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The Subtle Differences Series: Diversity

I recently the privilege to attend a national training conducted by Washington State University called Navigating Differences. The goal of the program was to help people become culturally competent.  No magic pill exists to make us instantly culturally competent.  We have to be willing to engage in and grow through the process.  According to a policy brief from the National Educator’s Association, “when applied to education, cultural competence centers on the skills and knowledge to effectively serve students from diverse cultures.”

Topic: Diversity

When most people hear or read the word diversity, they automatically think of the race and gender.  Some may think of social economic status or religion.  The Ohio State University Extension defines diversity as “the differences among people with respect to age, socio-economic status, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, spiritual practices, and other human differences” (, which is also the same definition used by the Washington State Extension’s Navigating Differences curriculum.

The training challenged me in my thinking in many ways.  One of my “aha” moments came when it was shared that there are more differences within a cultural group than between groups. Do you question this statement?  If so, here is your first challenge:  Look up the Diversity Wheel.  What is a diversity wheel?  It is the dimensions that make us, well, us.  You will discover there are somethings that are core to you and permanent – located at the center of the wheel. All other dimensions, which develop over a lifetime, are found on the outer rings of the wheel.

credit: Oregon State University

The next phase of your challenge is to look at your group (family, organization, or ethnic group) and examine factors including the following: age, gender, income, physical capacity, health status, beliefs, meal practices, size, height, educational background and hobbies.

These are just a few areas, but you will discover more after you look up a diversity wheel model.

Why should we examine diversity?

Working with people, whether in a personal or professional setting, is complex. The better your understanding of yourself and others is, the more productive your interactions will be.  Remember, we are unique and come from different experiences that we bring that to the table with us.

For additional reading, visit the UF/IFAS Electronic Data Information Source:

Here are links to a few other Diversity Wheel models:


4-H Livestock Projects Teach Financial Literacy

Green and white are the colors of 4-H but what else can you think of that is green and white?  Money! So, how does 4-H livestock projects teach financial management for the youth who participate in these programs?  I am so glad you ask.  We will take a journey into the 4-H Livestock world where I will show you the $$$ and how youth learn financial management.

There are several ways for 4-H Livestock youth to earn money with their projects:

  1. One of the most common ways is through livestock market and showmanship events.  Youth can earn money base on how the animal is judges as well as how well the displayed/showed their animals.
  2. Another common way is through participating in terminal shows in which the animal is sold during the event.
  3. Youth can breed their animals and sell their offspring, or they can sell products their animal produces such as wool or eggs.
  4. Youth can also earn premium money by submitting their project record books to be judged and by participating in livestock judging events.

Now that I have tackled how 4-H Livestock youth can earn money through their projects let look at money management. The 4-H Livestock project record books have sections to record expenditures as well as income. Youth learn if the project was profitable or not.  As youth review expenditures, they have an opportunity to make decision such as if blank high-end feed is really worth the money or does a less expensive feed provides the same benefits. As most youth mature, their understanding of managing money in relationship to their project improves.  They can carry that knowledge gained from their livestock project over to other areas of their lives.   Project record book workshops assist youth in completing their project record book especially the financial portion.  At times, these workshops have been eye openers for parents.

Many of my 4-H youth shared in their project stories how they were required to invest back into their project by purchasing their show animal for the next year. I have also read how many of my 4-H youth, set higher goals for the profits from their projects such as buying a car or saving for college. Here is a great example of how one 4-Her used her livestock project to save enough money to purchase a house!

Now that I have shown the money in 4-H Livestock project, you may be interested in learning more about the animal science projects offered through Florida 4-H.  If you are interested in helping youth learn how to manage their money through their livestock project, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.  We offer a wide variety of volunteer roles to fit your interests, skills and schedule.  Learn more at or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

For more information about 4-H livestock projects, visit these links:

Northwest Teen Retreat 2017

Over 70 teens from across the panhandle participated in last year's retreat, sponsored by Farm Credit of NW FL.

Over 70 teens from across the panhandle participated in last year’s retreat, sponsored by Farm Credit of NW FL.

Interested in meeting other 4-H teens across the district?  Do you love camp?  Would you like to be more prepared for state events like 4-H Legislature or 4-H U?  What about scholarships for college?  If any of these questions caught your attention, then Teen Retreat is tailor made for you!  Last year, a committee of youth and adults put together a weekend event to help teens grow their leadership, communication and workforce skills.  With lots of positive feedback from last year’s participants, we are planning another event for 2017.

WHO: Teens ages 13-18 in the Northwest District of Florida (4-H Districts I, II & III)
WHAT: A fun weekend retreat with your peers
WHEN: February 24-26, 2017
WHERE: Camp Timpoochee, Niceville, FL
HOW: Workshops and fun shops will be planned and taught by youth committee members. Everyone will also participate in a service project.  Participants will be expected to bring what they learn back to their county council and organize a similar service project April 28-30.

Youth participated in a Shoe Cutting Party to help Sole Hope, and organization that provides shoes to children in Africa. We were able to send nearly 200 pairs of shoes!

Youth participated in a Shoe Cutting Party to help Sole Hope, and organization that provides shoes to children in Africa. We were able to send nearly 200 pairs of shoes!

Registration will open Friday, December 9th via 4HOnline.  The cost is only $75/person thanks to corporate donations from State Farm and Farm Credit of Northwest Florida.  Participate in our Teen Retreat T-shirt Design Contest and you could win a $50.00 scholarship for this event!  Check with your local UF IFAS Extension Office to inquire about any additional scholarships that may be available.  Once you complete your registration online, submit your payment to your local UF IFAS Extension Office.


DIY Gratefulness Tree Tutorial

My original tree, using paper leaves.

My original tree, using paper leaves.

Have you ever heard the saying, “take time to stop and smell the roses?”  With the hustle and bustle of daily life, this can be easier said than done!  However, according to several studies, being intentional about gratitude can benefit you both physically and mentally.  A Gratefulness Tree is a fun and creative way to help you be more intentional about the what you are grateful for.

I learned this project many years ago and I keep the first rendition (pictured on the right) which was really simplistic in my office as a constant visual reminder to count my blessings. The four H’s of 4-H, Head, Heart, Hands, and Health, are incorporated into this project, so consider this for a future 4-H club meeting activity as well!

These are the supplies you will need to create your tree.

These are the supplies you will need to create your tree.

Items needed for this project:  Small branch(es) with leaves removed, vessel of choice, foam, sand, or soil to stabilize branches, pebbles for additional weight and stability, needle and thread to hang the leaves, leaf pattern and colorful paper, or purchased leaves. You will also need a gel pen or superfine marker to write on leaves, rubber bands, tape, and decorative seasonal napkins or florists’ moss to the base of the tree.

Even though this DIY project is presented in the month of November, this project can be done at any time during the year. On Thanksgiving Day or any designated day, have each family/club member and guest take a leaf off of the tree to read out loud.

Use tissue paper or florists' foam to secure the branched in your decorative container.

Use tissue paper or florists’ foam to secure the branched in your decorative container.

The comings and goings of our daily lives can consume us at times.  It can become easy to focus on the negatives or challenges we face because they cause of some sort of discomfort and forget to think of those things or people that bring joy and comfort to our lives. I hope this intentional project on gratefulness helps us all to “smell the roses” more often.

What do some of my leaves say? Well, here are a few examples of the things I am grateful for; food, good friends, willingness to forgive, sight, faith, family, and shelter. I will display the newest tree (pictured on the left) in my home and just like my first one it will gain more leaves over time.

Use a gel pen to write what you are thankful for on each leaf

Use a gel pen to write what you are thankful for on each leaf

Use decorative napkins, fabric, or even florists' moss to cover the base of the tree.

Use decorative napkins, fabric, or even florists’ moss to cover the base of the tree.

This is what your Gratefulness Tree will look like when you are done.

This is what your Gratefulness Tree will look like when you are done.

‘My Head to Clearer Thinking:’ Managing Stress

“I pledge my head to clearer thinking” is part of the 4-H pledge. Clear thinking helps us to make wiser choices/decisions but when we are under a lot of stress our thinking can be cloudy and our bodies can experience short and long term negative effects.

Some consider me to be one of the most positive, inspiring people they know but I too have to deal with stress. Recently a lot of change has happened in my personal and professional life. Like many, I just pushed through with my daily routines. My body had been giving me clues, tension in shoulders, headaches, and the final kicker, elevated blood pressure. Gasp!

Stressed defined in “Fact Sheet on Stress” by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as the brain’s response to any demand. Yes, any demand can be a stress trigger. Often we see the word “stress” in a negative way but not all stress triggers are negative. For example, finding out you just landed your dream job and will have to move. What creates high stress in one person may not do the same in another person.

Prolonged unaddressed stress will have negative effects mentally, physically, or both. Know your personal stress thresholds and do not ignoring those signals. You don’t want to get the frowny face from your doctor like I did.

Though stress is a part of life, being prepared to deal with it is key to successful living. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to be more healthy, coping or reducing stress in your life and have many health benefits.  There are several great publications from University of Florida IFAS Extension concerning recognizing and dealing with stress. Below are just a few.

To read more of the NIMH’s Fact Sheet on Stress go here:

Here are a Few Stress Busters:

  1. Be creative (Have you tried the adult coloring books?)
  2. Laughter (Find your favorite funny movie/person and laugh out loud but not at work.)
  3. Have a good support network & get the help you need.