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Heading into Summer with 4-H Fun and Sun Safety

Summer is right around the corner. As much as we all love the sunshine feeling on our face and body, too much of a good thing can be harmful!  It is always important to remember our family’s well-being, take responsibility for our personal safety, and make healthy decisions, even while having a fun time. Here are some short sun safety reminders to make your summer a fun and enjoyable experience for you and your family members!

SUN SAFETY

Plan Your Day Around the Clock

The sun shares its most harmful rays in the middle of the day so plan this time for indoor use. The sun’s rays are most harmful between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM so make outdoor time in the early morning or early evening when it is less intense.  This also keeps your food at safer temperatures as well so your ice (or you) won’t melt as fast.

Protect Your Body

Spraying sunscreen on arm

Look for SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.

One of the easiest defenses against the sun is sometimes one of the most forgotten, sunscreen! Be sure to lather up in sunscreen BEFORE you go outside.  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends liberally applying a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 or higher, as these formulas will block UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to apply at least 30 minutes prior to going outside.  Once outside, continue to apply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming.  Not sure what kind of sunscreen blocks UVA and UVB rays?  Look for a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher with the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these ingredients will do the job.  Remember to coat your ears, neck, tops of feet, etc.

Remember to grab your sunglasses too!  Your eyeballs are just as sensitive as your skin so blocking UVA and UBA rays from your eyes are important to.  Fashionable sunglasses are great if you are into that but being able to protect your eyes is the goal.

Limit Time

dog wearing sunglasses

Remember to keep your pets cool too!

Most everyone enjoys getting outside this time of year to soak up some sunshine and enjoy the beautiful day. In fact, it’s true that some amount of sunlight is healthy for your body and mind. However, as we know all too well sometimes, too much exposure can be detrimental and lead to sunburn, heat exhaustion and more. Thus, it is a good idea to find balance by setting a time limit on sun exposure, if possible. If time slips past you because you and your family are having too much fun, set an alarm as a friendly reminder. Make this your “shade time” for a water break, game of cards, or a brief nap. Be sure to always have an umbrella or tent on hand in case no shade is available.

Hydrate

It is very easy to get dehydrated in the summertime.  Drink water throughout the day.  Don’t wait until you get hot and thirsty. Drink water to maintain your hydration before it is depleted.  This will help avoid those nasty summer headaches and tummy aches.  Taking your pet with you?  Don’t forget Fido’s water bowl too!

4-H PROGRAMMING  

UV Bead Activity

Looking for a really cool lesson to teach your children about the risk factors associated with sun exposure and UV rays? Check out this 4-H activity  4-H + Me = Health: Sun Safety from Minnesota Extension Service’s Exploring Your Body, Helper’s Guide. In this activity, children can make their own beaded bracelets that change colors when exposed to UV light. This is a great way for children to understand UV light, cloud coverage, sunscreen SPFs and more!

UV Beads with no sun

UV Beads with no sun exposure.

4-H has plenty of educational programming, both outdoors and indoors, to keep your children engaged this summer!  From gardening to robots, archery to grilling, 4-H has something for everyone.  If you are looking for fun, educational activities during the summer while maintaining a safe environment for your child, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org

 

UV Beads with sun exposure

UV Beads with sun exposure.

 

Recognizing the Signs of Human Trafficking

image with National Human Trafficking Hotline

To get help for someone call or text this number

Understanding Signs of Human Trafficking

The common misconception when the average person hears about human trafficking is that the victim has been kidnapped and sold into slavery across the world.  The visions of young people restrained in the back of a semi tuck or cargo ship may come to mind.  The reality of the matter is kidnapping of victims only happens in about 9% of these cases.  The sad fact is that most victims are trafficked by someone they know and trusted at one point.  Many victims even feel they are doing their trafficker a favor now and then in exchange for a new cell phone, video game, or some other type of prized possession.

Understanding the signs of human trafficking is the first step to helping the victims find their freedom.  Many youth who are venerable can be influenced and controlled by savvy individuals they initially see as a trusted adult.  Through research, the susceptible victims are targeted and are in over their heads before they know what has happened.  Often, these victims feel stuck without any hopes of relief or rescue.

The signs to look for are subtle and for experienced traffickers, sometimes well hidden.  A sudden change in appearance or attitude could be a sign of youth hanging out with a new crowd.  If you notice youth that have a new friend who is considerably older, this could also be a signal that the relationship may not be healthy.  Here is a sample of additional signs to look for:

  • Sudden absences from school
  • Repeatedly running away
  • Abrupt change in attire, behavior, or relationships
  • The existence of an older “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”
  • Being escorted by an older male or female who is not their guardian
  • Sudden existence of costly material belongings
  • Homelessness
  • Signs of psychological pressure, such as anxiety, depression,
  • An overly submissive attitude
  • Tattoos or other branding marks
  • Lack of control over their schedule or money
  • Unable to possess their own proof of identification
  • Signs of physical trauma (like bruises, cuts, burns, or scars)
  • Coached or rehearsed responses to questions

If you are a trusted adult and changes are noticed, a few well-placed questions, may help the victim open up a little.  Victims may be resistant to questioning but may speak more freely with an open-ended conversation.  Can you tell me more about, “the new friend’s name here”?  What do you do when you hang out with “new friend”?  Why did “new friend” buy you such a nice cell phone?  It is not necessary to confirm abuse before calling the Florida Abuse Hotline to report suspicion.  Remember, these victims can also be young adults that have been trapped inside a human trafficking ring for years.   If abuse is suspected, please call Florida Abuse Hotline (report abuse for children) TEL: 1-800-962-2873 TTY: 1-800-4955-8771 The Florida Abuse Hotline accepts reports 24 hours a day and 7 days a week of known or suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment and reports of known or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Please use the links below to report a child or adult abuse.  National Human Trafficking Resource Center 24/7 (for adults).  1 (888) 373-7888

BeFree Textline 24/7 Text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE) Send a text for crisis support, referrals, and more – to get help for victims and survivors of human trafficking or to connect with local services.

Outdoor Fire Safety

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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,

Young man grilling pork chops

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. 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.firesafekid.org/family-fire-safety/outdoor-fire-safety/

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/fief/outdoor_fire_safety.pdf

Meet the Author – Marcus D. Boston Jr.

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.

Healthy Living Club Activities For 4-H Members and Volunteers

Youth preparing healthy dish.Healthy Living is one of the 4-H’s.  While your club may not specifically focus on what is traditionally considered to be “healthy living” activities, you might be surprised about much your 4-H club is contributing to the mental and physical well-being of youth members. After we recognize that all our clubs have a role to play in implementing healthy living strategies across the county 4-H program, we can start to consider ways to be intentional in how we incorporate healthy living into 4-H activities and projects.

What does a 4-H Healthy Living program include?  A 4 H Healthy Living program or strategy is any activity or program component that can help youth lead lives that balance physical, mental, and emotional health.

According to the National 4-H Council, 4-H Healthy Living programs include objectives that can help “empower youth to be healthy – body and mind – with the skills to make healthy decisions and lead healthy lifestyles. Having the confidence and skills to lead healthy lifestyles not only improves overall well-being; it enables youth to tackle life’s challenges today and become leaders in their lives, careers, and communities as they grow into responsible adulthood” (National 4-H Council, 2021).  Your club focus might fit into one of the following program areas: mind, body, leadership, or mentorship.

As a club leader, you may encourage your youth to adopt goals and projects that will cover multiple program areas. Introducing healthy living during club meetings is another way to incorporate these concepts and help youth develop healthier habits.

With so many possible topics to consider, it may seem overwhelming to choose a starting point. In this article, a few suggestions will be explored.

Sleep

It may be surprising to learn that youth, like adults, are not getting enough sleep.  Regularly missing hours of sleep or experiencing poor sleep quality can contribute to a variety of issues for youth.   The Sleep Foundation is one resource to use for tips on how to encourage our 4-H members to adopt better sleep habits (Pacheco, 2021).

Some ideas for helping your 4-H youth learn about the importance of sleep and how to develop better sleep habits include the activities and lessons listed in the links below this paragraph.  Consider challenging your youth to set healthy sleep goals for one month. Discuss the potential benefits during your goal setting activity.  At the end of the month, discuss how youth felt on days when the sleep goals were met and how they felt on days when they did not meet their goal.

Activity for Teens (Intermediates and Seniors)

University of Wisconsin Extension. 2007. “4-H Get Fit, That’s It. Lesson 2: Are You Getting Enough Sleep.”  Link to activity: https://api.ag.purdue.edu/api/DepotWS/File.ashx?t=f&i=98730

Activity for Elementary School Age (Juniors 4-H Members)

The Nemours Foundation. 2015. Sleep. Kids’ Health in the Classroom.

https://classroom.kidshealth.org/classroom/3to5/body/functions/sleep.pdf

Hydration

One way to incorporate a healthy living strategy into your 4-H program is offering water at all your meetings and limiting the inclusion of other beverages. A 4-H lesson on hydration can include STEM principles as youth can calculate their daily water needs based on their body weight. A fun way to encourage water consumption is to personalize reusable water bottles as a club activity and to award points to youth who remember to bring their bottles to meetings and activities.

All Ages Lesson and Activity

National 4-H Council.2020. How Much Water Do You Need? 4-H Healthy Living Activity Guide.

https://4-h.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/4H-Healthy-Living-Activity-Guide.pdf

Other Ways to Incorporate Healthy Living into Your Club Programs

Activities designed to improve sleep and hydration are only two of many possible ways to incorporate healthy living into your 4-H program. Healthy Living activities can incorporate exercise, nutrition,  and ways to improve and maintain mental health.

Resources

Caruso, L.; Shelnut, K.; Kauwell, G. 2017. Hydration Myths. UF/IFAS Extension. Retrieved January 16, 2022 from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FY1409.

National 4-H Council. 2021. Healthy Living.  Retrieved January 16, 2022 from https://4-h.org/parents/healthy-living/.

Pacheco, D. 2021.  Children and Sleep.  The National Sleep Foundation.  Retrieved January 16, 2022 from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep.

University of California 4-H Youth Development Program. 2022. Sleep for Better Living. Retrieved January 16, 2022 from https://4h.ucanr.edu/Projects/HealthyLiving/Sleep_for_Better_Living/

Keep Mindfulness through the Holiday Back To School Transition

The holidays are a joyous and wonderful time of year, but can also be very busy time, and at times, overwhelming. Now that we are back it is time to Children shift into the organized, orderly school day from that unstructured holiday break schedule. As a result, it is inevitable that children may feel some degree of stress from these transitions.  Children and teens are still learning to regulate emotions, making them more susceptible to change’s resulting in stress.

Mindfulness is the act of creating awareness of your surroundings, emotions, and physical self in the present moment. It helps you connect to the world around you, while providing cognitive, social, and emotional benefits. Practicing mindfulness is not just for adults. Children can reap a multitude of benefits from learning and practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness equips children with the ability to adjust and deal with conflict encountered in their daily lives. It can also help children foster an optimistic outlook in life, react to stress in a healthy way, and develop a positive self-concept.

The practice of mindfulness is foreign to some adults, making it tricky to teach and model for young children. The best thing to do is keep the message simple and focus on modeling the behaviors. Being taught by an adult that models mindful behaviors daily will assist youth in mastering the techniques. Below are a few mindfulness activities you can do at home as a family or in a group learning environment, such as a 4-H club meeting.

Enjoy Nature

Going on a mindful walk is a simple way to help clear your mind and restore your focus. Taking a nature walk around your neighborhood or park is an easy way to exercise your mindfulness skills and enjoy nature. You can make it exciting by telling them you are going on a “mindfulness safari” and the goal is to see how many different birds, insects, and animals you can find on your journey. Below are some tips for going on a mindful walk:

  • Start at a slow pace and gradually increase as the walk continues.
  • Pay attention to the feeling in your legs and feet as you take each step. Then, notice how your arms and torso feel as you walk.
  • Notice any smells around you.
  • Listen to the variety of sounds around you. Notice if the sounds are close or far away.

    Youth on a nature walk

    Talking a walk in nature is a simple way to practice mindfulness Photo by Allison Leo

Meditate

Contrary to what you may think, you do not have to sit silently on the ground with your eyes closed to mediate. You can meditate while you are walking, eating, or doing household chores. The goal of meditation is to slow down and be in the moment. Guided meditation led by a family member are a way to relax and help reduce stress. Below is guided meditation titled “Relationship Fingers” from the University of Minnesota Extension.

Relationship Fingers – Start by holding out your hand with your thumb pointed towards yourself. Take a breath. For each finger we are going to be focusing on a relationship we have with someone. There is no ‘right’ person so don’t worry about who you choose.

  • Start by holding your pinky finger and think of someone who is far away from you. Take a breath for them. Really look at that relationship. What do you notice?
  • Next focus or touch your ring finger. Think of someone who is leaning on you right now or who may be more vulnerable in this moment. Take a breath for them. Really look at that relationship. What do you notice?
  • Hold or focus on your middle finger and think of a leader in your life. Take a breath for them. Really look at that relationship. What do you notice?
  • Focus on your pointer finger and think of someone who is close to you. Take a breath for them. Really look at that relationship. What do you notice?
  • Last, hold or focus on your thumb. Consider the relationship you have with yourself. Take a good look. What do you notice? What are you committed to? Take one last breath and shake it out.

Gratitude

When we feel and express gratitude to people in our lives, it creates loving connections, builds trust, and makes us feel joyful. Gratitude can be shown by giving someone a hug or telling them how much you appreciate them. Gratitude journals can easily be made at home or you can print off a pre-made template. This version is simple and is a great start for kids: https://researchparent.com/gratitude-journal-for-kids/.

  • What’s the best book you’ve ever read? What did you like best about the characters?
  • Name one thing that makes you smile every time you hear or see it. Why?
  • Describe one thing that made you feel cozy today.
  • Who is the one friend you can always rely on?
  • What are five things you are looking forward to next year?
image of page with questions to help kids be mindful

Gratitude Journals are a simple mindfulness activity kids can complete every day

Walker, K., Sharpe, K., Anderson, M., Caines, T., Johnson, C., Kennedy, D., Nguyen, K., Odendahl, S., & Santl, K. (2021). Social Emotional Wellbeing: A Guide to Support Youth Thriving. St. Paul: Regents of the University of Minnesota.