Holidays can be stressful under normal circumstances, but 2020 has been far from normal! Mindfulness can help you improve your focus, manage stress, develop a positive outlook, and resolve conflict. Together, these all help you do a better job regulating emotions. Developing a mindfulness practice could be a great new year’s resolution as we look forward to 2021! Last month’s Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy webinar focused on helping volunteers develop a mindfulness practice.
There are three key features of mindfulness:
- Purpose- intentionally directing your attention rather than letting it wander
- Presence- being fully engaged and attentive at the present moment
- Acceptance- being nonjudgmental about whatever arises in the moment. In other words, not fretting over what you should be doing or what you should have done, rather focusing on what you can do in the present.
To learn specific strategies for developing a mindfulness practice around these features, watch our webinar below, or check out some of the resources linked below.
UF IFAS Extension Factsheet “Introduction to Mindfulness”
National 4-H Council’s Kids Guide to Mindfulness
A 4-H family gathered together at a show.
Are you looking for another way that you can aid your child in becoming a healthy well-adjusted adult? You help can them by allowing them to enter a relationship with a horse. Most kids are naturally drawn to horses and may benefit greatly in what they can gain from them. Some life skills learned from caring for equine are character building, healthy living, leadership skills, and responsibility, just to name a few. Plus, if your child is out at the barn caring for their horse, they are less likely to be stuck on their phones on the couch. Therefore, their physical health will benefit from doing chores and riding as well. Horseback riding offers many aerobic-exercise benefits such as building muscles, boosting balance, and increasing coordination and flexibility. Lifting saddles, water buckets, and cleaning require physical movement as well as gives a sense of self accomplishment of “I can do this all by myself.” When youth are responsible for the care of a horse, it teaches them to put others needs above their own and they learn empathy.
Emily, 4-H member, sitting on her horse, Slyder.
Did you know 4-H has a horse program? The goal of the program is to teach and provide young people with an opportunity to participate in activities that foster the love for the animal and achieve their goals. The activities are designed to improve citizenship, sportsmanship, horsemanship, character, competitive spirit, and discipline while making youth aware of life around them. When thinking about the 4-H horse program, there is the potential for participation in horse judging, public speaking, demonstrations, hippology and quiz bowl. Participation in these activities can help a youth improve in many areas to gain a better education and they don’t have to necessarily have a horse. There is also horse showing for those who own a horse. Showing equine will connect youth from all over the world as horse family while teaching them to prepare, build the courage to compete, enjoy the rewards and deal with disappointments. Hopefully, the disappointments will drive them to succeed and work harder while furthering their leadership skills. Afterall, taking control of a thousand-pound animal to work through challenging tasks will require skills that promote a child’s self-competence.
If you are looking for something new to spark an interest in your child, consider the 4-H equine project. Horses are fun, help teach great life skills, and kids adore them. They will keep youth positively engaged during their difficult years from pre-teen and into adulthood. If you are unsure of what your county has to offer in the way of equine 4-H programs, give your local UF IFAS County Extension Office a call and they will help you or connect you with someone in the field or visit http://florida4h.org.
*“Please note 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.”
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.”
The uniqueness of today brings forth a changing world with new opportunities to grow. Individuals are seeking ways to help make positive changes in themselves, in each other, and in their communities. One way people are finding to make these changes is through volunteering their time, skills, and support with 4-H. 4-H volunteers are the caring adult role models that utilize a learn-by-doing approach to help youth evolve into more creative, independent, and forward thinking leaders.
4-H volunteers serve in a variety of capacities based on their interests, skills, and time constraints. Some serve as club leaders for our local 4-H clubs. Other volunteers help with organizing events, judging competitive events, and serving as advisors on boards and committees. Because 4-H offers such a wide variety of events and activities, there are opportunities that can fit every individual’s personal goals, schedules, and needs.
New World, New Opportunities
Opportunities for people to volunteer have evolved even further in today’s world. Everyone has always considered volunteering as an “in-person” role. Although the in-person volunteer is still very much in demand and invaluable to the 4-H organization, another volunteer role has emerged – the virtual volunteer. With the covid-19 pandemic, the role of the virtual volunteer has made it possible for many more individuals that normally could not volunteer in-person, be able to contribute their talents and time. Whereas covid-19 may have restricted physical distancing, the internet has removed geographical limitations and opened doors to new volunteer roles for a larger, more diverse audience.
The virtual 4-H volunteer is an exciting alternate opportunity for many. The goals of creating a safe environment, promoting a sense of belonging, and teaching youth essential life skills are still the primary goals of the virtual 4-H volunteer. The only main difference in opportunity is the delivery mode. Through new, modernized delivery modes such as virtual club meetings, social media outlets, and pre-recorded sessions, the traditional 4-H program has become more current and efficient for the modern youth and his/her family as well as the volunteers, allowing additional opportunities to expand the 4-H program. Some 4-H programs have been converted to online programs to continue providing quality programming and meet the needs of all individuals. 4-H has been and continues to be a program that is available to young people in all U.S. states, U.S. territories and U.S. military installations worldwide, regardless of gender, race, creed, color, religion, or disability. Regardless if an individual chooses to become an in-person or virtual 4-H volunteer, the mission of every 4-H volunteer is the same – to help ignite a spark in each youth to find what inspires them in order to carry out 4-H’s belief in “making the best better.”
It’s Time to Become a 4-H Volunteer!
There is no need to let the pandemic stop you from engaging in giving back when you have the opportunity to make a difference in your own community –in-person or virtually! 4-H is always seeking positive adult role models to serve in a variety of ways. Volunteers have the flexibility to determine the amount of time given, location and subject area they prefer. Volunteers will receive full assistance from their local 4-H Office to include trainings, office support, resources, and materials.
To learn more about becoming a 4-H volunteer, please contact your local UF IFAS County 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.”
Celebrate our Freedom
The boom of fireworks, an outdoor concert, a lively parade, the smell of hot dogs on the grill, sweet cold watermelon slices, and a day spent with friends and family, for many, this is what the Fourth of July means. We get so busy enjoying the celebration that we often forget to stop and reflect what the holiday is about.
The Fourth of July is a celebration of independence from British rule and the formation of America. The holiday has been celebrated since 1776 and became an official federal holiday in 1870. The succession from British rule and creation of the Declaration of Independence would not be possible without the formation of a military. In the United States, we are fortunate to still enjoy the freedoms awarded though the Revolutionary War (and military) and work of the Continental Congress. These Founding Fathers of the U.S. paved the way for independence, but our dedicated service members and their families work every day to ensure that our freedom and independence continues. No one loves their country more than a Soldier, Airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman or Sailor; they are willing to sacrifice all to protect and preserve our freedom. They are passionate about their mission and give all they can to serve the U.S. and her citizens.
In a discussion of what Independence Day means to military members, SSgt. Quade, USMC (Vet), states “Military wide, Independence Day is one of the most quintessential days of the year. Not only because of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but that signature represents the freedoms and liberties that were fought for by all brothers and sisters of all branches and earned through blood, sweat, and tears.” It was interesting to hear his perspective and learn that Independence Day is celebrated all over the world by U.S. Military members – maybe not always with fireworks, but a group picnic-style lunch with hotdogs and hamburgers.
We also have to recognize the many sacrifices made by the military members that affect their family, such as missed birthdays, holidays, family functions, and milestones. What makes the time away tolerable is knowing that back home the active duty spouse is stepping up to the plate and taking care of the family. Children assume different roles within the family to help keep the household running and provide support. Military families are resilient and fluid, adjusting to relocation and changes in family dynamics.
This year, as you celebrate the Fourth of July, I hope you enjoy fireworks, grilled hot dogs, and a cold slice of watermelon. During your celebration, I encourage you to take a moment and thank military members and their families, many who are 4-H members, for their efforts and sacrifices in protecting our freedoms so we can enjoy independence every day.
UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H are proud to be a part of the military family – 4-H works with military youth centers across the nation and overseas to create some consistency for youth in these situations. For more information about the 4-H opportunities available in your county, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.
Special thanks to Jennifer Sims, 4-H Military Partnership Coordinator, UF/IFAS Bay County, for providing this article and picture.
4-H is known for creating safe and inclusive environments. Many may argue this could be incredibly difficult now in the wake of the Coronavirus sweeping Florida, however, where some may see resistance, 4-H shows our resiliency. Across Florida, 4-H Agents have been brainstorming a multitude of ways to continue serving their clientele and practicing what we pledge by…
”My Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service and my Health to better living, for my Club, my Community, my Country, and my World.
Within the Northwest District, there are currently many alternative programs to engage our 4-H members and volunteers during this time of “social distancing.” Interactive meetings, webinars, and interviews are provided through online streaming platforms that allow members to call in or connect via their smartphones, tablets and computers. Other alternatives include utilizing Youtube Channels or Facebook to stream recorded videos of activities for youth and adults. Consider exploring some of our many options below and join us on our new virtual adventure in experiential learning 4-H style!
Virtual Opportunities for Youth
Embryology, which is typically delivered as a school enrichment program, can now be viewed live on some county 4-H websites and Facebook pages. Agents and 4-H volunteers are also offering virtual livestock judging options so judging teams can continue to build their knowledge base for competitions along with Virtual Farm Tours in some areas. Other counties are banding together to deliver daily activities for youth via recorded series posted on their Facebook pages that highlight different themed days of the week.
- Escambia County 4-H Virtual Embryology Experience
- Register via their Eventbrite for full access to videos, webinars and resources
- 4-H Life Skills Masters Daily Series via Holmes & Walton 4-H County Facebook Pages
- Daily themes with activities include: Make It Mondays, Tasty Tuesdays, Water Wednesdays, Tackle It Thursdays & Fitness Fridays
- Washington County 4-H Project Showcase via Flipgrid
- Compete within your 4-H Showcase project area virtually with Mrs. Julie
- Jackson County Virtual Poultry Judging
- Jackson County Agriculture Virtual Day Camps
- This series is posted on their Facebook page and can be reviewed even after the event!
- Freezer & Fridge hacks with Calhoun County 4-H
- Learn tricks and tips of preserving all those extra groceries during your COVID-19 prep
- Liberty County 4-H detEGGtives investigate the 21-day countdown to Hatching with my Peeps
- Wakulla County 4-H shares Facebook Live daily updates and content from across Florida 4-H
- Leon County 4-H takes you on a virtual farm tour!
- Leon County 4-H Virtual Showcase
- Compete virtually and potentially win cash prizes for your clubs along with individual prizes and recognition…WIN:WIN!
Virtual Opportunities for Volunteers
Volunteer based programming has shifted to virtual as well! Currently, each month a webinar is hosted which highlights different topic areas related to delivering a well balanced 4-H program to your club members. Topics so far have included Preparing for County Showcase (aka County Events), Professional 4-H Portfolio Tips, and 4-H Project and Record Book Tips. You can register for the Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy through our Eventbrite link and receive calendar invitations, reminders, and links so you can tune in LIVE or watch the recorded sessions later. Our team also provides you with all the resources discussed in each section. Registration is required and can be found at http://bit.ly/4HVVLA
4-H Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy
- April- Awards & Recognition
- September*- Judging Contests
- October*- Preparing for Exhibits & Shows
*Fall session registration will be available July 1, 2020.
Subscribe to our NW District YouTube Channel for recorded sessions
If you would like to learn more about the 4-H opportunities available in your county, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org. Now is a great time to join the 4-H family!