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Volunteer Spotlight: Sheeja George & Missy Briggs

Volunteer Spotlight: Sheeja George & Missy Briggs

Youth sitting at desk

Missy Briggs, volunteer, helps lead a discussion during Leadership Club

At the beginning of the 4-H year, the Leon County Leadership Club was in need of two new club leaders. Sheeja George and Missy Briggs both stepped up to fulfill the role of club leaders and Leon County 4-H is lucky to have them! Sheeja is an Agricultural Scientist at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy. Missy is a Senior Performance Consultant with Capital City Bank in Tallahassee. They both have exceeded expectations and are everything you’d hope for in a 4-H Volunteer. You would never guess this is their first year leading a club!

When asked why she chose to volunteer with 4-H Sheeja expressed, “I feel strongly about using my time and any talent or resources that I have for things beyond self and family. Over the years this is a commitment we have shared as a family. That’s what keeps me motivated to volunteer in general.”  Missy shared, “I enjoy volunteering with the 4-H Leadership Club because I am encouraged by the drive, teamwork, empathy, and respect the youth show for themselves, for each other, their community, and their world.”

Three adults standing shoulder to shoulder

Volunteer, Sheeja, stands with Allison, 4-H Agent, and Bobby, guest

Leadership Club took on a major project this year with the guidance of Sheeja and Missy. This project was the Leon County 4-H Olympics. At the first club meeting, the members decided they wanted to host a brand-new event called the 4-H Olympics. Sheeja and Missy embraced the idea and successfully guided the members through the planning process. Each member had a specific role and all major decisions were the result of a group vote. During the “411 Teen Talk” radio show on WFSU, club member Stephen Hayes stated the most important thing he has learned from Leadership Club this year is how to work with people who have different ideas. Sheeja and Missy made sure that each club member had a voice in the planning process and during the day of the event. In an effort to raise money for the 4-H Olympics, Sheeja spent an entire Saturday with a few club members hosting a bake sale at the Leon County 4-H/Tropicana Speech Contest. The two club leaders were able to secure a guest motivational speaker during the event, which made the day even more special.

Youth in group for photo

Club members after the 4-H Olympics

The first Leon County 4-H Olympics was a success and that could not have been accomplished without the two wonderful volunteer club leaders, Sheeja and Missy. They exemplify what it means to be a 4-H volunteer by growing true leaders in their community. Sheeja expressed “I thought the 4-H club would be a great avenue to work with youth and impact their lives in whatever little way I can in areas of life that will be important to them as they become young adults. This includes leadership, public speaking, being collaborative and team-players.”
Leon County 4-H is looking forward to see where Sheeja and Missy take Leadership Club next year!

To all of the volunteers in the district, thank you for all you do.  Learn more about volunteering with Florida 4-H or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension to learn about 4-H in your county.

November is National Role Model Month!4-H Volunteer Dedication:  A Decade and Counting

November is National Role Model Month!4-H Volunteer Dedication: A Decade and Counting

November is National Role Model Month

4-H Volunteer Dedication: A Decade and Counting

4-H volunteers are the vital precious gems of our 4-H programs.  Each volunteer brings his/her own unique perspective, skills, and resources to the club or event they are working in.  Whether a volunteer’s role is long-term as a 4-H Club Leader, or short-term as an episodic volunteer, they each donate an immense number of hours annually to ensure the youth of our Nation receive the best positive youth development opportunities. 

A woman wearing a cowboy hat smiles for the camera

Missy attending graduation at UF

Walton County 4-H is extremely fortunate to have a 4-H Club Leader that has dedicated 12 years to her Naturally Balanced Homesteading Club.  Missy Bolen had only attended two club meetings as a youth because she didn’t have a project horse to be able to fully participate in club activities.  This may have been the initial spark that led Missy to develop her own 4-H club decades later, in which youth get the opportunity to experience a broad spectrum of activities.  Within Naturally Balanced Homesteading, a homeschool (in-school) club, youth have completed projects and demonstrations in leather working, gardening, sheep shearing, leadership training, conservation, and numerous educational field trips to name a few.  Due to Missy’s passion towards 4-H, she currently has the largest club in our county, with more than 30 youth in attendance each month!

As a veteran 4-H volunteer and Club Leader, Missy’s advice to new volunteers is, “If you have a passion for youth and there isn’t a club already established, follow that passion; start a club and try to reach as many youth as you can!  If you’re doing something that you’re passionate about, you won’t get bored and you will remain energetic and enthusiastic.”

A mother and son pose for a picture together.

Missy and son, Jesse, attending Bee College at UF

Volunteering in 4-H gives you the opportunity to be a role model to upcoming generations by providing them with activities and resources that target development of life skills.  The life skills youth gain in 4-H programs afford them the foundation to build on as they become productive adults in society.  When asking Missy to share the most rewarding part of being a volunteer, and what keeps her going after 12 years, she states, “My children are a huge factor because they have a club where they can do what they love alongside other youth with the same interests.  It’s very rewarding to see them graduate, go on to great universities, and become productive adults!  They recognize 4-H as the main reason for their accomplishments because many of their most valuable skills were developed through their clubs such as social skills, leadership skills, networking and confidence.” 

A group of youth stand in a circle outside, listening to a law enforcement officer teach.

Missy’s club learning about careers in Law Enforcement.

Volunteers are truly the HEAD, HEART, HANDS, and HEALTH of the 4-H organization.  As Missy would say, “Most importantly, you must keep your focus on one thing:  It’s all about helping the children.”  If you are a new or current volunteer, club leader, or even 4-H Agent, the resources below are an excellent source of information as an orientation to 4-H or an annual refresher:

·       Volunteer Orientation

·       Volunteer Resources

·       Volunteer Training Series

If you would like to learn more about how to get involved as a 4-H volunteer in your 4-H community, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org

 

November is National Inspirational Role Model Month!

November is National Inspirational Role Model Month!

November is National Inspirational Role Models Month

Before the medals and the ribbons and the physical manifestations of success, there is a club, a meeting, and adult, a friend that changes the life of a youth. Someone that gives youth the confidence to believe in themselves.  Someone that they can look to as an example to follow. The Oxford dictionary defines a role model as “a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated.” In the midst of the social media culture where people have the potential to drastically influence a person’s life without ever holding a conversation, it is essential that youth have positive role models who will guide them in an ever changing society.

Organizations like 4-H, where programming is highly reliant on the dedication of volunteers, there are innumerable individuals who function as role models. Though there are many individuals, I have often found that most great role models function in similar manners and styles. Each style is as unique as each person, more important is the fact that each individual has an impact on the youth around them, consciously or not. Some individuals strive to have a significant impact on youth such as Angela Tinker.  As the leader of the county wide Leadership Club, Angela Tinker is a positive role model and a consistent presence in the lives of the youth she works with.  She is a shining example of just one of the many 4-H volunteers who serve to inspire youth as positive role models.

The Shepherd: Angela Tinker

Pictured is Angela Tinker with her husband, Bill Tinker.

Pictured is Angela Tinker with her husband, Bill Tinker. Angela has served as an Escambia County 4-H Volunteer since 2008.

The role of the shepherd is to look after the safety and welfare of their flock. As youth grow older and near the completion of their 4-H careers, youth not only want to demonstrate their independence, but they need a safe environment in which to do it. They also need individuals who will lead them, and more importantly who will lead them by example.

Angela Tinker exemplifies a shepherd. She has worked as an Escambia County 4-H volunteer for eleven years.  Over the course of her tenure, she has worked with younger youth as well as teenagers. She continues to lead the Leadership Club where she works with teenagers. When asked why she continues to serve as a volunteer, even though both of her daughters have graduated and moved on from the program, Angela responded, “seeing the little successes, which turn into big successes.” It is her passion to cultivate an environment in which the little successes of everyday emerge as life altering successes that enables her to be the role model these youth see when working with her.

Our Future

Angela is a role model that leads by quietly tending to the youth she works with, and by ensuring that they have the best opportunities to grow and build their skills. As budding adults, the youth Angela works with are in some of the most formative years of their lives. Everything and everyone that these youth encounter shapes them in one way or another. It is the positive role models in the 4-H organization like Angela who ensure that our youth have the best chance to develop into the best person possible.  Angela is an example of the 4-H way of “Making the Best, Better” every day.

Who Do You Inspire?  Become a Role Model – Become a 4-H Volunteer

If you have knowledge or skills that you can share with youth in your community, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer!  4-H is always in need of caring, positive adult role models to serve in the role of 4-H volunteers.  From leading a club to judging public speaking or teaching a craft project, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office or visit our website to learn how you can serve as a positive adult role model today to make a difference in the lives of our youth tomorrow.

 

Special thanks to Aly Schortinghouse, UF/IFAS Escambia County 4-H Agent, for providing this article and picture.

 

Greg James Grows Community Pride by Volunteering

People choose to volunteer for a multitude of reasons.  In the case of Wakulla County 4-H volunteer Greg James,  there seem to be few reasons why he wouldn’t want to volunteer to meet a need in his community – especially if it helps youth.

Why Greg Volunteers

“Volunteering in my community is very important to me. I believe serving your community in some fashion helps create a sense of pride, belonging and ownership. I think it’s important to provide our children a positive environment in which to grow. Volunteering for 4-H allows me to foster that environment.”

Man and girl on the set of a TV show to promote a 4-H event.

Greg James joined a 4-H Club member to promote an upcoming community event.

Thirty Years of Investment 

While Greg (and his wife of close to 30 years, Karen) live in Sopchoppy, there are few areas of the county where Greg’s volunteerism has not had an impact.  While Greg and Karen’s children have grown up and left the county to pursue college and careers, involvement with area youth has remained a constant in his life since moving to the county in 1995.

In his professional life, Greg wears two hats – he serves as the Wakulla County Finance Director and the Deputy Clerk of Court.  Some community members may know him best as the minister of the Sopchoppy Church of Christ.

On almost any given day, Greg can found serving his community – as a volunteer cross country coach, stirring a pot at a Low Country Boil charity event, cleaning up the coastline or lending time to a local civic committee.  For the last two years, Greg has served in a leadership role with the Wakulla County 4-H and Extension Advisory Councils, and he started a 4-H Finance Club last summer to help local teens learn financial management skills.

Hands On Leadership 

Youth showing a chicken to a man.

Greg observes a 4-H Poultry Club member demonstrate chicken handling at a community event.

In service to 4-H, Greg give his financial expertise and his hands – figuratively and literally. To celebrate the success of the 4-H Chicken Champs Club, he made people-sized chicken figures that have become a popular photo opportunity at 4-H events. His most recent undertaking is still in progress – refurbishing old metal bleachers by hand for the 4-H Archery Club range.

Sali Polotov, a Future Leaders Exchange Program student from Tajikistan, is a member of the 4-H Finance Club and shared his thoughts on learning with Greg as club leader.  “He is a great leader and speaker. Every time I go to Finance Club, I explore something new. He explains difficult things so easily. Also, he has a great collection of foreign coins!

Greg wasn’t introduced to 4-H until his own children were growing up and completed swine projects.  “Now that I know all of the great programs 4-H offers, I wish I had been more involved.”

As a volunteer leader, Greg also works to recruit more volunteers to help grow 4-H programs. His advice to anyone who thinks they might want to volunteer is simple – “Don’t wait!”

Make a Difference with 4-H – Volunteer

Greg said, “I would ask that (people) stop thinking about it and just do it!  Our 4-H program depends heavily on volunteers, and what we are able to accomplish is only limited by the number and caliber of our volunteers. Please volunteer and make a positive impact on your community and our kids!”

For more information on how to become a 4-H volunteer in your community, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.  To see how 4-H is positively impacting the lives of Panhandle youth, follow us on Facebook.

awards event

Greg James prepares to swear in new 4-H Association leaders for 2019.

Additional Resources:

Mother-Daughter Duo Making a Difference!

Volunteers across the panhandle make a difference in the lives of young people in their communities by simply sharing the things they love.

June Clemons and Peg Frith are a mother-daughter team who can do anything!  From time to time, they’ve volunteered for 4-H, but the first time I asked them to help me teach a small sewing project during a cooking day camp, I knew I’d struck gold.  Anyone can learn to sew but having the patience to teach it…that’s a whole other story.

It took me a couple of years to talk them into leading a sewing club, and honestly, I think they talked themselves into it.  The holdup wasn’t a lack of desire to help; it was hesitancy to commit to something but not being able to follow through.

In fact, Peg’s advice to anyone thinking about becoming a 4-H volunteer is:

“I’d tell them it can be hard to find the time to plan, organize, and implement meetings, but it’s very rewarding.  If you commit, see it through.  Don’t disappoint the children.”

June emphatically said, “Do it!”

So why do June and Peg commit their precious time to 4-H?  They first got involved because they had positive experiences as 4-H’ers and wanted to pass on the skills they learned.  But now, it’s the kids they work with that keep them coming back.  They both said that “teaching useful, lifelong skills to children and just enjoying being with them as they learn,” is their favorite part about volunteering with 4-H.

I asked June and Peg if they thought their 4-H work was making a difference.

June says, “All you have to do is see the joy in their faces upon completing a task to know how it affects the members.”

Peg added, “I get to see firsthand their sense of accomplishment.  And the fact that they keep coming back to class tells me that the club is making a difference in their lives.”

As further evidence that June and Peg are making a difference, club parents have shared their children not only come home from their sewing club meetings excited to show what they made that day, but they have also started stitching up seams in their clothes and stuffed animals.

As a 4-H agent, I can tell you that the independence and mastery displayed by these young club members is exactly what we’re looking for from our 4-H’ers, and good club leaders help them achieve it.

Are you wondering if you have what it takes to make a difference in the lives of young people in your community? 
You don’t have to be an expert.  You don’t have to have kids or grandkids of your own.  You don’t have to have been a former 4-H’er.  You just have to love something enough to want to share it with the next generation.  So what’s your passion?  Pass it on!

There are many ways to volunteer with 4-H, and we need you – from fair exhibit and public speaking judges, to club leaders, chaperones, camp nurses, and more.  To pass on your passion and help the youth in your area Grow in 4-H, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office to find the best volunteer role for you.

 

4-H is Grateful for Volunteers

A group of men and ladies standing.

Like these Jefferson County volunteers, every 4-H volunteer is making a positive difference in the lives of youth.

As a 4-H Agent, one of the things I am most grateful for is volunteers.  Our volunteers are leaders, cheerleaders, mentors, and advocates for our youth. It is with their help and service that many young people find their voice or passion and become healthy, capable, caring, and productive adults.

Volunteers assist by:

  • leading club meetings
  • serving as camp counselors
  • judging speech and demonstration contests
  • serving on advisory committees, and
  • utilizing their unique interests, skills, and abilities to serve the 4-H program and extend it to audiences which would otherwise be unserved.
Youth in life jackets and snorkeling gear.

Youth volunteers, like our 4-H Camp counselors, are such an asset to the county 4-H program.

In the process, our volunteers shape future leaders by demonstrating leadership skills, instilling a sense of community, and offering a positive connection with someone from a different age group or generation. And while they do not serve for praise or recognition, many volunteers get a great deal of fulfillment, self-satisfaction, and enjoyment in volunteer service, as they watch youth develop self-confidence, self-worth, and leadership skills

Whether they serve episodically or for many years, volunteers are a valuable and essential component of 4-H. Without their help, 4-H could not deliver the excellent programs that are the cornerstone of Extension.

To all of the volunteers in the district, thank you for all you do.

Learn more about volunteering with Florida 4-H or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension to learn about 4-H in your county and discuss your possibilities with your 4-H Agent.

We’ll be highlighting more about 4-H volunteers during the month of April, so be on the lookout for some great stories!