Life skills for youth are defined as a set of abilities and competencies that enable young people to successfully navigate their daily lives and achieve their goals. These skills are essential for personal and professional development and help “prepare youth to be responsible citizens and productive members of the workforce.” Florida 4-H provides many opportunities for young people to obtain life skills through project work, community and afterschool clubs, workshops, and leadership programs.
As a state-wide organization, Florida 4-H prioritizes the development of communication, higher-order thinking, and appreciation of differences. These three life skills are infused throughout our educational activities and programs because they are essential workforce skills. Below are a few examples of local programs that focus on helping youth develop life skills:
- Communication: 4-H provides opportunities for youth to develop their communication skills through the Florida 4-H Public Speaking Contest, demonstrations, and presentations at County/District and 4-H University. These activities help youth learn how to articulate their ideas clearly and confidently.
- Higher Order Thinking: this includes both decision-making and problem-solving.
- Decision-Making: 4-H offers various programs, such as judging contests at fairs, 4-H event planning committees (district/state council), and club activities that help youth develop their decision-making skills. These activities help youth learn how to make informed decisions and evaluate the outcomes of their choices.
- Problem-Solving: 4-H offers various programs, such as STEM projects and engineering challenges, that help youth develop problem-solving skills. These activities encourage youth to think creatively and find innovative solutions to complex problems.
- Appreciation of Differences– 4-H helps youth learn how to respect and communicate with people who might be different from themselves. Many of our programs offer opportunities for youth to meet new people and explore different cultures. We also help youth learn how to address conflict in a positive way through civil discourse. Older youth can participate in exchange programs with 4-Hers from other states and countries (4-H is in all 50 states and 32 other countries!).
- Teamwork: Through 4-H club projects, counselor training, and community service activities, youth learn how to work collaboratively with others towards a common goal, which helps them develop important teamwork skills.
- Responsibility: 4-H club projects and community service activities encourage youth to take responsibility for their actions and to learn the importance of following through on commitments.
- Leadership Development: 4-H offers various programs, such as officer training, public speaking, county/district councils, and community service projects, that help youth develop their leadership skills.
- Self-Confidence: 4-H programs provide a safe and supportive environment where youth can build their self-confidence through public speaking, leadership roles, and community service activities.
- Service Learning: Through 4-H club work, obtaining a Florida 4-H Community Pride Grant, and active membership on county/district councils, youth members take part in projects and experiences that help them how to become active participants in the communities and apply their experiences to real-life situations.
These are not the only life skills youth in Florida can learn and practice through 4-H- but they are part of almost every program we offer. These are examples of the priority life skills that Florida 4-H promotes among youth, with a focus on cognitive development, interpersonal skills, leadership, civic engagement, and practical skills. Florida 4-H aims to provide a comprehensive youth development program that equips young people with the skills they need to succeed in their personal lives, careers, and communities. Active involvement in 4-H will help members to connect life skills obtained through their 4-H involvement to real-life experiences. For more information on these youth leadership opportunities please contact your local 4-H office.
If you would like to help Florida 4-H teach life skills, or get your child involved in our program, reach out to your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office. There is an office in every county in Florida. Spring is a great time to get involved, because 4-H offers several summer programs for youth to develop life skills!
Marilyn N. Norman and Joy C. Jordan.2018.Targeting Life Skills. EDIS document #4HSFS101.9
Hendricks, P.(1988). Developing Youth Curriculum Using The targeting Life Skills Model
Michigan State Extension. 2016. 4-H Head Life Skill Sheets.(4-H1679)
Escambia County’s 1st place Food Challenge Team
Judging table display of culinary creations. Top, Liberty’s, center Escambia’s intermediate, bottom Escambia’s senior.
The Northwest District 4-H Food Challenge took place on January 7, 2023, and the results were phenomenal! This new competition challenges youth to work as teams of no less than two or more than four, and practice critical thinking, open communication, and presentation skills. Presentations are to include the knowledge and skills youth have learned through the project such as kitchen safety, food safety, cooking techniques, recipe creation, and how they worked together. But that is not all, additionally, teams are using a set of specific cooking supplies, a mystery ingredient, a specific dish category (main dish, side dish, appetizer, or healthy dessert), and a set amount of 4-H money to spend at the challenge grocery store. The entire competition allows 40 minutes for youth to put all of this into practice. Escambia County entered a senior and intermediate team while Liberty County entered an intermediate team into the inaugural competition.
Escambia County’s senior team, dubbed O Crepe and the Spice Girls consisted of Alan Bray-Crews, Laney Clarke, Ryan Clarke, and Aubrie Dillon, who were presented with portabella mushrooms for their mystery ingredient with the category of the main dish. The team produced an excellent mushroom soup as their main dish. The dish along with their well-prepared presentation earned them a place in the Florida 4-H State Food Challenge competition at the Florida State Fair in Tampa on February 18.
The two intermediate teams’ mystery ingredient was Brussel sprouts and the side dish category. The Flaming Clovers of Escambia County consisted of Chloe Bray-Crews, Brian Brewster, Charli McClendon, and Kayla Weaver with alternate member Scott Weaver on hand. The Culinary Criminals represented Liberty County made up of Harper Holt, Jansen Capers, Isabella Ransom, and Lexi Ford. The two teams created uniquely different dishes and presentations. While the Escambia team received the first-place ribbon, Liberty County’s team came in a very close second place. Escambia’s intermediate team also earned a place at the Florida State Food Challenge competition at the Florida State Fair in Tampa!
photo credit D. Clarke
O Crepe and the Spice Girls
With both Escambia teams representing the Northwest District at the state competition, it was exhilarating to watch the kids interact and quiz one another while awaiting the competition to begin. Seniors were given a red bell pepper as the mystery ingredient with the category of side dish and intermediates were given a tangerine for their mystery ingredient with the category of healthy dessert. Again, Escambia County dominated and secured first place in both age categories. The first-place senior team at the Florida State Fair, Escambia County’s O Crepe and the Spice Girls, is eligible to compete in the National 4-H Food Challenge at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas this fall.
photo credit D. Clarke
This new 4-H opportunity has been embraced in several counties thus far and will continue to grow. This project promotes practical life skills youth will use for the rest of their lives. If your child is interested in food and nutrition and/or healthy lifestyles projects, contact your local 4-H Agent to explore project opportunities.
A special thanks to Escambia County’s volunteer leader, Linda Crews, who has embraced this competition and has worked with these youth to truly make the best better, and to Mr. Dave Clarke for sharing state event photos.
For more information about the 4-H Food Challenge, visit our webpage. The 4-H Food Challenge would be a fun program for your next club meeting. Download the youth guide, team captain guide, and guide for hosting a food challenge.
While the holiday season can be a wonderful time, it can also be busy and stressful. We have several tools and ideas to help you be stress-free this year so you can fully enjoy your time with family and friends. Below are quick links to some of our most read and rated articles. Hopefully one or two of these will be just what you need this time of year!
- Managing the Holidays without Breaking the Bank– this article includes five practical strategies, and even includes step-by-step directions for some homemade gifts.
- Christmas Memories Gifts in a Jar– Make memories with your kids or grandkids (and save some money) by crafting gifts in a jar. This article includes some creative ideas and step-by-step instructions
Holiday Health (Physical & Mental)
- Three ways to Incorporate Mindfulness During the Holidays– this article shares three steps to using mindfulness as a way to mitigate the stress of the season.
- Handling the Holiday Blues– The holidays can be hard- especially if you are experiencing loss. If you or a loved one has the Holiday Blues, this article has eight helpful tips to make this time a little bit easier.
- Healthy Holiday Meals– This article includes ideas for making your favorite holiday dishes a little healthier.
- Including Youth in Holiday Traditions– some great ideas for sharing your favorite holiday traditions with youth (or creating new ones)
- Pin a Holiday Memory with Homemade Magnets– this article gives step-by-step instructions on creating magnets to represent your favorite holiday memories (past and present).
With the holiday season fast approaching, everyone’s favorite dishes will soon appear on the dinner table. Everyone has different taste buds, so that means everyone has different favorite dishes. I know that I am looking forward to sweet potato soufflé and deviled eggs, but I could definitely do without the cranberry sauce. Unfortunately, many parents find themselves in a bind trying to feed their picky eaters. Remember, you are not alone in this battle, and try not to get too frustrated by this typical behavior. This article includes some tips on what to avoid and strategies to help your favorite picky eater!
Eat family style. Trying sharing a meal together, as a whole family, as often as you can. This means sitting at a table and turning off the distractions like TV, radio, or cell phones at mealtime. When preparing for your family’s well-balanced meal, incorporate at least one food you know that your picky eater likes. Eating family style also allows for you to set a good example! That squash on your plate may not look appetizing to your picky eater, but if they see you try it, they may be more apt to as well!
Try, try again! Just because a picky eater refuses different foods once, doesn’t mean they won’t ever like it. Keep offering new foods and those your picky eater didn’t like before. It can take as many as seven times to taste food before your taste buds accept it. I can remember as a child disliking anything colored with green vegetables. This could have been salad, peas, green beans, lima beans, or another vegetable. As an adult, I have come to enjoy all of these vegetables and many more! If I had not tried them again, I still may not know if I like them or not.
Make food fun. There are many ways to accomplish this. Youth are typically open to trying foods arranged in eye-popping, creative ways. Make foods look irresistible by arranging them in fun, colorful shapes they can recognize. Finger foods and foods that you dip are also a big hit! Try involving your picky eater in meal planning and prep. Let them pick which fruit and vegetable to add to dinner, or pick them out at the grocery store. Read kid-friendly cookbooks together and let them pick out new recipes to try. Involve them in some of the cooking tasks, such as sifting, stirring, counting ingredients, or picking garden fresh herbs or vegetables.
Finding the right pair. When serving unfamiliar foods, pair the food with something that is familiar. Many picky eaters will not try broccoli alone, but if you add cheese to it, it becomes a whole new dish!
Fight over food. If your picky eater refuses to eat their meal, avoid making a hassle over it. It is important for individuals to learn to listen to their bodies, which will tell them when they are hungry or not. It is up to the adult to provide the food, and it is the other’s decision to eat. Pressuring them into eating, or punishing them if they don’t, can make them actively dislike foods they may otherwise have liked.
Bribes. This goes along with fighting over their food. While it may be tempting to bribe your picky eater to try something, this is not how food should be handled. Bribing to eat the “yucky” food makes the “prize” food that much more exciting. This can lead to future trouble at the dinner table.
Did you get to do any grilling this summer? Many of our 4-Hers did! Over 100 youth from throughout the Florida panhandle participated in 4-H summer day camps that taught them food and fire safety, safe grilling, and proper cooking skills.
Day camps offered unique experiences to youth on grilling techniques all summer and helped youth prepare for our District Competition. On July 30, 2022, 28 youth from eight counties participated in the Northwest District Tailgating Contest at the Washington County Ag Center in Chipley, Florida. Youth participated in competitions in beef, pork, chicken, and shrimp divisions and were judged on their food and fire safety skills around the grill and the taste of their chosen protein. In all, $3,200 was awarded to panhandle youth for placing 1st-4th in their competitions.
Now the top two youth in each protein category will compete at the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest in Gainesville on October 1, 2022. They will compete against youth from across Florida for an opportunity to win college scholarships. For the state contest, the first-place winner in each protein area receives a $1,500 college scholarship and the second-place winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship.
Join us as we cheer on the following NW District 4-H participants as they represent us at the Florida 4-H State Tailgating Contest:
2022 Seafood Category Winners
2022 Beef Category Winners
- Aubrie D.-Escambia County
- Aidden Y.-Walton County
- Pork Division
- Brooke H.-Escambia County
- Cate B.-Okaloosa County
- Chicken Division
- Vanessa E.-Wakulla County
- Jamison S.-Jackson County
- Shrimp Division
- Addie M.-Escambia County
2022 Pork Category Winners
- Mason K.-Escambia County
2022 Chicken Category Winners
If you are interested in furthering your grilling skills, please check out the Florida 4-H Tailgate Series of EDIS documents. If you would like more information on the Tailgating Contest to prepare for next year, check out our brand new handbook! Finally, the top two winners in each protein category are sharing their award-winning recipes in this free, downloadable eBook!
It’s hard to believe the 4th of July is already upon us!
Youth learning to grill during 4-H tailgate program
Many of us will be celebrating with picnics, cookouts, and family get-togethers. One of my colleagues in Clay County, Samantha Murray, did a great article about preventing food poisoning while celebrating. Our youth have also been attending grilling summer camp programs and learning many of these tips plus lots more. The youth have learned about how to use a grill safely, how to prepare food safely and prevent cross-contamination or food-borne illness, and the nutritional benefits of animal protein in diets. Our district will have its annual competition to advance to the state-level competition on July 30 at the Washington County Extension Office, in Chipley, Florida.
I just wanted to take a moment to recap the tips Samantha gave to keep all of us safe and healthy while celebrating.
- Keep raw meats in a separate cooler than ready-to-eat items or beverages.
- Foods with mayonnaise are less acidic creating a better environment for bacterial growth
- Chicken and ground beef needs to be cooked to 165°F
- Wash hands if soap and water are not available use hand sanitizer to reduce the risk of contaminating food.
- Use different tongs or spatulas for cooked and uncooked meat or wash them after being in contact with raw meat.
- It is recommended to refrigerate leftovers within two hours unless it’s really hot, then the window shrinks to about an hour.
Other items you may want to think about.
- Keep beverages in a separate cooler from other foods, people will be going in and out of beverage coolers much more keeping the temperature higher and allowing bacterial growth.
- Cook cuts of pork, beef, or shrimp to 145°F
- Don’t sit charcoal grills on plastic tables and make sure the area is free from debris that can catch fire, including limbs or tents overhead.
- Clean up after yourself leaving only footprints in the area you were in!
- Enjoy time with friends and family safely!
For more information about educational programs, check out our webpage or contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office.