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Spring Break Boredom Busters with 4-H!

Spring Break Boredom Busters with 4-H!

It’s finally here!  Like many of us, you’ve probably been counting down the days since Christmas break for the next hiatus from the chaotic school day routine.  Now, with Spring Break upon you…what are you going to do with the kids while working or running errands that have piled up and marking off that “to do” list?  It’s time to “phone a friend,” your Positive Youth Development friends (aka 4-H Agents) that is!

Set yourself up for success this Spring Break by planning some fun projects to complete with your youth.  Many of these projects they can do independently, or with a group of friends, or tackle with the whole family.  4-H makes learning FUN through experiential learning opportunities the whole family can enjoy!


Walton County 4-H’er during his container gardening Demonstration at County Showcase!

4-H members can choose from more than 50 projects that focus on science, engineering and technology, animals and agriculture, food & nutrition, outdoor adventures, marine science, public speaking, art and wildlife.  4-H learning is experiential- or “hands on learning,” where youth get to interact with the curriculum or subject matter being taught/explored.

Ultimately, youth learn life skills and use these skills to give back to their communities. Youth set goals, keep records and can participate in events and activities on a county, district, state, and national level to expand their learning!  They can explore the various projects and programs 4-H offers and choose one that interests them.

4-H has three major priority programs:   ScienceCitizenship & Leadership, and Healthy Living.  Please check out the resources available in each of these areas and consider exploring other aspects with your local 4-H program.  Your local 4-H office may be hosting “day camps,” or daytime activities over Spring Break which youth can register for and spend the day in a safe, inclusive environment exploring with youth their age!

Below are a few projects youth can dig into with many simple household items.  For a greater challenge, expand on these projects so that youth can create their own demo to share with their local 4-H program during club meetings or County Showcase to earn more credit, experience, and leadership within their clubs!


A perfect project for youth of all ages…the newspaper pot!  Not only are you recycling, but you can learn about propagating plates, soil science, and so much more with some extra research.  Turn it into a family challenge to see who can make theirs the fastest, the most decorative, the largest…the possibilities are endless with this project!


In the midst of all the wacky weather lately, take some time to explore different aspects of one of our H’s…Health!  The links below are just a few within a series of activities focused on Healthy Living.  In the “Let’s Go Green”  series, youth will learn how to create safe alternatives to chemical cleaning solutions and YOU (the guardians) get to benefit as they “test” the effectiveness of these cleaners throughout the house.  Make it a challenge…encourage them to test different areas, the kitchen, the bathroom, the windows…have you caught our major hint yet?  Additionally, youth can expand on their learning by using the link below to create their own newspaper to showcase their findings.  Utilize the “Headlines for Health Introductions” to explore more activity options like “Let’s Go Green.”

Make a Newspaper:

4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations, open to all youth, ages 5-18, and available in every community. For more information on how youth can join or the many 4-H projects available, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office, or visit today.

4-H Northwest District Teen Retreat….A SUCCESS

4-H Northwest District Teen Retreat….A SUCCESS

2020 4-H Northwest District Teen Retreat Participants

Seventy-four teens from the 4-H Northwest Florida District Teen Retreat took us down memory lane to the 60’s 70’s, and 80’s, on Feb 21-23, 2020, at 4-H Camp Timpoochee. This year’s theme was “4-H Through the Decades”.  This leadership event was planned by senior 4-Hers from the Northwest Extension District for youth ages 13 and up.

People on stage dressed in costumes.

L-R: Chairperson , Whitney Cherry from Calhoun County and 4-Her Sarah Crandall from Jefferson County giving instructions on opening night.

The Teen Retreat kicked off at Friday night check-in with lots of pizza for dinner. The program proceeded with the District Spirit Rally having lots of cheers where participants dressed in bell-bottom pants, tie-dyed shirts, John Lennon style sunglassespeace sign necklaces, and fringe costume vests. Friday night ended with campfire and a movie.

Saturday morning opened with a group picture preceding two educational workshops, “Improv through Leadership” and “Living on My Own.” The Improv through Leadership workshop was more than just making stuff up as it inspired a creative way of advancing leadership skills. Through active listening, youth worked through given challenging situations, adapting quickly to new situations. The participants had many laughs and gained insight on using improv techniques to make them better leaders, team members, and productive citizens.

Teenager pointing to a paper on the wall

Teens from Jefferson County giving instructions in the “Living On My Own” workshop.

Living on My Own (LOMO) teens shared employment aspirations followed by being assigned a make-believe job, a take-home pay, and family size to balance the family’s budget. In theLiving on My Own Simulation, teens learned the basics of writing checks, paying bills, keeping track of spending, credit scores, and what really goes into being an adult. Through the simulation stations, teens chose a home to live in, transportation, paid for insurance, utilities, groceries, childcare, got a second job if necessary, opened a savings and retirement accounts, paid student loans, and packed in entertainment. At the end of the simulation, the teens shared what they learned and what surprised them. Many were surprised by the cost of food and childcare. It gave them a new appreciation of how much their parents do for them!


Youth icing a cake

Cake Decorating was one of the many fun shops offered at the retreat.

The afternoon sessions highlighted fun shops: Play is Really Important, Line Dancing, Next Stop Job, Keep Your Cool, Cake Decorating, 4-H Olympics and a service project. The teens taught most workshops with adult supervision. This year’s service to communities’ project was friendship bracelets to share with special needs youth across the panhandle of Florida.

There is nothing like an entertaining game of kickball with teens versus adults. As always, the game was intense but lots of laughter ensued. Final score: Teens: 6 – Adults: 2.

District and state reports were given by district officers, followed by the dance, board games, and campfire with smores. On the final day, it was rise and shine as youth cleaned up the campground and completed the program evaluations.


Abigail Boyd, a first-time teen retreat participant, was asked what she enjoyed most about the teen retreat.  She stated, “I enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones over lunch conversations, nine square competitions, and goofy dance moves.”

Thank You Sponsors!


We were able to keep the cost to a minimum thanks to our awesome sponsors:

  • Gulf Power
  • Club 25
  • Duke Energy
  • Farm Credit of NW Florida
  • Lynn Haven Garden Club
  • Hancock Whitney Bank
  • Career Source Gulf Coast
  • Bay County Farm Bureau
  • St. Joe Community Foundation

All sponsors are printed on the back of the t-shirts and each will receive a 36 X 48-inch banner signed by all the participants.

The Teen Retreat is an exceptional event because county faculty and paraprofessionals have developed a strong youth-adult partnership. This collaboration takes place as teens and adults from the 4-H Northwest District plan, learn, and work together, with both groups sharing in the decision-making process. The dynamic is very different than most programs because teens take leadership roles and the adults take supporting roles. The adults prepare the teens for the workshops they are going to lead. This youth-adult partnership builds on the strengths of adults to mentor the teens in leadership and achieve positive results, as evident by youth surveys each year.

The next 4-H Northwest Florida Teen Retreat will be held on February 26-28, 2021 at beautiful 4-H Camp Cherry Lake.  For more information on 4-H programs, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.

Special thanks to John Lilly, UF/IFAS Jefferson County Extension Director & 4-H Agent for providing this article and pictures.

Annual Alumni Day At Camp Timpoochee

Annual Alumni Day At Camp Timpoochee

Second Annual Alumni Day at Camp Timpoochee, Saturday, March 14, 2020

It’s the smell of burning wood and sound of laughter as sweet, sticky s’mores are being enjoyed by hundreds of campers. Singing, dancing, games, friendships and memories made – summer camp!  The highlight of many youths’ summer that they do not soon forget!  What many former campers would do to go back and relive some of those precious memories…

“I won’t never forget it,” Mr. Amos Morris said. “You won’t ever forget Camp Timpoochee.”  Morris, who attended 4-H Camp Timpoochee as a camper in 1947, took a trip down memory lane during camp’s first Alumni Day in 2019, describing his attendance at camp as “a good education. Get away from home, get away from the parents, and meet somebody else.” When describing camps today, he shared, “It’s just good for them (campers). They ought to have more camps than what they have.”   With a need to celebrate Timpoochee’s long, rich history, there is no better way to do so than by bringing together campers, new and old.

During this event, multiple opportunities are offered to explore the campgrounds, play games, fellowship with others while making a delicious s’more. A special station is set up where attendees are encouraged to fill out cards completing the statement “Because of camp…”. Some of last year’s responses include “Because of Camp I found a place where I will always belong,” “I had the confidence to grow and learn and believe in myself,” “I can be myself for a week,” and “I found a home, a family, and a future I’d never dreamed of.”

4-H Camp Timpoochee has set their Second Annual Alumni Day on Saturday, March 14, 2020 from 10 AM – 4 PM CST to celebrate 93 years of camp. This free event will be open to all who wish to come out and enjoy playing camp games and fellowship with other alumni.

4-H Camp Timpoochee is the oldest continually operating 4-H camp in Florida.

Many never dreamed that Timpoochee would be going strong as long as it has. Established in 1926, 4-H Camp Timpoochee is the oldest continually operating 4-H camp in Florida. It sits along the shore of the Choctwhatchee Bay, providing the perfect outdoor living classroom. With more than a third of a mile of shoreline, it has become the perfect escape from the hustle of the outside world offering a place to disconnect from technology and reconnect with people. Serving more than 800 campers each summer, Timpoochee provides multiple opportunities for youth to experience new adventures, step outside their box and make life-long friends and memories.


Open year round, 4-H Camp Timpoochee is more than just a summer camp.  It offers opportunities for rental groups to enjoy its tranquil and multi-purpose facility through retreats, weddings, reunions and more! Offering lodging spaces, meal service, and meeting spaces, it has quickly become a unique location for various youth and adult organizations far and wide to enjoy.


A Timpoochee T-shirt Quilt Drawing to raise funds for our 4-H summer program will be held – Tickets are $5 donation and will be available soon.

Whether you attended as a camper, participated in a rental group retreat or just love summer camp, 4-H Camp Timpoochee’s Second Annual Alumni Day is open to you! We encourage you to bring any pictures you may have of Camp Timpoochee and your best memories and stories to share! We do ask all those wishing to attend to register online so we will have an accurate count of who will be celebrating with us. This year, there will even be a special drawing for a Timpoochee T-shirt quilt to raise funds for our summer program! Tickets are a $5 donation and will be available soon.

To register, please visit Please do not hesitate to contact Resident Director, Ariel Blanton, at (850) 897-2224 or email at with any questions.

Special thanks to Ariel Blanton, Resident Director, Camp Timpoochee, for providing this article and pictures.

Register Now for State Marine Camp!

Register Now for State Marine Camp!

by Laura Tiu | Jan 10, 2020 | Laura is a UF/IFAS Sea Grant Agent in Okaloosa and Walton Counties in the Panhandle of Florida

Discovery in the bay is one of the highlights of Marine Camp.

Are you interested in learning about marine life, going fishing, or exploring the underwater world with a mask and snorkel? If so, Marine Camp is the camp for you! This opportunity for budding marine scientists will be happening this summer at Camp Timpoochee in Niceville, FL.   Marine camp enables participants to explore the marine and aquatic ecosystems of Northwest Florida; especially that of the Choctawhatchee Bay. Campers get to experience Florida’s marine environment through fishing, boating snorkeling, games, STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) activities and other outdoor adventures. University of Florida Sea Grant Marine Agents and State 4-H Staff partner to provide hands-on activities exploring and understanding the coastal environment.

If Marine Camp sounds interesting to you or someone you know, visit the Camp Timpoochee website at for the 2020 dates and registration instructions. The camps fill up quickly, so early registration is encouraged. Marine Camp is open to 4-H members and non 4-H members between the ages of 8-12 (Junior Camp) and ages 13-17 (Senior Camp). In the summer of 2020, there will be the following Marine Camps:

2020 Marine Camps:

  • Senior Camp – June 22-26
  • Junior Camp – July 13-17
  • Junior Camp – July 20-24

The cost for Senior Camp is $350 for the week and $300 for Junior Camp. A daily snack from the canteen and a summer camp T-shirt are included in the camp fees, along with three nutritious meals per day prepared on site by our certified food safety staff. All cabins are air-conditioned. So many surprises await at Marine Camp, come join the fun!

Valentine’s Day
Marine-Themed Craft 

Just in time for Valentine’s day, this site has some free, printable, marine-themed Valentines!

For more information on the 2020 State Marine Camps, your county’s residential summer camp, or other 4-H programs, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit

This article was adapted from Laura’s original post to the Panhandle Outdoors website.  To read the original article click here:

NW District Youth Compete at the FL 4-H State Tailgating Contest

NW District Youth Compete at the FL 4-H State Tailgating Contest

A youth competing in the NW District Tailgating Competition carefully prepares her protein.

Did you get to do any grilling this summer?  Over 110 youth from throughout the Florida Panhandle participated in 2019 4-H summer day camps that taught them how to grill, food and fire safety, and cooking skills.

Ten different FL Panhandle counties provided nine unique day camps on grilling.  Then, on July 20, 2019, 37 youth from eight counties participated in the Northwest District Tailgating Contest at the Washington County Ag Center.  Youth participated in competitions in beef, pork, poultry, 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 September 28th.  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.  September 28th is also the 4-H Day with the Florida Gators.  You can get tickets for the football game for just $20 and sit with 4-H members from around the state.  For more information, visit

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:

  • Beef Division
    • Colton Serpas-Washington County
    • Alan B.-Escambia County
  • Pork Division
    • Lillian Sparks-Washington County
    • Brent Young-Holmes County
  • Poultry Division
    • Sarah Crandall-Jefferson County
    • Rylee Sweat-Walton County
    • Jamison Scheffer-Washington County
  • Shrimp Division
    • Claire Diamond-Escambia County
    • Evelyn Moyers-Bay County

If you are interested in furthering your grilling skills, please check out the Florida 4-H Tailgate Series of EDIS documents at  If you would like more information on the Tailgating Contest so you or youth that you work with can participate next year, please visit


4-H Summer Camps: A Great Vehicle For Youth Development

4-H Summer Camps: A Great Vehicle For Youth Development

Summertime is typically associated with summer vacations, sleeping late, fast foods, rainy days, hot afternoons, and one 4-H camp after the other.  Some would argue that summer camps are simply an advanced “day care” program for parents to drop their kids off to “play” so they can be productive at work without worrying about their children. However, research shows that youth who attend camps during the summer come away with so much more than what camping programs are given credit for.

Teenagers interacting in a team game outside.

Camp Counselors at Wildlife Camp doing a team building activity.

For many youth, traditional summer camp means no homework, no tests, lots of recreation, camp songs, crafts, and lots of swimming. While these are typical camp activities that normally take place during a week of camp, these experiences have a two-fold purpose in that they also serve as a vehicle for significant learning to take place. Many parents are concerned about the amount of knowledge that kids lose during the summer. There has been substantial research that shows students can lose up to 3 months of what has been learned during the school year. By keeping young people’s brains active, acquiring new skills and knowledge, camp offers the chance to decrease the typical summer learning deficit.  How is this done??……I’m glad you asked!

4-H is intentional in providing critical components of a successful learning experience as part of all its summer camp curriculum. These Essential Elements are: Belonging, Independence, Mastery, and Generosity.  They are designed to meet the developmental needs of youth.  Let me give you some examples.

Youth casting a net (seining) in Lake Lafayette for aquatic specimens

4-H campers seining in Lake Lafayette for aquatic specimens

4-H Camp attendees experience a sense of Belonging, the first Essential Element, during cooling off time at 4-H Camp Cherry Lake, while being cared for by camp staff, counselors, and 4-H Youth Development Professionals. Campers enjoy being in a safe place with their peers without a fear of being bullied.  4-H accepts youth where they are and helps them ignite the spark that exist within them, enabling them to reach their potential.

With no parents on the camp grounds telling their children what to do and when to do it, Independence, the second Essential Element, is a key element that a residential or day camp provides for its attendees.  Providing the opportunity for youth to be independent thinkers and to better understand themselves develops at camp as youth learn to make decisions based on experiences and knowledge obtained during camp.

In order to develop the self-confidence needed for youth to feel they can be successful, camp provides many opportunities for Mastery, the third Essential Element, to take place. Whether it is passing the swim test, learning a new skill, or leading a game, having that “I can do this” moment for a camper can make a positive impact on a young person’s life.

Lastly, 4-H camps provide opportunities for youth to learn the importance of Generosity, the fourth Essential Element, by learning and working with campers from diverse backgrounds and different socio-economic levels. Camp could very well be the first time they have spent an increased amount of time with people whose background, race or religion is different from their own. Through planned program curriculum consisting of team building and get acquainted activities throughout the week, the campers learn to focus on what they have in common and to value the contributions of others who may not look or act like them.

Youth jumping off boat into water

Cooling off time at 4-H Camp Cherry Lake

So being away from home, making new friends, being a part of a team, and trying new things are key building blocks to obtaining a successful experience to meet the developmental needs of youth. 4-H summer camp provides youth the platform to create great memories and lasting relationships that can last a lifetime.

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