Cole as a sophomore at Jacksonville University, a member of the varsity shotgun team.
4-H allows young people to explore their sparks for learning. And through the process, young people learn valuable life skills that prepare them for work and/or college. But many people do not realize that 4-H can help young people secure cash for college or trade school! But college scholarships weren’t on Cole Dillard’s mind when he attended his first 4-H Shooting Sports club meeting. He just wanted to shoot skeet and become a better marksman. Cole joined the Sure Shots 4-H Club in Washington County when he was 10 years old and never looked back. Over the next eight years, he competed in 4-H and other shotgun competitions. He worked hard with his coaches to hone his skills and confidence. He also helped coach younger youth and served as the club president for two years. As a senior 4-Her, he was the Shotgun Individual HOA in 2020 at the Florida 4-H State Match. This earned him a spot to compete at the National 4-H Shooting Sports Match.
Cole with his brother Cass, and one of his 4-H Shotgun coaches
All that paid off when one of Cole’s coaches introduced him to the Jacksonville University advisor for the varsity shotgun team. After meeting the coach, touring the campus, and shooting with the other varsity members, Cole was offered a varsity scholarship to Jacksonville University as a member of their shotgun team. Today, Cole is finishing his sophomore year and majoring in aviation. His favorite clay target game is skeet, and he was recently named the Jacksonville University “Shooter of the Week.” You never know where exploring your 4-H sparks will take you in life- for Cole, it helped him turn his spark for shooting sports into cash for college!
Cole with members of his 4-H Shotgun team, preparing for the state match in 2019
Cole’s story would not have been possible without the caring volunteers who coached him in 4-H Shooting Sports. They shared their passion for the sport so that he could explore his spark, which eventually led to his college scholarship. This is one example of the many ways our 4-H volunteers make a significant difference in the lives of young people. If you have knowledge, skills, or expertise, please consider sharing them through 4-H. We offer flexible opportunities to share your passion with today’s youth. If you are not familiar with 4-H, check out our 4-H Volunteer Welcome Packet for answers to frequently asked questions about becoming a volunteer and schedule a meeting with your local UF/IFAS 4-H Agent.
What is Subject Matter Expertise?
Subject matter expertise refers to the “technical knowledge and skills possessed to perform tasks related to a specific field(s)” (Harder, 2019). While county 4-H professionals (also known as agents) often bring subject matter expertise in one or more areas to the job, the subject matter expertise of program volunteers helps to expand the availability of potential program offerings. As an organization, 4-H strives to provide opportunities for learning evidence-based content (subject matter) and apply age-appropriate positive youth development (PYD) strategies to facilitate experiential learning via a collaborative youth-adult partnership.
What is a Subject Matter Expert?
Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) “are professionals who have advanced knowledge in a specific field” (Indeed, 2020). Generally, an SME will have “a deep understanding of a particular job, process, department, function, technology, machine, material or type of equipment” (Reh, 2020). In the workplace, being known as an SME is part of a career trajectory and this role or status is often based on a combination of education or training and experience. In the 4-H setting, it is possible that a subject matter expert has gained expertise through informal learning and hands-on experience. The 4-H subject matter expert may not always work professionally in the area of expertise that they bring to 4-H. For example, a skilled volunteer may work as a nurse in their professional career but leads a 4-H sewing club where she can share a deep knowledge subject knowledge and extensive skills gained through years of practice and self-guided study.
Why is Subject Matter Expertise Important to 4-H?
In 4-H, adult staff members and community volunteers work as partners with youth members to help youth “learn by doing.” The 4-H learning experience is based on the idea that “learning is an integrated process where the learner, the educator, the physical space, and culture all are changed by each other” (NIFA, 2016). 4-H clubs provide youth with opportunities to learn subject matter and develop life skills (Knowles and Diem, 2018).
While adults and youth may learn a new skill or acquire new knowledge together in a discovery process, the most common 4-H experience involves working with a subject matter expert who will help to facilitate experiential learning. 4-H learning is intended to be a “dynamic experience in a shifting learning ecosystem” (NIFA, 2016). Together, 4-H staff and community volunteers work together to bring new research and best practices into the learning experience.
How Do We Find Subject Matter Experts?
One way that 4-H can provide specialized subject matter content is through partnerships. For example, 4-H has been successful in partnering with industry professionals and university faculty to implement a variety of STEM programs. A multiyear partnership with NASA has provided many opportunities for youth to explore the world of aerospace science. However, it is not necessary to be a rocket scientist to have subject matter expertise that can be helpful to a 4-H program.
In 4-H, agents have several options available to help develop volunteer subject matter expertise. Agents may look for potential volunteers with specific subject matter expertise to match youth interests. Another option is to engage a caring adult volunteer with a desire to learn an unfamiliar skill or acquire a new knowledge set. For example, a 4-H agent with youth members who want to have a beekeeping club may find a local beekeeper to be a club leader. Another way to match a volunteer with a potential beekeeping club would be to find the adult and arrange for them to attend an Extension education program on beekeeping. Finally, it is also possible to have a volunteer with positive youth development skills that can lead a club and invite guest speakers with expertise to provide subject matter content.
Over time, youth may also become subject matter experts. For example, youth members in Wakulla participated in a poultry science club as Cloverbud and Junior members. After several years of completing projects and participating in competitions, these youth have gained considerable subject matter expertise and have started to teach content and skills to other youth at annual workshops.
Volunteers who want to increase their subject matter knowledge and expertise will find a wealth of resources within 4-H and the larger world of Cooperative Extension. Varied modes of learning are possible – from online seminars, to resource-rich publications, to hands-on experiential learning. For example, volunteers had the opportunity to network with subject matter experts and have robust experiential learning opportunities during our Northwest 4-H Volunteer Forum. After the Forum weekend, volunteers shared that the the event provided opportunities for them to network and connect with other volunteers to gain access to subject matter and experiential expertise. By popular demand, the Northwest 4-H Volunteer Forum will return in January 2023. Watch this space for additional details on how to connect and be part of the weekend event!
How to Get Involved
Do you have a passion for a particular subject matter area, or do you have a skill that you want to share? A variety of volunteer roles with 4-H are possible. Volunteers may serve as club leaders or project leaders, or be a guest instructor, or be a judge for a competition. We would like to build a directory of subject matter experts to support 4-H volunteers and clubs across the Florida Panhandle. If you have expertise you would like to share, please complete this short survey.
Remember, you do not necessarily have to be a subject matter expert to get started as a 4-H volunteer! If you are a caring adult with a desire to learn new skills and play an important role in the lives of youth in your local community, 4-H can help you gain new skills to help guide youth in a transformative learning experience. We offer subject matter trainings for volunteers throughout the year on a variety of topics.
For more information about how to become a 4-H volunteer, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.
4-H Learning Experience
Priorities Competencies for County Faculty
Subject Matter Expert
The 4-H Volunteer Training Series
What is Subject Matter Expert?
Do you love learning about animals and agriculture? Chick Chain might be the perfect project for you! The 4-H Chick Chain is a program where youth learn how to raise pullets (young chicks) to full-grown layers. It is the perfect way to start your own small flock of chickens to keep your family supplied with fresh eggs. This program is also designed to help youth learn about animal ethics, biosecurity, and nutrition. As youth participate in the project, they have the opportunity to practice decision-making, critical thinking, and communication skills. This blog post will give an overview of the program and answer frequently asked questions to help you decide if this project is right for your child. Enrollment for this year’s program will close at the end of September, so only a few weeks left to sign up!
What is 4-H Chick Chain?
Chick Chain is a 4-H project where youth from the 16 counties in Northwest Florida learn how to raise, care for, and show chickens. At the end of the project, there is an opportunity for youth to show their chicken as well as what they have learned while raising their animals. The short video below gives you a great overview of what your child will learn and do in the Northwest Florida 4-H Chick Chain.
What is Required to Participate in this Project?
During the months of August and September, youth enroll (or re-enroll) in 4-H and sign up for the Chick Chain project. Youth can participate through a club or as an independent member. During the months of September and October, youth set up their brooders and either hatch or begin raising pullets. There are lots of great resources on our website to help new families set up a brooder and start caring for their chicks, and your local UF/IFAS Extension Office is available to answer any questions you may have. During December, January, and February, youth will have the opportunity to participate in workshops to learn showmanship, complete their record book, and prepare for the show. First-time members will compete in a skill-a-thon during the show. Returning members can choose to complete an entrepreneurship project or give an illustrated talk or demonstration about poultry. There will be workshops to help returning members prepare. The culminating event is March 11th- the District-wide Chick Chain show in Chipley, Florida at the UF/IFAS Washington County Extension Office. Youth will demonstrate their project knowledge and be recognized for their achievements.
What Types of Chickens can I Raise this Year?
Where do I Sign up?
New 4-H members will need to enroll in 4Honline; returning members will re-enroll in 4Honline. When you enroll (or re-enroll), you will select “4-H Chick Chain” as your club, and “Poultry Science” as your project. You can select other projects if you desire, but those two items must be selected to enroll in the Chick Chain program. There is a $25.00 fee to enroll in the program- this fee covers expenses related to the workshops and show.
Who do I contact if I need help with my project?
Start with your county UF/IFAS Extension 4-H Agent. He or she has the contacts/information you need to be successful in your project. Never be afraid to ask questions or for help!
What is showmanship?
Your ability to handle your bird and your poultry knowledge is the focus of showmanship. You’ll interact one-on-one with an experienced poultry judge demonstrating the steps of showmanship, breed knowledge, and general poultry knowledge. Attitude, appearance, speaking ability, care, management skills, and willingness to follow instructions are all on stage. The best way to learn about showmanship is to watch the videos on our website, and attend one of the Poultry Perfection workshops (we have three different locations and dates to accommodate everyone). During the workshop, we will teach you how to wash, groom, and handle your bird. We will also practice talking to the judge and review what to wear on showmanship day. Showmanship classes are divided by 4-H age divisions:
What is a Skill-A-Thon?
This is a hands-on contest for you to show off what you have learned throughout your project and is required for 1st-year participants. There may be questions on identifying breeds of chickens, how to set up a brooder, types of combs and how to choose the correct feed. You’ll learn this information during your project and at the Poultry Perfection Workshop.
What is the Entrepreneurship Project?
Instead of the skill-a-thon, returning project members can choose to participate in the entrepreneurship challenge or give a demonstration or illustrated talk. The entrepreneurship challenge is a business plan based on services or goods related to your poultry project. For example, you might create a business plan for selling eggs to your neighborhood or composted chicken manure to gardeners. We will guide you through taking your idea and turning it into a business plan that you will communicate to a team of judges.
What is a Demonstration or Illustrated Talk?
A demonstration is a show and tell presentation where you demonstrate how to do something. This might include how to set up a brooder, how to read a feed tag, or how to candle and egg. An illustrated talk is a presentation with visuals and tells about something. This could include telling about different breeds of chickens, telling how to inspect your chicken coop for disease/biosecurity, or how to judge a chicken.
Where Can I Find Project Resources?
Everything you need is available on our website! There is a handy timeline, information about setting up your brooder, feeding and caring for your animals, preparing for showmanship, and much more! You can download and print a copy of your record book, or you can fill it out online. The website is where all the most current information is housed, so you will want to bookmark it for easy access!
For more information, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office. You can find more information about the 4-H poultry project on our poultry project page!
Did you get to do any grilling this summer? Many of our 4-Hers did! Over 100 youth from throughout the Florida panhandle participated in 4-H summer day camps that taught them food and fire safety, safe grilling, and proper cooking skills.
Day camps offered unique experiences to youth on grilling techniques all summer and helped youth prepare for our District Competition. On July 30, 2022, 28 youth from eight counties participated in the Northwest District Tailgating Contest at the Washington County Ag Center in Chipley, Florida. Youth participated in competitions in beef, pork, chicken, and shrimp divisions and were judged on their food and fire safety skills around the grill and the taste of their chosen protein. In all, $3,200 was awarded to panhandle youth for placing 1st-4th in their competitions.
Now the top two youth in each protein category will compete at the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest in Gainesville on October 1, 2022. They will compete against youth from across Florida for an opportunity to win college scholarships. For the state contest, the first-place winner in each protein area receives a $1,500 college scholarship and the second-place winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship.
Join us as we cheer on the following NW District 4-H participants as they represent us at the Florida 4-H State Tailgating Contest:
2022 Seafood Category Winners
2022 Beef Category Winners
- Aubrie D.-Escambia County
- Aidden Y.-Walton County
- Pork Division
- Brooke H.-Escambia County
- Cate B.-Okaloosa County
- Chicken Division
- Vanessa E.-Wakulla County
- Jamison S.-Jackson County
- Shrimp Division
- Addie M.-Escambia County
2022 Pork Category Winners
- Mason K.-Escambia County
2022 Chicken Category Winners
If you are interested in furthering your grilling skills, please check out the Florida 4-H Tailgate Series of EDIS documents. If you would like more information on the Tailgating Contest to prepare for next year, check out our brand new handbook! Finally, the top two winners in each protein category are sharing their award-winning recipes in this free, downloadable eBook!
It’s hard to believe the 4th of July is already upon us!
Youth learning to grill during 4-H tailgate program
Many of us will be celebrating with picnics, cookouts, and family get-togethers. One of my colleagues in Clay County, Samantha Murray, did a great article about preventing food poisoning while celebrating. Our youth have also been attending grilling summer camp programs and learning many of these tips plus lots more. The youth have learned about how to use a grill safely, how to prepare food safely and prevent cross-contamination or food-borne illness, and the nutritional benefits of animal protein in diets. Our district will have its annual competition to advance to the state-level competition on July 30 at the Washington County Extension Office, in Chipley, Florida.
I just wanted to take a moment to recap the tips Samantha gave to keep all of us safe and healthy while celebrating.
- Keep raw meats in a separate cooler than ready-to-eat items or beverages.
- Foods with mayonnaise are less acidic creating a better environment for bacterial growth
- Chicken and ground beef needs to be cooked to 165°F
- Wash hands if soap and water are not available use hand sanitizer to reduce the risk of contaminating food.
- Use different tongs or spatulas for cooked and uncooked meat or wash them after being in contact with raw meat.
- It is recommended to refrigerate leftovers within two hours unless it’s really hot, then the window shrinks to about an hour.
Other items you may want to think about.
- Keep beverages in a separate cooler from other foods, people will be going in and out of beverage coolers much more keeping the temperature higher and allowing bacterial growth.
- Cook cuts of pork, beef, or shrimp to 145°F
- Don’t sit charcoal grills on plastic tables and make sure the area is free from debris that can catch fire, including limbs or tents overhead.
- Clean up after yourself leaving only footprints in the area you were in!
- Enjoy time with friends and family safely!
For more information about educational programs, check out our webpage or contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office.
With temperatures already posting in the 90s this month, it’s a good idea to make sure your backyard chickens are ready for the coming summer heat. Poultry can become heat stressed when temperatures rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat stress affects egg production as well as size, shell quality, and hatchability. It also affects appetite and growth in younger birds.
Add ice cubes to your chickens water to cool them down.
To minimize heat stress in your backyard flock, there are several things you can do.
- Make sure your coop is well ventilated for cross air movement. Trim vegetation and limbs that might block air flow. You can also add a fan to help move air throughout the coop.
- Locate your coop in a shaded area surrounded by grass. Grass reduces light reflection into the coop.
- Provide cool water in shaded locations for your birds. Ice cubes and frozen water bottles can help cool water down. Feed consumption will likely decrease during this time but shouldn’t give you alarm.
- Provide occasional frozen treats like watermelon and peas. Fill a container with fruit or vegetables, add water, and freeze. The chickens will peck at it as it thaws.
- Misters, shallow wading pools, and dust baths can help chickens cool down.
Chickens pant to dissipate heat from their bodies.
Chickens don’t sweat. Instead, they dissipate heat from their wattles, legs, under the wings and through panting. Watch out for signs of heat stress that might include
- heavy panting
- wings held out from the body
- lethargic, sluggish behavior
- pale combs and wattles.
To learn more about keeping your backyard chickens healthy during the summer, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.