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Finding Treasure by Stepping Outside!

Finding Treasure by Stepping Outside!

Youth holding up picture

4-H Virtual Plant Science Camp Bingo Game

July 6th of this year was supposed to be the first day of our 4-H Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation Day Camp with Leon and Jefferson Counties participating.  Due to the pandemic, all of our Florida 4-H face to face camps were cancelled this summer due to safety concerns for the students and the instructors.

In spite of everything that has taken place since March of this year, there is still some good news! Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, there is an outdoor classroom in YOUR backyard that has plenty of room for young people and parents to explore. While most youth have spent more time than they probably want to with their families confined, within the four walls of their home, there is no time like the present to explore wildlife and gardening opportunities that await just outside the door. Youth that spend time outside exploring the great outdoors have the unique opportunity to stimulate their senses while engaging in “hands on” educational activities without even knowing it.

4-H provides countless opportunities for youth to gain a better understanding of how all organisms are interrelated and how they can become environmental stewards at home, school, and in the communities in which they live.  What are some of the benefits of converting backyards to outdoor classrooms?

I’m glad you asked…here are just a few!

 

1. Healthy lifestyles are encouraged –
2 kids planting a tree

Youth planting an orange tree after participating in Virtual Plant Science Camp

Active time spent outside may help address some of the health issues we are seeing in children today such as obesity, attention deficit disorders, and depression.

2. Nature deficit disorder decline –

Exposing students to nature and allowing them to learn and play outside has shown to foster sensitivity, appreciation, and respect for the environment.  It combats “nature deficit disorder” …and it can be a lot of FUN!

3. Critical-thinking skills enhanced –

Exploring what is in the backyard and starting a garden provides opportunities for experiential learning outside of the classroom and enables students to make connections that can be applied to the real world.

4. Responsible action is taken to better the environment –

By exploring outdoors either by planting or just observing nature, youth begin to understand how their decisions and actions affect the environment. It is from this point they can begin to obtain the skills necessary to address complex environmental issues as well as ways we can take action to keep our environment healthy and sustainable for the future.

 

So even though we are in the midst of a pandemic, there may be opportunities to make lemonade out of the  COVID-19 lemons we find ourselves in by unmasking the opportunities that await in our backyards!

For more information about 4-H in your county, find your local UF/IFAS Extension office or visit http://florida4h.org.

*“Please note some 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.”

Let Freedom Ring

Let Freedom Ring

American Flags along a curb

Celebrate our Freedom

The boom of fireworks, an outdoor concert, a lively parade, the smell of hot dogs on the grill, sweet cold watermelon slices, and a day spent with friends and family, for many, this is what the Fourth of July means. We get so busy enjoying the celebration that we often forget to stop and reflect what the holiday is about.

The Fourth of July is a celebration of independence from British rule and the formation of America. The holiday has been celebrated since 1776 and became an official federal holiday in 1870. The succession from British rule and creation of the Declaration of Independence would not be possible without the formation of a military. In the United States, we are fortunate to still enjoy the freedoms awarded though the Revolutionary War (and military) and work of the Continental Congress. These Founding Fathers of the U.S. paved the way for independence, but our dedicated service members and their families work every day to ensure that our freedom and independence continues. No one loves their country more than a Soldier, Airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman or Sailor; they are willing to sacrifice all to protect and preserve our freedom. They are passionate about their mission and give all they can to serve the U.S. and her citizens.

In a discussion of what Independence Day means to military members, SSgt. Quade, USMC (Vet), states “Military wide, Independence Day is one of the most quintessential days of the year. Not only because of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but that signature represents the freedoms and liberties that were fought for by all brothers and sisters of all branches and earned through blood, sweat, and tears.” It was interesting to hear his perspective and learn that Independence Day is celebrated all over the world by U.S. Military members – maybe not always with fireworks, but a group picnic-style lunch with hotdogs and hamburgers.

We also have to recognize the many sacrifices made by the military members that affect their family, such as missed birthdays, holidays, family functions, and milestones. What makes the time away tolerable is knowing that back home the active duty spouse is stepping up to the plate and taking care of the family. Children assume different roles within the family to help keep the household running and provide support. Military families are resilient and fluid, adjusting to relocation and changes in family dynamics.

This year, as you celebrate the Fourth of July, I hope you enjoy fireworks, grilled hot dogs, and a cold slice of watermelon. During your celebration, I encourage you to take a moment and thank military members and their families, many who are 4-H members, for their efforts and sacrifices in protecting our freedoms so we can enjoy independence every day.

UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H are proud to be a part of the military family – 4-H works with military youth centers across the nation and overseas to create some consistency for youth in these situations.  For more information about the 4-H opportunities available in your county, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.

Special thanks to Jennifer Sims, 4-H Military Partnership Coordinator, UF/IFAS Bay County, for providing this article and picture.

Helping Youth Become Financially Savvy

Helping Youth Become Financially Savvy

Money between the University of FL Extension and 4-H logo

Are you financially savvy?

As a parent, I worry about children and their money habits! They often have trouble distinguishing between a need and a want.  I often wonder if I am empowering them to be financially savvy. I know this is a topic that I continually work on for myself. It is important to start teaching healthy money habits early!  It is also important for children to hear about personal finance to understand how money works in a variety of settings: home, school, and youth organizations. I know my children receive money as gifts and it tends to “burn a hole in their pocket” until it is gone. Like adults, children need to practice making “healthy financial” decisions so that those decisions become “healthy habits,” reducing stress in their lives.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you might think of helping your children or grandchildren start a savings account to provide some financial security for the future. Then, encourage them to keep adding 10-20% of any money they receive to the account for a rainy day or that big purchase they desire.

 

RESOURCES AVAILABLE

Extension and 4-H have several publications and project books that provide guidance in the area of personal finance on spending, saving, investing, and donating. These projects can be done in a group setting or as a self-study project. National 4-H Curricula include “Financial Champions 1: Money FUNdamentals.” This piece has activities allowing kids to develop a money personality profile and style, understand the difference in needs and wants, make informed money decisions, set financial goals, and develop a money plan.

“Financial Champions 2: Money Moves” allows kids to learn how to predict outcomes and analyze their finances. They calculate interest; determine the cost of credit; learn how to manage a checking account, explore selecting financial services, make informed marketplace decisions and discover ways of handling money. National 4-H also has free curricula you can download for older youth.

UF/IFAS Extension also has free resources about money and financial management for adults and families on a wide range of topics such as Consumer Rights, Credit and DebtManagement, End of Life Issues, Finance and Family, Personal Finances Insurance, Retirement Planning, and Saving and Investing. University of Maryland 4-H also has a program called Financial Nuggets. This is a free download giving ideas on how to teach financial decision making to youth. It is designed for family involvement. Therefore families will increase their basic financial capacity and ability to make both short-and long-term decisions regarding spending and saving. It explores topics like needs verses wants, planning and managing money using a budget, how wealth is created and built, and managing risks.

Extension and 4-H want to encourage children, teens, and families to learn about personal finance, to practice what they learn and to teach others. We really want to get 4-H members and their families on the road to being money smart consumers. For more information on financial education and tools to help you become financially savvy or get out of debt, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org. 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. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact your local office.

 

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

 

The Second “H” is for HEART

The Second “H” is for HEART

These young 4-H’ers are learning all that 4-H has to offer right in their schools through 4-H school clubs and school enrichment programs.

Heart is the second of the four H’s in the 4-H Pledge: head, HEART, hands and health.  You can measure things of head, hands, and health, fairly simply.  But to take the measure of a person’s heart is a little more tricky, and it is in my estimation, their truest measure.  Your heart determines how you think, act, and respond to others.  It’s the influence of your character.

In 4-H, we strive to give young people the opportunity to build character through a number of activities. Through service learning, we teach 4-Hers to consider others before themselves.  Through democratic decision making, we teach them to be fair, even when it doesn’t mean equal.  Through club membership, they learn loyalty.  Through projects and fair entries, they learn patience with themselves and others.  Through competition, how to be humble winners and gracious losers.  And through awards and recognition, they learn the satisfaction of reaching a goal through hard work.  We write thank you letters to learn gratitude.  And above all, through teamwork, we teach that respect means being kind to others even when we don’t agree, and that all people deserve respect.

At a time when current events may leave us feeling discouraged, I encourage you to consider this instead.  Just as a farmer’s fields of green inspire hope for a fruitful harvest, whenever I look out on my own fields of green – young people in 4-H shirts of course – ready to go to work for themselves or others, I too feel hope for a bright and promising future.  These young people aren’t just learning to show hogs, shoot targets, sew, bake, or build a robot.  They are learning to care about something larger than themselves.  And that is, in fact, the promise of youth – which is exactly the stuff 4-H is made of.

For more information on how your family can learn more about 4-H, its enriching opportunities and the positive impacts made on young people, find your local UF IFAS Extension Office and contact your 4-H Agent to explore what 4-H programs are offered in your area.

Remaining Calm as the Waters Churn

Remaining Calm as the Waters Churn

Rough ocean waves during a hurricane.With the first real major storm of the 2019 hurricane season pressing down upon the entire state of Florida and the recent state of emergency declared on all 67 Florida counties by Governor DeSantis, it stands to reason that a lot of anxiety is spinning in the atmosphere along with Hurricane Dorian.

Many of us have experienced firsthand how a hurricane can disrupt our lives beyond something we could ever imagine.  Some are still living in the disruption, trying desperately to find normalcy again.  So, with the threat of Hurricane Dorian looming just a few days away, it is only natural for overwhelming feelings of anxiety, nervousness, and fear to kick in.  You may begin to see these feelings develop among your family members, especially your children.  It is important to recognize these emotions immediately and take action to help not only yourself but your children as well.

PREPARATION

Preparation is one of the most important ways you can regain control  in your situation.  In this case, preparation before Hurricane Dorian (or any future storms) will help reduce anxiety, eliminate any confusion among family members, and create clear communication for all.  Here are some helpful tips for your family on how you can be prepared and reduce anxiety in the hurricane season:

  • Have a family plan – Make it clear, keep it current, and know it well.evacuation route sign
  • Talk openly and honestly with your children about the weather situation – Make it a fun science experiment to explain hurricane patterns. Help them to understand how to track the path of the storm.  Show them where to get accurate weather information like NOAA’s website.
  • Give everyone a role and responsibility – Keep every person involved in the tasks and let them have ownership in getting the family prepared.
  • Create your hurricane preparedness kits – Be sure to check out our information on building a disaster preparedness bucket here. Remember to include your pet’s needs.
  • Share – Allow children to share feelings, concerns, stories of past experiences. Validate real concerns and allow children to come up with possible solutions or positive actions to alleviate those concerns.

We know that natural disasters can change our lives with little to no notice.  Fortunately, Hurricane Dorian is giving you a little extra time to prepare if you have not already done so. Be proactive – take action now and reduce the anxiety level in your household as Dorian approaches.  For the latest resources to help prepare and then deal with natural disasters such as Hurricane Dorian, the UF/IFAS Disaster Preparation & Recovery website offers some important information such as updated contacts, useful tips, and videos for you and your family.

We wish you and your loved ones safety this hurricane season.  Be smart, be prepared, and be confident that you are prepared this season and beyond.

Visit your  local UF IFAS County Extension Office and meet your 4-H Extension Agent for additional information on a variety of topics that can benefit you and your family.  From 4-H educational activities to ways to keep your family safe, Extension and 4-H is always available to assist you and your family.

HELPFUL RESOURCES DURING A DISASTER