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Rolling out the Red Carpet for 4-H Teens

Our youth planning committee has been hard at work planning the 2023 Northwest Teen Retreat. This year’s theme is “Lights, Camera, Action!” and promises to be a fun-filled weekend of learning and friendship. The retreat will be held February 17-19 at 4-H Camp Timpoochee. Registration is open to all youth ages 12-18 in 4Honline. This event is planned for teens, by teens, and is designed to help youth develop and practice workforce-ready skills. Over the weekend, youth also have the opportunity to explore different 4-H project areas. Here’s a run-down of the agenda, and what to expect:

Friday Night After check-in, enjoy some pizza, tour the camp, and participate in District games. This year youth will have the opportunity to try to beat the adults!
Saturday Morning After breakfast, youth will have the opportunity to participate in a service project, learn about 4-H awards and scholarships, and how to deal with different personalities.
Saturday Afternoon After lunch, youth will select a fun shop to learn more about a 4-H project area. This year, our teen planning committee selected the following:

1.       Grilling- learn about fire safety, food safety, and how to win a scholarship in the 4-H Tailgating Contest

2.       Sports Fishing- Camp Timpoochee is a great place for fishing. Learn some angler skills and how to participate in the 4-H Sports Fishing Tournament and Skill a thon.

3.       Cake Decorating- If you love those baking shows, then you will love this session! Practice decorating a cake with icing like a pro.

4.       Dance- Get your exercise will learning some fun new line dances, as well as a few favorites.

5.       Forensic Science- This session is about forensic entomology. Work as a team to solve the murder of a Florida Black Bear- a mystery solved by science!

Saturday Evening After dinner, walk the Red Carpet Saturday and dance the night away.
Sunday Morning As soon as breakfast is over, pack up and head home.

Thanks to generous sponsors, the registration fee is only $120 per youth and includes cabin accommodations, meals, workshop supplies, and a t-shirt. Your county 4-H program may be able to offer additional discounts or scholarships, so check with your local 4-H office before registering in 4Honline.  Download this handy packing list to your phone.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your local UF IFAS Extension Office. Registration is open from December 16 through January 31st.

 

 

Creating a Sense of Belonging in 4-H

Like me, you make ask, what is a “sense of belonging”? Have you ever felt out of place when going to a club, meeting, or gathering? Do you remember how it made you feel? Maybe you were nervous, had a funny feeling in your stomach, a knot in your throat, or weren’t sure if you belonged?

Volunteer working with youth. Calhoun County Animal Science Camp 2021

One of the essential elements of 4-H Youth Development is belonging. Youth members need to know that they are important to you, cared for by others, and feel a sense of connection to the group they are in! As a facilitator of a 4-H activity, whether that be volunteer, adult, or Extension agent, it is important to provide youth with a safe, inclusive environment when participating in groups. When the facilitator creates a space where youth feel physically and emotionally safe, youth tend to form positive relationships with their peers and role models.  Feeling connected to others will affect their behavior, mental health, academics, as well as other life skills. Creating this sense of belonging for all participants is a solid foundation to build a program on!

Now you may be asking, how on earth can I create a sense of belonging?

Since you are the adult facilitator in this setting, it’s your job to provide youth with the opportunity to feel safe during activities. To do this, use discussion questions that engage all the youth members, and encourage them to learn from each other. Below are a few ideas to foster this sense of belonging.

  1. Welcome new members. Youth who are already part of the group will feel more comfortable than those that are just starting. Assign existing members a role in welcoming newcomers, similar to a welcoming committee. 4-H and other group activities like team sports, can be overwhelming because there is a lot of information given, so think about preparing welcome packets for new members or families. These packets could include information on how to enroll in 4-H Online, club calendars, brochures, frequently asked questions, contact information, and more!
  2. Ice breakers. Ice breakers and team building activities are really important to help all members feel

    Calhoun County Animal Science Camp Ice-Breaker. What is Agriculture? Summer 2021

    comfortable with each other! These types of interactions help build relationships within the group. These are helpful when a group is just starting out, as well as continuing to build bonds overtime. Being deliberate in choosing these types of activities will help any group feel more cohesive. Adjust the activity to suit the group that is participating. Keep it simple for cloverbud age youth (5-7) or add challenges if the group is older or has been together for a period of time. “Ice breakers, get acquainted games, or even roll calls that ask questions about member’s interests (answer roll by making the sound of your favorite animal) can help members get to know each other better.” (Kent, 2015)

  3. Create a safe space. It may seem easy to create a safe space for youth and other adults but it’s much more difficult in practice! We all think about keeping youth safe physically, but what about the emotional aspect of safety? We must be aware of “microaggressions”, which is defined as a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority. As a leader, you will want to be able to identify these so you can educate and redirect the situation. It is our job, as adults, to help youth, and other adults, understand the impacts of their words. Creating a shared set of ground rules for everyone to follow can help everyone feel comfortable, knowing the expectations of the group as well as having a voice in creating the space.

    Intro to Animal Handling- Gulf County Summer Camp 2021

  4. Encourage engagement. Engaging youth members can be done in multiple ways! Various options include using discussion questions, club committees, or even silly ice breaker games – anything constructive to grab and hold their attention. Using discussion questions allows youth to learn from each other while also encouraging a sense of curiosity for life-long learning. Having different committees allows for smaller work groups, which is much less intimidating than a single large group. It is easier for opinions and thoughts to be heard in a smaller setting. Ice breakers may seem silly, but they are a fun and wonderful way to get youth involved.

While a sense of belonging is important for youth, it may take some time and intentionality to create the space to provide the sense of belonging. Our youth members come from all different walks of life and as the adult leader, you must think about the challenges youth may face that makes them different.  Some youth may look different physically; some may come from a family that has never done 4-H; some may have experienced trauma; some may have special needs.

A 4-H club, program, or activity can provide a space that youth belong to, as well as allowing them to learn invaluable life skills. Adults, volunteers, and agents are essential to creating this space, while also helping other members see how to increase the sense of belonging for others. What will you do to help make all members feel welcome?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/essential-elements-of-4-h-belonging

Creating a Welcoming Environment in 4-H Clubs

 

 

UF Summer Interns Serve Florida’s Panhandle

Did you know that UF/IFAS Extension and UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) offer an internship program to UF students?  The internship program’s goal is to benefit interns through a unique service-learning opportunity and mentoring by professional educators while providing support to UF/IFAS Extension faculty and the communities they serve.  This program typically has interns serve in-person at their selected Extension Office.  In 2021, four UF students interned at Northwest District Extension Offices.

Deanna Brock-Escambia County

Deanna Brock is originally from Pasco County and is a current Agricultural Education and Communication undergrad at the University of Florida (UF). As former Florida 4-H member, Deanna has utilized her knowledge of the program to assist with day camps, judging teams, and county council. She has shared her knowledge of the Florida 4-H Tailgating Competition to enhance our Tailgating Day Camp and create a Florida 4-H Tailgating Handbook. While assisting with the day camps, Deanna has experienced different teaching styles, with different age groups, and successfully lead numerous group activities such as baking and flying drones. She looks forward to expanding her knowledge of graphic design and video creation, and honoring youth at the awards banquet.

Zyreshia Jackson-Bay

Zyreshia Jackson is a Family, Youth, and Community Sciences major who will graduate from the University of Florida (FL) in August 2021. During her time at the Bay County Extension Office, she has created numerous educational videos for our day camps and projects, helped facilitate multiple trainings, and has been an integral part of our 4-H program. In May, Zyreshia also presented a training that she worked on as a part of her class project. For this training she developed the curriculum, a presentation, and supplemental material that focused on Social-Emotional Learning and resilience. After graduation, Zyreshia will pursue a master’s degree from Texas A&M in Public Service and Administration.

Taylor Paynter-Bay

Taylor Paynter is a graduating senior with a degree in Environmental Science. Her summer internship at the UF/IFAS Bay County Extension office has been filled with programs, fieldtrips, and learning opportunities. Some highlights of her 8-week program have been assisting with Florida Panhandle Scallop Sitters, artificial reefs, and editing immersive dive videos.

Carlos Staley-Liberty

Carlos, a Food Science undergrad at UF, has been a true asset to the summer program. He has created numerous educational videos for our virtual culinary day camp, actively taught lessons at a food preservation workshop, grilling day camp and as part of a nutrition lesson at a local library. Additionally, as part of his class project, he has created a closed Google site field to fork day camp that will be part of the Liberty County 4-H toolkit for future day camps.

The Northwest District thanks Deanna, Zyreshia, Taylor, and Carolos for all of their hard work with our clientele and we hope to see them soon as colleagues.

For more information on the UF/IFAS CALS student internship program, visit https://cals.ufl.edu/getinvolved/extension_internships/.