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.
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.
April is the Month of The Military Child! When we think of honoring our military, we often think of Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Did you know there is also a time identified to honor our youngest heroes, military children? Since 1986, April has been designated Month of the Military Child. This allows us to honor military children and their families for their commitment and sacrifice. In Florida, we have over 94K active and reserve military members whose families worry that they are in harm’s way when they deploy. Most people think of the color green when they think of 4-H, but on April 21st, 4-H youth and volunteers in Florida and Nationally will be sporting the color purple to show support for our military families.
Here locally we want you to join us in showing your support and to celebrate our young heroes! Participate in the 7th annual Purple Up! For Military Kids. Wear purple on Friday, April 21st, as a visible way to show support and thank military children for their strength and sacrifices. Why purple? Purple is the color that symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is the combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red and Navy blue.
The goal is for our military youth to see the support of their community. Please join us in honoring these young heroes as we Purple Up! For Military Kids on April 21st! 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, headband etc. Just show your support and let our youth know we care about them! Can’t make the 21st ? Then do something another day in April. We would like to encourage you to take pictures of your group wearing purple and share them on social media using #fl4h, #purpleup.
4-H youth participate in service projects at the club, county, district and state levels throughout the year. As adults, 4-H youth are more civically active.
Each year, teens across the Florida panhandle convene for a weekend to practice leadership skills, learn workforce skills and participate in service to their communities. This years’ event will be February 24-26th at 4-H Camp Timpoochee. Teens plan and lead the weekend retreat. Last year, teens cut out and donated more than 200 pairs of shoes for Sole Hope, an organization that provides shoes for children in Africa in order to prevent foot related diseases. This year, the project they chose was to make Chemo Kits for cancer patients. Over the next six weeks, teens will be collecting items for the kits and will bring them to the retreat to package them up. Each county will be partnering with local hospitals and hospice groups to distribute the kits.
We are asking clubs, alumni and other 4-H supporters to please donate items for the kits so that we can serve as many cancer patients as possible. You can drop the items off at our local 4-H Extension Office. Here’s a list of items that are needed:
- Coloring books (youth and adult)
- Crayons/ colored
- Beanies/ hats
- Water bottles
- Stuffed animals
- Slipper socks
Please consider supporting this district-wide service project! For more information, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.
The month of April provides an opportunity to recognize and honor the service of our youngest heroes, military children. Since 1986, April has been designated Month of the Military Child. This allows us to acknowledge the significant role military youth play in our communities and honor them for their commitment and sacrifice. They are resilient and take pride in their service to our Country. They deserve our appreciation and support.
I am so excited to introduce you to one of our 4-H grown military youth, Michael. He began as a Bay County 4-H member as a summer camper three years ago. Michael then became involved with the 4-H club programs on base through the 4-H Torch Leadership Club. He serves as a peer mentor to other military youth in the base school age program. His work with younger youth includes helping them design, plant, and maintain a garden at their youth center. Assisting with homework and school struggles. Michael also participates in the 4-H Archery Program. In February, he was nominated as “Teen of the Month”. At camp this year, he is looking forward to serving as a counselor-in-training. Michael has adopted a quarterly service project using cooking skills he acquired from the 4-H foods and nutrition project to prepare and serve food to the single military members. He and his club are currently perfecting their entrepreneurial skills while working on a service project to support local veterans. He is also on the school track team. Michael is a phenomenal youth with a heart of gold and passion for helping others. He is a well-rounded young man that is very involved in 4-H. He exemplifies the 4 H’s – Head, Hands, Heart and Health. One of his club leaders, Ms. Heather said he really shows an interest in the younger youth and takes his role as a peer mentor seriously. She relayed a story of Michael taking extra time from his schedule to help a youth he was mentoring prepare for an upcoming test. His mentee was struggling to understand the material that was going to be tested on the next day, so extra time was needed reviewing the material.
When I ask Michael what he felt he was getting out of being a 4-H member at the youth center and at camp, he responded “I feel that for the last few years since I have been in 4-H, I have become more outgoing, confident and experienced in so many ways. If not for 4-H, I might still be sitting in my room all day playing video games. I especially like helping others whenever I can whether it’s at the Youth Center or at Summer Camp. So to me, 4-H is an amazing program that has been a positive influence in my life and in making me the person I am today.”
If you are a teen and want to learn more about how you can volunteer in your own county, please contact your local extension agent. Volunteering is a time investment that will pay you back exponentially through the growth you see in the youth and program you’re affiliated with. Volunteers come in all forms from peer mentors, camp counselors, to committee members. Follow the links below to see how you can help 4-H expand our capacity to reach more youth, more families, and more communities through utilizing your skills, your knowledge, and your story! #trueleaders #4hgrows
Grow Card Supplies and products
4-H literally got its start with gardening. The very first 4-H Clubs focused on growing tomatoes and corn for boys and canning for girls. Many youth and volunteers still enjoy gardening projects today. One great curricula that is used is the Junior Master Gardening Program. This program allows youth to enhance their life using gardening as the spark of interest. Gardening enriches youth’s lives, promotes good health, gives a sense of environmental awareness and saves money.
One of the activities I enjoy doing with youth combines gardening with recycling and crafting. As a group we will make our own paper grow cards or ornaments that have seeds embedded in them. Once the cards are dry, we deliver them as a service project. The cards are fun and inexpensive to make and are a perfect activity for your next club meeting! Try making them as valentines for Valentines Day. For beginners, we recommend growing tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, basil, chives, or parsley. Not into vegies? Try starting marigolds, cosmos, sunflowers, zinnias, pansies, or petunias.
Download our detailed factsheet with photos and directions. This activity is great for any occasion when you need a card or small gift. You can use as party favors by making them into ornaments using raffia to hang them from a tree or gift bag. You can take them to a nursing home, veterans center, hospital or other site as a service project for your club. Just be sure to share with the individual that they need to plant your card or ornament. It is a great way to help youth share their joy of gardening with others.
Other Extension gardening resources include:
• Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide
If you have a green thumb, consider going “totally green” as a 4-H gardening volunteer! 4-H needs caring adults like you to share their knowledge and passion for gardening with the next generation. Through the 4-H gardening project, youth not only learn gardening knowledge and skills, they also learn responsibility, teamwork, and other life skills that will help them grow up to be compassionate and competent citizens. To get involved, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office, or visit Florida 4-H.