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4-H Grows Leaders Through Military Partnership

michael individualThe 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 wasMichael garden 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 michael robot cropmaking 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

4-H Grows Creativity through Robotics Programs


A scribble bot was built by a team of Gadsden County 4-Hers during the “It’s Alive! Junk Drawer Robotics Day Camp.”

More than 60 youth participated in the district Junk Drawer Robotics Challenge this summer.

More than 60 youth participated in the district Junk Drawer Robotics Challenge this summer.

Everyone has a measure of creativity in them but how we express our creativity is our choice. What is creativity? I am glad you asked. Creativity is defined as the ability to make new things or think of new ideas. Creativity can be expressed in a tangible or intangible way. It is also the ability to take something known and present it or use it in a new way.  So how does Florida 4-H grow creativity in our youth? Well, you know I am glad you asked that too. One way is that Florida 4-H provides opportunities for youth to express their creativity through their project work in one of the national 4-H initiatives: 4-H Science, Healthy Living, Citizenship, and Mentoring.

One of the ways that Florida 4-H is growing creativity is through our Junk Drawer Robotics Program.  The 4-H Robotics Program is designed not only to teach youth about science and physics, but also the engineering design process.  Every good engineer is creative!  Several counties offered a day camp this summer to teach youth about forms of energy, gears, motors, switches, circuits, and pulleys.  Then, they were given everyday “junk” to build a robot and make it move or complete a task using the science concepts they had learned.  Youth worked in teams and used their creativity and curiosity to design, build, and test their robotics.  Youth came together for a district challenge in July and will also have the opportunity to compete November 14th during 4-H Day at the North Florida Fair at the Junk Drawer Robotics Contest.  Last year, more than 20 teams competed to build robots that could paint out of scrub brushes, solo cups, and toothbrushes.

Florida 4-H is sending a team of youth and volunteers to the National Maker Summit in Washington, DC November 7th.  The Maker National Youth Summit is for the creative and curious young minds of the next generation of innovators. Participants make what they can with a variety of materials from a range of fields, utilizing their resourcefulness and creativity.  That same weekend, a 4-H Tech Wizards Team will be hosting a SeaPerch Challenge during the 4-H Marine Ecology EventSeaPerch is an underwater remote controlled robotic platform that Florida 4-Hers can participate in.   Engaging in Florida 4-H from the county to state levels opens an array of opportunities for creative expression via leadership roles, volunteer service, public speaking, teaching, photography, talent showcase, culinary arts, and many other areas. Learn more about opportunities for youth on our webpage or watch this month’s Make a Difference Monday volunteer training on how to Navigate 4-H Events and Activities. 

There are many opportunities with Florida 4-H for creativity expression but did you know many youth will not have the chance. Why, you ask? I am definitely glad you did. We need more adults who will be committed to the positive youth development process that happens with 4-H to become a club volunteer. Working with the local 4-H Agent as part of the leadership team, you will find many avenues as well for creativity expression and growth as you help local youth; “Make their Best Better.”  Learn more about our volunteer opportunities with Florida 4-H: or contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office.

Counselors practices leadership skills by leading teambuilding activities at robotics day camps

Counselors practices leadership skills by leading teambuilding activities at robotics day camps