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Learn to be a Grill Master with 4-H

family around a grillToday is National Hamburger Day, and we are celebrating by spreading the word about the Florida 4-H Tailgate Cookery Contest. This program is way more than a contest- it teaches youth:

  1. How to use a grill safely,
  2. How to prepare food safely and prevent cross contamination or food borne illness,
  3. Nutritional benefits of adding animal protein to their diets

Youth are invited to participate in a local workshop or day camp to learn the art and science of cooking protein on the grill. On Saturday, July 30th, 2021, youth from across the panhandle will travel to Chipley, Florida to compete in the district Tailgating competition. They will prepare their dish onsite, answer questions for the judges, and create an educational display about their dish. Winners from each protein category will earn the privilege of competing at the state contest in Gainesville this fall.

Thanks to our sponsors, once youth learn the basics, hey can compete for cash prizes and college scholarships. Parents have also shared that thanks to this program, their child often prepares meals for the family (especially when preparing for the contest and perfecting their technique).

Some counties are offering in-person workshops and day camps, but we also have an online option. Here’s a list of workshops to help youth prepare:

If the in person options don’t work for your schedule, we have a virtual option that is available all summer long (June 14- July 31) so that youth can work at their own pace. The virtual program covers everything they need to know to become a grill master, and helps them prepare for the contest. Parents can register for Virtual Tailgate Camp online.

For more information about this educational program, check out our webpage or contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office.

Thank you sponsors- Winn Dixie, Sonny’s Barbeque, and the National Beef Council.

Fold the Perfect Paper Airplane

May 26th is National Paper Airplane Day, and what better way to celebrate than learn to fold the perfect paper airplane?  Paper airplanes are a fun way to teach young people about physics and spark their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). You can also use this activity to promote teambuilding or as a recreational activity for your next club meeting.

To fold the perfect paper airplane, you need a basic understanding of the four forces of flight: lift, drag, thrust, and weight.

  • Thrust is the force that moves the airplane in the direction of motion. Thrust is created when air is pulled in and then pushed out in an opposite direction. In a real aircraft, thrust is created by a propeller, engine, or rocket. In the case of the paper airplane, thrust is created when you release the airplane from your hand.
  • Drag is the force that is the opposite of thrust. It slows the airplane down. Drag is created by friction. The more aerodynamic your design, the less drag your plane will experience.
  • Weight is the force caused by gravity. It pulls your paper airplane down.
  • Lift is the opposite force to weight. Lift helps hold your paper airplane up in the air. The wings of your airplane help generate lift.

This video provides a short and easy to understand explanation of how these four forces affect a paper airplane.

There are many different ways to fold a paper airplane, but this post will cover three basic folds that can be customized for different flight effects.  The first fold is the dart. Like he name implies, the dart fold will result in an airplane that will fly longer distances at faster speeds. If you want to have a contest for which plane can go the fastest and farthest, then the dart fold is your best option. Watch this short video to master the dart fold:

The second fold to learn is the glider. The glider fold will result in an airplane that is slower than the dart, but will stay in the air for a longer period of time. The glider has wider wings that help keep the plane lifted in the air and make the plane more stable. Watch this video to master the glider fold:

Finally, it is always fun to learn how to fold a plane that will loop the loop!  This is the most difficult of the three folds to master, but will result in a paper airplane that will do fun aerobatic tricks. You will have better results with this fold after you have mastered both the dart and glider folds. Watch this video to learn how to fold the stunt plane.

If you enjoyed this activity at home, consider participating in a summer day camp or join a 4-H club for year long learning and fun with a purpose!  Contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office to find out about opportunities available in your community.

More Resources:

Check out the Florida 4-H Aerospace Project

Try building a paper Mars Helicopter from NASA


10 Tried & True Strategies to Foster Family Engagement in 4-H Clubs

4-H youth around a campfireParents, grandparents, and other family members are assets to the 4-H program. One of the best things about 4-H is that it promotes (and welcomes) family engagement! And there are benefits of family involvement- Duerden et al. (2013) found when adults were involved in youth programs, it strengthen family relationships and improved parent-child communication and bonding. Family involvement is a win-win-win for youth, adults and volunteers!




Make them Feel Welcome– Just like you would do for youth, make adults and other family members feel welcome!

  1. Encourage them to participate in get to know you games, or introduce them to other adults associated with the club.
  1. A parent meeting at the beginning of the club year is a great idea to help new parents feel like part of the group.

Communicate Clearly– Communicating with parents is essential. In fact, in a survey of new 4-H families in Florida, communication with the club leader was a major factor in whether or not the families returned to the program the following year (Hensley, 2020). Try these strategies to build strong communication with families.

  1. Set up clear lines of communication with parents by asking them how they prefer to receive communication. Some clubs use social media, texting apps (like GroupMe or Remind), or email. Find a method that works for your 4-H families.
  2. Make sure the club schedule works for everyone and that the location is accessible for all.
  3. Give each family a copy of the club program calendar, and ask another parent or club officer to send out reminders before meetings.

Help them Learn 4-H– 4-H is a large organization and has something for everyone, which is great!  But it can also be a little overwhelming when you are new to the program.

  1. Explain the club cycle, such as when things normally occur during the year (service projects, fundraisers, competitions, awards programs, camp). That way, they can plan ahead and set goals for engagement.
  2. Ask a seasoned 4-H family to mentor a new 4-H family. This can help them learn about the program, and identify things that their children will want to participate in.

Discover their Skills, Knowledge & Interests– New 4-H families may think that they need special training or experience to contribute to the club. As a volunteer, let them know that we all “learn by doing” and everyone has something to contribute!

  1. Use the parent interest survey to find out how the adults might be willing to serve.

Identify Tasks and Make the Ask

  1. Make a list of things that you need help with, then write each item on an index card (one item per card). Ask each family to select one or two items they are willing to be responsible for by writing their name on the back of the card.

Make Individual Asks for More Complex Tasks

  1. Reach out to parents individually (when they are not distracted) and share some of the tasks you need help with that are a little more complex. For example, you may need a parent to help train club officers, teach parliamentary procedure or work with the service learning committee. Provide any resources they may need (such as an officer handbook or service learning guide) and let them know that the 4-H office will provide support for them in this role. If the task requires a level II background screening, then be upfront about that.


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

Hensley, S. (2020). Florida 4-H Retention Study.

Our Volunteer Philosophy

Here in the Florida Panhandle, we recognize what an important asset our volunteers are. Volunteers extend the reach of 4-H, but more importantly, they are an essential part of the positive youth development process. While our programs are led by Extension faculty, our volunteers create communities were youth can learn and develop emotional and workforce skills to help them grow up to be caring citizens and productive members of society and the workforce. This week happens to be National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and there’s no better way to kick off our volunteer celebration than to start by affirming our volunteer philosophy.

4-H in the Panhandle encourages the teamwork of faculty, staff, and volunteers so that we can offer Florida youth and families the best services possible. Volunteers contribute their unique talents, skills, and knowledge of our communities to provide personalized attention to youth, enable faculty and staff to focus on achieving the overall educational outcomes of the total 4-H program, and educate the public about 4-H and its impact.

Volunteers really are the heart of 4-H. All week, we will be highlighting some of the amazing volunteers who are working with us to make a difference in their communities and in the lives of young people in Florida. Videos with the highest numbers of “likes” and “shares” on the 4-H in the Panhandle FaceBook Page will win 4-H swag bags for the volunteers featured. The contest will be open through the end of April 2021.

If you know of a 4-H volunteer who has made a difference in your life or community, consider nominating them for recognition on our blog or social media. While this week is National Volunteer Appreciation, we believe in recognizing excellence in our volunteers all year long. Contact your local UF IFAS Extension 4-H agent to make a nomination. Last but not least, check out our volunteer appreciation videos from last year!  We have a playlist of 33 videos, recognizing 142 volunteers in 2020!

4-H Club Organization: Club Planning Basics & Roles

Serving as a 4-H club leader is one of the most impactful ways adults can help youth develop into caring and productive citizens. Keeping the club organized can seem like a daunting task, but over the next several weeks, our blog series and monthly webinar will focus on breaking club organization down into simple steps. The foundation of club planning is built on understanding the club year cycle and who-is-responsible for what. Knowledge of these two things is essential for parent engagement and delegation to keep your club running smoothly. This post will provide you with tools and information to help you successfully keep your club organized!

The 4-H Club Year Cycle
How long and how often your club meets depends on the type of club you are leading. Most community, project clubs, and school meet during the school months (August- May). SPIN (Special Interest) clubs may only meet for a few weeks or months (usually a minimum of six to nine weeks). However, all clubs follow a similar timeline. In addition to understanding the club timeline, it is also good to know when district and state events are held. These events are designed to provide opportunities for youth to exhibit or demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have learned and to get feedback to improve. The 4-H Club Planning Guide is a tool for setting club goals, planning the club calendar, and planning club meetings. Sign up for our 4-H in the Panhandle monthly newsletter to receive updates, information and links to upcoming events.

4-H Club Roles
Keeping the club organized is not the sole responsibility of the club leader (but definitely and important one). There are several club roles designed to support club leaders. Before engaging parents and other volunteers in your club, it is a good idea to become familiar with these different roles. That will help you find the right fit to support your club. Trying to do everything yourself will only lead to burnout (and we don’t want that!). You can find a short video outlining the different volunteer roles, as well as service descriptions for each role on our northwest 4-H volunteer website. This video is a great tool to use for your club organizational meeting to help parents and guardians to know how they can support your club. In a future blog post, we will give more tips on getting them engaged to support club work!

For more information on club organization, sign up for our monthly Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy (VVLA). You can also access a playlist of our sessions on our YouTube Channel. Your local UF IFAS County Extension Office is also a great source of information and support!