Being in the great outdoors is a great way to spend your time with family! What are some ideas for activities you can do outdoors with your friends and family? Some of the best outdoor activities could include going for a hike, swimming, hunting, kayaking, or even building a campfire. With the weather still cool and a little dry here in Northwest Florida, sitting around a campfire sounds like the right kind of fun! However, it is extremely important to be sure that your campfire does not put anyone at risk of wildfires or burns.
Check out some of the fire safety tips below!
- Use a designated fire pit, if available. If this is not an option, clear a space on the ground, removing any grass or needles that could potentially catch fire.
- Build your fire downwind and away from tents, houses, or anything that is flammable. What does flammable mean? Anything that can easily set fire is flammable. The USDA suggests a minimum of at least 3 feet away from anything that can catch fire.
- Have water or something to douse the fire nearby. In the event of fire escaping its designated area, you will need to be able to put it out swiftly to prevent a wildfire. Consider a water hose that is hooked up to a water source or a fire extinguisher. Also, before leaving your fire site, make sure the fire is extinguished!
- You know the drill! Stop, Drop, and Roll! Make sure that everyone present knows how to put out a clothing fire with these three simple steps.
- Never leave children unattended around a fire. As the adult, it is your responsibility to make sure that everyone is safe! Also, store matches, lighters, and lighter fluids out of children’s sight and reach.
- Think about what you are wearing. Do not wear open toed shoes, as a spark could come off a flame and burn your toe. Instead, wear closed toed shoes while around the fire. Do not wear loose fitting clothing. If you lean over a fire with a baggy t-shirt on, chances are your shirt could catch on fire. Wearing snug-fitting clothing is an easy way to prevent this from happening.
Another “hot” topic is grilling! As we all know, fire and charcoals are extremely hot. Make safe cooking a priority, especially when it comes to outdoor grilling. With summer coming, grilling will become a more popular activity!
A great way for you youth to learn about safe grilling practices is for them to attend a 4-H Tailgate Grilling Camp! This summer,
Youth learning to grill pork safely!
Calhoun and Liberty County 4-H Agents, Claire Reach and Marie Arick will be teaming up to offer this program to area youth. Youth will not only learn about the importance of fire safety, but also how to mix rubs or marinades for their meats, and how to grill different animal proteins!
If this is something you think your child or a youth you know might be interested in, stay tuned for upcoming date announcements for summer camps. If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please give us a call at the UF/IFAS Extension Calhoun County Office: (850)-674-8323.
An Equal Opportunity Institution.
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.
Environmental education can be a very broad topic. The study of how living organisms interact within their environment can be very complicated, especially when we factor in the human element. An Okaloosa County 4-H program Called Wildlife Outdoor Leadership Focus or (W.O.L.F.) was created to address the human dimension of natural resources. Basically, this is a youth conservation program dedicated to making participants aware of the importance of natural resources recreation and to apply the art and science of natural resource management. W.O.L.F. has three main objectives.
Objective 1 – Learn the Importance of Natural Resources
The W.O.L.F. program starts by explaining why these natural resources are important. For example, outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife viewing contribute over $25 BILLION to the state of Florida. People are very passionate about their outdoor activities. Florida hunters average nearly $3,000 per person on hunting expenditures per year! Our state has a vast stakeholder interest. Nearly 6 million people participate in wildlife/fisheries activities every year in Florida. The L in W.O.L.F. stands for leadership. Local, state, and federal leaders make important decisions every year regarding natural resource management. Teddy Roosevelt, our 26th President of the United States, established 230 million acres of public land for all to enjoy. Government still protects many of our natural resources today. Florida is home to 175 state parks.
Objective 2 – Apply Theory and Practice Conservation
W.O.L.F. participants receive hands on practice of being a conservationist. The program teaches 4-H members the science and art behind wildlife management. Florida 4-H has a virtual Wildlife Outdoor Leadership Focus (W.O.L.F.) Day Camp were youth can learn at their own pace. The camp has 5 sections: Woods and Fields, Freshwater, Saltwater, Survival, and Biologist life. Each day has videos and activities that offer a daily challenge. W.O.L.F. campers learn about wildlife/plant identification, and what specific wildlife species need to survive. Furthermore, we show youth how our actions, intentional or unintentional, affect the environment we live in. The virtual day camp also covers basic biology of mammals, birds, fish, and reptile. Participants are encouraged to go out with adult supervision and see what’s going on in the great outdoors.
The final activity is the wildlife challenge where campers must be a wildlife biologist for a day. 4-H members are given a scenario with three wildlife species that the landowner wants to manage on a piece of property. The camper must evaluate the property based on the requirements that the 3 wildlife species need in order to survive. The camper completes a wildlife management plan. They look at the best management practices given to them during the course and decide if the property is a habitat for the desired wildlife species. If it is not, they must offer a solution. For example, the landowner wishes to have more northern bobwhite quail on the property but the land is covered in mature hardwoods. The campers are expected to make a recommendation. They learned that quail need shrubs, native grasses, and forbs.
Objective 3 – Career Development and Multi-Science Approach
The W.O.L.F. program also sparks awareness about the professionals who work with our natural resources. Participants virtually meet biologists, wildlife officers, and other natural resource professionals. Each career video will explain how they help our environment. Campers will get to see what it would be like if they had their jobs.
Let 4-H introduce you or your youth to the Wildlife Outdoor Leadership Focus (W.O.L.F.) program. The program does not just stop with wildlife and fisheries science careers. The program explains many more sciences. 4-H members will learn about soil science, forestry, engineering, math, agriculture, and technology to name a few. The only thing your youth will need is a love for the outdoors. If you are interested in W.O.L.F. Camp, please reach out to your local UF/ IFAS County Extension 4-H Agent. The W.O.L.F. program will also be available as a virtual project in Okaloosa County.
4-H Virtual Plant Science Camp Bingo Game
July 6th of this year was supposed to be the first day of our 4-H Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation Day Camp with Leon and Jefferson Counties participating. Due to the pandemic, all of our Florida 4-H face to face camps were cancelled this summer due to safety concerns for the students and the instructors.
In spite of everything that has taken place since March of this year, there is still some good news! Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, there is an outdoor classroom in YOUR backyard that has plenty of room for young people and parents to explore. While most youth have spent more time than they probably want to with their families confined, within the four walls of their home, there is no time like the present to explore wildlife and gardening opportunities that await just outside the door. Youth that spend time outside exploring the great outdoors have the unique opportunity to stimulate their senses while engaging in “hands on” educational activities without even knowing it.
4-H provides countless opportunities for youth to gain a better understanding of how all organisms are interrelated and how they can become environmental stewards at home, school, and in the communities in which they live. What are some of the benefits of converting backyards to outdoor classrooms?
I’m glad you asked…here are just a few!
1. Healthy lifestyles are encouraged –
Youth planting an orange tree after participating in Virtual Plant Science Camp
Active time spent outside may help address some of the health issues we are seeing in children today such as obesity, attention deficit disorders, and depression.
2. Nature deficit disorder decline –
Exposing students to nature and allowing them to learn and play outside has shown to foster sensitivity, appreciation, and respect for the environment. It combats “nature deficit disorder” …and it can be a lot of FUN!
3. Critical-thinking skills enhanced –
Exploring what is in the backyard and starting a garden provides opportunities for experiential learning outside of the classroom and enables students to make connections that can be applied to the real world.
4. Responsible action is taken to better the environment –
By exploring outdoors either by planting or just observing nature, youth begin to understand how their decisions and actions affect the environment. It is from this point they can begin to obtain the skills necessary to address complex environmental issues as well as ways we can take action to keep our environment healthy and sustainable for the future.
So even though we are in the midst of a pandemic, there may be opportunities to make lemonade out of the COVID-19 lemons we find ourselves in by unmasking the opportunities that await in our backyards!
For more information about 4-H in your county, find your local UF/IFAS Extension office or visit http://florida4h.org.
*“Please note some pictures were taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we remind people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.”
Dartanion worked to make camp fun for everyone.
When I think of Dartanion Hope, I have to smile. His is a life story riddled with challenges, the kind you read about in books or watch on TV docudramas. But he doesn’t focus on the negatives. He’s a happy kid with an infectious positive outlook on life and something of a mischievous nature. If I were to describe him in single words, I’d use ones like helpful, kind, thoughtful, independent, unassuming, nonjudgmental, and amazing – in the truest sense of the word.
Even with a bright future and military career ahead of him, Dartanion, or Dart, as we call him in the 4-H world, is in fact, a true success already. He would thank his mom, but I try to remind him that she can’t make his choices for him. He has chosen and continues to choose to be the person he’s become. I think his mom would agree.
If I’m being honest, it’s hard to measure how much 4-H has meant in determining the person Dart has become. A little? A lot? It’s tough to say, because he’s a measure of so many great experiences and opportunities – track, cross country, church, you get the idea. But 4-H certainly has been a place where we’ve seen the manifestations of a natural leader come into play. I’m definitely going to tell people he’s one of my 4-H’ers, like a proud mama would claim her own son, whenever I get the chance.
Dart works with others at camp to help untangle fishing gear prior to a sports fishing class.
Dart started coming to 4-H day camps when he was young. Eventually I got him to Camp Timpoochee for county camp week. He was a rambunctious tyke with unbelievable stories like having to be extracted from a fork in a tree by the local volunteer fire department using the jaws of life. He’d become so tightly wedged into the gap, he couldn’t get out otherwise. Or the time his front teeth were knocked out when his older brother practiced a wrestling move on him and didn’t realize he’d accidentally rendered him unconscious and dropped him face first into the floor. These stories, which were frightening to a young 4-H agent, I later found out from his parents, attending firemen, and physicians, were not tall tales, but were indeed ALL true. I probably should have been more scared to take Dart so far from home for a whole week, but we made it! And he came back again and again until he became a camp counselor, the best counselor I could have asked for.
Dart as a Senior Counselor at Camp Timpoochee
You see, during Dart’s first year as a Camp Counselor, I had just lost one of the most respected and dependable male camp counselors in Calhoun County 4-H due to graduation. As summer camp approached, I was a little worried how my crop of ALL first-year counselors would pull it off without his leadership. But Dart rose to the challenge. It was one of those rare and gratitude rendering experiences, when a person truly turns on their responsibility gene and shocks you with their maturity and poise. He was such an impressive counselor that he was invited back to state open enrollment camps as a counselor. This is an invite only gig. You have to impress camp staff and the resident director during your county camp week to get the ask, and he got it more than once. He totally deserved it. He was conscientious, fun, and made sure all of his campers were included. He became one of my most requested counselors by campers and parents, and they were sad to see him receive his senior counselor grommet last year.
It wasn’t his last trip to Timpoochee though. Thankfully, his busy schedule worked out so that he could join the NW District Teen Retreat Planning team with three of his camp counselor friends. Not only was he on planning calls with other district teens, but he spent extra hours planning and leading two different workshops for attendees with his county peers. He volunteered the group to stay late after meetings to help me double check plans and make decisions. They made extra trips to the office to help me pack and load equipment. And on that weekend, they did A LOT of running for me to help make sure things went well. He wasn’t the only super star of the weekend by any means. That entire planning committee was chock full of them. But once again, he was a standout leader. I was proud of him and hugely grateful for this last chance to shine with 4-H before his graduation.
Dart logged hundreds of service hours, but he never once acted like it was work.
I’ve been very blessed in my career to be impressed by a lot of young people. And today is no exception. I want Dart to get the praises he so deserves. Dart deserves to hear again that I am proud of him; that Calhoun County 4-H is proud of him; that he has lifelong friends in 4-H regardless of where life takes him; that we wish him all the best; and truly, that he is a prime example of how 4-H takes the best and makes them better. Congratulations Dart! We absolutely wish you the best of luck!
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, or visit http://florida4h.org.
Jada Mosley joined 4-H at age nine and has been an active and reliable member to age 18. She has been a proud and energetic member of the Jefferson County 4-H Teen Council. Her bubbling smile and cheerful personality is infectious to other members. Jada was elected Secretary in 2018-19 and President 2019-20 of the Jefferson County 4-H Teen Council. She was past District III Council Sgt-At-Arms. Per my observation of Jada presiding over the club meetings, she clearly demonstrates that she can run meetings in a productive and orderly fashion using Robert’s Rules of Order. Her leadership skills are superb.
1st – 4-H University
In 2017, Jada was recognized for her exceptional communication and presentation skills when she 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 five years, she has participated in county, district, and state (4-H University) doing various presentations.
Volunteerism is the vital component of 4-H, and this young lady devoted over 300 community service hours. A loyal citizen in her community, Jada spends time working on community service projects. Jada volunteers each year with the 4-H Adopt-A-Road roadside cleanup project. As part of the service project during camp counselor training, she helped remove debris and landscape the Jefferson County Senior Citizen Center. She helped bag toys during the holidays for needy youth by participating in the JOY (Jefferson Outreach for Youth) Project. Jada also makes her visits to both nursing homes in Monticello during the holiday seasons. Jada has served as a camp counselor at both day and overnight summer camps for five consecutive years. In 2019, her peers at Camp Cherry voted her as the most dependable camp counselor.
Jada cleaning up debris
Jada was one of our Hurricane Heroes. When Hurricane Michael caused mass destruction to the Florida Panhandle in 2018, Jada, along with her 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.
Our hearts are content knowing that Jefferson County 4-H has equipped this young woman with tools necessary to be successful post-high school. She plans to attend Tallahassee Community College this fall and major in Early Childhood Education.
“My most significant accomplishment I have experienced in 4-H was getting out of my shell and being myself.”
Jada said “the thing I’ll miss the most in 4-H would be all the camps I have done. I’ll miss the kids and of course the agents.” She, of course, will be missed as well. Jefferson County 4-H wishes Jada Mosley much happiness and success in her future endeavors.
For more information about 4-H in your county, find your local UF/IFAS Extension office or visit http://florida4h.org.
Author: John G. Lilly: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Lilly is the 4-H Youth Development Agent in Jefferson County