If you are new to social media, it can seem a little overwhelming! Hashtags are a way to connect the social media content you post to a specific topic. They make it easier for the reader to find information around specific topics for further interest and conversation. After all- that is what social media is about- conversations! Even if you are using a private group, you can use specific 4-H hashtags and handles for your conversation. As you become more comfortable with using social media for your club, you should consider using hashtags. Both National 4-H Council and Florida 4-H have specific hashtags you can use as appropriate. This article breaks down the differences between hashtags and handles, when to use them, and includes a “cheat sheet” for 4-H specific hashtags and handles that you can use as a reference.
Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by the “#” symbol that make your post searchable. For example, if people are looking for information about 4-H poultry programs, you can add the hashtag “4HPoultry” and your post will show up in their search. As you become more comfortable with using social media for your club, you should consider using hashtags. Both National 4-H Council and Florida 4-H have specific hashtags you can use as appropriate:
Example: You have a 4-H volunteer in your club who participated in 4-H activities as a youth and is now teaching your current club a hands-on specific skill. They are doing such as great job and you want to thank them in your Facebook group. You might use these popular hashtags: #FL4HAlumni #4HGrown #FL4HVOL
You can also use hashtags for events.
Example: 4-H Residential summer camp for youth in the panhandle is at Camp Timpoochee or Camp Cherry Lake. As you advertise or post about camp, you might use: #CampCherryLake #4htimpoochee #FL4HCamps
If you are the administrator of your group, you are able to pin hashtags on your group page that group members can easily see to generate interest. This can save time, so you don’t have to search through all posts and allow you to organize topics.
Handles are the name of an individual or organization preceded by the “@” symbol. When you use a handle, it connects your post to that person or organziation’s page and can be seen by that person’s or organization’s friends or followers. Use the handle @Florida4H if you post has information relevant to the Florida 4-H population. It is always a good idea to use your county 4-H handle to connect your post to your county’s page and followers. For example, @yourcounty’sname4-H.
As we look at the ever-changing social media journey, we think how can we keep up? Honestly, we probably never do and that’s okay. Social media can be an efficient way to communicate with 4-H families and also recognize the great things 4-Hers are doing! While you should never rely on only one form of communication to connect with every age group, social media can be an effective strategy. While Facebook is not the “go-to” platform for youth, most parents and community stakeholders are on Facebook. This article covers the basics of setting up a Facebook Group for your 4-H club the right way. Facebook is an approved platform through the University of Florida to use for 4-H, but there are some guidelines that need to be followed:
1. Ask your local 4-H agent to be an administrator with you. Two sets of eyes are better than one and they can help you follow the right path for youth protection and be a resource for correct branding and logos. Also, if your 4-H agent is an administrator, it is really easy for him or her to share posts to the county 4-H page (when appropriate).
2. Create a Facebook Group instead of a Facebook Page for your club. Unlike Facebook Pages, you can change Group privacy settings and limit who can see information. Anyone can follow a Facebook Page whereas a Group can allow only approved members to see information. We must be sensitive to the personal information we share about our youth. How do I create a Facebook group? Steps for creating a FB Group
3. Follow the emblem guidelines for the proper use of University of Florida’s 4-H name and brands. UF IFAS Extension 4-H Graphics. Don’t forget that your club needs to be chartered in order to use the 4-H Name and Emblem.
4. Know who has a publicity release in your club. Youth with no photo release should not be shared in private groups and club leaders who will share information in the group must be aware of these limitations. Participation Release
5. If social media isn’t your “thing,” enlist help from another volunteer! You could also delegate responsibilities to one of the youth officers in your club to help with posting and interactions (with supervision of course).
Now you might be thinking what should a 4-H club talk about on Facebook? How will this Group be helpful? Here are a few ideas:
- Upcoming events
- Sharing of information and questions
- Advertisement for your club
- Recognize youth (if you have parental consent)
- Pictures, videos, and articles
- Challenges and surveys
- Information from the District and State programs
4-H volunteers are the true leaders who help our youth succeed by providing meaningful experiences every time programming is delivered. Our hope is that you feel empowered to incorporate positive engagement with youth by using relevant and innovative communication as technology advances. To learn more about incorporating social media for 4-H clubs or becoming a 4-H volunteer, join us next Thursday, March 18th at 6pm central/7pm eastern for our webinar on social media for 4-H clubs. You can also contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office UF IFAS Extension Office or visit Florida4-H.org.Social Media Tips
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.
- Prevent and resolve conflict
- Build trust
- Helps you learn
- 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.
|What’s your Problem?
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
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
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
Holidays can be stressful under normal circumstances, but 2020 has been far from normal! Mindfulness can help you improve your focus, manage stress, develop a positive outlook, and resolve conflict. Together, these all help you do a better job regulating emotions. Developing a mindfulness practice could be a great new year’s resolution as we look forward to 2021! Last month’s Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy webinar focused on helping volunteers develop a mindfulness practice.
There are three key features of mindfulness:
- Purpose- intentionally directing your attention rather than letting it wander
- Presence- being fully engaged and attentive at the present moment
- Acceptance- being nonjudgmental about whatever arises in the moment. In other words, not fretting over what you should be doing or what you should have done, rather focusing on what you can do in the present.
To learn specific strategies for developing a mindfulness practice around these features, watch our webinar below, or check out some of the resources linked below.
UF IFAS Extension Factsheet “Introduction to Mindfulness”
National 4-H Council’s Kids Guide to Mindfulness
Volunteers are a vital part of the Florida 4-H program, and we want to provide our volunteers with the tools needed to be a successful volunteer with your county 4-H program. 4-H Agents in the Northwest District developed a Volunteer Resource Site this year to assist volunteers in their roles. A large part of volunteer success comes from training and preparation, as well as, having access to relevant resources and materials to assist you in your role. The Volunteer Resource Site contains valuable information to prepare, train, and provide support in your role. There are three main sections to the site and you can explore what you will find in each section below. A virtual tour of the site is also available and can be accessed by clicking here.
Not a volunteer, but interested in how to become one? This section is where you want to start! There is a short video available on how to become a 4-H volunteer along with more detailed step-by-step instructions. You will also find a link to five volunteer orientation videos provided by Florida 4-H. After making contact with your county 4-H Agent to learn what volunteer roles are available in your area, come back to the volunteer site for a direct link to create your volunteer profile in 4-H Online.
Florida 4-H offers a variety of ways you can volunteer with the program. Under this section of the site you will find a short video discussing the potential volunteer roles. The Serve page also contains direct links to position descriptions of each role for you to further explore each volunteer opportunity. Each position description lists the purpose of the role, your duties and responsibilities, basic qualifications you will need, the resources we will provide you, benefits of volunteering, and the time commitment. The different types of volunteer roles can vary by county and it is recommended to contact your county 4-H agent to learn about the role opportunities in your community.
This section contains critical resources on specific topics related to your role as a volunteer. We understand that volunteers have busy schedules, therefore, each training item has the completion time listed with it. This allows 4-H volunteers to plan their trainings based on their own schedules. You will find resources on 4-H club management, events, risk management & safety, club meetings, and more in this section.
The Northwest District Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy training and resources can also be found in this section. You can review the training schedule for the Volunteer Leadership Academy, register for trainings, and watch previously recorded webinars. The Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy is offered to volunteers and those interested in becoming a volunteer. This series provides monthly webinars to learn new information and skills that will positively impact 4-H youth.
It also allows you to network with other volunteers in the NW Extension District and participants have the potential to earn a social media digital badge!
Environmental education can be a very broad topic. The study of how living organisms interact within their environment can be very complicated, especially when we factor in the human element. An Okaloosa County 4-H program Called Wildlife Outdoor Leadership Focus or (W.O.L.F.) was created to address the human dimension of natural resources. Basically, this is a youth conservation program dedicated to making participants aware of the importance of natural resources recreation and to apply the art and science of natural resource management. W.O.L.F. has three main objectives.
Objective 1 – Learn the Importance of Natural Resources
The W.O.L.F. program starts by explaining why these natural resources are important. For example, outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife viewing contribute over $25 BILLION to the state of Florida. People are very passionate about their outdoor activities. Florida hunters average nearly $3,000 per person on hunting expenditures per year! Our state has a vast stakeholder interest. Nearly 6 million people participate in wildlife/fisheries activities every year in Florida. The L in W.O.L.F. stands for leadership. Local, state, and federal leaders make important decisions every year regarding natural resource management. Teddy Roosevelt, our 26th President of the United States, established 230 million acres of public land for all to enjoy. Government still protects many of our natural resources today. Florida is home to 175 state parks.
Objective 2 – Apply Theory and Practice Conservation
W.O.L.F. participants receive hands on practice of being a conservationist. The program teaches 4-H members the science and art behind wildlife management. Florida 4-H has a virtual Wildlife Outdoor Leadership Focus (W.O.L.F.) Day Camp were youth can learn at their own pace. The camp has 5 sections: Woods and Fields, Freshwater, Saltwater, Survival, and Biologist life. Each day has videos and activities that offer a daily challenge. W.O.L.F. campers learn about wildlife/plant identification, and what specific wildlife species need to survive. Furthermore, we show youth how our actions, intentional or unintentional, affect the environment we live in. The virtual day camp also covers basic biology of mammals, birds, fish, and reptile. Participants are encouraged to go out with adult supervision and see what’s going on in the great outdoors.
The final activity is the wildlife challenge where campers must be a wildlife biologist for a day. 4-H members are given a scenario with three wildlife species that the landowner wants to manage on a piece of property. The camper must evaluate the property based on the requirements that the 3 wildlife species need in order to survive. The camper completes a wildlife management plan. They look at the best management practices given to them during the course and decide if the property is a habitat for the desired wildlife species. If it is not, they must offer a solution. For example, the landowner wishes to have more northern bobwhite quail on the property but the land is covered in mature hardwoods. The campers are expected to make a recommendation. They learned that quail need shrubs, native grasses, and forbs.
Objective 3 – Career Development and Multi-Science Approach
The W.O.L.F. program also sparks awareness about the professionals who work with our natural resources. Participants virtually meet biologists, wildlife officers, and other natural resource professionals. Each career video will explain how they help our environment. Campers will get to see what it would be like if they had their jobs.
Let 4-H introduce you or your youth to the Wildlife Outdoor Leadership Focus (W.O.L.F.) program. The program does not just stop with wildlife and fisheries science careers. The program explains many more sciences. 4-H members will learn about soil science, forestry, engineering, math, agriculture, and technology to name a few. The only thing your youth will need is a love for the outdoors. If you are interested in W.O.L.F. Camp, please reach out to your local UF/ IFAS County Extension 4-H Agent. The W.O.L.F. program will also be available as a virtual project in Okaloosa County.