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COVID Update

Our top priority for the Northwest Extension District 4-H Team, Florida 4-H, and the University of Florida is the health and safety of our 4-H members, families, volunteers, staff and faculty.  We want to make sure that our social media and website viewers are aware that many of our posts utilize photos and videos that were taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19.  We want to stress that we highly encourage people to participate in social distancing and wear a mask when around each other.  Continue to be safe and follow the recommendations of the CDC during this challenging time.  We at 4-H are committed to your continued safety.


4-H Extension Agents are available to assist you with your 4-H and volunteering needs. For consultations with 4-H Extension Agents, we encourage clientele to contact their local UF IFAS County Extension Office to make an appointment by email or telephone.

4-H is Good for the Environment

4-H is Good for the Environment

group of youth and adult after fishing - This picture was taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we encourage people to social distance and wear a mask with others.

This group of 4-H youth, volunteers, and agent are enjoying the wonders of their outdoor environment.   *This picture was taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we encourage people to practice social distancing and wear a mask when around others.*


For many people, 4-H exists in the agriculture science and livestock husbandry realm of youth development. 4-H members showing livestock and entering exhibits at the county fair come to our minds when we see the ol’ green and white clover emblem. That is still very much a part of what we are today.  However, 4-H has expanded and remodeled throughout the years. Now more than ever we are more diversified in our educational efforts. 4-H truly has something for everyone. Robotics, STEM, citizenship, meat science, consumer decision making, environmental sciences, and many more keep us relative and our mission of “learn by doing” separates us from others.

Today, I want to focus on why 4-H is “making the best better” in environmental sciences.  4-H professionals must provide youth with opportunities to apply what they have learned from their involvement in 4-H programs. When youth participate in educational programs in environmental science, who do you think wins? The environment we live in!  Environmental science can be defined as a branch of biology focused on the study of the relationships of the natural world and the relationships between organisms and their environments. As you can see, this is a very broad topic. 4-H offers educational opportunities in wildlife and fisheries ecology, forestry, marine sciences and many more natural resource topics. Studies show that 4-H members go back into their communities and apply what they learn. This is a direct result of life skill development. In addition, these natural resource programs allow youth and adult volunteers to see the complexity of available natural resources and the connections to other fields of discovery like engineering.

Let’s look at how 4-H works in a nutshell. The child and/or adult attends 4-H Marine Camp where they participate in a fun hands on activity on plastics in water. The participant then goes back to the community with a greater understanding of use and recycling. He or she then shares with others about the experience. I have a particular interest in wildlife management. I enjoy teaching children and adults about species identification and habitat. Personally, I have seen the spark in the eyes of a 4-H member when learning about animals. Children learning the importance of environmental stewardship start with a relationship built by participating in a natural resource activity. 4-H can make that bridge between youth and mentor! Take a loved one on a hike or grab a pole and go fishing, better yet, reach out to your local county extension office and ask how you and/or your youth can be involved in 4-H Environmental Science.

Special thanks to Ronnie Cowan, UF/IFAS Okaloosa County 4-H Agent and County Extension Director, for providing this article and picture(s).

Graduating Senior: Amanda Hachtel

Graduating Senior: Amanda Hachtel

Youth posing with her horse

Amanda Hachtel, 4-H Senior

Amanda Hachtel joined Santa Rosa County 4-H in 2012 at the age of ten.  Her mother, Wendy, started the Southern Stars 4-H horse club in Santa Rosa County.  Her love of horses and animals was a perfect fit for 4-H and Amanda.

Amanda said she has learned a lot in 4-H.  She also says 4-H has meant courage and commitment to her.  Her first summer with 4-H meant 4-H camp and since she was timid and nervous about going to camp her first year, she felt she needed courage to attend camp.  Amanda attended that first year, and the next year, and many years thereafter.  In fact, she has celebrated many of her birthdays during camp weeks at 4-H Camp Timpoochee over the years.

In time, as Amanda got older and became a counselor for new campers, she remembered her first year at camp and how friendly everyone was to her.  She said it was then that she wanted to be a camp counselor so she could “make a difference in kid’s lives the same way my counselors affected mine.”  Amanda has been one of the top counselors every year at camp and also trained many new counselors.

“4-H has given me the courage and ability to make decisions that will benefit me as well as committing myself and my work, not to back down from those plans.”

All of us staff and volunteers here at Santa Rosa County 4-H thank you, Amanda, for all of your years of hard work and dedication to the program.  We see how you have used the skills you have learned through 4-H to set goals for yourself.

As Amanda graduates with honors from Jay High School, she begins a new journey with service still on her mind.  Amanda will be joining the United States Army Reserves.  Her plans include graduating from AIT in Texas and then attend the University of West Florida as an ROTC member and obtain her prerequisites for her veterinarian degree that she will pursue at Auburn University.  Congratulations to you, Amanda.

To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as independence, organizational skills, and goal setting, to your children or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office.

 Special thanks to Prudence Caskey, UF/IFAS Santa Rosa County 4-H Agent, for providing this article and pictures.


Graduate Spotlight: “Super Sarah,” Jefferson County

Graduate Spotlight: “Super Sarah,” Jefferson County

Picture of female

Sarah Crandall, 4-H Senior

I will never forget the summer of 2007. Sarah Crandall’s mom dropped her off at the 4-H Office for the 4-H Cloverbud Day Camp. I introduced myself and tears begin to roll down her face. She would not say a word, even when you asked her a question. The following year she returned. We noticed she became more talkative and outgoing. We would have never guessed she would develop into a mature, bright, and exuberant young woman.

Youth standing at wall poster

Sarah teaching check writing

Sarah is a proud and energetic member of the Jefferson County 4-H County Teen Council. She was elected president, vice president, and secretary of the Jefferson County 4-H County Council over the course of years. She was the 2019-20 4-H District III Council Secretary and served on the 4-H State Council Executive Board Events Committees.   My observation of Sarah presiding over the club meetings clearly demonstrated that she could run meetings in a productive and orderly fashion using Robert’s Rules of Order. Her leadership skills are impeccable!  She served on the NW Florida 4-H Teen Retreat Planning Committee for the past three years. This year, Sarah was part of the team-teaching trio of the Living On My Own – Real-Life Simulation. Sarah did an exceptional job teaching the check writing portion of the activity.

In 2017, Sarah received the first-place trophy at 4-H University (state level) for her team illustrated talk entitled “Stay Alive Don’t Drink and Drink.” The past four years, Sarah participated in county, district, and state (4-H University) doing various presentations. In her spare time, Sarah loves photography, which inspired her to also participate in the State 4-H Photography Contest.

Since age 13, Sarah has been a camp counselor for all day camps and Cherry Lake overnight camps. Her peers at Camp Cherry Lake twice voted her as the Most Outstanding Camp Counselor. She is a certified 4-H Shotgun Instructor and does a phenomenal teaching shotgun discipline at the Jefferson/Leon Counties Wildlife Day Camp.   

Youth packing toys in a bag

Sarah bags toys for JOY

Volunteerism is a vital component of 4-H and Sarah has proven this.  This young woman has devoted over 400 community service hours. Sarah has also been a loyal citizen in her community by giving her time and efforts, working on community service projects. She helped Jefferson County 4-H put the final touches on the 4-H Nature Trail by clearing brush and installing signs to identify trees.  Sarah has also assisted the council every year with the roadside 4-H Adopt-A-Road project. As part of the service project during camp counselor training, she helped remove debris and landscape the Jefferson County Senior Citizen Center. Sarah also makes her visits to both nursing homes in Jefferson County during the holiday seasons. She helped bagged toys during the holidays for needy youth by participating in the JOY (Jefferson Outreach for Youth) Project.

Youth in hurricane debris cleanup

Sarah helps clean up debris

Sarah Crandall is one of our Hurricane Heroes. When Hurricane Michael caused mass destruction to the Florida Panhandle in 2018, Sarah, along with peers, spent the entire day in Bay County, moving and piling tree limbs, garbage, debris, and other miscellaneous materials.  These diligent teens worked around utility workers, fallen power lines, utility poles, and even worked in the rain until the job was completed.

I asked Sarah, what are you going to miss about 4-H the most? She stated, “I am going to miss being a camp counselor the most. I took a lot of pride in passing on my knowledge to the kids at our camps, much of which I learned when I went to the same camps at their age.” 

Our heart is content knowing that Jefferson County 4-H equipped this young woman with the tools necessary to be successful post-high school. Sarah plans to attend Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design in Lakewood, Colorado. Jefferson County 4-H takes pleasure in wishing Sarah Crandall much happiness and success in her future endeavors.

4-H teaches essential life skills to youth through hands-on lessons and real world situations through trained volunteers in a safe, positive environment.  If you are interested in becoming a 4-H member or volunteer, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.

Special thanks to John Lilly, UF/IFAS Jefferson County CED & 4-H Agent, for providing this article and pictures.

Graduating Senior: Trent Grimes

Male youth in cap and gown

Trent Grimes, 4-H Senior

Trent Grimes joined 4-H in 2012 to be able to spend some extra time with his friend, Kyle.  Trent joined the Santa Rosa County 4-H Club, Bockin’ -N- Eggs 4-H when he was 11 years old.  What began as a poultry club quickly became a livestock club focused on community service, so Kyle and Trent had a fascinating first community service project assisting the Panhandle Equine Rescue with a no-cost castration clinic.  On that first community service project day, Trent and his club helped with 28 procedures that day!  There’s a story to tell about that event, for sure, but we will  leave that for another time. From that day on, Trent has had a passion for 4-H and community service.

Trent has been a vital part of many events on the county, district, and state levels.  Trent has even participated in a community service project for youth in foster service in Tennessee for the last three years. When asked about his time in 4-H, Trent replied, “My experience in 4-H has been awesome. I have been able to see places and meet people that I wouldn’t have normally been able to.  I have always enjoyed 4-H University, and I have mowed a lot of grass to be able to go every year!”

Trent is referring to one of the primary skills membership in 4-H has given him.  Trent is a young entrepreneur and has been able to finance many of his statewide 4-H trips by mowing the neighbors’ lawns.  As the years have gone by, Trent has been able to increase his clientele of Grimes Grass, his landscaping company.  Currently, Grimes Grass has 31 clients.

Trent Grimes has always had a heart for service.  He serves with his 4-H club and family to assist with the annual Veteran’s Day Cookout, where together, Santa Rosa County 4-H holds a cookout for 400-500 Veterans and their families.  Trent also serves on the Florida 4-H State Executive Board, where he can help plan multiple statewide events.  His heart of service does not end with 4-H; he serves his senior class at West Florida Baptist Academy as the Senior Class President.  Through 4-H, Trent has learned public speaking skills, communication skills, and excellent organization skills.  After graduation, Trent will continue to pursue more customers for Grimes Grass and build his business.  As any true fan of the University of Florida, he hopes to fulfill his dreams of someday working at a gator farm.

Trent is just one of the many outstanding 4-H members in Santa Rosa County and across the state of Florida that has served his 4-H club and community well.  Where his 4-H journey has brought him over the course of eight years will help him to navigate along the new path for the many years to come, confident with the various essential life skills he has learned along the way.

To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as independence, organizational skills, and goal setting, to your children or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office.

Special thanks to Prudence Caskey, UF/IFAS Santa Rosa County 4-H Agent, for providing this article and pictures.