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UF Summer Interns Serve Florida’s Panhandle

Did you know that UF/IFAS Extension and UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) offer an internship program to UF students?  The internship program’s goal is to benefit interns through a unique service-learning opportunity and mentoring by professional educators while providing support to UF/IFAS Extension faculty and the communities they serve.  This program typically has interns serve in-person at their selected Extension Office.  In 2021, four UF students interned at Northwest District Extension Offices.

Deanna Brock-Escambia County

Deanna Brock is originally from Pasco County and is a current Agricultural Education and Communication undergrad at the University of Florida (UF). As former Florida 4-H member, Deanna has utilized her knowledge of the program to assist with day camps, judging teams, and county council. She has shared her knowledge of the Florida 4-H Tailgating Competition to enhance our Tailgating Day Camp and create a Florida 4-H Tailgating Handbook. While assisting with the day camps, Deanna has experienced different teaching styles, with different age groups, and successfully lead numerous group activities such as baking and flying drones. She looks forward to expanding her knowledge of graphic design and video creation, and honoring youth at the awards banquet.

Zyreshia Jackson-Bay

Zyreshia Jackson is a Family, Youth, and Community Sciences major who will graduate from the University of Florida (FL) in August 2021. During her time at the Bay County Extension Office, she has created numerous educational videos for our day camps and projects, helped facilitate multiple trainings, and has been an integral part of our 4-H program. In May, Zyreshia also presented a training that she worked on as a part of her class project. For this training she developed the curriculum, a presentation, and supplemental material that focused on Social-Emotional Learning and resilience. After graduation, Zyreshia will pursue a master’s degree from Texas A&M in Public Service and Administration.

Taylor Paynter-Bay

Taylor Paynter is a graduating senior with a degree in Environmental Science. Her summer internship at the UF/IFAS Bay County Extension office has been filled with programs, fieldtrips, and learning opportunities. Some highlights of her 8-week program have been assisting with Florida Panhandle Scallop Sitters, artificial reefs, and editing immersive dive videos.

Carlos Staley-Liberty

Carlos, a Food Science undergrad at UF, has been a true asset to the summer program. He has created numerous educational videos for our virtual culinary day camp, actively taught lessons at a food preservation workshop, grilling day camp and as part of a nutrition lesson at a local library. Additionally, as part of his class project, he has created a closed Google site field to fork day camp that will be part of the Liberty County 4-H toolkit for future day camps.

The Northwest District thanks Deanna, Zyreshia, Taylor, and Carolos for all of their hard work with our clientele and we hope to see them soon as colleagues.

For more information on the UF/IFAS CALS student internship program, visit

Meet the Author- Brian Estevez

Brian is part of the Escambia County UF IFAS Extension Team

Brian Estevez is a 4-H Extension Agent in Escambia County, Florida. He grew up in Archer, Florida and went to school in Williston.  While Brian was not a 4-H member as a youth, he did participate in Williston FFA and won the state meat judging contest in 2000.  His involvement with the meat judging program propelled him to study meat science at the University of Florida. As a college student, Brian worked at the UF meat lab. After graduation, Brian met Dr. Nick Place who introduced him to the UF master’s program in Agricultural Leadership.

Brian didn’t realize that a career with Extension was possible, even though he had graduated from UF’s Department of Agricultural Education and Communication. After graduating with his Master’s degree, he volunteered with his youth group at church and found that he really enjoyed working with young people. Brian wanted to purse a job with college student development, but had not been successful in securing a position. He decided to apply for the Alachua agriculture extension position. While he did not get that position, he was encouraged to apply for some open 4-H extension agent positions. He applied for and was offered the 4-H agent position in Suwannee county. Initially, Brian viewed his 4-H position as a “stepping stone” to help him get the student development job he really wanted. However, after more than 12 years with 4-H, it is a career that he loves!

One of Brian’s favorite 4-H programs is the meats judging contest

While a 4-H agent in Suwannee County, Brian used his expertise in meat science to work with UF/IFAS Extension Animal Science specialist  Chad Carr to create, develop, and deliver the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest.  This contest teaches youth to safely grill in an outdoor setting, while incorporating food and fire safety with public speaking opportunities.  In all, 348 youth from 39 different Florida counties have participated in this annual program which includes four district competitions culminating in a state contest in Gainesville.  Scholarships from corporate sponsors are awarded to district and state winners, with over $86,000 being awarded to youth winners since 2016.  Estevez has also coached 4-H meat judging teams, where youth learn meat retail identification, quality factors, and cooking methods.  He has coached 14 state winning 4-H meat judging teams and has led five teams to national 4-H contests.  His 2020 team placed second in the nation, with one team member being recognized as the national high individual. His team members learn communication, decision making, and critical thinking skills and have gone on to participate in collegiate judging teams.

Brian transitioned to Escambia county three years ago and is Brian is passionate about making 4-H available to all youth. In three short years, the program has grown to engaged more than 25% of the school age population in Escambia.  The quality of his programs have been recognized and awarded at the National level, including the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) Excellence in Animal Science 4-H Programming Award and the NAE4-HA Communicator Promotional Piece Award, both in 2011, the Achievement in Service Award in 2014, and most recently, the NAE4-HA Military Partnership Award in 2019He was also elected by his peers to serve Florida Association of Extension 4-H Agents in 2014, serving in statewide leadership positions including president.  Another aspect of his scholarship is his commitment to mentoring early career colleagues by sharing his work through district, state and national conferences.

(Pre-COVID photo) Brian worked with UF specialists to develop the Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest to teach youth about meat science and food safety.

Brian lives in Cantonment with his bride Mindy and sweet baby boy Eli Thomas.  They teach the 1 and 2 year old class at their church, have season tickets to Gator football games, and like spending time at Pensacola Beach.

Empowering youth to succeed is what Brian finds most fulfilling about his job as a 4-H Agent.


4-H Judging Teams 101

4-H Judging Teams

4-H judging teams are a wonderful way to help youth learn life skills such as decision making, teamwork and public speaking. These events are also a way for youth to demonstrate mastery of subject matter skills. Florida 4-H offers a wide variety of judging contest opportunities. Because there are so many contests, it can be a little overwhelming for 4-H volunteers, however, there are simple strategies you can learn to teach any type of judging contest. While the subject matter changes from contest to contest, how you prepare young people to learn the material and compete is the SAME! One you master these simple strategies, you can coach any type of judging team. Join us Thursday, October 15th at 6PM central/7PM eastern to learn how to incorporate judging teams into your club program. Brian Estevez and Aly Schortinghouse, 4-H agents in Escambia County, will present the program as part of our Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy Series. For more information, or to register, visit

Also, check out some of our previous blog posts about the impact of our judging programs…

NW District Youth Compete at the FL 4-H State Tailgating Contest

NW District Youth Compete at the FL 4-H State Tailgating Contest

A youth competing in the NW District Tailgating Competition carefully prepares her protein.

Did you get to do any grilling this summer?  Over 110 youth from throughout the Florida Panhandle participated in 2019 4-H summer day camps that taught them how to grill, food and fire safety, and cooking skills.

Ten different FL Panhandle counties provided nine unique day camps on grilling.  Then, on July 20, 2019, 37 youth from eight counties participated in the Northwest District Tailgating Contest at the Washington County Ag Center.  Youth participated in competitions in beef, pork, poultry, and shrimp divisions and were judged on their food and fire safety skills around the grill and the taste of their chosen protein.  In all, $3,200 was awarded to Panhandle youth for placing 1st– 4th in their competitions.

Now, the top two youth in each protein category will compete at the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest in Gainesville on September 28th.  They will compete against youth from across Florida for an opportunity to win college scholarships.  For the state contest, the first place winner in each protein area receives a $1,500 college scholarship and the second place winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship.  September 28th is also the 4-H Day with the Florida Gators.  You can get tickets for the football game for just $20 and sit with 4-H members from around the state.  For more information, visit

Join us as we cheer on the following NW District 4-H participants as they represent us at the Florida 4-H State Tailgating Contest:

  • Beef Division
    • Colton Serpas-Washington County
    • Alan B.-Escambia County
  • Pork Division
    • Lillian Sparks-Washington County
    • Brent Young-Holmes County
  • Poultry Division
    • Sarah Crandall-Jefferson County
    • Rylee Sweat-Walton County
    • Jamison Scheffer-Washington County
  • Shrimp Division
    • Claire Diamond-Escambia County
    • Evelyn Moyers-Bay County

If you are interested in furthering your grilling skills, please check out the Florida 4-H Tailgate Series of EDIS documents at  If you would like more information on the Tailgating Contest so you or youth that you work with can participate next year, please visit


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!