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The 4-H Culture

Every organization has its own culture, and 4-H is no exception.  Here are the ones that make 4-H unique!

What is 4-H?

4-H is the youth development outreach program of Land Grant Universities, the Cooperative Extension system, county government, and the United States Department of Agriculture.

4-H members are actively involved in educational projects that are fun but also instill life skills while working with caring adult leaders. 4-H projects use quality curriculum incorporating the most current research and knowledge available through the Land Grant University system.

4-H Pledge

The 4-H Pledge states what we want youth to achieve  as a result of their involvement in the 4-H Youth Development program. It reminds members of the four areas of growth 4-H targets and reinforces the importance of mastery of life skills.





4-H Colors

The 4-H colors are green and white.  White symbolizes purity and high ideals.  Green, nature’s most prominent color, represents growth.

Motto: “To Make The Best Better”

The motto’s intent is to inspire young people to continue to learn and grow and to make their best efforts better through participating in educational experiences.

Slogan: “Learning By Doing”

This sums up the educational philosophy of the 4-H program. Young people learn best when they are involved in learning. The intent is for youth to become engaged in learning by doing, reflecting on their experiences, and applying it to future situations.

4-H Name and Emblem

The 4-H Youth Development Program is represented by a popular, recognizable image that consists of a green four-leaf clover with a right turned stem and the letter “H” in white on each leaflet.

The text, 18 U.S.C. 707, appears with the emblem.The name and emblem are held in trust by the Secretary of the USDA and are protected by Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 707 (18 U.S.C. 707).  This means it is afforded the same status and regard as the White House and Presidential Seals and may only be used as authorized by the statute, regulations and guidelines, and according to the authorization of the Secretary or designated representative.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about the culture of 4-H. Use of the 4-H name, motto, slogan and emblem signifies youth, adult leaders and 4-H Agents agree to the principles of youth development promoted through    4-H. To find about more about 4-H in your county, click here.

Want to learn more?

What is 4-H Meat Judging?

Florida 4-H members judge beef rounds at the UF/IFAS Animal Science Department meat science clinic. Photo Credit: Brian Estevez, UF IFAS Escambia County

Florida 4-H provides learning opportunities, camps, contests, shows and events in a multitude of areas for its members. The 4-H meat science project allows youth to learn about the different cuts of meat including quality factors that affect the safety and taste of the meat products we consume. The project culminates each year in April at the Florida 4-H Meat Judging Contest.  The 2018 contest is April 21, 2018 at the Meat Processing Center at the University of Florida.  The UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences also hosts a Livestock/Meat Judging Clinic on January 12-13 in Gainesville to prepare 4-H and FFA members for the contest.

What is 4-H Meat Judging?

Many Florida 4-H members are already in the production of meat products through exhibiting market steers, swine, sheep, and goats at livestock competitions. Through participation in judging contests and other leadership contests, agents, leaders, and youth learn valid, science-based information to consider when evaluating and making decisions, as well as learning proper meat storage and handling procedures. This knowledge and expertise to purchase safe, nutritious meat products gives future agricultural and food industry leaders a broader view of the livestock industry.

The 4-H Meat Judging Contest is composed of three areas, retail cut identification, carcass, wholesale, and retail placing classes, and oral reasons.  4-H members have to identify 50 retail cuts, including the species, primal, retail name, and cooking method.  Youth then have to rank eight placing classes (carcass, wholesale, and retail classes).  Finally youth have to give two sets of reasons on the placing classes that they have ranked.

This project area helps youth improve life skills, such as decision making, communications skills and confidence, but it also provides them a very practical skill they can use every time they visit the grocery store or butcher shop. Youth learn how to examine a cut of meat to determine which will be of the highest quality and flavor. Whether they cook for themselves or others, this useful skill will be perfected over time.

Another exciting aspect of the Florida 4-H Meat Judging Contest is the opportunity to attend National 4-H Meat Judging Contests.  The first place senior team earns a trip to Kansas State University to participate in the National 4-H Meat Judging Contest as part of the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City.  The second place senior team earns a trip to Denver to participate in the National Western Roundup Meat Judging Contest as part of the Western National Livestock Show.

In addition to the meat judging contest, Florida 4-H offers the Hog and Ham program and the Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest:

The Florida 4-H Hog and Ham Program is a statewide 4-H program which takes the participant through the total process of pork production from beginning to end. Youth select a feeder pig and grow it to harvesting weight, all the while keeping records on feed amounts and costs, health care, expenses, weights, etc.  Youth harvest the hog and process it into wholesale or retail cuts.  The project concludes by participating in a retail comparison project, completing a record book, and presenting a demonstration or illustrated talk to the other participants.

The Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest was created to further enhance the 4-H meat project by allowing youth to demonstrate their food and fire safety, meat selection, and outdoor cooking skills.  Youth grill one of four proteins: beef, pork, poultry (half chicken or whole turkey breast), or shrimp.  Youth are judged on their food and fire safety and meat palatability.  Four regional contests throughout Florida are held between April and July, with a state contest held in the fall.  Over $18,000 in scholarships were provided for winners in 2017.

The Florida 4-H meat judging contest is a fun event that can enhance your knowledge of the agricultural and food industries.  The Florida 4-H Meat Judging Contest, in conjunction with the Florida 4-H Hog and Ham Program and the Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest, provides a well-rounded animal science education to all Florida 4-H members!

For more information about getting started (either as a youth member or as a volunteer), contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

4-H Record Books…Simplified!

No need to dread the record book! This article breaks it down into simple steps.

In 4-H, young people have tracked their activities, events, profits and losses, skill development and learning experiences, and much more using the iconic 4-H Record Book. In addition to record keeping, the 4-H Record Book gives members an opportunity to reflect on their year, measure their achievements and growth, set goals, and develop plans to meet those goals. Once you understand the purpose and value of record books, you are probably wondering where to start.  Here are the most frequently asked questions about record books to simplify the process:

What’s the difference between a project book and a record book?  A project book guides youth through the project and includes background information and activities to help them master the subject matter.  A record book is the record of what youth did and learned in the project and documents goals, knowledge and skills gained, leadership experiences, awards earned, and service to the community. Record books are typically bound in a cover, scrapbook or three-ring binder and turned in for evaluation at the end of the project or 4-H year.

Some project books include a records section, but many do not.  If your project does not have a section for records, then you will want to insert a Florida 4-H Project Report Form (based on your age level).

What types of information should I keep track of for my record book?

Cloverbuds Juniors Intermediates Seniors
Personal information Name, 4-H age, club, # of years in 4-H, member, parent/club leader signatures
Project Plans and Goals NA What are your goals (run for office, attend a workshop, earn a blue ribbon in showmanship)
Project Highlights A list of activities you did this year (demonstrations, field trips, leadership activities, workshops, exhibits)
Project Attachments Photos of you doing project activities; newspaper clippings, club or workshop programs, exhibitor tags, cage cards, feed tags
Project Story, or Reflection NA What you learned, who helped you, what you liked (or disliked) about the project, what you would do differently next time, whether or not you encountered any problems and what you did to overcome them
Financial Records Financial records are usually only associated with animal science, gardening and entrepreneurship projects.  Not all record books will have a financial record section.

How do I keep up with all that information?

Calendar Have a calendar dedicated to your 4-H work and record your activities- club meetings, workshops, how often you feed or water your project, shows or exhibits, etc.
Index box Keep a recipe box full of index cards with dividers for each section of the record book.  Each time you do something related to one of the sections, write it on the card.
Notebook Keep a journal of your project, recording activities.  You can even divide the notebook into sections that correspond with each section of your record book
Electronic Device Yes!  There is an app for that.  Sponsored by Tractor Supply and National 4-H Council, there is a market animal record book app you can download from iTunes.

To inspire you, here are some quotes that Florida 4-H youth wrote in their record books:

  • “As the VP (vice president) of my club, I had many opportunities to speak in front of a crowd.  This has helped me in other aspects of my life such as school.  I have become a better public speaker.”
  • “I have taken bigger and better responsibilities.  I learned to be responsible and to challenge myself to bigger expectations and to be kind, nice, and pleasant to others.”
  • “4-H has given me the opportunity to do things that I normally would not get to do.”
  • “4-H has meant a lot to me because it teaches me so much about my project and our world.  (I learned) to follow safety practices, treating animals with respect, being careful when leading an animal and watching out for others and their animals.”

As we start the 2017-2018 4-H year, think about your 4-H project area and how you will document it this year. If you have a skill to share and would like to inspire the next generation, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.  We offer a wide variety of roles to fit your interests and schedule. For more information about 4-H, visit our website or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

4-H Tailgate Cookery Contest

This contest teaches youth about meat science, food safety and communication skills.

Tailgating.  The smell of charcoal in the air.  Cooking over a hot grill.  Earning lots of scholarship money?

The Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest completed its first year in 2016, giving out over $15,000 in scholarship money to 4-H members.  This was made possible by sponsorships from Winn-Dixie, National Beef, and Sonny’s.  In 2017, Sanderson Farms joins the list of sponsors for this statewide event.

While earning scholarship money is great, youth also learn many valuable life skills in the art of grilling.  A curriculum series was developed (see below) to help youth learn about fire-building, meat selection, cooking safety, smoking and slow cooking meat, and cooking equipment.  The Northwest District has been very proactive in hosting different tailgate and grilling day camps throughout the panhandle to further youth learning.

Youth demonstrate their knowledge during the district and state contests, and can win a college scholarship.

The Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest allows youth to grill two 6-8 ounce portions of one of the following proteins: beef, pork, poultry (half chicken or turkey breast), and headless, deveined, fresh shrimp.  At each contest, judges will observe the food and fire safety of each participant and ask students questions about their recipe and safety knowledge.  A team of judges will then evaluate the cooked product.

There are four contests hosted throughout the state including the South contest at 4-H Camp Cloverleaf, the Central contest in Dade City, the Northeast contest at the UF Horse Teaching Unit, and the Northwest contest held at the Washington County Fairgrounds.  After youth compete at the local county contests/day camps, they can register for the district contest.  The Northwest contest will be held on July 22, where the first place winner in each protein category receives $400, second place $250, third place $100, and fourth place $50.  The top two winners from each protein area at the district contest are then eligible to compete in the state contest held at the University of Florida on October 14, 2017.  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.

We hope to see you at one of the many grilling opportunities offered throughout the Northwest District this summer through 4-H!

Day Camp Dates and Locations:

Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office to inquire about other Florida 4-H Tailgating Day Camps and to register for the District Contest.  For more information, visit these sites: