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4-H Spark Yields Cash for College

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.

Meet the Author – Marcus D. Boston Jr.

My name is Marcus Boston and I’m the County Extension Director and 4-H Youth Development Agent in Leon County, Tallahassee FL. I’m originally from Gainesville Florida and have worked for the Leon County Extension Service as a 4-H Extension Agent, for 29 years.

I was born and raised in Gainesville FL., the location of the State 4-H office but was never involved in 4-H as a youth. I graduated from Buchholz High School in Gainesville Florida and earned a football scholarship to attend school and play football for Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee. As a result of my accomplishments on and off the team, during my senior year, I was awarded the prestigious Alonzo Smith “Jake Gaither” Award. I completed my B.S. degree in Agribusiness and while working as a graduate assistant coach on the football team, I completed my M.S. in Agricultural Sciences.  Prior to starting graduate school, I worked as a Sideline Commentator for the Florida A&M football games that were aired on a local radio station. After completing graduate school, I began my professional career as an extension agent with Florida A&M University and the University of Florida working primarily with 4-H Youth Development.

Marcus joins Leon County 4-H Leadership Club fun day activity in the early 90’s

When I started in Leon County one of my first assignments was to make a personal visit to all the existing 4-H clubs in the county at that time.  After meeting all the wonderful volunteers and youth involved in our Leon County 4-H program, I was inspired by all the fun educational projects the youth were involved in and encouraged by the commitment and passion of the volunteers that oversaw the clubs.  It is this commitment and passion that still exist today and that encouraged me to work extra hard to recruit and train volunteers so there could be more clubs for youth to join.

Marcus Boston teaching youth how to determine which eye is dominant before archery class

The establishment of my Environmental Education/Stewardship Program is one of my most successful programs here in Leon County.  This program includes a series of smaller programs developed and carried out with the primary objective of educating our youth about the importance of conserving, protecting, and appreciating our environment and how they can become environmental stewards in their respective community’s. These experiences are tailored to equip youth participants with the information they need that will help them make logical decisions on environmental issues that may arise as they enter adulthood. In a few years these youth could be accountable for attitudes, perceptions and policies that affect our environment as well as our soil. A few of the environmental focused experiences that I developed and carried out during past several years as part of our Leon County 4-H program are: 4-H Ecology Field Day, 4-H Eco-ventures Spring Break Camp, Wild About Water Day Camp, The Talking Trash Day Camp, Going Green Day Camp, No Woods Left Behind Day Camp, Trees and Bows Day Camp, 4-H Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation Camp at Jubilee, and residential camp at 4-H Camp Cherry Lake held in Madison FL.

As a certified archery and canoe instructor, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching thousands of youth communications and safety skills using a canoe and a bow and arrow as the vehicle of choice. Both of which I’m still involved to this day. In an effort help young people learn the life cycle, I have taught the 4-H Embryology program in several schools in Leon County.  This program has provided the opportunity for hundreds of students and teachers, to watch chicks hatch out of their eggs right before their eyes in their classroom…an experience they never forget.

Leon County 4-H Camp Counselors kickoff counselor training with gleaning 1,300 lbs. of fruit to provide for homeless shelter

The Leon County 4-H Camp Counselor Training Program has also served as one of my most successful teen leadership programs. I have enjoyed recruiting, training and equipping hundreds of teens with the skills and knowledge they need to: Manage campers at our residential camp, understand the “ages and stages” of the youth they supervised, apply strategies for teaching classes at camp, and most important, keeping camp safe for all in attendance. Due to the success of this program, former counselors from our counselor training program are viewed and recruited as potential camp staff for our State 4-H camps each year.

I have also enjoyed providing opportunities for thousands of youth in Leon County Schools to participate in The 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Program (now known as the Florida 4-H Public Speaking Program sponsored by Florida Power and Light) which annually provides an opportunity for over 7,000 Leon County 4th, 5th, and 6th graders to develop, write, and present a speech on a topic of their interest.  With so much emphasis on texting and posting…this program continues to provide a platform for young people to develop their oral communication skills which is crucial as they graduate and enter the work force.

Marcus Boston is demonstrating fitness techniques with attendees during Youth Extension Day in Leon County.

I have also been a Project Learning Tree(PLT) facilitator for over 20 years and have help to train over 500 college students from Florida State, Flagler College and Florida A&M University in how to teach youth environmental education using the PLT curriculum.

The last six years as County Extension Director has provided me an opportunity to promote UF/IFAS Extension by managing and working with my faculty in providing researched based information in the form of workshops, field days, 4-H clubs, seminars, virtual and hybrid webinars and school enrichment programs in an effort to help youth and adults in the Leon County Community find the Solutions For Their Life. I have always believed that active participation in 4-H provides youth the tools in life to be successful in whatever direction they choose to go.

Ken Gooding Shares His Passion for 4-H Shooting Sports

Ken Gooding Shares His Passion for 4-H Shooting Sports

April is National Volunteer Month. Throughout the month of April, 4-H programs in counties across the Northwest UF/IFAS Extension District from Jefferson to Escambia counties take time to recognize volunteers and the contributions those volunteers make with their time and talent to youth development in their communities. Ken Gooding is a 4-H Shooting Sports Volunteer Leader in Wakulla County. Ken serves as President for the county’s 4-H shooting sports advisory group. He also provides organizational and content expertise for the program in a volunteer coordinator capacity.

Ken Gooding on the range

Ken Gooding volunteers on the range teaching archery and skeet shooting.

Ken co-founded the Wakulla 4-H Shooting Sports Club now known as “4-H Sharpshooters” in 2018. Since that time, the club has grown to include over forty youth members who learn archery and skeet shooting and ten adult volunteers who support club activities. In his volunteer role with Shooting Sports, Ken leads adult volunteers and develops youth leaders.

Leading Leaders of All Ages with 4-H

After he became a state certified Level One Shooting Sports Instructor in 2018, Ken continued his training at the national level. In 2019, Ken became nationally certified as a Level Two shooting sports archery instructor. This credential qualifies Ken to teach adult volunteers seeking Level One certification in archery.
For Ken, volunteering with 4-H is an expression of his passion for giving back to the community. Ken said, “I volunteer with 4-H because I believe I have a responsibility to share the skills I have with next generation and 4-H gives me the tools I need to effectively pass on this skill to a wide variety of youth in my community that would not otherwise have the opportunity that 4-H provides.

Giving Back to the Community

4-H volunteers help UF/IFAS Extension to amplify their reach into the community. Volunteers are said to be the civic heart of most communities. Ken shared his perspective on why he believes it is important to volunteer in the community:

“To actually be a member of a community, a person must have a vested interest in the success of the community. In the past, that interest was expressed in the general desire to see the community as a whole grow and flourish. Each member brought a particular skillset that when joined with others enabled the community to flourish. But each member also felt a duty or responsibility was owed to the community they helped to build, the community that provided for their individual success and prosperity. This is where 4-H, only one small opportunity for our community members can give back, comes in. Every one of our neighbors has a skill or a passion that they are uniquely qualified to impart to the youth of our community and 4-H has the tools each one of us needs to see that the lessons we’ve learned over a lifetime are not lost to time.”

Ken had a message to share about why he believes everyone should take time to volunteer. He noted the tremendous efforts often exhibited during times of emergency and shared that he often wonders what good things would happen if we all put a tenth of that energy into their community on a daily basis. In closing, Ken said that if he could make an ask of the community, he would ask that, “Each and every member of every community give a little bit of themselves back to their community. Think about, with that small commitment, what kinds of changes for the better could be achieved. I’ll be willing to bet, you’ll receive a greater return for your efforts.”

When Ken is not busy with 4-H, he works as a barge captain on the Mississippi River and volunteers with the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office at the Sheriff’s shooting range. He also raises rabbits and chickens with his wife, Trena. Ken also shares his talents as a professional deejay with 4-H. Whether he is teaching archery or making the party happen with music, Ken is a valued volunteer and an inspiring role model for aspiring leaders of all ages.

For more information about UF/IFAS Extension programs, follow this link to connect with your local office.

Resources

How Do I Become a Volunteer with Florida 4-H

 

Florida Shooting Sports
4-H Goes Wild at Sunbelt Ag Expo

4-H Goes Wild at Sunbelt Ag Expo

4-H Exhibit at Sunbelt Ag Expo.Photo Credit: Rachel Pienta, UF/IFAS Wakulla County

Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, GA is “North America’s Premier Farm Show”®.  Held the third week in October, land grant universities from across the southeast set up interactive exhibits about the research and programs they provide related to agriculture and natural resources.  In addition, there are thousands of industry vendors with exhibits, demonstrations and give-aways.  The UF/IFAS Extension building is no exception.  This year’s theme was “wildlife” and our building featured five interactive exhibits from 4-H, Family and Consumer Sciences, Natural Resources, Horticulture and Agriculture.  Our 4-H exhibit featured some of our most popular 4-H programs related to wildlife: shooting sports, entomology, forestry, and outdoor skills such as kayaking, grilling and orienteering.  Extension faculty and specialists manned the building, and were available to answer questions and passed out free bottles of Florida fruit juices and packets of Florida peanuts.  If you missed this year’s exhibit, you can experience it at the North Florida Fair, November 7-17th in Tallahassee, FL.  Our exhibit (along with the other program areas) will be located in the UF/IFAS Building.

Lots of photo opportunities at Sunbelt Ag Expo! Photo Credit: Rachel Pienta, UF/IFAS Wakulla County

If you have knowledge or skills related to our wildlife project areas, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer!  Our wildlife programs are in high demand and we always need volunteers willing to share their passion for our environment with the next generation of Florida’s citizens.  For more information, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office or visit our website.

Happiness in a Hammock at Camp

Happiness in a Hammock at Camp

Exploring New Activities with 4-H Club and Camp

When Chase Weston arrived at a meeting of the Panacea 4-H Explorers Club for the first time, he was not sure he wanted to be there. Chase’s normal activities of choice included reading and playing video games. He rarely played with other children and did not usually enjoy playing outdoors.

The Panacea 4-H Explorers Club meets weekly and offers youth the opportunity to sample activities ranging from painting and cooking to outdoor skills. Members march in parades and volunteer together at community events.

Getting Active With Archery

Chase receives archery instruction from Club Leader Trena Gooding.

From that first day attending an Explorers Club meeting, during his time with 4-H, the once very reserved and quiet boy has undergone a dramatic transformation. This summer, Chase had the opportunity to participate in a two day archery summer camp. On the first day, he did not want to participate and asked to go home. On the second day he started to warm up to archery and by the end of the day he did not want the camp to end!

Club Leader Rhonda Lundy said, “I have seen a drastic change in Chase through his participation in 4-H. He is definitely trying things outside his comfort zone and his parents couldn’t be happier.”  Chase accepted the opportunity to attend Camp Timpoochee with support from a 4-H state scholarship. During his week at camp, Chase enjoyed activities like dance class and kayaking. He was able to continue with his newfound love for archery during residential camp.

 

 

 

Happiness in a Hammock at Camp

A boy laying in a hammock at camp.

Chase enjoys free time in a hammock at Camp Timpoochee.

While he has stepped outside his comfort zone and tried many new activities during the week, Chase declared his favorite thing at Camp Timpoochee was enjoying the view from the vantage point from one of the many hammocks strung between trees throughout camp.

Links to Resources

For more information on how your family can participate in 4-H, find your local UF IFAS Extension Office and contact your 4-H Agent to explore what programs are offered in your area.

Benefits of Summer Camp

Camp Choices with 4-H

Youth Development Outcomes of Camp Experiences

Let the Hunt Begin:  Hunter Safety and 4-H Shooting Sports

While this year’s hunting season is winding up, it’s never too early to think about getting ready for next year.  Whether it’s deer, squirrel, ducks, dove or turkey, there are important hunting rules and guidelines both youth and adults must follow.  Organizations like the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and your local UF/IFAS Extension Office provide programs to keep you on target each hunting season!

Youth with shotgun on shooting range.

Safety is a key element of any shooting sport.

SAFETY FIRST
Each hunter must take some version of the Hunters Safety Education course.  Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, and 16 years or older, must pass a hunter safety course before a hunting license can be purchased.  There are four options to complete this requirement:

  1. Traditional Course and Skills Day
    – Face-to-face instructor led course
    – Hands-on skill day – register here
  2. Online Course and Skills Day (two part process)
    – Complete one of the online courses
    – Hands on skill day – register here
  3.  Florida Virtual School Outdoor Education
    – FREE to Florida students in grades 9-12 or ages 12-18
    – Apply here
    – Earn 0.5 credit for high school
  4. Firearms Safety Certification and Online Course
    – Adults only
    – Must have completed previous firearms training
    – Must complete one of the online classes in Option 2
    – Follow procedures outlined in the Application for Hunter Safety Certification

If you’re using the Hunter Safety Mentoring Exemption and hunting under the supervision of a qualified hunter, you are exempt from this requirement.  

Map of Florida showing hunting zones

Our district covers Zone D – Escambia to Gadsden/Wakulla & Zone C – Leon & Jefferson.  Map courtesy of FWC.

Find Your Zone
Hunters should strive to be good stewards of Florida’s resources to keep this sport a tradition for generations to come. Take the time to determine what hunting zone you live in.  Your zone determines your hunting season – meaning the appropriate time you can collect specific game in that area.  You can find the Florida Hunting Zones Map here:  http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates/zone-map/.  Next,  check the annually updated hunting season dates and bag limits related to your zone to stay in compliance with FWC regulations:  http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates.

4-H Shooting Sports
Find your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and determine if there is a 4-H Shooting Sports program in your county.  Participation in a 4-H Shooting Sport program provides year-round opportunities for youth to not only practice their discipline but also to explore other disciplines in a safe, inclusive, environment with 4-H volunteers/mentors!

Group of 4-H youth on shooting range.

4-H grows important life skills like responsibility, goal setting and teamwork in youth through shooting sports.

4-H Shooting Sports includes air rifle, small bore rifle, archery, shotgun, muzzleloading and hunting and develops important life skills in a safe and educational environment.  Shooting sports day camps are popular during the summer, so ask you 4-H Agent if one will be scheduled for you county.

Attention Volunteers!
Would you like to become become 4-H Level 1 Certified to coach and teach youth shooting sports?  If you are already enrolled as a 4-H volunteer, log in to your profile and register for the February 16th hands-on training in shotgun and archery.  You’ll also complete five online learning modules as part of your training.  If you’re new to 4-H, enroll at florida.4honline.com, and let your county 4-H Agent know that you are interested in teaching shooting sports.

Explore the links below to see how you and your youth can get involved in 4-H and stay up to date on the hunting regulations for your area: