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4-H MISSION POSSIBLE

4-H MISSION POSSIBLE

A mission statement is an organization’s goals and the method(s) to achieve those goals. An organization’s vision statement is where that organization sees their position in society in the future.  These two statements may be written separately or combined into one statement.  Regardless, they actually refer to two separate facets of the organization and both are equally important.  In this post, we’ll define both the 4-H Mission Statement and the 4-H Vision Statement and then share some ways how you can support 4-H in your local communities.

NATIONAL 4-H MISSION & VISION

A picture containing an adult helping a youth

Photo By National 4-H Council

National 4-H states its mission as “to provide meaningful opportunities for all youth and adults to work together to create sustainable community change.” 4-H uses caring adults to engage youth in educational activities through a learn-by-doing approach to provide positive youth development programming in order to introduce and strengthen essential life skills needed to be productive responsible citizens.  This powerful mission has been achieved by 4-H across the globe by the employment of highly esteemed experts in the field of positive youth development trained in the application of successful volunteer management and program implementation.  National 4-H sets forth to achieve their stated mission by employing these staff and volunteers to concentrate on three specific areas of focus, i.e. civic engagement and leadership, healthy living, and science.

National 4‑H commits its future success to serving millions more youth through the Cooperative Extension Service.  In fact, National 4-H specifically states 10 million youth to be served by the year 2025.  This vision is to be carried out by participating in the hands-on, learn-by-doing approach youth programming that 4-H has been successfully known for for over 100 years.

FLORIDA 4-H MISSION & VISION – A CLOSER LOOK

Florida 4-H Youth Development Program uses a learn-by-doing approach to help youth learn essential life skills in order to be successful leaders of tomorrow.  This mission is accomplished by utilizing the expertise and resources of the University of Florida (UF) and Florida A&M (FAMU) Cooperative Extension Services, the state land-grant universities of Florida, to recruit and train caring adults into quality volunteers that can create safe and inclusive learning environments for youth.

Florida 4-H’s vision states that it will support the National 4-H mission to create positive change in youth, families, and communities.  Although Florida 4-H does not specifically set a number of youth to be served by a specific time frame in its vision statement, it does set a goal in the future to be the leading youth program in the nation.

WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?

A picture containing a child working on a robot

Photo By National 4-H Council

Mission and vision statements, in general, help to guide organizations through a structured plan to reach important short term and long-term goals, make great impacts, and be efficient in operations.  They also hold the organization accountable to its stakeholders, clientele, supporters, etc.  Without written mission and vision statements, organizations may not reach their full potential.

With 4-H, the mission and vision statements ensure that our organization remains true to the foundation on which it was built, to make the best better when it comes to positively and consistently impacting youth to be leaders of tomorrow.  According to the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development conducted by Tufts University young people in 4-H, “the structured out-of-school time learning, leadership experiences, and adult mentoring that young people receive through their participation in 4-H plays a vital role in helping them achieve success.” Research supports 4-H youth are more likely to:

  • Attend college.
  • Contribute to their communities.
  • Participate in STEM programs.
  • Make healthier choices.

WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT THE 4-H MISSION & VISION:

As a parent, volunteer, and/or community member, below are five ways that you can get involved to support the 4-H mission and vision in your local community with little effort.  You will feel good knowing that you gave a helping hand to make the best better!

  1. Get Involved as a 4-H Volunteer if you aren’t already (If you are, kudos to you!)
  2. Encourage other positive adult role models to get involved with their local 4-H.  Set a goal to recruit this # of adults to volunteer in 2021-2022.
  3. Support your local 4-H through monetary contributions or in-kind donations. They are always in need of supplies to implement their hands-on programs.
  4. Share your 4-H experiences and successful impacts with your local community as often as you can so others are exposed to the wonderful world of 4-H.  Speaking at your local civic clubs, church functions and other community events really helps 4-H reach as many youth and families as possible.
  5. As a 4-H parent or volunteer, set a goal to help recruit at least five new 4-H youth members in the 2021-2022 4-H Year for your local club or program to help 4-H achieve its vision of 10 million true leaders by 2025!
A picture containing 4-H youth and volunteers helping clean up their community.

Photo By National 4-H Council

Currently, through more than 3,500 professionals, 4-H impacts more than 6 million youth and families and 500,000 youth and adult volunteers, thereby being one of the largest youth development programs in the nation still today.  With the delivery method of experiential learning, youth are engaged mentally, physically, and socially, fostering the development of essential life skills towards the role of true leadership.

To learn more about joining 4-H as a member or volunteer, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit https://florida4h.ifas.ufl.edu/.

What do 4-Hers Do?

Youth at camp

4-H offers a variety of ways for youth and volunteers to get involved!

4-H offers one of the most dynamic youth development experiences- not only are there different types of 4-H membership, but also a wide spectrum of topics youth can explore.   This post will break down the types of 4-H membership, topics youth can learn about, and what to expect during a 4-H club meeting.

4-H Membership Types

  • Community and project clubs are the most traditional membership. Community clubs serve specific geographic areas and offer a wide variety of projects. Project clubs focus on one specific project area, such as sewing, horses, or robotics.
  • 4-H also partners with schools and afterschool programs to provide 4-H experiences for youth. Check with your child’s school or afterschool provider to find out what is available. 4-H also offers some in-school programs like public speaking, agriculture awareness, and embryology to teach science career development.
  • Youth can also participate as camp members. Most counties offer day and residential camp experiences.
  • Some youth also participate in special interest projects or events. This could include Teen Retreat, judging teams, 4-H Legislature, or workshops.

4-H Topics Youth Can ExploreYouth and volunteer on boat

4-H offers multiple ways for youth to explore their sparks. We have three pillar programs- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), Healthy Living, and Citizenship and Leadership. You can find out more about each of the projects by clicking the links below.

STEM

Healthy Living

Citizenship & Leadership

Beef

Child Development

Public Speaking

Dairy

Clothing & Textiles

Community Service

Goat

Financial Management

Citizenship

Poultry

Food & Nutrition

Leadership

Swine

Wellness

 

Horse

   

Rabbit

   

Forestry

   

Marine

   

Shooting Sports

   

Wildlife 

   

Horticulture (gardening)

   

Sports Fishing

   

Entomology (insects)

   

Aerospace

   

Robotics

   

Energy

   

What to Expect during a 4-H Program

  1. A Sense of Belonging– Icebreakers, teambuilding, and get-to-know you games are intentionally part of 4-H programs to help youth (especially new youth) feel like they belong and are welcome. Read more about making meetings welcoming…
  2. 4-H Ceremonies are part of our culture- most 4-H programs begin with the pledge to the American and 4-H flags. Annually, we have officer inductions for our youth club and council offers. For many of our overnight events (such as camp) we will also have flag ceremonies.
  3. Youth~adult partnerships– we view youth as resources. That means that youth voice is important, and youth are encouraged to participate in decision making and goal setting. Club programs are driven by what youth want to learn and do through 4-H, and meetings are led by youth officers.
  4. Opportunities to Learn– educational programs and workshops are taught by adult and teen volunteers. Programs are hands-on, and allow youth to “learn by doing.”
  5. Opportunities to share– 4-H uses the experiential learning model, meaning that volunteers ask questions to help youth reflect and process what they have learned, and how it will help them in future situations. Sometimes youth will give demonstrations or presentations about their project work- especially when they are preparing for a completion.

For more information about 4-H club meetings, check out these previous articles:

Enrollment for the 2021-2022 4-H year opens August 20th. For more information about opportunities for youth and volunteers in your area, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office. 

Happy National S’mores Day!

Nothing says summer better than a gooey, yummy s’more!  They are the ultimate summer campfire dessert. In celebration of National S’mores Day, we are sharing a history of the s’more, a how-to video, and recipe card with our readers. You can make s’mores the traditional way over a campfire, but you can also make them in a microwave or also turn them into a science lesson by making them in a solar oven!

While you are hanging around the campfire with friends and family, here’s a little history of the s’more:

  • Marshmallows were invented by the ancient Greeks and Romans for medicinal purposes (specifically to relieve inflammation and constipation). The first marshmallows were made from the plant Althaea officinalis. 
  • The French added egg whites and sugar, and marketed marshmallows as a treat with healing properties.
  • In the 19th century, confectioners began substituting gelatin for the plant juices, which made it much easier to produce marshmallows in mass.
  • The graham cracker was invented by a Presbyterian minister, Sylvester Graham, who believed eating plain, simple food prevented immoral behavior.
  • Marshmallow roasting parties became fashionable during the Victorian era.
  • We have the Girl Scouts to thank for bringing together chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers!  The first recipe for s’mores appeared in the 1927 Girls Scout Handbook, and was called S’mores because they were so good, everyone would ask for “some more”

Nearly 100 years later, s’mores continue to be a favorite treat at 4-H camps. If it’s too hot for a campfire this summer, you can also make this yummy treat in the microwave:

You can also download and share this recipe card:

Making solar s’mores can be a fun 4-H club activity- National 4-H Council turned our previous solar s’mores post into a “4-H At Home” activity that you can also download and share.

National Freezer Pop Day- How to make Freezer Pops

Summer is upon us and so is the heat in the Florida Panhandle. Schools are out and the kids are at home needing activities to do together. Homemade Freezer Pops are an excellent source of fun! These popsicles can be secretly healthy and taste absolutely delicious. They don’t have to just be for the kids either, adults of all shapes and sizes can enjoy them too. In this article we will discuss what freezer pops are, how to make them, and a few tips for maximum enjoyment!

What are Freezer Pops?

A freezer pop is a frozen treat that generally comes in a clear, plastic tube. Freezer pops, not to be confused with popsicles which are typically consumed off a wooden popsicle stick, are found in grocery stores in unfrozen liquid form, ready for the consumer to pop them into their freezer at home! Once frozen solid, the consumer picks their flavor of choice, cuts open an end of the plastic tube, and simply squeezes or pushes the sweet ice out of the packaging.

Many of us know these sweet and fruity slushy pops as Otter Pops or Fla-Vor-Ice. These nostalgic treats are simply made from sweetened, colored, and flavored water.  With little nutritional value coming from the store-bought version, homemade freezer pops can be much more nutritious.  Keep following along to find out how to make these tasty treats!

How to make Homemade Freezer Pops

Freezer pops are super easy to make and are a healthier alternative to the nostalgic treat. Before you get started, you will need all the necessary supplies.  Supplies commonly found at home would include a freezer and a blender. Supplies that can be bought at the store are Zipzicles (a freezer pop reusable plastic bag) or silicone ice pop molds, fruit of your choice, and a natural sweetener like honey.

Step 1: Wash your hands! Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from spreading germs. You should wash hands before, during, and after preparing your food. To wash your hands the right way, first wet your hands with warm, clean, running water.  Then turn off the tap and apply your soap.  Lather your hands (make lots of white foams/bubbles) by rubbing them together with the soap. Make sure you lather the back of your hands, between your fingers, under your nails, and palm of your hands.  Scrub for about twenty seconds.  (Don’t know how long 20 seconds is? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from the beginning to the end twice!)  Finally, rinse your hands well under warm, clean, running water and either dry with a clean towel or air dry. (1)

Step 2: Gather your ingredients to be blended. There are lots of  fruits  that make great homemade ice pops: watermelon, orange, pineapple, mango, raspberry, honeydew, cantaloupe, and strawberry! (3)

One of my favorite recipes for freezer pops uses 10 ounces of ripe berries, ~½ a cup of water, and 1-2 tablespoons of honey. If the fruit  you use is very juicy, you may not have to use as much water but remember, the more water that you use, the icier the pop will become in the freezer. You can also use either lemon or  lime juice to add a little flavor boost!. (3) The amount of sweetener needed varies as the sugar content of the berries can vary. If the berries are ripe and sweet, use a little less sweetener. If the berries are not as ripe, simply use a little more sweetener. Then blend all the ingredients together completely, until smooth!

Step 3: Fill individual baggies of your choosing. Make sure to not over fill the bags.

Step 4: Freeze the freezer pops for ~ 2 to 4 hours before enjoying. If you consume them around 2 hours, they may not be as solid as they will be at the 4-hour mark.

Step 5: Enjoy a refreshing treat!

Tips for Homemade Freezer Pops

  1. The sweetness of the chosen fruit will be muted  once frozen. Make sure to use over ripe fruit or added sweetener to keep the treat sweet.
  2. Use a funnel to fill your freezer pop bags. Using a funnel will keep you from making too much of a mess, and will also help you mind the “maximum fill line” on the bag. If you keep the contents you are pouring into the bag under the line, it will be easier to seal! \
  3. Just about anything that can be blended or pureed can be used for a freezer pop! Leftover smoothies, various fruit juices, and even sodas make for easy  treats! Check out the image below to see flavors others have created!  (4)

For National Freezer Pop Day, July 8th, 2021, enjoy making  homemade freezer pops  with your family! With a snip of the scissors, you’ll produce smiles with every sip. (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate National “Take a Kid Fishing” Day with 4-H!

photo of a girl with a fishing pole and fishIf you need a good reason to go fishing, we’ve got you!  Today is National Take a Kid Fishing Day, and we can’t think of a better reason to promote our 4-H fishing project. Our 4-H fishing project connects youth to the great outdoors and is an opportunity for youth to learn about:

  • Important angling skills, like casting and retrieving your line.
  • Different types of tackle and how they are used to catch fish.
  • How to take proper care of your rod and reel.
  • Cleaning and cooking your fish.
  • Ecology of aquatic and marine environments.
  • How to identify the different types of sportfish and how to catch them.
  • What it means to be a responsible angler.

Youth also learn about careers related to fisheries and wildlife, and their importance to the Florida economy. Florida is often called the fishing capitol of the world because the state holds more record fish catches than any other state or country! Fishing is important for many different reasons. Recreational fishing is a major economical driver in the state of Florida.  The sunshine state has approximately 4 million anglers that contribute $13.8 billion to Florida’s economy supporting over 120,000 local jobs.

If you have a passion for fishing and the environment, please consider sharing your skills and knowledge with youth. 4-H can customize volunteer roles to fit your interest and

group of youth and adult after fishing

Group of 4-H youth, volunteers, and agent enjoying the wonders of the outdoors

schedule so you can inspire the next generation of anglers. Contact your local UF IFAS Extension office to discuss how you can contribute to “making the best better” in your community.

If your child or grandchild is interested in participating in our fishing program, check out our Sports Fishing Project page, or reach out to your local 4-H agent. The University of Florida school of Forestry, Fisheries, and Geomatic Sciences sponsors a program called “Fishing for Success.”  This program includes several family fishing days where they provide everything you need to fish and have fun!

The Difference Between Service Learning and Community Service

Youth and adults cleaning up their community

photo credit: National 4-H Council

One of the requirements for 4-H clubs to be chartered is annual participation in a service project because it helps youth develop compassion and empathy for others. This is an important step to help youth live our pledge “my heart to greater loyalty” and “my hands to greater service.”  Recently, the terms community service and service learning are being used interchangeably, but they are not the same. This post will explain the difference between the two and provide additional resources for 4-H parents, volunteers and club officers.

What is community service?

Community service is usually a “one and done” activity. It is often associated with short term volunteerism, and sometimes can be associated with court-mandated sentences. Community service includes things like a food drive, clothing drive, or litter pick up. These types of activities help youth apply the “heart” and “hands” parts of our pledge, but youth typically do not organize the activities; they are often done in collaboration with another organization, such as Toys for Tots, a local food pantry, or Adopt a Highway. Community service is a great way to introduce the concepts of giving back to the community and helping others. It is very appropriate for our younger 4-H members, who don’t yet have the critical thinking, decision making, and leadership skills to execute a service-learning project.

What is service learning?

Service learning engages not only the “heart” and “hands” but also the “head.”  Service learning is a process in which youth identify a need, develop solutions to address that need, implement a plan to put their solution into action, and reflect on the results of their action. Service learning should be planned and implemented by youth, with parents and volunteers supporting and guiding the process. Service learning is more appropriate for older youth who are ready to take on more responsibility. Service learning not only helps youth develop a sense of compassion, but it also helps them develop more independence.

So What’s the Difference?Community service vs service learning

For example, when a 4-H club decides to lead a food drive for the local pantry, they are contributing to the issue of food insecurity.  Food drives are an effective way to meet the immediate need for more food, or more nutritious food. Our annual Peanut Butter Drive is a great way for 4-Hers to get involved with food insecurity; the Florida Peanut Producers match what is collected and everything is donated to a local food pantry. However, if youth want to address the issue of food insecurity in a more systemic way, they might choose to apply GPS technology to map the food deserts in their community or county. Next, they might present their findings to county commissioners or the chamber of commerce. Together, they brainstorm solutions on how to address food insecurity issues in those food deserts, but increasing awareness, or finding partners to provide sources of nutritious food. After implementing solutions, they look back and reflect on what they did, what worked, and what could be improved for next time.

Download this one-page document to help explain the difference between community service and service learning. This is a great resource for volunteers, parents and club officers. Next week, we will share ideas for service learning and community service related to a variety of issues, that can be a great discussion starter for your club meetings this fall!

If you have a passion for civic engagement and making a difference in your community, consider sharing your passion and skills with youth. We need volunteers to help youth understand what it means to be engaged in their community, and volunteers to empower youth to make a difference locally. We match volunteers’ skills and schedules with our program. Contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office for more information.