Hey everyone, my name is Evie Blount and I am the Gadsden County 4-H Extension Agent. I started this position in January of 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic started. This is just one of the few hurdles that I had to jump over and just kept running. With everything switching to a virtual format, I worked with other agents from all over Florida to help create the Virtual Poultry and Rabbit Summer Camp and the Florida Virtual Ag Judging Contest. Both of these programs have been very successful and I have enjoyed watching them grow. This job has been super rewarding and I love getting to work with the youth and volunteers in my community.
Since becoming the Gadsden County 4-H Agent, I have done a lot of work with Animal Science that I am extremely proud of. One of them being the Animal Science Camp that I helped teach over the Summer. This program was taught as a Statewide Virtual Summer Camp and used to teach day camps in Wakulla, Gulf, Calhoun, and Gadsden Counties. This program has been a lot of fun and the youth really enjoy it.
4-H has been my home since I was 8 years old. During my life as a 4-H youth I showed rabbits, chickens, and steers in the Livestock Club and competed in livestock judging and public speaking contest. I also attended Camp Timpoochee and Horse Camp during the Summer as a camp counselor. After graduating from the Gadsden County 4-H Program, I continued to help out the Livestock Club at the North Florida Fair and at the West Florida Livestock Show. Little did I know that I would one day become the 4-H Agent in my county.
Happy fair season everyone! Fairs aren’t just about rides and food but also about participating in showing livestock, entering exhibits, and competing in judging contests. Judging contests are a great way for youth to explore a topic they are interested in, and practice decision-making and critical thinking skills. One of the most popular judging contests is agriculture judging. There is an agricultural judging contest online and at the North Florida Fair.
The Florida 4-H Virtual Ag Judging Contest will take place on October 27th at 6:00 pm EST on Zoom and it is free! There will be a training prior to the contest to allow 4-H youth an opportunity to learn about each topic before participating in the contest. The training will be held on October 25th at 6:00 pm EST on zoom. This contest is great for 4-H youth to learn how to judge steers, dairy cows, poultry, swine, hay, grain, peanuts, and tomatoes. There will also be questions on tool identification, weed identification, and soil samples. To participate in this contest youth must be 4-H age 8-18 and will need to register in 4-H Online. If you have any questions about this event, please email Evie Blount (email@example.com) or Chris Decubellis (firstname.lastname@example.org). We had so much fun creating this contest virtually and are super excited for youth all over the state to participate! This is our 3rd year doing this contest and we are happy to see it grow!
The North Florida Fair Ag Judging Contest will take place on November 12th at the fairgrounds in Tallahassee, Florida. This contest will be covering judging steers, heifers, poultry, hay, and grains. This contest is for youth 4-H age 8-18 that are interested in learning how judge agriculture. To participate in this contest youth must be register in 4-H Online and contact your 4-H Agent to sign up. If you have any questions about this event, please email Robbie Jones email@example.com or Evie Blount (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you are new to agriculture judging, below are some resources to help you prepare:
4-H club leaders are amazing instructors and terrific at running club meetings and events, but this job can be very time consuming. They deeply appreciate all the help they can get from the parents of the club members to help make the club even more successful. Even something as little as picking up snacks for a meeting or leading a group at a judging event can be a huge lifesaver. In addition, there are benefits to parent involvement. When parents, grandparents and other family members get involved in supporting 4-H clubs, it strengthens family relationships by improving “parent/child communication, bonding, and perceptions of one another” (Duerden, Witt, & Harrist, 2013). In addition, research shows that family involvement “prolongs the experience’s positive post-participation effects” (Duerden, Witt, and Harrist, 2013, p. 1).
Aside from the benefits listed above, it is important to recognize reasons why parents volunteer. There are three types of motivation: achievement, affiliation and power (Atkinson and Feather, 1966). Henderson (1981) found most 4-H volunteers to be motivated by affiliation. Individuals motivated by affiliation value relationships with people and organizations. Affiliation-motivated volunteers would respond best to thank-you notes, verbal praise or informal “pats on the back.” One of the best ways to recruit parents or grandparents to help with clubs is to provide opportunities for them to develop positive relationships with other parents, members, and volunteers. Here are two simple suggestions for recruiting more parents and grandparents:
When advising parents to sign their child up on 4-H Online, mention that they can also create their own profile so they can get involved as well. Make sure when you are recruiting new youth to your club, to also be very welcoming to their parents and encourage them to stay for the meetings and programs. Give them a copy of the club program calendar so they know when the meetings are and what is on the agenda.
Introduce parents to other parents. Help them build connections with each other. Better yet, ask a more experienced parent to mentor new parents.
Let parents know you welcome their involvement and give them the Parent Involvement Form. This form will allow parents the opportunity to see all of the different jobs and responsibilities that they can do to help the club succeed and sign up for the things that interest them. This will help you as a club leader to have a little less on your plate and allow the parents to help get involved with their child’s interests.
Every chance that you get to be involved in 4-H, whether you are a youth, parent, or club leader, you are giving your community a brighter future. All of the opportunities that 4-H provides will help build youth into positive members of society one day. So, club leaders, go out there and recruit the parents of your club members to help out and make your programs even stronger! Next week, we will talk about how to engage parents in your club!
Duerden, M. D., Witt, P. A., & Harrist, C. J. (2013, Winter). The impact of parental involvement on a structured youth program experience: A qualitative inquiry. Journal of Youth Development, 8(3), 1-17. Retrieved August 31, 2018, from jyd.pitt.edu/ojs/jyd/article/view/88.
Atkinson, J., & Feather, N. (1966). Theory of achievement motivation. New York: Wiley.
Are you sad about the North Florida Fair being canceled this year? Well we are too! Even though we are all going to miss the rides and the fair foods (especially the funnel cakes) we don’t have to miss out on all the fair activities! The Consumer Choice, Horticulture Identification, and Agricultural Judging Contest will all still be taking place on November 14th. They will all be virtual, and they are open to Florida 4-H members ages 8-18.
Judging contests are a great way for youth to learn skills to prepare them for work and life, such as decision making, teamwork and public speaking! To help youth prepare for the virtual ag judging contest, we will have a workshop on November 5th at 5:30PM eastern. Registration for this workshop and the contest are available in 4Honline. Once you register, you will be provided a secure link to join. The deadline to register for the workshop and contest is November 5th. For the contest, there is a small entry fee of $5.00 per participant.
If you have any questions, please email Evie Blount (email@example.com) or Chris Decubellis (firstname.lastname@example.org). We had so much fun creating this contest virtually and are super excited for youth all over the state to participate!
Check out these blog posts about how judging contests teach life skills: