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Graduating Senior Spotlight- Marley Reynolds

Graduating Senior Marley Reynolds

Marley’s love of camping is what drew her to the 4-H program.

With 2020, everything is different and new.  When talking with 17-year-old Santa Rosa County 4-H member, Marley Reynolds, she explains just how different 2020 ended up being for her.  Marley said, “This was supposed to be my final year, I was really looking forward to doing Executive Board and having one last year as a camp counselor, but for better or for worse I ended up graduating a year early!”  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Marley had to accelerate her homeschool learning.  Since she was already home and couldn’t do anything more than her schooling, she decided to go ahead and graduate. It was not something she took lightly and knew that with the change, she would shift from being a last year 4-H member to Alumni just that fast.  She said, “It was very sudden but now I’m a second-year student at Pensacola State College and I’m slated to complete my General Education AA in Spring 2021.”

When asked what 4-H has meant to her, Marley replied, “4-H had always been a special place for me. I first joined because I heard about Camp Timpoochee and had been asking my parents to go to an overnight sleep-away camp for a while. It was amazing, and I still have the friends I met at camp that year.”  Along with summer camp, Marley participated in the Marine Ecology competition at the state level and served many hours with the program as a teen volunteer.  Marley and her family assisted the rest of Santa Rosa County with our annual Veteran’s Day Cookouts.  Marley was able to use her leadership skills as a camp counselor for many years and helped to make camp week wonderful for many youth new to 4-H and camping.

With all of the 4-H events that Marley participated in, she said this about 4-H Day at the Capital, “I think it was my favorite event, mainly because I really liked visiting the Florida Museum of Natural History every year.”  Marley and several other teens planned a primitive camping weekend and it was very eventful!  She remembers, “My favorite memory was the camping trip we went on. It was my 13th birthday and it rained so hard the second day that we had to go home.”  One of the other campers said, “It’s not about having fun, it’s about making memories” We definitely made some memories that weekend.

One of Marley’s main passions is theatre.  She loves to get in costume and entertain others.  4-H allowed her to have many new and exciting experiences and she hopes to continue her 4-H career as summer camp staff in the future.  Marley, congratulations on your early graduation and we are proud to call you a Florida 4-H Alumni!  Don’t forget, that you can always continue your 4-H journey as a volunteer or 4-H Collegiate Member!


4-H Beyond Graduation Day

4-H Beyond Graduation Day

Graduation has come and gone for our newest 4-H Alumni who are beginning their journeys in college, technical school or the workforce.  Our 4-H Seniors have given so much to their county, district and state programs over their years of service.  Here are a few ways to make sure your Senior gets all he/she can from their Senior year in 4-H and beyond:

Final 4-H Event

4-H University –  July 30-August 2nd

Florida 4-H University is a week-long overnight event for young adults held at the University of Florida. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in educational workshops led by University of Florida faculty, explore career opportunities, lead community service activities, interact with youth from all over the state, and have fun while developing critical life skills that will help them become productive and engaged citizens in their communities, their country, and their world.

To be considered eligible for participation in Florida 4-H University, participants must be between the ages of 14 – 18 by September 1st of the previous year and must not have graduated high school.  Late registration closes June 8th.

Camp Staff

Were you a 4-H camper?  Then consider coming back as staff next 4-H camp year.  Our 4-H residential camps are always looking for dedicated applicants with youth and youth program experience.

Volunteer with 4-H

Now that you’ve made the transition from 4-H member to alumni, check with your 4-H Agent for opportunities to give back to the program that grew you into a #TrueLeader.  If you’ve moved away from your home county, find the 4-H agent where you are to see how you can volunteer.

Other Resources

Collegiate 4-H –  

Volunteer –

Alumni –

Find a 4-H Agent –

Collegiate 4-H: Growing #TrueLeaders Beyond High School

Did you know that you can extend your 4-H experience through your college years?  If you plan on attending college consider joining Collegiate 4-H.   Collegiate 4-H is an organization that provides its members with a sense of identity on campus, enriches their lives through group projects and recreation, and develops confidence and leadership skills. At the University of Florida, Collegiate 4-H provides service and support to Alachua County 4-H and the Florida 4-H State Programs.  Collegiate 4-H is not only a professional organization, but also a service and social organization.  Some of the ways they support 4-H include serving as judges, mentors, and volunteers. Recently, the executive officers of the UF Collegiate 4-H supported our district-wide Teen Retreat.  Last year, the Collegiate 4-H chapter at UF hosted the National Collegiate 4-H Conference in Gainesville, FL.  Earlier this spring, they were invited to attend and present at the National STEM Conference in Washington, DC.  Being a Collegiate 4-H member can open lots of doors for scholarships, awards, internship opportunities, and careers.  It also helps you connect with other young people who are passionate about 4-H Positive Youth Development and who want to continue to make a difference in their “club, community, country, and world.”


Collegiate 4-H is open to all college students who wish to support youth and the 4-H program. It is not necessary to have prior 4-H experience, only to have an interest in the 4-H ideals and in serving your community. Prior membership in the 4-H organization is not required.  If there is not a Collegiate 4-H Chapter at your local college or university, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office to inquire about securing a faculty advisor.


To find out more about the Collegiate 4-H Program at the University of Florida, contact Joshua Clay Hurdle, UF Collegiate 4-H President

To find out more about Collegiate 4-H in general, visit or contact Dr. Kate Fogarty, Ph.D. Youth Development Specialist, Florida 4-H

4-H Can be a Life-long Passion

Dr. Williamson helping a 4-Her at a show

Dr. Williamson helping a 4-Her at a show

There are many reasons why 4-H has stood the test of time for more than 100 years. In addition to its link with land grant universities, 4-H is family friendly and available in every state and every county in the US (and even some foreign countries like Korea, Cuba, Germany and Italy). In fact, you can be a lifelong participant in 4-H- first as a youth member, then as a collegiate 4-H member, and later as an alumni or volunteer. Dr. Reese Williamson is a great example of how to turn a 4-H experience as a youth into a lifelong passion. She joined 4-H in 1974, in McKean County, Pennsylvania and was active in horse clubs, livestock clubs, downhill ski clubs, and even a square dancing club!  As a teen, she fine-tuned her communication and leadership skills as a member of the 4-H County Council, which later led to a summer internship as the 4-H Assistant to the County agent.  “My 4-H Extension Agent in Pennsylvania was a motivator and wrote recommendation letters for me for college and vet school,” says Dr. Williamson. “I have been involved in 4-H since 1974 with the exception of the five years while I was in vet school. As soon as I moved to Florida, I looked up my local county Extension Office to become a volunteer.”

When asked why she decided to extend her 4-H involvement as a volunteer, she says “I enjoy that there is a place for everyone [in 4-H].  I enjoy sharing the joy of learning and of livestock and horses with youth.  It’s important that youth know where their agricultural products come from, that they respect animals and the impact they have on the environment. I want them to have a positive experience with horses and other animals.”

Dr. Williamson with members and alumni of her 4-H club

Dr. Williamson with members and alumni of her 4-H club

Without volunteers like Dr. Williamson, many youth would not have opportunities to learn about agriculture or develop life skills such as responsibility, confidence, and compassion. She shares, “It’s challenging to be a youth volunteer in today’s society.  Most youth are from single-parent families.  Children are living in two homes with multiple parents and grandparents often creates scheduling conflicts, but we must put the children first- they are the priority.   It’s important to me to never disappoint or extinguish a child’s enthusiasm.  If a child works towards a goal, it’s important that they are not prevented from completing that goal because of a scheduling boundary.”

Dr. Williamson’s passion for helping youth has had a tremendous impact on the Okaloosa 4-H Program over the past 25 years. Many of her members have become teen volunteers and later, as adult 4-H Alumni, come back to volunteer.

Kyle Godwin, an Okaloosa 4-H Alumni says, “Over the years of being in Dr. Williamson’s 4-H club, both as a member and then as the Club President , she laid many building blocks for me from public speaking to proper animal husbandry. She is always willing to go out of her way to help a new kid get started raising animals.”  Another 4-H Alumni, Nathan Moores, shares: “Dr. Williamson has been a dedicated volunteer throughout my 4-H experience and we are blessed to have her. She has gone out of her way to help me and my fellow 4-Hers with our projects, whether it was husbandry questions, vaccinations, or health certificates.”

Do you have a passion or skills that you would like to pass on to the next generation of parents, employees, civic leaders, and decision makers? Dr. Williamson’s advice to anyone considering getting involved is: “Step up and volunteer! With 4-H, you can have a positive influence on our next generation of citizens.  It is definitely worth squeezing the time into your schedule.” You don’t have to be a 4-H Alumni or a veterinarian to volunteer.  4-H needs caring adults from a wide variety of backgrounds, skills and experiences. For more information, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office, or visit

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