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Hitting the Mark – 4-H Shooting Sports Volunteers Ready to Lead!

4-H Volunteers learn and practice the pre-shot routine so they can teach it to their youth.

4-H Volunteers learn and practice the archery pre-shot routine so they can teach it to their youth. Photo: Julie P. Dillard

Ready to Lead

Sixteen 4-H volunteers joined ranks with one of Florida 4-H’s largest projects by earning their Level One Shooting Sports Instructor certification September 8.  Training participants included 4-H volunteers and UF/IFAS Extension staff from Escambia, Holmes, Jefferson, Marion, Wakulla, Walton, Union and Alachua counties.  What sets 4-H instructor training apart from other shooting sports trainings is the focus on youth life skills and positive youth development as opposed to focusing only on skill mastery.

About Florida 4-H Shooting Sports 

The 4-H Shooting Sports Program teaches young people safe and responsible use of firearms, principles of archery and hunting basics.  Lifelong skill development is one of the main benefits of involvement in the 4-H Shooting Sports Program and applies to both youth and adults involved in the program.  Specifically, the 4-H Shooting Sports Program is designed to:

  • Provide youth proper training in the use of firearms, archery equipment, and other areas of shooting sports.
  • Provide thorough instruction in shooting sports safety.
  • Develop life skills such as self-confidence, personal discipline, responsibility, and sportsmanship
  • Create an appreciation and understanding of natural resources and their wise use.
  • Provide volunteer instructors safe and proper instructional techniques.
  • Show volunteer leaders how to plan and manage 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs.  (Culen et al, 2018).

Resources for Success

Establishing eye dominance is one of the first tasks of new member.

Establishing eye dominance is one of the first tasks of new member. Photo: Julie P. Dillard

It’s important to equip agents, volunteers and youth with the tools they need to succeed in the Florida 4-H Shooting .  To assist you in organizing the county shooting sports program, here are some resources from the 4-H State Shooting Sports Committee and Environmental Sciences Action Team:

State Match Information, Rules and Risk Management

Youth Project Books

Getting Organized

To learn more about your county shooting sports program, contact your local 4-H agent.

Wakulla 4-H Shooting Sports Club Leader, David Pienta, takes aim during shotgun instruction.  Volunteers practice peer teaching to get ready to teach 4-H youth.

 

4-H Volunteer Aiming For Success – Randy Adams

4-H Volunteer Aiming For Success – Randy Adams

April is a month of many celebrations.  Included in April’s celebrations is National Volunteer Appreciation Week.  Our aim this month is to recognize some of the many dedicated 4-H volunteers that impact our youth in so many different ways. From robotics to agriculture, we have numerous outstanding volunteers that dedicate many hours and are rewarded with the joys of the impacts they make to our future leaders.

OUR AIM

4-H Shooting Sports is one of the largest youth development programs in the United States.  Our aim is for certified volunteer instructors to teach young people to learn responsibility, self-confidence, and leadership abilities through the skills and disciplines of shooting sports such as archery.  Though arrows are unpredictable and independent from the bow, archers depend on the bow to be the unchanging factor in an otherwise deliberate sport. Aim, draw and stance can determine the trajectory of each shot, but the bow always remains the constant, the foundation in the sport.

THE BOW

As a 4-H Agent, one can parallel archery to life as a 4-Her.  As unpredictable as an arrow can be, it depends on the archer and the bow to make the shot.  Life guides 4-Hers to try new things and take exciting adventures, but they still want and need a positive adult role model to rely on and guide them. Everyone needs a “bow,” that someone they can count on to be consistent in their lives.  This is the relationship between a 4-Her and his or her 4-H volunteers; a sturdy foundation that fosters independence, confidence, and mastery of skills.

Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant.

                                                                                                                                             – Nigerian Proverb

RANDY ADAMS

Meet Randy Adams, a Holmes County 4-H Volunteer, certified 4-H Archery Instructor, Club Leader for the past 4 years, and “archery bow” for many a 4-Her.  Mr. Randy has been working with his 4-H club, the Dead Center Archery Club, on the safe and responsible use of the bow and arrow and believes he is passing on skills that some kids would not have the opportunity to learn otherwise.  He leads his club by example, humor, and with ease.  When asked what he found most challenging about volunteering, Mr. Randy stated having the extra energy to keep up with the kids in the afternoon!

Mr. Randy is an inspiration to his community and his 4-H family.  Not letting some of his own health challenges stop him from his passion to help others, give back to his community and his love for archery and turkey hunting, he has pressed on to ensure that he teaches his hunting and archery skills, lead club meetings, and raise funds to assist youth to attend their first 4-H archery competitions and helped a 4-H family when illness struck.

A true example of 4-H leadership through the four H’s of Head, Heart, Hands, and Health, Mr. Randy teaches local youth many skills in his 4-H archery club.  He reminds us that some of the greatest lessons learned in life are the simple ones – Life is not about winning, it is about succeeding.  It is about a volunteer helping a 4-Her gain the courage to take a first shot and hitting the target.

To find out how you could impact our youth as a volunteer in your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or for more information about programs like 4-H shooting sports, please visit http://florida4h.org.

http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/shootingsports/

http://florida4h.org/programs/Shooting_Sports.pdf

http://www.4-hshootingsports.org/

From Learning to Leading: Jerrett Kandzer, a True Leader

4-H Alumnus Jerrett Kandzer with his agent, Niki Crawson.

As a 4-H Agent, one remembers many of their “firsts” on the job, i.e., their first day, their first fair, their first 4-H club meetings, etc.  For me in Holmes County 4-H, I was hired in the midst of a reorganization phase within the program.  I clearly remember meeting Jerrett Kandzer one of my first days on the job in 2007, a reserved yet quick-to-smile farm boy who seemed to be doing a good job of holding in the excitement of asking me 101 questions as his new 4-H Agent. He, along with his sister and parents, met with me to discuss re-establishing a 4-H archery club in our county.  Excited to have volunteers and youth interested in starting an archery club again, I couldn’t wait to get started.  That very next week, we all set a date for our first club meeting.  Jerrett and I still laugh today about the day of our first club meeting when we had to count me, the 4-H Agent, as the fifth member in attendance so that we did not have to cancel our first club meeting!  However, thanks to Jerrett’s perseverance and leadership as a youth nine years ago when starting the Dead Centers 4-H Archery Club in Holmes County, we now have over 65 4-H members in our archery program alone!  So, when getting ready to ask Jerrett how he believes 4-H has impacted him, I hesitate.  Thinking back over the past nine years, I am finding it difficult to think whether Jerrett has been impacted more so by 4-H or if 4-H has been impacted more so because of Jerrett.   For a 4-H Agent to have the pleasure to ponder such a wonderful conundrum means that 4-H is truly growing inspiring leaders!

According to Jerrett, he joined 4-H as a means to find extracurricular activities that fit not only his after school schedule around his farm life but also to find an outlet that fit him personally.  As he put it, “I was looking for somewhere I fit in.  I wasn’t an athlete in school.  I was raised on a farm.  So, I thought 4-H was cool.”  After joining 2007, Jerrett began to help rebuild and cultivate a sense of belonging for the next seven years in Holmes County 4-H.  With his giving spirit, contagious enthusiasm, and natural sense of urgency to make actions count, he truly inspired everyone he met to get involved and make the best better.

Jerrett’s passion for learning, leadership, and youth continues as he is applying his 4-H-acquired life skills in his life journey.  Currently, he is a junior at the University of Florida in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, with a graduation date of Spring 2018.  He attributes his good leadership and time management skills to his deep involvement with 4-H.  Always wanting to do much more than time allows, Jerrett said 4-H taught him to prioritize and schedule his time efficiently.  In fact, In between college classes, studying, squeezing in fast visits back home, and working with CRU on campus, Jerrett still devotes time to 4-H as a volunteer with Alachua County 4-H.  When asked why he felt compelled to volunteer at this time in his life, Jerrett replied with his easy grin,

“Ms. Niki, there are not many ways to serve your community as a poor college kid.  Overall, I’d say being a 4-H volunteer is an easy and safe way to give back to kids and the community.”

When asked about what he enjoys the most about 4-H, Jerrett immediately replied,  “Working with kids.  Helping youth learn by doing through hands on experiences is a good vessel for them to mature with positive adult role models around to assist them.  4-H is not about winning like other youth programs are about.  It’s about growing through maturity, not competition.”

Jerrett is a Holmes County 4-H alumni, a true 4-H leader.  He is a present day 4-H example of the definition John Quincy Adams once gave a leader, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  So it’s little surprise that this 4-H alumni has no intentions of ending his green journey after college.  Jerrett’s career plans include putting his 4-H life skills, farm experience, and University of Florida education to perfect use as a future UF/IFAS Extension Agriculture Agent.  We look forward to Jerrett’s return to the Extension Service one day soon.

Are you a 4-H Alumni interested in “paying it forward” to inspire the next generation?  We would love to talk to you about the different ways you can help us grow 4-H in your community!  Contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org for more information.

Military 4-H Volunteers Hit the Bullseye

Military 4-H Volunteers Hit the Bullseye

Volunteers insure that military youth have a consistent, quality 4-H experience.

Volunteers insure that military youth have a consistent, quality 4-H experience.

April is the Month of the Military Child, and no Volunteer Appreciation Celebration would be complete without acknowledging our 4-H military volunteers.  The team of volunteers and staff at the Naval Support Activity Youth Center in Panama City ensure that military youth have an opportunity to participate in a wide variety of 4-H Programs at their youth center. One of the newest programs they offer is the 4-H shooting sports project. The leadership team for this 4-H club include Ms. Alana, Mr. Cole, Ms. Heather, Ms. Jessica, Ms. Shelby and Ms. Tammy. To allow all interested youth to participate, they started multiple archery clubs that meet weekly helping new archers develop strength, accuracy, and discipline. A small competitive traveling team has also been organized to help youth improve their skills and potential of becoming competitive archers through their 4-H learning experiences.

Cole is a five year veteran 4-H volunteer who did not grow up in 4-H, but was drawn into the program by the opportunity to teach youth life and workface related skills through projects like archery, aerospace, film making, photography, outdoor cookery, robotics and rocketry. His favorite 4-H experience so far has been with the rocketry project: “The youth just really got into it! We learned about force, drag and flight. It was a unified project where everyone became involved and the learning just exploded. They were learning physics, science, and communication skills all at once. 4-H can really make a difference and cause youth to consider different careers too. It is really nice when you see a child that may be struggling in a different part of their life find their niche during one of the 4-H projects. You just see their confidence sky rocket and then carry over into their social confidence also.”

When talking with him recently he said that “4-H is conducive to relationship building while learning life skills allowing both youth and myself to grow. It gives us an organized meeting time with specific goals and direction allowing us to maximize our time and growth. It helps make a difference because it is the conduit running in the background to allow everything to happen. 4-H allows the flexibility of being able to try ideas, experience things and make their curricula work for my needs. The best part is that when youth leave here they have something consistent to look forward to at their next duty station. It provides youth with one consistent thing to look forward to. I feel like we are literally planting the seeds to help youth develop their life skills. The program is nationwide and can help with the many changes and challenges our youth face. We are an important cog in the wheel for navy youth.”

According to the Tufts University study on positive youth development, 4-H helps youth build resiliency, which is especially important for military youth.

According to the Tufts University study on positive youth development, 4-H helps youth build resiliency, which is especially important for military youth.

Cole offers advice for anyone thinking about working with 4-H and kids. “If you have even an inkling that you would enjoy working with youth, then do so! It can be very valuable to that child, to know someone cares about them. Your follow through with one child can make a great deal of difference in their life and be the encouragement they need to become something great. Quite often there are not enough role models and caring adults for today’s children. Take the 4-H challenge and help a kid today!”

Dr. Paula Davis, the Bay County 4-H Agent says, “I want to recognize that this 4-H club is truly a team effort. With so many youth involved, it definitely can’t be done with one just person.  I really appreciate the teams diligence, enthusiasm, and willingness to try new things with 4-H.  The quality of a youth’s 4-H experience to a large extent depends on the relationship built between the 4-H members and their volunteer leaders, and these are some of the best!”

Do you have a passion or expertise that you would like to pass on to the next generation?  Consider becoming a 4-H volunteer- we offer a wide variety of opportunities to fit your interests and schedule.  Contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org/volunteers.

Making a Difference: Gary Clark

Gary Clark, Sure Shots 4-H Club Leader

Gary Clark, Sure Shots 4-H Club Leader

In Washington County, the name Gary Clark is synonymous with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Gary decided to start a club because he wanted to do something that would benefit the next generation of hunters, conservationists, and shooting sports enthusiasts. When asked what he most enjoys about being a 4-H volunteer, he replied “It is a way to give back to a community that has always supported me.’

Gary takes his role as a mentor and role model very seriously. “There are young people watching and listening to your every word, not so much for guidance and inspiration, but to see if you are walking the talk.  Working with young people today is not so much about passing along knowledge and teaching life skills as it is about making investments in their lives. Showing the same care and concern for every youth you are working with, no matter what skill level or potential, is critical to that young person viewing themselves as successful.” Relationships with caring adult volunteers is one of the Essential Elements of Positive Youth Development that 4-H is built upon.

I believe that we all have not only an opportunity, but an obligation to help to make our communities a better place to live. I think back on the people who gave their time and resources to coach and mentor me when I was young and I am thankful for the generosity. No amount of time spent investing in the lives our youth is ever wasted!

Seeing kids succeed is what keeps Gary motivated to continue his volunteer service. “Our teams have been extremely successful, but most of that success is measured on the personal level.  When you see a student achieve a new personal best or overcome an obstacle that has held them back and you see that little light go off inside their brains, you can’t help but be inspired and so proud of their achievements.” Gary also finds motivation when his 4-H Alumni return to the program as volunteers. “Two former students are also now certified coaches in the program and help out on a regular basis. Seth Pemberton is one of those youth. Seth shares, “Gary has positively impacted my life through 4-H shooting sports by making me strive for excellence, work hard, and give my best.”

Gary shares what inspires him most about being a volunteer is working with youth who would otherwise not have the opportunity to be part of a team. “Unlike so many other sports, shooting is a pretty level playing field- it isn’t only for the most athletic, the smartest, the most popular or the kid that can afford the best equipment. Every member comes into the program with an equal opportunity for success. It is all based on their commitment, focus, and [goals they set for themselves].”

Gary is very modest about his impact his club has on youth, but Julie Dillard, the Washington County Extension Director says, “Gary’s dedication to his community and his 4-H’ers is inspiring and has been the key to the success of Sure Shots 4-H Club.  He encourages, praises, corrects and motivates each individual to be his or her best.”

When asked what he feels youth get out of the 4-H Shooting Sports program, he says “They learn about respect for others, commitment, teamwork, goal setting, cooperation and even how to handle disappointment [sportsmanship]. All of these traits come from being part of a program like 4-H. I do not know of any other organization that offers so many different ways for youth to be involved in their community in a structured, safe and nurturing environment that is built on the values and principles that we all hold so dear. I also believe that these skills will follow them throughout their adult lives as well.” Gary’s experience with 4-H is backed by research. The Tufts Study of Positive Youth Development found that compared to other youth, 4-H members are:

  • Four times more likely to contribute to their communities
  • Two times more likely to be civically active
  • Two times more likely to participate in science, engineering, and technology programs during out of school time; and
  • Two times more likely to make healthier choices.

Would you consider making the investment of a lifetime by becoming a 4-H volunteer? 4-H offers a variety of volunteer roles based on your interests and schedule. To find out more about being a volunteer, contact your local Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.