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4-H Day of Service- Peanut Butter Anyone?

Did you know that the Saturday of National 4-H Week is the 4-H Day of Service?  4-H Clubs across the nation will be celebrating National 4-H Week with “hands to larger service.”  Service is a huge part of the 4-H program (one of the “H”s”) and also helps teach youth compassion for others.  Service is also a requirement in order to maintain a 4-H club charter.

Younger youth typically start out with community service.  Community service is volunteering in your community.  This is usually done through food drives, such as the Peanut Butter Challenge, or volunteering at an animal shelter, collecting coats or blankets for those in need, or a toy drive during the holidays.  If you are looking for an easy but impactful service project for your club, I would encourage you to participate in the Peanut Butter Challenge.  Each county in the panhandle is collecting jars of peanut butter to donate to local food pantries.  The Florida Peanut Producers will match the donation of the county that collects the most peanut butter.  Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office for more info or refer to this flyer.

Older youth are encouraged to move from community service to service learning.  What’s the difference? Service-Learning is more than a “one-shot deal.”  Instead of spending a day or few hours helping someone, youth identify a need, and develop a strategy to address it.  It also incorporates reflection and celebration.  Service-Learning projects take community service to the next level by emphasizing both service and learning and is more meaningful for older youth.


  • Community Service – Youth prepare and serve a meal at a local homeless shelter.
  • Service-Learning – Youth research homelessness in their community and contact local homeless shelters to learn about the types of services they provide.  Youth then decide together on a service project that will support this community need.  After planning and completing the service project, youth reflect upon both the Service-Learning process and the service project.

Did you know Florida 4-H has a state service project selected by our youth executive board?  Each year the State Project Committee of the Executive Board recommends activities in which 4-Her’s can participate that will carry out the state wide community service project of the Florida 4-H Council. This year, the committee decided that the theme for 2017-2019 will be “Living In Florida’s Environment (LIFE)”. This project is focused on creating a greener tomorrow by hosting beach cleanups, planting trees, and participating in citizen science activities.

Youth can receive recognition for their service efforts at 4-H University.  It is also a requirement for the District 4-H Spirit Stick Awards.  The State Project Committee encourages all youth to participate in at least one state project that is associated with LIFE.  The committee would also like to recognize the youth that do participate in these projects. Once a project is completed, please record it on the project report-back sheet found in the tool kit below. These record sheets will need to be submitted to Grace Carter by July 3, 2018. The committee would appreciate if pictures were included in these reports.

The report form can be found in the LIFE Service Project Guide.

Project Achievement

Bronze: Youth who complete 1 service project will receive a bronze certificate of completion.
Silver: Youth who complete 2 service projects will receive a silver certificate of completion.
Gold: Youth who complete 3-4 service projects will receive a gold certificate of completion
and will also receive recognition at 4-H University 2018.
Emerald: Youth who complete 5 or more service projects will receive an emerald certificate
of completion and will also receive recognition at 4-H University 2018.

2017 National Youth Science Day

As part of National 4-H Week, 4-H’ers participate in 4 H National Youth Science Day (NYSD), the world’s largest youth-led science experiment. This year’s 4 H NYSD event will take place on October 4. The 2017 4‑H National Youth Science Day Challenge is called Incredible Wearables!  This year’s challenge was developed by University of Nebraska-Lincoln and incorporates the fast-evolving field of wearable technology, teaching kids to not only use technology but to create it and understand how it works.

From watches and eyewear to fashion and virtual reality headsets, wearable technologies are fast becoming the must-have accessory for forward-thinking people around the world. Wearable technologies didn’t start out as trendy however – one of the world’s first wearable technologies was the hearing aid! Wearable technologies are now used in industries around the globe, from education and sports, to health, fashion, entertainment, transportation and communication. In this year’s challenge, youth use the engineering design process to build a prototype wearable technology that will gather data to help solve a real-world problem. They will design and build their own low-cost wearable health monitor following the engineering design process. This process includes defining the problem, designing and building prototypes (solutions) then systematically testing and evaluating enabling them to redesign for optimization of wearability and functionality.

During the innovative, hands-on project, these future engineers must work together to design, build and refine a wearable health-tracking device that is easy-to-use and aesthetically appealing. In fact, youth from Bay County have been training with their adult leaders to teach this challenge to other youth in their community on National Youth Science Day. Jason Scott, from Scott Innovative Solutions and an engineer at NSA PC, teamed up with the Bay County 4-H Agent to teach youth and adult partner teams about this project enabling them to be able to share their knowledge with others on October 4. When participants will attempt to solve the problem of people not staying active enough to lead healthy lives. In fact, youth will build a prototype fitness tracking device that could ultimately be marketed and sold to consumers to positively affect fitness behaviors.

After completing the challenge youth will have had an experience of using the engineering design process to build a device to help them monitor their health so they can gather data to make better decisions. They will understand more about how wearable technologies like FitBits, Smartwatches and other wearable devices are made.

The field of wearable technologies continues to grow in both quantity and quality. New technologies are being developed and put on the market on a regular basis, including virtual reality and augmented reality devices, clothing and accessories, as well as health monitoring devices. The future of wearable technologies is limited only by the imaginations of those designing them. By studying STEM and participating in this National Youth Science Day Experiment, youth could use technologies to develop products and mechanisms we haven’t even thought of, but definitely desire! To find out more information about other 4-H programs like this or volunteer your time to work with youth, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit

Comparing device to prototype


4-H in October

October is an exciting month for 4-H – we have some great things happening. First, it includes National 4 H Week, October 1-7. This year during National 4-H Week, The Northwest district is proud to celebrate the #TrueLeaders that make our community great. Every child deserves to be recognized for the great things they are doing. Help us celebrate #TrueLeaders during National 4-H Week by shouting out your favorite 4-H’er. #TrueLeaders lead by example, empowering their peers and inspiring communities. 4-H’ers, show your pride this National 4-H Week! Share photos of how youth are stepping up as #TrueLeaders in your county.

As part of National 4-H Week, 4-H’ers participate in 4 H National Youth Science Day (NYSD), the world’s largest youth-led science experiment. This year’s 4 H NYSD event will take place on October 4.

Our local Tractor Supply Company will be supporting 4-H clubs October 4-15 with their Paper Clover Campaign, this is a national in-store fundraiser that benefits state and local 4-H programs. Tractor Supply invites friends and family to support 4-H by donating $1 at store checkouts for scholarships that send local kids to 4-H camp and other 4-H leadership experiences.

October also represent a time when our local tailgating youth will advance to the state finals. The northwest district will have 8 youth advancing to the state competition October 14.

October also means that it is fair time! You will be able to view our 2017 4-H youth exhibits across the Panhandle at local fairs and rodeos!

Central Panhandle Fair – October 2 -7
Art in the Garden Festival at the UF IFAS Research Center in Quincy- October 7th
Bonifay Rodeo – October 5-7
Walton County Fair – October 9-14
Panhandle Youth Expo– October 11th-14th
Pensacola Interstate Fair – October 19-24
North Florida Fair – November 2-12

Local 4-H youth will exhibit their artwork, plants and animals that they have been caring for this past year. Youth exhibits and plants are judged. Youth receive ribbon awards using the Danish judging system at county and regional fairs. This means that exhibits are judged against a “standard” rather than against other exhibits. For example, a painting that has been created by a 4-H’er is not compared to other paintings. Rather, it is judged according to the criteria of standards for paintings. A blue ribbon means that the exhibit meets high standards and good quality work is shown.

October and November are busy months in 4-H. To find out more information about other 4-H programs like this or volunteer your time to work with youth, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit

4-H Grows Responsibility

Noah, a Holmes County 4-H member, is learning responsibility through the 4-H Chick Chain project.

Noah, a Holmes County 4-H member, is learning responsibility through the 4-H Chick Chain project.

Regardless of the age-old debate, “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” one thing is certain- raising chickens is a big responsibility. One of the newest and most creative ways that some of our Florida 4-Hers are learning the importance of being responsible is through the 4-H Chick Chain pilot program.

This year, six counties in the Florida Panhandle partnered with Alabama 4-H to offer the Chick Chain program. The goal of this project is to help youth learn life and workforce skills while learning how to raise and show chickens. Thirty-six Florida 4-H members chose to take on the responsibility of raising 18, two-day old chicks from May through October. Over the course of the program, youth participated in workshops to learn how to care for their chicks, keep records of their project, and how to prepare their animals for a show. This past Saturday marked the culminating event of the project when youth participated in a show and auction in Ozark, AL. During this event, youth competed in a showmanship competition, record book competition, and poultry quiz. All three events counted towards their overall score.

Members also had a short course in entrepreneurship- they were required to meet with potential buyers and market their hens. Life skills were clearly present in every aspect of the 4-H Chick Chain program which aided youth in the further development of not only responsibility but also confidence, capability, and compassion.  When asked about his experiment, Noah, a Holmes County 4-Her shared:

“Chick Chain is a great opportunity to learn about responsibility and respect for other people and animals. You get to raise 18 of your very own chickens for a couple months and then get to take them  to a show with your fellow 4Her’s to compete for ribbons and money. You also learn about proper sportsmanship.  I love it!”

Based on participant’s feedback, we will be expanding the pilot next year and making some exciting programmatic changes. Holmes County 4-H parent and club leader, Jewellyn Owens, was instrumental in developing the Chick Chain pilot for Florida because she saw the potential this program had to help youth learn valuable life skills while increasing their knowledge about agriculture. Jewellyn shares:

“My family Loves Chick Chain. It is a great program for children wanting to do a 4-H livestock program but their parents don’t feel they are ready yet or can’t afford the cost of the larger livestock. Chick Chain has taught my children respect, sportsmanship, caring for another living creature and responsibility. My children love seeing their chicks grow from 2 day chicks to full grown egg laying chickens. Best part is getting to eat their chicken’s eggs. I also feel it teaches them other aspects of life like record keeping, writing, leadership skills, financial responsibility all things that will help them years down the road.”

4-Hers spent 6 weeks learning how to care for their chicks, biosecurity, showmanship, and recordkeeping.

4-Hers spent 6 weeks learning how to care for their chicks, biosecurity, showmanship, and recordkeeping.

If you would like to help 4-H grow responsibility in your community (through this program or others) consider becoming a 4-H volunteer. For more information about becoming a volunteer, or to find out about next year’s 4-H Chick Chain program, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office. We are also looking for sponsors to help expand this program.

For more information, check out:

4-H Grows Character

IMG_1514Growing up, we lived on a farm. At the age of 8, and not weighing much more than 50 pounds, my dad called me outside to a relatively small pen that he had fenced off the weekend before. He taught ag, so farming was more of a hobby for us, but this was something new. I noticed my grandpa’s old beat up blue horse trailer backed to the pen’s gate. I can remember my dad helping me climb onto the wheel well of the trailer and peek through the slats to see two yearling steers. One black and one red and white. “Which one do you want?” he asked. At the time I didn’t know that the judge always picks the black cow to win, in fact, I didn’t know there were any judges involved at all. I didn’t know why these cows were at our house about to go into a special pen. All I knew was that red cow was beautiful, and that’s the one I chose. My dad laughed and said, “He’s a haus.” So that became his name.

As it turns out, Haus was a show steer. With my dad’s help I spent a lot of cold, dark evenings after school walking that steer with fingers so numb I thought they’d break off if he jerked too hard. I learned to groom him. I learned to lead him. I learned how to feed him properly. And I learned that extra hoses and an automatic waterer were well worth the investment the next year when it cut down on the number of trips I had to make with cumbersome, sloshing, five gallon buckets of water to make sure the cows didn’t go thirsty.

I quickly fell in love with the whole idea of showing cattle, and by the Fed Cattle Show, Haus was well over 1,500 lbs. Incidentally, I hadn’t gained an ounce – in retrospect it might have had something to do with hauling those buckets of feed and water. However, I wasn’t scared. You see, as Haus grew, so did I. Not physically as I mentioned before, but my skill had grown, and so had my confidence.

For those of you who don’t know, showing cattle isn’t like other 4-H competitions where you are placed in age categories. The classes are based on animal weight in a steer show. So I walked in the ring to show with people more than twice my age. I didn’t know any better. As luck would have it, Haus not only placed first in his class, but he placed 2nd in the show as Reserve Grand Champion behind the steer everyone said was the clear favorite. What they couldn’t believe was that an eight year girl with less than a year of show experience and a white-faced red cow had beaten a sixteen year old veteran pro with a pure bread black Angus on her lead.  Apparently it was a bit of a toss up between her steer and mine as to which would take the Reserve Champion spot.  And as I was repeatedly told, when it’s close, the black cow always wins – no matter who’s on the lead.

From this experience I learned that it didn’t matter my age or size, I could do anything. The confidence I gained from this experience sparked a courage in me that pushed me to become a champion in poultry, livestock, and land judging, in public speaking, and in showing rabbits, chickens and hogs as well.   I used each of those experiences to fuel countless other successes in life.  And each time I was further building that courage.  The same courage that gave me the strength of character to be honest, to show integrity when it’s not easy, and to care for others around me.  It gave me the strength of character to make wise choices even when they were widely unpopular and to stand alone when it would have been easier to follow the crowd.

It certainly hasn’t always been easy. And I’ve failed a time or two. But, I continue to grow – much like the 4-H motto suggests, “To Make the Best Better”. I will be forever grateful to my mom and dad for choosing 4-H as the vehicle to start my lifelong journey toward an upstanding character. Through them and their support and guidance I came in contact with agents, volunteers, and friends from other clubs and counties who have helped me grow.  Now it’s my turn and yours to inspire the next generation. How will you empower youth in your community to grow through 4-H? 4-H offers a wide range of opportunities for youth and adults- everything from animal science to aerospace.  To volunteer or enroll a child in 4-H, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit   It’s never too late to start growing character and make a positive difference!

It All Began with Ag…

4-H Began with agriculture in 1902 and over the past 100 years  has grown to help youth learn about everything from agriculture to aerospace.

4-H began with agriculture in 1902 and over the past 100 years has grown to help youth learn about everything from agriculture to aerospace.

4-H began with the seed of an idea. In 1902, America needed folks to embrace new advances in agriculture. But leaders with open minds, strong hearts and willing hands weren’t in abundance. Luckily, kids were. By empowering the next generation to lead, 4-H took root, and grew. 4-H grew kids who are confident and strong; who are curious enough to question and capable enough to find the answer. We grew kids who stick to a job until the job gets done; who know how to work with others and most importantly, how to lead.

Over the century, 4-H has kept right on growing. We grew out of the farms and into the towns, suburbs, and cities. Today, 4-H exists anywhere curiosity roams and confidence thrives; anywhere technology can be advanced and achievement is valued. 4-H is anywhere positive change is possible and giving back moves entire communities forward.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that we began with farming. After all, true leaders aren’t born- they’re grown. Next week (October 4th-10th) marks National 4-H Week. This year, to celebrate, our blog will highlight how 4-H is growing Confidence, Curiosity, Compassion, Character, and Responsibility by sharing the stories of real Florida panhandle 4-H members, volunteers, and alumni. We hope that you will enjoy this series and that you will be inspired to make a difference in your community by sharing your skills, talents, and passions with other 4-H youth and volunteers. We hope you are inspired to cultivate 4-H so that it can keep right on growing for the next 100 years! For more information about 4-H, visit or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.