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Meet the author Paula Davis

image of Paula Davis

Paula Davis is the 4-H Youth Development Faculty in Bay County, Florida since 2000.   She earned her doctoral degree in Adult Vocational Education from Auburn University, master’s degree in Ruminant Nutrition from the University of

Tennessee and her bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Berea College. Her work has focused on 4-H youth development, plant science, military programming and camping. She worked with the military partnership program since 2004, and became the state liaison in 2015. She has been a part volunteer training teams, both stateside and internationally throughout her career.

Paula grew up in 4-H in Eastern Kentucky, interned while in college with Kentucky Extension, she has also held Extension positions in Illinois, Alabama and Ohio before moving to the Florida Panhandle when she married her husband Jim Moyers and began her family. Now both of their daughters are in high school. The family resides in Panama City.

Paula works in Bay County with Families, Faculty and local community organizations to build a strong 4-H program. She works with military and afterschool programs to enable youth to find their passion while building life-skills to help them become productive citizens. As the state military liaison, she also trains Air Force Staff in Europe and Navy Staff in Cuba. It has been a very rewarding career working with volunteers to make the best better with 4-H. For more information on 4-H, please contact your local 4-H office.  You can find your local office here.

 

Our Volunteer Philosophy

Here in the Florida Panhandle, we recognize what an important asset our volunteers are. Volunteers extend the reach of 4-H, but more importantly, they are an essential part of the positive youth development process. While our programs are led by Extension faculty, our volunteers create communities were youth can learn and develop emotional and workforce skills to help them grow up to be caring citizens and productive members of society and the workforce. This week happens to be National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and there’s no better way to kick off our volunteer celebration than to start by affirming our volunteer philosophy.

4-H in the Panhandle encourages the teamwork of faculty, staff, and volunteers so that we can offer Florida youth and families the best services possible. Volunteers contribute their unique talents, skills, and knowledge of our communities to provide personalized attention to youth, enable faculty and staff to focus on achieving the overall educational outcomes of the total 4-H program, and educate the public about 4-H and its impact.

Volunteers really are the heart of 4-H. All week, we will be highlighting some of the amazing volunteers who are working with us to make a difference in their communities and in the lives of young people in Florida. Videos with the highest numbers of “likes” and “shares” on the 4-H in the Panhandle FaceBook Page will win 4-H swag bags for the volunteers featured. The contest will be open through the end of April 2021.

If you know of a 4-H volunteer who has made a difference in your life or community, consider nominating them for recognition on our blog or social media. While this week is National Volunteer Appreciation, we believe in recognizing excellence in our volunteers all year long. Contact your local UF IFAS Extension 4-H agent to make a nomination. Last but not least, check out our volunteer appreciation videos from last year!  We have a playlist of 33 videos, recognizing 142 volunteers in 2020!

Purple Up! in Support of Military Youth

Purple poster of youth

If you can’t Purple Up on the 15th Choose another day!

Not all heroes wear capes. How many times have we heard this phrase over the last year referring to healthcare workers, first responders, and essential personnel? What about kids – specifically kids with one or both parents serving in the military?

According to Webster, a hero is “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Upon reflection, we thought about what we see in military kids. The kids of military families have make many sacrifices, they move often, lose time with family members serving, and often don’t get to celebrate events with deployed family members. Military-connected kids experience many challenges that make them resilient, but they also take their toll. We are civilians serving military youth using 4-H as the vehicle to help make them more resilient. In fact, UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H are proud to be a part of the military family working with youth centers across the nation to have some consistency for youth in these situations.

Jen also lives in a neighborhood full of active duty military members and their families. She sat down and chatted with a teen and his dad who is active duty Navy and one of her neighbors. Their conversation was so enlightening and inspiring about being a military kid that we had to share it with you!
The conversation started with me asking the teen to tell me what he thought a hero was. His response? Someone who does for the greater good; a person who possess courage, honesty, integrity, and kindness. I followed up by asking if he thought of himself as a hero. Immediately, he said, “no, I’m just a military kid. It is nothing special, just a title.” His answer really resonated with me. Adults who sign up for military life know what they are signing up for, military kids are just handed the cards they are dealt. The kids of military families have no say in the sacrifices of time, family, and opportunities as well as the uncertainty that comes along with the job of one or both parents serving in the military. How could this teen not see how special he is? I could not believe that his perception was that military kid just a title!
As we continued our conversation, we discussed how his role changes when his dad is gone for 7 to 14 months on deployment. He has to step up as the “man of the house” to help his mom with household duties and help with his younger brother. Then when dad comes back his role to changes again. These role changes can be challenging, but he consistently steps up without complaint. This young man has also experienced a big move that involved making all new friends, adjusting to life in the south. His parents report that he has also kept a positive attitude. When ask about this his response was “that is just what you do.”

image of children in purple

Purple up for military Kids

Military kids experience change frequently – some little and some big- starting early in their lives. Their ability to adapt and overcome is admirable. This teen was so nonchalant about his abilities and skills as a military kid that I had to stop and remind him that what he possesses is something truly special. To put it into perspective, on top of everything that comes with being a military kid, he has dealt with a big move relocating to Florida, the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic and transitioned to virtual school. Compared to his peers, and many adults, he has handled the change with grace and confidence. By the end of our conversation, I asked again, “Do you think of yourself as a hero?” This time his answer was much different than when we started our conversation, “yes, I guess I am.” I thanked him for his service, which supports his dad to carry out his duties to protect our country every day. He replied thank you for caring!
Now we need your help! Being a military kid is so much more than a title. Please join us in celebrating the Month of the Military Child throughout April and Purple Up! for Military Kids on April 15. This is one way to recognize these youth and show them we care! It’s simple, wear purple and take photos to share on social media using #fl4h, #purpleup, #virtualMOMC, #4heverywhere
I encourage you to visit our website (https://sites.google.com/ufl.edu/4-h-military-partnership-4-h-m/home) and follow us on Facebook (@bayifas) to learn about how you can join the celebration and support Extension programs like these. Next time you see a military member out with their family, I urge you to not just thank the service member for their service, but also thank their kids as they serve, too. For more information on Purple Up; contact your local county 4-H Agent. 4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations and includes people from all economic, racial, social, political, and geographic categories. There are no barriers to participation by any young person. Participants are given the opportunity to engage in activities that hold their personal interest, while being guided by adult volunteers.

By: Paula Davis & Jennifer Sims

Meet the Author – Aly Schortinghouse

Aly is a 4-H Livestock Agent in Escambia County, Florida.

Aly Schortinghouse is the 4-H/Livestock Agent in Escambia County, Florida. Aly grew up in Georgia 4-H and was heavily involved in the horse and livestock programs. From horse quiz bowl and equestrian drill team to showing heifers and steers, Aly was able to travel the nation with 4-H doing what she loved showing horses and cows. Though her heart was buried in the horse and livestock program, 4-H led to new experiences such as the speaking program and leadership roles in her clubs. Aly largely attributes the 4-H program with developing her life skills and her passion for life long learning.

 

Aly working on halter breaking a Jersey dairy cow.

Aly studied Animal Science at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. While completing her undergraduate degree Aly worked at the Berry College dairy and as a research assistant. After completing her undergraduate degree, Aly jumped back into the 4-H world when she joined the Escambia County 4-H family in January of 2017. Aly was once again enveloped in the 4-H family, though this time in the role as one of the 4-H agents. In this role, Aly works with the families, faculty, and community of Escambia County to build a strong and enduring 4-H program with programs and clubs which enable youth to dive into their passions all the while building the essential life skills which will aid them in becoming productive citizens.

Aly helps a youth get “show ready”.

 

Aly’s passion for 4-H lies in what the program means to so many and the opportunities it provides youth. “Seeing the youth set goals to strive for, then growing through their experiences is one of my favorite parts of the job.” Aly recently completed her Master of Science, and is looking forward to continuing to grow the Escambia County 4-H program.

 

Make Mindfulness a Resolution for 2021!

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 

Meet the Author- Brian Estevez

Brian is part of the Escambia County UF IFAS Extension Team

Brian Estevez is a 4-H Extension Agent in Escambia County, Florida. He grew up in Archer, Florida and went to school in Williston.  While Brian was not a 4-H member as a youth, he did participate in Williston FFA and won the state meat judging contest in 2000.  His involvement with the meat judging program propelled him to study meat science at the University of Florida. As a college student, Brian worked at the UF meat lab. After graduation, Brian met Dr. Nick Place who introduced him to the UF master’s program in Agricultural Leadership.

Brian didn’t realize that a career with Extension was possible, even though he had graduated from UF’s Department of Agricultural Education and Communication. After graduating with his Master’s degree, he volunteered with his youth group at church and found that he really enjoyed working with young people. Brian wanted to purse a job with college student development, but had not been successful in securing a position. He decided to apply for the Alachua agriculture extension position. While he did not get that position, he was encouraged to apply for some open 4-H extension agent positions. He applied for and was offered the 4-H agent position in Suwannee county. Initially, Brian viewed his 4-H position as a “stepping stone” to help him get the student development job he really wanted. However, after more than 12 years with 4-H, it is a career that he loves!

One of Brian’s favorite 4-H programs is the meats judging contest

While a 4-H agent in Suwannee County, Brian used his expertise in meat science to work with UF/IFAS Extension Animal Science specialist  Chad Carr to create, develop, and deliver the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest.  This contest teaches youth to safely grill in an outdoor setting, while incorporating food and fire safety with public speaking opportunities.  In all, 348 youth from 39 different Florida counties have participated in this annual program which includes four district competitions culminating in a state contest in Gainesville.  Scholarships from corporate sponsors are awarded to district and state winners, with over $86,000 being awarded to youth winners since 2016.  Estevez has also coached 4-H meat judging teams, where youth learn meat retail identification, quality factors, and cooking methods.  He has coached 14 state winning 4-H meat judging teams and has led five teams to national 4-H contests.  His 2020 team placed second in the nation, with one team member being recognized as the national high individual. His team members learn communication, decision making, and critical thinking skills and have gone on to participate in collegiate judging teams.

Brian transitioned to Escambia county three years ago and is Brian is passionate about making 4-H available to all youth. In three short years, the program has grown to engaged more than 25% of the school age population in Escambia.  The quality of his programs have been recognized and awarded at the National level, including the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) Excellence in Animal Science 4-H Programming Award and the NAE4-HA Communicator Promotional Piece Award, both in 2011, the Achievement in Service Award in 2014, and most recently, the NAE4-HA Military Partnership Award in 2019He was also elected by his peers to serve Florida Association of Extension 4-H Agents in 2014, serving in statewide leadership positions including president.  Another aspect of his scholarship is his commitment to mentoring early career colleagues by sharing his work through district, state and national conferences.

(Pre-COVID photo) Brian worked with UF specialists to develop the Florida 4-H Tailgate Contest to teach youth about meat science and food safety.

Brian lives in Cantonment with his bride Mindy and sweet baby boy Eli Thomas.  They teach the 1 and 2 year old class at their church, have season tickets to Gator football games, and like spending time at Pensacola Beach.

Empowering youth to succeed is what Brian finds most fulfilling about his job as a 4-H Agent.