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“Sew” Generous, She Inspires Others

“Sew” Generous, She Inspires Others

Volunteers inspiring young minds

Every Spring during Walton County Spring Break, a local group of women collaborate with the Walton County 4-H program to deliver a special interest day camp for youth in the area.  This day camp, Stitch Perfect, was developed by the Chautauqua Quilters Guild and Jena Gilmore, the Walton County 4-H Agent.  Stitch Perfect teaches youth participants everything from hand stitching, sewing tools, and equipment, to advanced sewing techniques.

Walton County 4-H has been extremely fortunate that this three-day day camp comes with a small cost, due to the Chautauqua Quilters Guild donating all materials, machines, and volunteer power while 4-H provides no-sew projects, environmental topics, STEM, and alternative sewing activities (crochet, weaving, etc).  Due to the collaboration efforts and strong partnership with the Guild, this program has been one of the highest demanded annually!  To serve more youth, 4-H expanded the reach of this project from 10 to 20 campers by dividing the youth into beginner and advanced classes.


Macie’s Masterpiece Headquarters

Four years ago, Macie, a 4-H day camper, attended Stitch Perfect and fell in love with the art of sewing and quilting.  The following year, she was so excited to attend Stitch Perfect and show off what she had been working on, however, her family planned a trip to Disney.  Macie was distraught and actually shared with her mother she would’ve rather attended Stitch Perfect!  While Macie still enjoyed her time at Disney, she has been able to attend Stitch Perfect in following years to gain skills in cross stitching, weaving, and advanced sewing.


In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and shortage of preventative equipment, Macie felt inspired to take action by utilizing the sewing skills she has learned over the years at 4-H Stitch Perfect with the Chautauqua Quilters Guild!  She created her own work space in her bedroom, determined her pattern, secured her supplies and tools and went to work creating beautiful masterpieces in the form of surgical masks, to share with her community.  Macie’s inspiration sparked after her mother, a postal worker, expressed the need and lack of supplies such as hand sanitizer, gloves, and face masks for postal workers.  After all, they are on the front lines dealing with COVID-19 as they directly handle thousands of pieces of mail daily that have been handled tens of thousands of times prior to being delivered to their facility for sorting and delivery!


A display of finished sewing project-face masks

Macie’s Masterpieces

Macie is an outstanding example of just how impactful 4-H is on the lives of the youth that participate in 4-H programming.  Like so many other programs available, 4-H Stitch Perfect helped Macie to develop and master essential life skills such as critical thinking, decision making, concern for self and others, etc. With over 70 different 4-H project areas from sewing, gardening, animal science, to computer science and rocketry, there are plenty of topics to work with youth to develop their life skills and make a meaningful impact like the Chautauqua Quilters Guild did on Macie with the 4-H Stitch Perfect program.  If you would like to get involved in your local 4-H program as a volunteer, please visit to apply online or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

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.

April – Month of the Military Child – Purple Up! for Military Kids

April – Month of the Military Child – Purple Up! for Military Kids

Symbol stating April is the month of the Military Child

Show your support by wearing purple and posting in support using #fl4h or #monthofmilitarychild

Most people think of the color green when they think of 4-H, but on Friday, April 17, 2020, 4-H youth and volunteers in Florida will Purple Up! for Military Kids. They will be sporting the color purple to show support for our military families.

April was designated as the month of the military child in 1986. We use this month as an opportunity to recognize military kids for their bravery, sacrifices, and service. Purple Up! Day is a chance to show your support and celebrate our young heroes!  By wearing purple and sharing in a visible way, you are showing support and thanking military children for their strength and sacrifices. Why purple? Purple is the color that symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is the combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red and Navy blue.

This year, there are many changes to the way we do business, but we need to continue to show support for our military families. We’ve made it easy to participate in Purple Up! Day even from your own home.  Simply wear purple and take photos.  Attend the UF/IFAS Extension Bay County’s virtual Facebook event. Post on the event page to show how you are celebrating Purple Up! Day. #fl4h, #purpleup. If you can’t join us, then do your own purple up celebration and share it during the month of April.

Did you know…Florida has the fifth highest number of school-age military children in the country according to the Department of Defense Manpower Data Center. We also have over 50,000 active and reserve military members whose families worry that they are in harm’s way when they deploy.

Military youth have unique challenges. Imagine how you would feel about having long and repeated separations from your parent or having them miss important events like birthdays, holidays, and school events. How would you feel about frequent relocations/moves, having to make new friends, get familiar with new schools, and find new 4-H clubs and teams to join? These are just a few common experiences for military youth!

Many military children take these changes in stride, but it is also hard – having to rebuild their world every time they move. 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.


image of children in purpleSo, be creative….the goal is for military youth to see the support! If you don’t have or own a purple shirt, wear a purple ribbon, tie, headband etc. Just show your support and let our military youth know we care about them! Can’t make the Purple Up! date? Then do something another day in April, the Month of the Military Child! Remember, please take pictures of yourself/family wearing purple and share them on our Facebook event using #fl4h, #purpleup, #monthofmilitarychild. This allows us to collectively honor military children and their families and reach our goal of letting military youth see the support of their community and thank them for their commitment and sacrifice.


For more information on Purple Up!, or about the 4-H opportunities available in your county, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit  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, and Janet Psikogios

Service Learning Versus Community Service

Service Learning Versus Community Service

Valentines Day Cards scattered on a table

Valentines Day Cards for the Tallahassee Senior Center

From participating in a park clean up to sewing dog beds for the local animal shelter, many 4-H members are actively involved in community service projects as part of their 4-H club experience. 4-H members pledge their hands to larger service, making community service an important part of club membership. 4-H has historically given back to the community by encouraging young people and adults to volunteer. Giving back to the community allows members to learn the value of helping others, develop leadership and communication skills, feel empowered, grow their decision-making skills, and much more.

But, are these members involved in service-learning? What is the difference between a community service project and service-learning? How can you turn a club community service project into service-learning?



A group of teens pose for a picture behind food collected to be donated

Leon Camp Counselors collected over 1,300 lbs of produce.


Community service is work done by an individual or group that benefits others. This work is typically done in your own community, to directly benefit the members in your community. Examples of this type of service are conducting food drives, planting a community garden, creating holiday cards for nursing home residents, or helping serve meals at a shelter.




Leon teens took a break from gleaning to pose for a picture.


Compared to community service projects, service-learning is a method of teaching youth that fosters a deeper connection to the project. Service-learning merges a meaningful community service project with purposeful learning and reflection. Here’s an example: if youth serve lunch to veterans, they are providing a service to the community and that is considered a community service project. For that same project to become a service-learning project, additional learning and reflection opportunities are included. Youth would be involved in the planning process and would work together to select the service-learning project based on the needs of a community. Before serving lunch to the veterans, youth could learn about the challenges and issues facing veterans in the community from a guest speaker or they could conduct research independently to present at a club meeting. After the project, youth reflect on the experience of serving lunch to the veterans and share any feedback or results with the community.

Successful Service-Learning Projects Include Four Steps:
Step 1: Assess

Club members work together to identify and assess needs in their community. Youth can have a brainstorming session or take a club field trip to assess needs in-person. After identifying multiple needs, club members will take a vote on the best option for their service-learning project.

Step 2: Plan

This step will take the most time. It is important to schedule the appropriate amount of time to plan the project. This can occur during a club meeting for small projects or over the course of multiple meetings for larger projects. Use the information gathered during step 1 to develop a plan, timeline, list of supplies and roles and responsibilities for each team member. It is a good idea to identify potential problems that might occur. Safety and risk management procedures will need to be addressed during this step. Club volunteers can guide this youth-led process, but it is important to let club members take the lead in planning.

Step 3: Conduct Service Project

Time to complete your service project! The day of service is rewarding and exciting. Make sure you have the supplies needed and roles are assigned appropriately.

Step 4: Reflection

During and after the service project, it is important to pose reflection questions to the group and individuals. This allows youth to think about their project and draw a connection to the bigger picture. Why is the service being completed important? What have you learned from it? Has it taught you a new skill or changed your mindset about something? Most importantly, now that you have learned from the project, what are you going to with your new knowledge? Reflection can be through group discussion, journal writing, photographs, or multimedia presentations.

For more information on service-learning projects or other 4-H programs that build essential life skills in youth, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit

Hearts of Service

Hearts of Service

Paper hands craft project to express a message of love and caring.

Service-learning projects can be quite simple and still send a big message.

In 4-H, we try to instill compassion and an attitude of service in our members.  One way we do this is through service projects we often refer to as “service-learning”.  We believe that as youth participate in acts of service, they learn to be more caring and are more likely to make positive contributions to their communities as they mature.  Some service-learning projects are more involved, but others can be quite simple.

As we celebrate the month of love, let’s each consider small and simple ways we can inspire youth to serve others with all of their Heart.



Acts of Service

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Send cards to loved ones through the mail.
  • Take cards to nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
  • Trace hands on paper and cut them out. Write encouraging messages like “with love” or “because I love you” on the cutouts. Do small acts of service for family and friends and leave the prints behind as a note to let them know you’re thinking of them.
  • Experiment for a week. Try smiling at everyone you meet and see what happens.
  • Leave kind notes in a sibling or parent’s lunchbox or on their pillows.
  • Read or play a game with someone you love or who needs our love.
  • As a club, beautify a part of your community by planting flowers or hosting a trash pick up day.
  • Bake cookies or take treats to a neighbor.

By encouraging 4-H youth to serve in any large or small way they can, we help them build essential life skills.  If you have other ideas you’d like to share or have success stories, please visit our Facebook page and leave comments for us.  We love to hear how you’re working “To Make the Best Better.”

For more information on service projects or other 4-H programs that build essential life skills in youth, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit

What Exactly is FL 4-H State Executive Board?

What Exactly is FL 4-H State Executive Board?

Youth headshots in a circle

Executive Board members putting their heads together to make the best better!

4-H Agents and long-term 4-H members are often asked, “What exactly is Florida 4-H State Executive Board?”  So what better way to get the best clarification than to get it straight from the source.  I turned to Shelby Sumner, our Florida 4-H State Council Reporter, to give us the best inside scoop…Here is Shelby’s reply:

Executive Board is a committee composed of 4 delegates from each of the 13 4-H Districts, as well as up to 30 Executive Board appointees, and the 8 Florida 4-H State Officers. The Executive Board members meet 3 times each year to work together to plan state events, and to work in their respective standing committees.



The standing committees include Entertainment, Communications and Council Support, State Project, and Ways and Means. Entertainment works to provide entertaining activities at the State Executive Board meetings; Communications and Council Support assists with the promoting of different State 4-H events and opportunities available; State Project plans and implements a statewide community service project; Ways and Means is responsible for fundraising for the Florida 4-H State Council.



Similar to the standing committees, there are 4 event committees on Executive Board as well. These include 4-H Legislature, 4-H University, Day at the Capital, and Intermediate State. Executive Board members play a vital role in the planning and implementation of these state events by providing input into our state events during their working committee meetings at Executive Board Weekends, and helping throughout the course of the event itself.


Youth at Executive Board weekend

Executive Board Weekend


While the work that Executive Board members put in throughout the year is obviously an important component of Executive Board, it does not encompass what I believe to be the best part: the second family that it gives you. Laura Manzueta, a Miami-Dade County Executive Board Member, described what Executive Board means to her, stating, “To me, Executive Board means a family of youth that are responsible, care about the community, and are going to change the world.”




Members at Executive Board working together to plan great things.


Additionally, Executive Board gives youth life-changing experiences and connections that help them to grow as individuals. “Executive Board has shown me that surrounding yourself with people you look up to, helps to make you a better person.”-Daylyn Hutchinson, St. Lucie County Executive Board Member.




Third Executive Board provides an opportunity for non-Executive Board members (4-H ages 14-18) to get a feel for what Executive Board is like, by taking part in activities such as the State Project activity, and they have chances to observe standing and event committee meetings.  Third Executive Board will be held at 4-H Camp Cherry Lake in Madison, FL, on April 3-5, 2020. The cost for non-Executive Board Members is $120, and $115 for Executive Board Members. Registration for this event opens on 4-H Online on March 9, 2019 and closes March 27, 2019.

Between the various learning and leadership opportunities, and the chances of meeting new best friends, becoming an Executive Board member is one of the greatest decisions that a 4-Her can make, and attending Third Executive Board is the perfect way to learn more about this endeavor. So, don’t miss out on an amazing weekend, and make sure to attend Third Executive Board in April!

For more information on Executive Board or other 4-H programs, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit

Special thanks to Shelby Sumner, Florida 4-H State Council Reporter, for providing this article, and Courtney Quirie, Florida, 4-H Events Coordinator, for providing the pictures.


The Fourth “H” is for HEALTH

The Fourth “H” is for HEALTH

In continuing this week’s theme and celebration of National 4‑H Week, we want to highlight our last “H” in 4-H, Health.  As the 4-H pledge states, I pledge my…health to better living.”  Just living a healthy lifestyle in general is a huge endeavor for anyone to accomplish and it takes a lot of awareness of self to accomplish it well.  As a 4-Her, not only are we committing to make healthy choices for our own mind, body, and spirit but we are also striving to make healthy choices and conduct ourselves in a manner that is healthy for our club, community, country, and world.

Our agents and volunteers do an amazing job in guiding and inspiring our 4-H youth to learn just how to be aware of and make decisions that lead to such healthy living.  Through hands-on learning activities and the experiential learning model, these positive adult role models engage youth to challenge themselves and apply critical thinking skills in order to gain additional essential life skills that aid in balanced physical, mental and emotional health.  From healthy living clubs to competitive events such as the Consumer Choices Contest to enrichment programs such as Health Rocks, 4-H brings real life situations and choices to the forefront and teaches youth to be empowered in their healthy decision making.




Are you looking for certain areas to help inspire your children or neighborhood youth to make healthy decisions?  Is there a particular area in the healthy living realm that you feel your children need some hands-on learning?  The Northwest 4-H District have shared some wonderful publications over the recent years, highlighting varying aspects of 4-H Healthy Living.  From inspiring youth and volunteers to helpful tips and resources, the articles below are short reads that give great overviews of the 4-H healthy living lifestyle.

National 4-H Week's theme is Inspire Kids to Do.

The Application of Healthy Living

Healthy Living Tips & Helpful Hints

Inspiring Healthy Reads

Would you like to become a volunteer that inspires youth to invest in their future?  Visit your  local UF IFAS County Extension Office and meet your 4-H Extension Agent for additional information on how to become a 4-H Volunteer today to inspire youth to make healthy decisions and conduct themselves in a manner that is healthy for their club, community, country, and world!