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Grilling for Success: The Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest

Grilling for Success: The Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest

Youth grilling

A 2018 NW District 4-H Tailgating Contest participant prepares to grill

Imagine the smell of a charcoal grill on a breezy summer day. A neighbor is grilling in their backyard, and you wish you were invited over for dinner.  Would it be even better if it was your child or grandchild doing the grilling for you?

Fire up Your Grill!

4-H members have been firing up their charcoal grills  and participating in the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest since 2016. Designed to promote the use of animal protein in the diet, youth learn the art and science of safely preparing beef, pork, poultry, and seafood in an outdoor setting providing opportunities for 4-H youth to develop life skills, including decision making and healthy lifestyle choices.

In the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest, youth grill two, 6-8 ounce portions of one of the following proteins:

  • beef
  • pork
  • poultry – turkey breast or half chicken
  • shrimp – fresh, headless and de-veined

While youth are grilling, judges observe food and fire safety actions and ask questions about the recipe and safety knowledge. A team of judges evaluates the cooked product by taste testing and scoring each entry.

4-H Tailgating District Contest

After youth compete at county contests or participate in day camps, they can register for the district contest. There are four district contests hosted throughout the state including our Northwest District contest held at the Washington County Ag Center on July 20, 2019.  Cash prizes at the district level are awarded in each protein category – 1st place $400, 2nd place $250, 3rd place $100 and 4th place $50.

Winn Dixie, National Beef and Sonny's logos

Scholarships and prizes are awarded thanks to these sponsors.

4-H Tailgating State Contest

The top two winners from each protein are then eligible to compete in the state contest held at the University of Florida on September 28, 2019. For the state contest, the 1st place winner in each protein area receives a $1,500 college scholarship and the 2nd place winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship.

Since the Florida 4-H Tailgating contest began in 2016, over $63,000 in scholarship money has been awarded to Florida 4-H members made possible by sponsorships from Winn-Dixie, National Beef, and Sonny’s.

Learn More at a Tailgating Day Camp

Last summer, over 100 youth attended day camps to learn about identifying cuts of meat, preventing food cross contamination and food-borne illnesses, grilling techniques, food safety and fire safety.  Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office to find a grilling day camp near you so you can participate in the 2019 Northwest District 4-H Tailgating Contest!  Follow us on Facebook to see event details!

Resources

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

Making Forever Memories at 4-H Summer Camp

Making friends at 4-H Camp in the early 1990’s (Melanie Taylor, Gulf County 4-H Agent, on right)

4-H Summer Camp preparations are in full swing all over the state. As a 4-H agent preparing for our week of county  4-H camp, my days are busy with phone calls and emails from parents, teen counselor training, adult volunteer screenings, paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork. Although it’s busy time for me as a 4-H agent, it also allows me to reflect why I chose this career path and why there is a sense of nostalgia as I prepare for 4-H camp.

Camp Memories

I grew up in Virginia and attended 4-H camp every year from age 9-18.  I was a camper that grew into a counselor-in-training and then a full-fledged counselor. Those weeks of 4-H camp were filled with hot days and warm nights, but it was worth it all for the memories I’ll have for a lifetime.  I can still smell the cafeteria food and hear the sounds in the gymnasium as kids played basketball and pounded at their leather-craft projects. I still get the chills when I think about our entire camp singing around the campfire circle and patiently waiting for a canoe, filled with camp staff, to land on the lakes edge.  The staff would enter the campfire circle carrying the flame and ceremoniously light the fire.  I’m still connected with my 4-H camp friends through social media and/or as close friends, and we continue to share our old, blurry camp pictures from the 1990’s each year on Facebook.

4-H Flag raised

Memories to Last a Lifetime…

This is why I work hard to prepare camp for my county campers and teen counselors – I want to create similar memories for them. In 10, 20 or 30 years from now, I want them to think back on the fun moments they experienced in the Florida 4-H camping program. I want them to form friendships and make camp connections for a lifetime, whether it’s learning to kayak, fish, making arts and crafts, cooking over a campfire, singing camp songs and much more.

With all of this said, I hope you as parents will consider giving your child(ren) these special moments.  The days are long, but fun, and nights are filled with campfires and hanging out with friends. When they arrive home on Friday, they’ll be exhausted but so excited to share all of the camp songs with you (prepare yourself for lots of loud, enthusiastic singing).  They’ll have new friends they want you to meet and tell you camp stories they’ll always cherish.

When is Your County Camping?

In northwest Florida, there are two 4-H Camps:
4-H Camp Timpoochee in Niceville and 4-H Camp Cherry Lake in Madison.
Each county in these camping districts has one week of camp each summer.  Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office now
to find out the details and register your child for a week of fun and memories!

Purple Up! for Military Kids

Child hugging his military parent

Purple Up! on Friday, April 12th

Most people think of the color green when they think of 4-H, but on Friday April 12, 2019, 4-H youth and volunteers in Florida will Purple Up! to show support for our military kids and families.  Join us in showing support and celebrate our young heroes! Participation in the 10th annual Purple Up! day is easy – wearing purple and take photos to share on social media using #fl4h and #purpleup.

Why Purple Up?
Military youth have unique challenges. Imagine how you would feel about having long and repeated separations from your parent.  Imagine your mom or dad missing important events like birthdays, holidays, and school events. How would you feel about frequent relocation or moves, having to make new friends, get familiar with new schools, and find new 4-H clubs and teams to join? These are all common experiences for military youth!

Many military children take these changes in stride, but it’s also hard to rebuilding a world every time they move. 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.

Why the Color Purple?
Purple symbolizes all branches of the military and is the combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red and Navy blue.  By wearing purple and sharing in a visible way, you can show support and thank military children for their strength and sacrifices.

Did You Know?
Florida has the fifth highest number of school-age military children in the country according to the Department of Defense Manpower Data Center. We also have over 50,000 active and reserve military members whose families worry that they are in harm’s way when they deploy.

Be creative….the goal is for military youth to see the support in their school, youth groups, and the community! If you don’t have or own a purple shirt, wear a purple ribbon, tie or headband. Just show your support and let our youth know we care about them!  Can’t make the Purple Up! date? Then do something another day in April, the Month of the Military Child!

Remember, take pictures of your group wearing purple and share them on social media using #fl4h and #purpleup.
This allows us to:

  • collectively honor military children and their families
  • let military kids see the support of their community
  • thank military kids for their commitment and sacrifice

For more information on Purple Up!, contact Dr. Paula M. Davis at UF/IFAS Extension Bay County at 850-784-6105.

For more information on 4-H in your county, follow us on Facebook, and contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.

By Paula Davis, Janet Psikogios and Jennifer Simms

Wildflower Seed Bombs: For those who garden AND those who don’t!

Two youth make wildflower seed bombs.

Wildflower seed bombs are a great indoor or outdoor project with unlimited potential for learning.

Wildflower seed bombs are the perfect project for kids itching to get outside.  Even if you don’t have a green thumb or you don’t have outdoor space or the weather isn’t cooperating, you can make seed bombs that will help beautify roadsides, vacant areas and neighborhoods.

Give Them a Toss!

These little beauties don’t get their name from any explosive properties but from the fun you have “launching” them around your yard or neighborhood. As you toss them into places that  aren’t frequently mowed, you beautify your neighborhood and provide an invaluable food sources for native Florida pollinators like bees, wasps, butterflies, and more.

Even though you may be more fond of some pollinators than others, there’s no doubt we need them all. Their pollination services are critical to fruit development in many of our fruiting crops. So if you like squash, cucumbers, melons, almonds and so much more, here’s what you can do to help:

Gather Your Materials

  • Air-dry clay
  • Wildflower seeds
  • Potting Soil

Make Your Seed Bombs

  1. Pinch off a small amount of air-dry clay – enough to make a ball about the size of a bouncy ball or about 1″ diameter.
  2. Work equal parts seeds and soil into the clay and form it into a ball.
    Amounts really are up to you. More seeds = more flowers.
    But, too much soil will keep the ball from holding it’s shape. If this happens, add more clay and either have a bigger bomb, or divide it into two smaller bombs.
  3. Store them in a cool dry place and let them dry out completely in an air-tight container until you’re ready to spread some wildflower cheer.
  4. Now for the fun part!  Toss them where you want flowers to grow.

Things to Consider…

  • The air-dry clay acts as a binder only. It’s natural, non-toxic, and when wet, it will soften and allow the seeds to grow.
  • Before storing in an airtight container, allow your seed bombs out to dry completely.  Even a little moisture will allow the seeds to sprout.
  • Be careful when throwing your seed bombs.
    1. Don’t hit people, animals, or other anything else with them – just the ground.
    2. Throw them where areas don’t get mowed very much.  Some people throw them out along roadways or in abandoned lots. If these places are mowed regularly, they won’t last long if they even get to bloom.
    3. Get permission if you’re throwing them in public places.

Resources

Gardening is just one of the many Florida 4-H programs.  To see what programs are available in your county, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office, or contact your 4-H Agent about starting a gardening program in your county.