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What do 4-Hers Do?

Youth at camp

4-H offers a variety of ways for youth and volunteers to get involved!

4-H offers one of the most dynamic youth development experiences- not only are there different types of 4-H membership, but also a wide spectrum of topics youth can explore.   This post will break down the types of 4-H membership, topics youth can learn about, and what to expect during a 4-H club meeting.

4-H Membership Types

  • Community and project clubs are the most traditional membership. Community clubs serve specific geographic areas and offer a wide variety of projects. Project clubs focus on one specific project area, such as sewing, horses, or robotics.
  • 4-H also partners with schools and afterschool programs to provide 4-H experiences for youth. Check with your child’s school or afterschool provider to find out what is available. 4-H also offers some in-school programs like public speaking, agriculture awareness, and embryology to teach science career development.
  • Youth can also participate as camp members. Most counties offer day and residential camp experiences.
  • Some youth also participate in special interest projects or events. This could include Teen Retreat, judging teams, 4-H Legislature, or workshops.

4-H Topics Youth Can ExploreYouth and volunteer on boat

4-H offers multiple ways for youth to explore their sparks. We have three pillar programs- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), Healthy Living, and Citizenship and Leadership. You can find out more about each of the projects by clicking the links below.


Healthy Living

Citizenship & Leadership


Child Development

Public Speaking


Clothing & Textiles

Community Service


Financial Management



Food & Nutrition













Shooting Sports




Horticulture (gardening)


Sports Fishing


Entomology (insects)








What to Expect during a 4-H Program

  1. A Sense of Belonging– Icebreakers, teambuilding, and get-to-know you games are intentionally part of 4-H programs to help youth (especially new youth) feel like they belong and are welcome. Read more about making meetings welcoming…
  2. 4-H Ceremonies are part of our culture- most 4-H programs begin with the pledge to the American and 4-H flags. Annually, we have officer inductions for our youth club and council offers. For many of our overnight events (such as camp) we will also have flag ceremonies.
  3. Youth~adult partnerships– we view youth as resources. That means that youth voice is important, and youth are encouraged to participate in decision making and goal setting. Club programs are driven by what youth want to learn and do through 4-H, and meetings are led by youth officers.
  4. Opportunities to Learn– educational programs and workshops are taught by adult and teen volunteers. Programs are hands-on, and allow youth to “learn by doing.”
  5. Opportunities to share– 4-H uses the experiential learning model, meaning that volunteers ask questions to help youth reflect and process what they have learned, and how it will help them in future situations. Sometimes youth will give demonstrations or presentations about their project work- especially when they are preparing for a completion.

For more information about 4-H club meetings, check out these previous articles:

Enrollment for the 2021-2022 4-H year opens August 20th. For more information about opportunities for youth and volunteers in your area, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office. 

Happy National S’mores Day!

Nothing says summer better than a gooey, yummy s’more!  They are the ultimate summer campfire dessert. In celebration of National S’mores Day, we are sharing a history of the s’more, a how-to video, and recipe card with our readers. You can make s’mores the traditional way over a campfire, but you can also make them in a microwave or also turn them into a science lesson by making them in a solar oven!

While you are hanging around the campfire with friends and family, here’s a little history of the s’more:

  • Marshmallows were invented by the ancient Greeks and Romans for medicinal purposes (specifically to relieve inflammation and constipation). The first marshmallows were made from the plant Althaea officinalis. 
  • The French added egg whites and sugar, and marketed marshmallows as a treat with healing properties.
  • In the 19th century, confectioners began substituting gelatin for the plant juices, which made it much easier to produce marshmallows in mass.
  • The graham cracker was invented by a Presbyterian minister, Sylvester Graham, who believed eating plain, simple food prevented immoral behavior.
  • Marshmallow roasting parties became fashionable during the Victorian era.
  • We have the Girl Scouts to thank for bringing together chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers!  The first recipe for s’mores appeared in the 1927 Girls Scout Handbook, and was called S’mores because they were so good, everyone would ask for “some more”

Nearly 100 years later, s’mores continue to be a favorite treat at 4-H camps. If it’s too hot for a campfire this summer, you can also make this yummy treat in the microwave:

You can also download and share this recipe card:

Making solar s’mores can be a fun 4-H club activity- National 4-H Council turned our previous solar s’mores post into a “4-H At Home” activity that you can also download and share.

Now is the Time To Get Involved in the Florida 4-H Horse Program

Now is the Time To Get Involved in the Florida 4-H Horse Program

Did you know the Florida 4-H Horse Program offers horse shows, horse judging, Hippology, public speaking, demonstrations, illustrated talks, quiz bowl, horsemanship schools, and even scholarships?

Youth posing with horse at horse show.

Youth at the 2019 Area North Horse Show in Clay County, FL on May 11, 2019.

September 1, 2021 starts the new 4-H year, and now is the time to get involved! The Florida 4-H Horse Program consists of all the programs mentioned above, and only a few of those events actually requires owning a horse. The horse program has something for everyone, and the best part is that you get involved with youth focused, horse loving community. Below, we will introduce you to each part of the program, but if you have more questions, be sure to reach out to your county agent. For this article, we will look at programs where you do not need to own or lease a horse, and programs where you do. So let’s get started!

Horseless Programs (No horse needs to be owned or leased)

Horse Judging

Youth on horses competing in area at horse show.

Youth compete at the 2019 Area North Horse Show in Clay County, FL on May 11, 2019

About: In horse judging, youth are presented classes of horses, and they are asked to evaluate each class, place them, and present oral reasons. This competition teaches youth to look at horses and evaluate the based on both confirmation and function. To watch a short video outlining the details of the competition, click here.

Important Dates:

February 2022: Florida State Fairy Horse Judging Contest, Tampa, Florida

March/Early April 2022: State 4-H and FFA Horse Judging Contest, Gainesville, Florida

For More information, please visit the UF 4-H Horse Judging Website.

Quiz Bowl

About: Quiz bowl is a trivia style contest with both individual and team components. Topics range from practical hands on knowledge to horse industry knowledge. To learn more about these events, watch a short video here.

Important Dates:

June 1, 2022 (not yet officially announced, but same as years past) – State Entry Deadline

June 2022- State 4-H Horse Quiz Bowl Contest, Gainesville, Florida

For More information, please visit the State 4-H Horse Demonstrations and Public Speaking.


About: Hippology includes all aspects of horse knowledge and covers topics ranging from judging to feedstuffs identification. Hippology includes practical horse management knowledge combining it with the experience and knowledge from all the other contests (Judging, quiz bowl, public speaking, etc.). To watch a short video outlining the details of the competition, click here.

Important Dates:

March/Early April 2022 (not yet officially announced, but same as years past): State 4-H Contest, Gainesville, Florida

For More information, please visit the UF 4-H Hippology Website.

Public Speaking/Demonstrations/and Illustrated Talks

About: In these events, youth get to explore an area of interest as it relates to horses, then create a presentation to share it with others. These events have a county, district, and in some cases a state level. To learn more about these events, watch a short video here.

Important Dates:

Most counties have a qualification process, that differs across the state. Check with your county agent for the specifics on the county and district qualifying events.

June 1, 2022 (not yet officially announced, but same as years past) – State Entry Deadline

June 2022- State 4-H Horse Demonstrations and Public Speaking Contest, Gainesville, Florida

For More information, please visit the State 4-H Horse Demonstrations and Public Speaking site.


About: The Florida 4-H Horse scholarship program aims to reward youth who are demonstrated an intense passion and advancement in the Florida 4-H Horse Program. These scholarships have their own specific requirements and awards. For More information, please visit the Florida 4-H Equine Scholarships Summary here.

To watch a short video outlining the details of the opportunities, click here.

Important Dates:

June 1, 2022 (not yet officially announced, but same as years past) – Scholarship Applications are due

*Be sure to work closely with your county 4-H agent to ensure this process goes smoothly.

Project Horse Programs (A horse must be owned/leased by youth)

Area and State Horse Shows

Two youth riding horses

Photo Credit: Julie Andrews Photography Youth at the 2019 Area North Horse Show in Clay County, FL on May 11, 2019.

About: Each year, Florida 4-H hosts Area Shows to qualify for the State 4-H Horse Show. To learn more about these shows watch this short video which introduces the Florida 4-H Horse Shows.

Important Dates and Information:

If you want to compete at your Area Horse Show, you need to be aware of the following items:

  1. December 31, 2021- The Florida 4-H Horse Certification Form should be submitted to the county 4-H on or before December 31, 2021 to qualify to pa

Youth displaying ribbon after placing in a horse show class at the 2022 Area North Horse Show.

rticipate in the Area North Horse Show and the State 4-H Horse show. This form must be completed each year, even if you are using the same horse as a previous year. A youth should do this for each horse they intend to show or use to participate in 4-H shows with.

    1. Find the form here: Florida 4-H Horse Certification Form
  1. December 31, 2021- A Horse Lease Form should be completed and submitted if a youth wants to participate with a horse that is not owned by the youth. Even if you are borrowing the horse without a fee, youth must have a Horse Lease Form on file with the local county 4-H office.
    1. Find the form here: Horse Lease Form
  1. The Florida 4-H Horse Project Record Book is a great way to track and demonstrate your growth throughout the year.
    1. Find the project book here: Florida 4-H Horse Project Book

Each county has their own specific guidelines and requirements. Please be sure to check when your county offices are closed for the holidays as they may not be open on the final day the form is due. Contact your county office if you have any questions or concerns regarding county specific requirements. For more information about Florida 4-H Horse Project opportunities visit the State 4-H Horse Events site.

Horsemanship Schools

About: Horsemanship school is a week long program geared at teaching and equipping youth with the knowledge and tools needed to be successful and grow as horseman. There are three program offerings: Western week, English week, and Cowboy Camp (male 4-H youth). To watch a short video outlining the details of the opportunities, click here.

Important Dates:

Youth at Horsemanship School in Niceville, Florida before camps were moved to Gainesville.

Summer 2022 – Cowboy Camp, Gainesville, Florida

Summer 2022 – Western Week, Gainesville, Florida

Summer 2022 – English Week, Gainesville, Florida

For more information, please visit the UF Horsemanship School website.

The Florida 4-H Horse program is abounding in opportunities, so come join our community of horse loving youth and adults focused on “making the best, better”!

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us!

You can find your local county 4-H office here.

*Photo Credits belong to:

Julie Andrews Photography, 2019 Area North Horse Show, Clay County, Florida.

*All Photos were taken prior to COVID-19 lockdown and policies.

Happy Flag Day- Learn about Flag Etiquette

photo of American and 4-H FlagGet your red, white and blue decorations out to celebrate Flag Day 2021. According to Flag day began in 1885 when Bernard Cigrand, a Wisconsin teacher, who led his school in the first formal observance of the holiday. Both President Wilson, in 1916, and President Coolidge, in 1927 issued a presidential proclamation asking for June 14 to be observed as National Flag Day. In 1949 congress approved the nationals observance for the United States Flag to be honored in commemoration of the flag’s adoption June 14, 1777. Since that adoption there have been 27 different versions of the flag.

American Flags along a curb

Celebrate our Freedom

Why is flag day important? The American flag serves as a symbol of our nation and tells the story of America. It represents the freedom, perseverance, and growth of the United States. As a national symbol, it has rules that go along with the display and use of the flag. These rules are part of the U.S. Flag Code. The flag code is a set of rules and regulations that defines ways in which we give respect to the American flag. It includes how we should display, handle, care for, and dispose of the American flag. Our observance of this code is considered flag etiquette. Knowing these rules and the history of the American flag will help you demonstrate your patriotism and respect toward the sacrifices made for our country and freedom.

Displaying the flag

We would like to take this opportunity to share some important tips for displaying the American flag, and help you be a responsible citizen by knowing how to properly fly the stars and stripes. In inclement weather, the flag should not fly unless it is an all-weather flag. At night, lighting requirements are necessary, or the flag can only be displayed from sunrise to sunset. If the American flag flies with other flags, they cannot be larger or raised higher than the American flag. Additionally, the American flag should always be the first raised and the last lowered and should never touch the ground. Also the flag should never be carried horizontally, but always aloft and free.

In a time of national mourning, the flag flies at half-mast.  Half-mast is when you position the flag below the top of the staff – the exact measurement determined by the position of the flagpole. Doing so is a mark of respect for those who have lost their lives. Times when you fly a flag at half-mast include days like Memorial Day, Patriot’s Day, Veterans’ Day, and in the event of a death of a member or former member of the government. There are sites to receive alerts of when to fly half mast. The U.S. Defense Department says the flag should only be flown upside down “to convey a sign of distress or great danger.”

Presenting, folding, & storing the flag

Presentation of the American flag at an event also has requirements. One of the requirements includes removal of your hat during the flag presentation, raising, or lowering as a sign of respect. The same is true for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. If an American flag is present on a stage or during a speech, correct placement is ahead of the audience on the stage and to the speaker’s right as he/she faces the audience. There are rules how to properly store the American flag. The proper folding of the American flag is in the shape of a triangle with the union (blue spangled section) visible. Folding the flag is tricky, but Indiana 4-H has a great flag folding activity that helps youth and adults gain practice. This activity teaches the step-by-step process on how to properly fold the American flag. There are some tips that you want to keep in mind while learning or teaching how to fold the flag. It takes two people to fold the flag, and each person should start by holding the short sides of the flag, helping make sure that the flag is tight. When folding, you want to fold the flag in half lengthwise two times before you start “cornering.” Cornering is when you start to fold the flag into triangles, beginning at the striped end of the flag. Once you have it properly folded triangularly you will want to store it in a well-ventilated area to keep it dry in order to prevent mildew. Remember, When storing the flag, it is important to keep it dry, folded properly and on an elevated shelf or surface so it will not touch the ground.

Caring for the flag

You may want to consider ways to make your flag last longer. Often, the flag might just need a good cleaning or a minor repair. Ways to increase the longevity of your flag include getting it cleaned, taking it down during bad weather, and making minor repairs as soon as you see damage. The American Legion says you can wash your flag at home or take it to the dry cleaners. If you choose to wash at home, mollymaid recommends using a mild detergent and either hand washing or on the delicate cycle with cold water. Dry the flag by hanging it on a clothesline or letting it lay on a flat surface.

You need to retire a flag or remove it from service when it is in a condition of being worn beyond repair, has large rips or tears and is no longer a fitting emblem for display. It is important to retire the American flag a respectful manner. There is a protocol for flag retirement, providing a dignified way of destroying American flags no longer fit for display. The preferred method of disposal is a flag retirement ceremony. There are several organizations within local communities who collect and perform these ceremonies, such as American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, 4-H Camps, Boy Scouts and more.

Flag retirement

If you want to dispose of the flag yourself, you can do a retirement ceremony by burning the flag or by recycling it. The protocol for a burning ceremony is to have a fire that is large and intense enough to burn the flag completely. The steps include placing the flag on the fire while observers salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and have a moment of silence. Upon completion, safely extinguish the fire. Beware of burning synthetic flags, such as nylon, can produce dangerous fumes. If you have a synthetic flag consider a different method of retirement like recycling your flag. To do this, cut apart your flag by separating the 13 stripes and leaving the union (blue spangled section) intact. Once cut off, the flag is no longer the official flag allowed for disposal of the parts. Upon the completion of the recycling, you can do a brief ceremony paying tribute to the stars and stripes before sending it off. We encourage you to take the fabric scraps to any local textile recycling drop-off.

Flag etiquette is not a typical classroom lesson, but it only takes a moment to learn the various regulations under the U.S. Flag Code. We encourage you to take time yourself to find more information to help further your knowledge and understanding of the flag etiquette. There are many great resources that are available online:

From this article, we hope that you learned of the importance of the life cycle of the American flag. When and how to properly display, store, care, and dispose of this national symbol. Enjoy Flag Day in 2021 and show your pride in our county by showing proper respect for the American flag and displaying it proudly or by displaying the Red, White and Blue in front of your house!

Written by Zyreshia Jackson and Paula Davis

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.

Purple Up! in Support of Military Youth

Purple poster of youth

If you can’t Purple Up on the 15th Choose another day!

Not all heroes wear capes. How many times have we heard this phrase over the last year referring to healthcare workers, first responders, and essential personnel? What about kids – specifically kids with one or both parents serving in the military?

According to Webster, a hero is “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Upon reflection, we thought about what we see in military kids. The kids of military families have make many sacrifices, they move often, lose time with family members serving, and often don’t get to celebrate events with deployed family members. Military-connected kids experience many challenges that make them resilient, but they also take their toll. We are civilians serving military youth using 4-H as the vehicle to help make them more resilient. In fact, UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H are proud to be a part of the military family working with youth centers across the nation to have some consistency for youth in these situations.

Jen also lives in a neighborhood full of active duty military members and their families. She sat down and chatted with a teen and his dad who is active duty Navy and one of her neighbors. Their conversation was so enlightening and inspiring about being a military kid that we had to share it with you!
The conversation started with me asking the teen to tell me what he thought a hero was. His response? Someone who does for the greater good; a person who possess courage, honesty, integrity, and kindness. I followed up by asking if he thought of himself as a hero. Immediately, he said, “no, I’m just a military kid. It is nothing special, just a title.” His answer really resonated with me. Adults who sign up for military life know what they are signing up for, military kids are just handed the cards they are dealt. The kids of military families have no say in the sacrifices of time, family, and opportunities as well as the uncertainty that comes along with the job of one or both parents serving in the military. How could this teen not see how special he is? I could not believe that his perception was that military kid just a title!
As we continued our conversation, we discussed how his role changes when his dad is gone for 7 to 14 months on deployment. He has to step up as the “man of the house” to help his mom with household duties and help with his younger brother. Then when dad comes back his role to changes again. These role changes can be challenging, but he consistently steps up without complaint. This young man has also experienced a big move that involved making all new friends, adjusting to life in the south. His parents report that he has also kept a positive attitude. When ask about this his response was “that is just what you do.”

image of children in purple

Purple up for military Kids

Military kids experience change frequently – some little and some big- starting early in their lives. Their ability to adapt and overcome is admirable. This teen was so nonchalant about his abilities and skills as a military kid that I had to stop and remind him that what he possesses is something truly special. To put it into perspective, on top of everything that comes with being a military kid, he has dealt with a big move relocating to Florida, the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic and transitioned to virtual school. Compared to his peers, and many adults, he has handled the change with grace and confidence. By the end of our conversation, I asked again, “Do you think of yourself as a hero?” This time his answer was much different than when we started our conversation, “yes, I guess I am.” I thanked him for his service, which supports his dad to carry out his duties to protect our country every day. He replied thank you for caring!
Now we need your help! Being a military kid is so much more than a title. Please join us in celebrating the Month of the Military Child throughout April and Purple Up! for Military Kids on April 15. This is one way to recognize these youth and show them we care! It’s simple, wear purple and take photos to share on social media using #fl4h, #purpleup, #virtualMOMC, #4heverywhere
I encourage you to visit our website ( and follow us on Facebook (@bayifas) to learn about how you can join the celebration and support Extension programs like these. Next time you see a military member out with their family, I urge you to not just thank the service member for their service, but also thank their kids as they serve, too. For more information on Purple Up; contact your local county 4-H Agent. 4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations and includes people from all economic, racial, social, political, and geographic categories. There are no barriers to participation by any young person. Participants are given the opportunity to engage in activities that hold their personal interest, while being guided by adult volunteers.

By: Paula Davis & Jennifer Sims