IMPORTANT REGISTRATION INFORMATION

Dates: July 29-August 1, 2019 (multi-day overnight state 4-H event)
Location: University of Florida, Gainesville
Who: Youth who are 4-H age 14-18
Registration: Opens on May 1 and closes June 30 at 11:59 pm Eastern. The cost is $275.00 for full week. Special one-day only registrations are available. Check out the website for more information.
How: Contact your local 4-H office
Learning opportunities: You do not want to be late registering so that you can have a better chance of getting your choice of track workshop: http://florida4h.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/4HU_2018_Workshop_Descriptions.pdf
More information: For more information, please visit this http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/4-h-university/


CALL TO ACTION:

  1. Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office
  2. Begin the journey as a 4-H Member
  3. Engage in local programs as well as district and state: http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/
  4. Read and share the other great 4-H In The Panhandle blogs by my colleagues
  5. Follow us on Facebook

4-H is Grateful for Volunteers

A group of men and ladies standing.

Like these Jefferson County volunteers, every 4-H volunteer is making a positive difference in the lives of youth.

As a 4-H Agent, one of the things I am most grateful for is volunteers.  Our volunteers are leaders, cheerleaders, mentors, and advocates for our youth. It is with their help and service that many young people find their voice or passion and become healthy, capable, caring, and productive adults.

Volunteers assist by:

  • leading club meetings
  • serving as camp counselors
  • judging speech and demonstration contests
  • serving on advisory committees, and
  • utilizing their unique interests, skills, and abilities to serve the 4-H program and extend it to audiences which would otherwise be unserved.
Youth in life jackets and snorkeling gear.

Youth volunteers, like our 4-H Camp counselors, are such an asset to the county 4-H program.

In the process, our volunteers shape future leaders by demonstrating leadership skills, instilling a sense of community, and offering a positive connection with someone from a different age group or generation. And while they do not serve for praise or recognition, many volunteers get a great deal of fulfillment, self-satisfaction, and enjoyment in volunteer service, as they watch youth develop self-confidence, self-worth, and leadership skills

Whether they serve episodically or for many years, volunteers are a valuable and essential component of 4-H. Without their help, 4-H could not deliver the excellent programs that are the cornerstone of Extension.

To all of the volunteers in the district, thank you for all you do.

Learn more about volunteering with Florida 4-H or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension to learn about 4-H in your county and discuss your possibilities with your 4-H Agent.

We’ll be highlighting more about 4-H volunteers during the month of April, so be on the lookout for some great stories!

Out of Gas: Helpful Tips for Busy People

Woman with her face down on a desk

Are you physically or mentally running on E?

Are you racing “90 to nothing” in your daily life?   until something forces us to hit the brakes or the emergency brake is applied. Instead of clearing our plates, we add sideboards onto them so that we can accept more.

We wear many hats outside of work such as a family member, caregiver, volunteer, student, etc. Some days we find ourselves in foul moods where we lack comprehension, patience, and focus. Is it because we are hangry (hungry + angry) or just plain ole tired?  You’ve heard the saying; “you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip”… or is that a beet?…LoL, you get the point. How do we avoid the breakdown that can and will happen if we keep pushing ourselves without intentional refueling?

Here are several tips to help you stay fueled and refreshed:

  • Block scheduling: I shared a photo of a tool that I use, but you use what works for you. The key thing is for you to understand where you can capture time for yourself to refuel.
  • Rest: Sleep on a regular schedule and take breaks during the day.
  • Eat well: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Have some fun: You are encouraged to have fun. Adulting is tough.
  • Take lunch: Go visit a local library, museum, or sit in your car at a local park.
  • Vacation: Plan for it, and take it. But leave some recovery time, so you are not rushing back to work the next day. Another option is weekend trips or a day-cations while kid(s) are at school.
  • Nurture your hobbies: When was the last time you ____________?
  • Guard your time: Once you’ve blocked it out, it’s yours.  Don’t let others guilt you into giving it back.

Slowly implement some of these tips into your life, and remember an empty tank is just that. Empty. You will be more productive by taking care of you, and you’ll be better able to wear all those hats.