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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.

 

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/

Finding Treasure by Stepping Outside!

Finding Treasure by Stepping Outside!

Youth holding up picture

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 –
2 kids planting a tree

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.”

Battling Resistance with Resilience

Battling Resistance with Resilience

Youth carrying a bucket through a garden4-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!

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.

 

HEALTH FOR YOU, HEALTH FOR ME

 

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!

RESOURCES