Friday, November 30, 2012

Florida 4-H is sad to announce the death of Past State 4-H Program Leader Damon Miller Sr.

photo of hall of fame member
(TALLAHASSEE, FL- November 26, 2012) - It is with great sadness and regret that we report the passing of Florida 4-H Hall of Fame member and past State 4-H Program Leader, Damon Miller Sr. on Saturday, November 24th after a brief illness. 

Miller started working with Leon County Cooperative Extension Service in 1969 as a general county extension agent specializing in vegetable production, 4-H youth development and community resource development.

Miller was appointed to the state 4-H staff in the 1970s.  He served as the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University 4-H Program Coordinator, organizing 4-H minority outreach programs in the panhandle and North Florida, until he was appointed State 4-H Program Leader in January 1998.

He was instrumental in planning and coordinating the Florida 4-H Legislature, 4-H Public Speaking, and the 4-H Share the Fun programs from 1976 through his retirement in 2002.  

"Growing up in 4-H, I remember the adults who helped me learn and grow as a person. They worked so hard all the time, and yet they still had time for me. Their investment of time told me that I was important to them and it made the difference for me,” – Damon Miller Sr.  

The family asks in lieu of flowers/plants that contributions be made to: Tallahassee Sigmas Educational Foundation, Inc. PO BOX 180755 Tallahassee, FL 32318 Attn: Bro. Damon Miller, Sr. Scholarship Fund.

Background on the career of Damon Miller Sr.

Damon Miller Sr. became involved with 4-H early in life. As a 4-H member growing up in rural Georgia from 1958-1963, Miller participated in public speaking and poultry projects. “When I was small and growing up in rural Georgia, I was in 4-H myself. I remember the mailman bringing me chicks in the mail for my 4-H poultry project. The chicks would peep inside the package,” said Miller. He would receive about 50 chicks in the mail in March and kept a 4-H record book for his project. 

Miller started working for the Cooperative Extension Service in Leon County in 1969 as a general county extension agent specializing in vegetable production, 4-H youth development and community resource development.

Looking back, he says that one of his greatest accomplishments in his more than twenty-year career with the Florida Cooperative Extension Service was community development work he did in Leon County in the early 1970s with the Macon community. He helped the community get sewage service, water hookups, paved streets, and traffic signs.

Miller encouraged others to volunteer. “Volunteering to work with young people is one of the most rewarding things that anyone can do. Mentoring relationships are important because they provide young people with living examples to emulate and use as a pattern when making decisions governing their own futures,” said Miller.

When budget cuts in 2001 threatened to close 4-H Camp Cloverleaf and 4-H Camp Cherry Lake, Miller said, “This is a day that none of us wanted to see. The entire 4-H family — children, teens, 4-H agents, volunteer leaders, 4-H alumni and state staff — are heartbroken over these impending closures.” Ultimately, the camps were saved and the Florida 4-H Foundation stepped in to help.

He was a steadying force amid crisis. “In spite of the budget situation, all is not lost, said Miller, in a press statement. “Our commitment to youth development has only grown stronger in the face of new challenges. Our county 4-H programs will continue. 4-H teaches young people about their connections to living things, and about the linkages between people, nature and each other. That has not changed,” said Miller.

He encouraged 4-H agents, members and staff to remember what was important. “We believe that young people learn best through hands-on education, and we provide experiences they often don’t receive in their schooling. We will continue to fulfill our mission as a land-grant institution to serve the young people in our state,” said Miller

Founded in 1909, the Florida 4‐H Youth Development Program works annually with more than 230,000 young people, ages 5‐18, and nearly 15,000 volunteers. The program is active in all 67 counties and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Headquartered in Gainesville, it’s part of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. 

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions, or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Marion County 4-H youth win big at National 4-H Poultry Judging Contest: Just in Time for Thanksgiving

Marion County 4-H received high honors as they placed as reserve champions at the National 4-H Poultry Judging Contest in Louisville, Kentucky.  The team finished third in the production hen division, sixth in the market egg division and ninth in the market poultry.

In addition to placing second overall, team member’s Ilene Boetger, placed first in the production hen division, and Sarah Harper placed sixth in the market egg division. 

The four Marion County 4-H youth, Sarah Harper, Kailea Quad, Ilene Boetger and Gabriela Valentin, travelled to Louisville, Kentucky to judge three categories of chicken, eggs and turkeys.  The competitors were required to judge ready-to-cook chicken and turkey carcasses, live production hens and market eggs. 

 “4-H youth travelled from all over the country to compete in educational events that help them learn to make and defend decisions, speak publicly, and gain poultry-related skill,” said Xiomara Diaz, Marion County 4-H extension agent. 

This year, over 86 senior 4-H youth represented 22 teams that participated in the poultry judging contest, Diaz said. 

The judging contest gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations governing the grading of eggs, chicken and turkeys.    

Participants are scored in the judging contest based on placing and reasons.   The placing score is determined by how well the participant placed the class based on physical characteristics of the poultry or egg.  How well the participants justify their placing of a class to a judge determines their reason score.

The poultry judging contest was held in conjunction with the 2012 National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky. The conference recognizes 4-H members who have excelled in their state 4-H poultry learning activities by offering national level activities and contests designed to test and show the knowledge of the 4-H members. 

“A poultry careers workshop was also held at the conference, exposing the 4-H’ers to hands-on information from poultry industry professionals,” Diaz said.  “Participants are given pertinent information about career and educational opportunities available in the poultry industry.”

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions, or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Florida 4-H and United Health Care Launch Partnership Promoting Healthy Living Through Fun, Creative Activities at North Florida Fair

Florida State 4-H representatives join UnitedHealthcare for a check presentation at the "Eat4-Health" partnership launch at the North Florida Fair. Florida 4-H received a $30,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare to promote healthy living. From L to R: Pete Vergott III, District Extension Director, University of Florida IFAS Extension; Heather Kent, 4-H Regional Specialized Agent; Marcus Boston Jr., Extension Agent, Leon County 4-H; Kelly Skidmore, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Florida; and UnitedHealthcare mascot Dr. Health E. Hound (Photo: Sam Holton/Holton Photography). Business Wire

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Eat4-Health partnership includes 10 states, with 4-H youth as health ambassadors reaching other youth and families with messages to fight obesity United Health Care mascot Dr. Health E. Hound participates in 4-H Day at the North Florida Fair, leading hundred

Florida 4-H and UnitedHealthcare announced a new partnership to promote healthy living and empower youth to help fight the nation’s obesity epidemic.

The partnership, called Eat 4-Health, is activating thousands of 4-H youth ambassadors to make healthy choices for themselves and encourage friends, families and people in their communities to make positive changes through training, creative programs and educational events. It currently spans 10 states, including Florida.

At the partnership launch in Florida, UnitedHealthcare’s mascot Dr. Health E. Hound joined 4-H youth, families and community leaders at the North Florida Fair to encourage attendees to stay active and eat healthy. Dr. Hound and 4-H youth encouraged hundreds of attendees to participate in simple, fun group dance and fitness activities designed to burn calories and promote health.
Florida 4-H leadership and youth also participated in an official partnership announcement, where UnitedHealthcare presented a $30,000 check to Florida 4-H to launch the program. The partnership is being administered by the University of Florida Extension Service, which provides 4-H programs to all counties in the state.

Eat 4-Health builds on UnitedHealthcare’s successful partnership with National 4-H Council that began last year in Florida, Mississippi and Texas. The campaign is expanding to Arizona, Louisiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and New York. Each state 4-H organization is receiving a $30,000 grant funded by UnitedHealthcare to support healthy-living programs, events and other activities administered by 4-H that encourage young people and their families to eat more nutritious foods and exercise regularly.

“Florida 4-H is proud to join with UnitedHealthcare again this year to build on our partnership and empower youth to live healthier,” said Dr. Keith Diem, Florida 4-H Program Leader. “4-H youth ambassadors are eager to work with UnitedHealthcare to help forge real solutions to the serious challenge of obesity. Today’s activities are just one example of the creativity and excitement 4-H youth are bringing to this campaign.”

“The Eat4-Health program shows that our youth are leading the way to help solve the nation’s obesity problem. It’s exciting to see UnitedHealthcare and 4-H youth working together to make a difference in the lives of so many families in Florida,” said Kathleen Crampton, president of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Florida. “UnitedHealthcare and 4-H look forward to harnessing the energy and excitement of 4-H youth to promote healthy living.”

Participating 4-H state programs receiving a grant will develop action plans that provide innovative, hands-on learning approaches that target specific community needs in their state. Many of these activities will support healthy-living programs led by 4-H that encourage youth and community participation through events such as health fairs, cooking demonstrations, after-school programs, workshops and educational forums, among others. UnitedHealthcare employees will team up with 4-H at many of these events, assisting with planning and executing projects that lead to positive, sustainable change at the community and individual level.

As part of the Eat 4-Health campaign, each state is organizing a Youth Summit/Conference to train 4-H youth ambassadors to implement the programs and help reach the goals in each state. The summits will provide the venue where participants will learn more about nutrition, health and fitness, obtain information on promoting health within their communities, and gain new tools for participating in multisession educational trainings and one-time community activities and events. This teen leadership experience will also serve as a launch to a Teen Ambassadors pledge and prepare 4-H’ers to use their increased healthy-living knowledge and skills to make an impact in their own communities.

Online and printed educational materials will enable participants to learn and commit to making healthier choices. To encourage participation, the campaign will provide simple tips for healthy choices when food shopping, preparing home meals and school lunches, when out with friends or at special occasions.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled since 1980, with nearly one in every three children being overweight or obese. Children from low-income and low-education households are three-times more likely to be obese. America’s Health Rankings®, an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis, indicates that obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and many cancers. The estimated economic cost of obesity is $270 billion per year.
4-H reaches 6 million youth each year, 2.5 million of whom participate in healthy-living programs that promote nutrition, wellness and physical activities. United Health Care Community & State serves more than 2.5 million children in 25 states and the District of Columbia. 4-H and United Health Care share connections with many of the same public sector and community organizations, including state and county governments and school districts.

In 2011 the 4-H/United Health Care partnership reached more than 40,000 youth and families in three states through hundreds of community events and activities that included distributing positive messages about nutrition and wellness. This was accomplished in creative venues such as healthy-cooking demonstrations, fitness camps, youth forums and community family days. These events were designed to empower 4-H youth in the targeted states to help educate their families and people in their communities about the importance of healthy living through more nutritious diets and increased physical activity in their daily lives. The program targeted communities in Florida, Mississippi and Texas with the greatest need for education, outreach and resources.

About Florida 4‐H: Founded in 1909, the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program works with more than 230,000 rural, suburban and urban youth ages 5-18 and is active in all 67 counties, and with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The 4-H program is the youth development program of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service (CES) which is headquartered in Gainesville within UF’s IFAS. The CES is funded by a partnership between federal, state and county government agencies. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions, or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. For more information about Florida 4-H, visit

About United Health Care: United Health Care is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. United Health Care serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.

United Health Care mascot Dr. Health E. Hound joined 4-H youth for a healthy group exercise at the North Florida Fair to encourage attendees to stay active and eat healthy. During the kick off event, United Health Care and 4-H encouraged hundreds of attendees to participate in simple, fun group dance and fitness activities designed to burn calories and promote health. Florida 4-H received a $30,000 grant from United Health Care to promote health living as part of a $300,000 "Eat 4-Health" partnership in 10 states between 4-H and United Health Care (Photo: Sam Holton/Holton Photography)

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4-H'ers Participate in Youth Science Day

4-H'ers concentrate on the project as they participate in the fifth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD).  Contributed photo. 

St. Johns County 4-H youth joined millions of young people across the nation to become scientists for the day during the fifth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD). This annual event seeks to spark an early youth interest in science and future science careers, and to reclaim the nation’s position of leadership in scientific exploration.

As part of 4-H NYSD, youth participated in the 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge: the 2012 National Science Experiment.

Designed by The Ohio State University Extension, this year’s experiment introduced youth to robotic engineering concepts as they program an autonomous robot to clean up a simulated environmental spill. The 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge demonstrated that by utilizing engineering principles, youth can have a positive impact on communities and ecosystems.

St Johns County 4-H’ers enhanced their engineering skills by assembling their own Eco-Bots and surface controls to manage an environmental clean-up. Youth then tested the interaction between the Eco-Bot’s design features and various surface control configurations to determine the most effective clean-up solution for the simulated spill.

“Our nation is falling behind other countries in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Geralyn Sachs, 4-H extension agent for St. Johns County. “However, participation in high-quality positive youth development programs like 4-H NYSD offers youth and adults the opportunity to engage in scientific exploration and work together to build the next generation of our nation’s scientists, engineers and mathematicians.”

The University of Florida/IFAS/St. Johns County 4-H Program took part in the 4-H National Science Day Oct. 6 at the Extension Office Home and Garden Show. Morning and afternoon sessions were available for 4-H youth to take the Eco Bot Challenge, with 10 youth participating.

Sessions were lead by Sachs and St. Johns County 4-H youth leaders Jared Smith and Sarah Colee. When asked if National Youth Science Day has made you more interested in science, one youth participant reported “It taught me science doesn’t always come in (from) a textbook.”

When asked how do you think you might be able to use what you learned through this experiment elsewhere in your life, one youth reported “Team work and idea expressing is used in a lot of jobs.”

This year’s 4-H National Youth Science Day was jointly sponsored by Toyota, Lockheed Martin, Donaldson and John Deere.

via St.

4-H Ag Adventures Draw Hundreds of Kids

By Deborah Buckhalter
November 04, 2012

First grader Kailyn Vega searches for a worm in a handful of mulch being held by Anita Crossley during 4-H Ag Adventures Friday at the North Florida Research and Education Center near Greenwood.

Roughly 450 first-graders from all over Jackson County converged on Greenwood Thursday and Friday to take part in 4-H Agriculture Adventures at the North Florida Research and Education Center, where the youngsters ran into a couple of living scarecrows as they picked their way through a corn maze.

The scarecrows were volunteers from the Jackson County Master Gardeners organization. They and other event volunteers were important contributors to the annual Ag Adventures program, said 4-H Youth Development Agent Ben Knowles.

For instance beekeeper Herman Elmore taught the youngsters about the importance of bees to the production of honey, food and beeswax. The children learned about dairy cows, too, and other livestock like goats, chickens and pigs.

Children ate boiled peanuts after they visited a research-station peanut patch, and went to a cotton field to learn about the many products that are made from cotton. They also cranked out some ground corn, trying out an old fashioned hand-powered corn-grinder. Cherokee Ranch in Jackson County, run by the Mack Glass family, contributed some Satsumas for the children to enjoy.

The program was also staffed by the crew at the research station, run by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Services/Jackson County Extension Service.

The annual event is sponsored primarily by a grant from the state’s Florida Agriculture in the Classroom program and the research station itself.

Students Create Eco-Bots at 4-H Event in Davie

By Scott Fishman, Forum Publishing Group
November 2, 2012

What can you do with a battery, toothbrush, cellphone vibrator and some tape?
More than 100 students at the Broward County 4-H at the UF/IFAS Broward County Extension Office in Davie recently found out by using the materials to create mini eco-bots.
This was the fifth year the 4-H (Head, Heart, Hands, Health) celebrated National Youth Science Day with an experiment. During the Eco-Bot Challenge, children were robotics engineers for the day. The groups created their own eco-bots to simulate environmental cleanup using rice.

"It's nice to be able to reach out to them and have them get involved in it because it also pulls them into 4-H," said Erin Daniels, Broward 4-H secretary.

Among the volunteers was computer engineer George Hanna, who worked with the children on making the eco-bots operational.

"I like to be able to show kids about science, engineering, math and all these things using my background," he said. "One of the common issues was the robot would constantly tip over, so they have the chance to troubleshoot the issue and draw their own conclusion on how to fix that. It's a great activity."

Jordan Latson, sixth-grader at Silver Lakes Middle School in North Lauderdale, enjoyed the project.
"It was fun," he said. "I liked having to use the toothbrush and the other things … to make a working robot. I learned that there can be robots out there to help the environment."

Jordan Brown, a sixth-grader at Margate Middle School, worked with classmates Liam Fisher and Marco Cruzata.

"It was fun building a robot I haven't built before, especially with these types of parts," she said.
Cruzata said he was a little intimidated when he received instruction for the project, but he was happy with the results.

"I really thought it was going to be hard, but it was actually pretty simple and easy," he said.
According to its website, the 4-H program offers hands-on education and projects in such areas as marine ecology, photography, horticulture, food and nutrition, animals and computers.

For more information, call 954-357-5270 or visit and click on the 4-H link.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Highlands County Celebrates National 4-H Week

Highlands County Board of County Commissioners has issued a proclamation to celebrate this year's National 4-H Week.  

Highlands County, Florida
National 4-H Week Proclamation

Whereas, October 7-13,2012 is National 4-H Week in the United States, with more than 5 million youth, ages 5 to 18, taking part in 4-H club programs nationwide, and with 4-H ranking in total awareness among agencies serving youth; and, 

Wheras, the Florida 4-H Program has been positively impacting children's lives since 1909 and has celebrated over 100 years of service.  The Florida Cooperative Extension Service conducts 4-h programs through the state's land-grant university, the University of Florida, with the mission to create supportive environments where diverse youth and caring adults may gain the knowledge and life skills they need to be productive, responsible citizens; and..

Click Here to view the entire proclamation.

Wakulla County Youth Celebrate National 4-H Week

October 7-13 is National 4-H Week, and Wakulla County is celebrating the 4-H youth who have made an impact on the community, and are stepping up to the challenges of a complex and changing world.
“After becoming involved in the 4-H Program here in the county, I realize how far-reaching and exciting that 4-H can be for young people,” said Wakulla County 4-H Volunteer Maria Odom.
Recent findings from Tufts University's 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development indicate that young people in 4-H are three times more likely to contribute to their communities than youth not participating in 4-H.  Notably, the Tufts research discovered that the structured learning, encouragement and adult mentoring that 4-H'ers receive plays a vital role in helping them actively contribute to their communities.  In Wakulla County, more than 800 4-H members and 65 volunteers are involved in 4-H through community clubs, camping programs, after school and classroom clubs as well as the 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking contest and Community Citrus Project.

Also during National 4-H Week, hundreds of thousands of youth from all around the nation will complete a single, innovative experiment on 4-H National Youth Science Day, which will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012.  The 2012 National Science Experiment, 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge, explores how robots can be used to preserve and protect the environment, while offering a glimpse into the future of science, technology, engineering and math.

4-H youth are a living breathing, culture-changing revolution for doing the right thing, breaking through obstacles and pushing our country forward by making a measurable difference right where they live.  Learn how you can Join the Revolution of Responsibility at, or contact Sherri Kraeft, Wakulla County 4-H Agent, at the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Office at 926-3931 or

Courtesy of Wakulla County News and Writer Sherri Kraeft

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mission Possible

The Erekson family works with Harvest Aviation to supply missionary families.  

Denise Erekson loves to teach, and as a homeschooling mom of five girls, she gets plenty of practice.

But Erekson isn't just devoted to her own girls. She also is the leader for the Green Acres 4-H club, Wauchula's local homeschooling club that bustles with 40 kids ages 5 to 18.

"When we were new to the community, I wanted the girls to have an opportunity to have interaction with the community and to meet new friends outside of our church," said Erekson.

The family moved to Hardee County six years ago from Ohio, but Erekson and her husband, Ronny, are originally Texas ranchers who worked cattle for 15 years. The family left the Lone Star state to take a job with Harvest Aviation, a not-for-profit flight service that delivers cargo to missionary families in Belize in Central America. Ronny is the aircraft mechanic for the local group, which flies out of the Wauchula Municipal Airport.

"We fly homeschool supplies, medical supplies, diapers ..." explained Erekson, her Texas drawl still quite pronounced. Sometimes they'll bring missionaries back for short furloughs. They also supply a girls' orphanage.

This spirit of charity carries over into her work with 4-H. Erekson is overseeing the Youth Against Poverty campaign, a Florida state 4-H community service initiative organized through a 4-H county council. It's the first time Hardee County has had a county council in eight years, she said.

To fight poverty, the kids have developed a food drive they've dubbed The Hunger Games after the popular book that was adapted to film earlier this year.

Erekson was quick to point out that while she is the adult adviser on the program, the initiative itself is youth-led, and that 4-H is a youth development association focused on building leadership skills in young people.
Participating students will organize the food drive, advertise it, liaise with the Hardee County food bank, negotiate drop-off points with local grocery stores and businesses, and arrange pick up and delivery of donations. Basically, they'll run the whole thing.

"It's encouraging these youth to be all that they can be and to encourage responsible leadership. Because these youth are going to be the next leaders in our community, husbands in their homes, our next entrepreneurs ... " Erekson explained.

Part of leading youth in projects such as running a food drive or organizing a banquet (like they did last May) is letting kids make mistakes and sometimes even fail.

"They will fail, but it's all right. We pick up and move on," said Erekson. "It thrills me to see these kids doing things they didn't realize they could do."

All five of her girls, ages 9 to 18, are homeschooled and involved in 4-H. "I take Deuteronomy 6 to heart," stated Erekson, paraphrasing the Bible verse: "You will teach your kids walking in the road and when they rise in the morning." She added, "Teaching is not just book skills. It's life skills."

via Highlands Today

Friday, September 14, 2012

4-H Members Beautify Camp with Inaugural Event

4H members beautify camp with inaugural event

LAKE PLACID - It was a hot, busy morning for nearly 60 nature lovers at Camp Cloverleaf Saturday as the first 4-H Club National Planting Day event took place. Local 4-H members from several different groups came together at the camp to take part in a national campaign that was localized at the hands of several volunteers.
The Keep Highlands County Beautiful campaign was the driving force behind the event and coordinator Christy Reed approached the 4-H about joining in on the effort.
"Christy came to me about it in July," said Lauren Hrncirik, 4-H Youth Development Agent.
The idea comes on the same day as other 4-Hers across America are making a more beautiful place to live in.
"We started at 8:30, just like everyone else. I honestly thought we'd be out here well past lunch, but these kids work really fast," Hrncirik said.
The first-time event was a huge success that Hrncirik and Reed contribute to all the volunteers and donations that took place.
"We got the trees from Robbins Nursery, LaGrow Irrigation helped out, and Choice Environmental and Keep Highlands Beautiful all contributed to this project," Reed said.
Help from the Highlands County University of Florida Extension Office also proved to be a vital part of the project's success.
"We had Master Gardeners here also. They are all volunteers from the extension office. They are specialists in horticulture. They came out and told the kids how to plant, how to separate the roots, how far down to plant them, what bugs and insects to look out for; things they wouldn't know normally," Hrncirik said.
4-H members planted 234 small trees Saturday morning in just two short hours. The fence that separates the open field at Camp Cloverleaf from Cloverleaf Road was the most extensive part of the project.
"We planted 170 just along the fence. That is the main phase of the project. Once those grow up it will provide a beautiful, fresh buffer. That is a pretty popular and busy road so we want it to look nice there," Hrncirik said.
The inaugural event proved to be a true community partnership bringing together the smallest hands and the biggest hearts in agriculture and nature.
"This couldn't have happened without all those different volunteers and donations. I can't even tell you how grateful we are for everything. Without the trees, which I don't even know how much those cost Robbins Nursery, and all the knowledge, we couldn't have done it. The specialists giving their expertise was a huge help and, of course, the kids," Hrncirik said.
Reed agreed and was thrilled to be a part of the first-time event with the kids.
"This has been great; the kids worked hard. They provided the most important part, the labor, and they have done a good job," Reed said.

Courtesy of

Friday, September 7, 2012

Former Florida 4-H President Volunteers with the 4-H Global Team in Tanzania and Kenya

Former Florida 4-H President and Council 6 year Trustee Natalie Cheng is volunteering on the 4-H Global team. She took two weeks off from her professional career in New York to serve with the 4-H Global Team in Tanzania and Kenya, Africa.

Monday, August 6, 2012

UF Hosts the 4-H Fashion and Talent Show For High School Students

Project Runway designers, it looks like you may have some competition!
Last night, high school students from all over the country came and competed in an intense fashion and talent show hosted by 4-H.
Held in the Grand Ballroom of the Reitz Union at the University of Florida, the show, “Share the Fun and Fashion Review” showcased the talented and creative work of  25 to 30 high school students who designed and created outfits from scratch and with a budget.
There were two categories of the fashion show: shopping on a budget (students had only $100 or less to create an outfit head to toe and were encouraged to find pieces from thrift stores) and construction (students had to design and create their outfits from scratch).
Before the talent show, students had to learn skills that would help them for the competition, says Shaumond Scott, Florida 4-H communications coordinator.
“Students had to learn how to sew, how to use patterns and durability,” says Scott.
The talent portion of the show featured acts such as a piano dance and skits.
First, second, third and overall winners were awarded at the end of the show. Tonight, additional scholarships will be awarded during the Awards and Recognition ceremony.
Although the designs seen in the show may be new, 4-H has been hosting the fashion and talent show for students for more almost half a decade, says Scott. “We’ve been doing this for a pretty long time–at least 40 years–bringing students from all over the country to teach and show their skills.”
-SK (Photos by Rodney Rogers)

A Day of Giving Back for 300 4-H Teens from Across Florida

By Joey Flechas
Sweat dripped from Quentin Carter's brow as he laid down chunks of pine straw over a piece of cardboard on the ground to stymie weeds.
"I love to help people," Carter said.
Almost 300 teens gathered at the University of Florida this week for the annual Florida 4-H Congress, which wrapped up Wednesday with a day of service.
About 35 volunteers were at Wilmot Gardens, with some mulching and some hammering at slabs of granite to smooth out the surface of a soon-to-be park bench.
Linda Luecking, project coordinator for the gardens, said the project marked the third year in a row that 4-H volunteers have worked at the gardens.
"The great thing about getting 4-H students is that they are used to working," Luecking said.
Another group worked at the Ronald McDonald House, organizing the food pantry, weeding and steam-cleaning the floors.
Theresa Drew, house manager, said the volunteers were eager to work and attentive.
"No cellphones, which is really a treat," Drew said.
She noted that some of the volunteers who live in Alachua County showed interest in coming back to help out on their own.
Nineteen-year 4-H agent Marcus Boston, 45, of Leon County, supervised the group hammering the granite at Wilmot Gardens, saying that of the 4 H's — head, heart, hands and health — the day gave members a chance to get their hands dirty.
"It's seeing them experience a feeling of joy from helping an organization and making a difference," he said.
Erin Barveau, 17, of Port St. Lucie, said she enjoys 4-H because it encourages its members to give back to the community in a variety of ways.
"It's very flexible," Barveau said. "You don't have to be a livestock exhibitor."

4-H'ers Learn About Farming in St. Johns County

4-H youth joined the University of Florida/St. Johns County Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences and learned all about local agriculture last month.
The Farm to Table camp was described as both a success and wonderful learning opportunity regarding the entire food production from St. Johns County farms to the community supermarket. With growing popularity of residents wanting to learn more about local agriculture, the youth experienced hands-on farm living by being a farmer for a day. Johns Sykes, Sykes and Cooper Farm, gave a tour of the farm including machinery used, the storage facility and actual harvest production.
The youth also got the opportunity to shuck their own wide acre peas.
While in Hastings, agriculture agent Steve Lands, gave a tour of the UF/IFAS Partnership for Water, Agriculture and Community Sustainability facility. Youth learned about edible landscaping, alternative agriculture and agricultural sustainability. Lands provided the youth with seeds to start a fall garden. Next was a tour of Terkeurst Goat Farm, with tour guide Sharon Terkeurst. Youth learned about the production of goat milk and cheese, and they also got to try fresh goat milk.
Publix Supermarket at Murabella hosted a tour of the store. Youth toured the supermarket and went behind the scenes of the produce, meat and administration department.
A container garden and a host of creative crafts and projects were also part of the camp. Youth commented about the memorable and fun experience of learning about local agriculture and the process of farm to table.
Those interested in learning more about the 4-H program or becoming a 4-H volunteer are invited to contact the 4-H Office at the St. Johns County Agricultural Center (3125 Agricultural Center Drive, St. Augustine, 32092) at 209-0430.
To find out more about the St. Johns County 4-H Program or to enroll, go to:
There is no charge to enroll into the 4-H program.
Enrollment will begin in late August/early September for the 2012-13 4-H year.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Manatee Sewing Camp Participants Share Joy and Clothing Protectors with Residents

Ten sewing camp participants from Manatee County recently presented residents of the Life Care Center of Sarasota with clothing protectors they had sewn earlier.

The clothing protectors were a community service project completed during a 4-H sewing camp. At that time, 20 participants made 20 items in three hours in an assembly line-type production with the assistance of American Sewing Guild Sarasota Chapter members.

“The clothing protectors are very welcomed and they will be used by residents during meal and craft times,” said Denise Tarutis, activity director of Life Care Center.

Also during their visit to the center, 4-H sewing camp participant Maegan Betts shared a speech titled “The Lost Art of Sewing” with the group.  Afterwards, everyone joined in singing songs, “Grand Ole’ Flag,” “Yogi Bear,” and “Make New Friends.” “Wow! What a great community service project, allowing youth and adults to work together and to help others at the same time,” said Dr. Diana L. Smith, 4-H coordinator.

For more information, contact the Manatee County 4-H Office at 941-722-4524.
4-H programs are open to all youth (ages 5-18) without regard to race, color, sex, handicap or national origin.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Manatee 4-H Club members take part in tree replanting at 4-H Camp Cloverleaf

Just one week after trees at 4-H Camp Cloverleaf were toppled by a tornado spun from Tropical Storm Debby, the tree replanting has begun. As the camp reopened after a one-week shut down, two bus-loads of campers from Manatee County arrived. Full of excitement, some 88 youth and 14 adults scurried around the camp in an orderly manner throughout the week as cleanup continued.
Then, on July 4, the group welcomed longtime 4-H leader Betty Glassburn as she arrived with a 12-foot live oak tree donated by SMR Farms of Manatee County. The live oak, selected for its canopy, is a stately-looking tree. “We are certainly fortunate to have not sustained more damage and welcome this tree replacement,” said Cloverleaf’s Manager Steve Cooper. Earlier, Cooper had pointed out several trees that were planted by Manatee County 4-H’ers through the years. Fortunately, they all survived.

"Manatee County 4-H has camped at Camp Cloverleaf since 1954 and we feel some ownership for this camp. Seeing all of the large, old trees destroyed during the tornado is disheartening. The stumps will be removed when the summer camping program is over and we will try to get some new trees to replace them. We thank SMR for their donation of the live oak," said Glassburn.

“Future generations will be able to enjoy this tree as they camp at Cloverleaf. We are extremely pleased with the placement of this tree as it will provide shade for the pavilion – the pavilion that our teens poured the first concrete pad for,” said 4-H Agent Dr. Diana L. Smith. Successful tree planting does not happen by chance, it requires thought and planning. Youth interested in learning more about trees can enroll in the 4-H forestry, junior master gardener or horticulture projects.
4-H programs are open to all youth (ages 5-18) without regard to race, creed, color, sex, handicap or national origin.

Read more here:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

State 4-H Educational Design Specialist Position

The Extension Assistant Scientist/State 4-H Educational Design Specialist has posted to GatorJobs. The position number is 00002691. The direct link to the GatorJobs posting is

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2012: Top 5 Recipients of the Community Pride Award!

Florida 4-H is proud to announce this year’s Top 5 recipients of the Community Pride Award!
Top 5 Award Winners

Callahan Country Kids 4-H Club
This Nassau County 4-H club decided they wanted to reach out to more people in need. With the community in mind as well as fallen veterans, the project enti­tled caring hearts doing their part” helped to support the elderly, fallen veterans, and people in need of food.

District XIII Council
District XIII’s main objective was to reach their com­munity to help overcome poverty and to teach others how to help. They wanted to make an impact in the lives of impoverished people. Throughout the year, they took on different projects that impacted the lives of the impoverished in the community and beyond.

Juss Horsin’ Around 4-H Club
This Nassau County 4-H club addressed the many needs and concerns of their community. They strived to cre­ate a positive impact through military appreciation, environmental impact, the elderly and worked towards no more homeless pets.

Nassau County 4-H Council
This Nassau County 4-H Club created a project that helped multiple sectors in their community includ­ing the association for retarded citizens (ARK), animal shelter welfare, and the Adopt a Soldier program.

Indy Star 4-H Club
This Sarasota County Project worked to certify youth and adults in CPR so as to construct a safer atmo­sphere in the community.

Honorable Mentions

Wakulla County 4-H Association, Wakulla County
Marion Oaks Odyssey 4-h Club, Marion County
Roots, Shoots & Boots 4-h Club, Volusia County

Monday, June 25, 2012

Top Manatee County 4-H’ers recognized during 56th Annual 4-H Awards Program

Top Manatee County 4-H’ers were recently recognized at the 56th Annual 4-H Awards Program held at the Manatee Civic Center, attended by more than 250 people. Awards were presented for Outstanding Overall 4-H Member, Horseman of the Year, Conservationist of the Year, Spring Gardening, Outstanding Record Book, Outstanding Project Study, and Lamp of Knowledge.Receiving the Outstanding Overall 4-H Member Awards: Chloe Bunyak (Junior - ages 8-10 years); Casey Wingate (Intermediate - ages 11-13 years); and Samuel Byers and Zachary Quattlebaum (Senior - ages 14-18 years). These awards were sponsored by Clements Surveying Inc., of Palmetto, and the local 4-H Foundation.Horseman of the Year awards went to Lonnie Weis (Junior/Intermediate Division) and Tabetha Lex (Senior Division). The Horseman of the Year award is presented each year to an outstanding equestrian who has the highest number of participation points. Criteria included participation in club meeting, clinics, shows, and doing community service. This award was sponsored by the Manatee County 4-H Horse Committee. Samuel West was named Conservationist of the Year. This award is presented each year to an individual who is enrolled in an agricultural related project and has participated in soil judging or the Conservation District Speech Contest. This award was sponsored by the Manatee County Soil and Water Conservation District. Kristi Vole was named the Spring Gardening Contest winner with Samuel Byers placing second. This award was sponsored by Come See Come Sav.Outstanding Record Book Awards went to Anna Bunyak and Clay Wingate (Junior - ages 8-10 years), Isabella LaVassaur (Intermediate - ages 11-13 years), and Savanah Byers (Senior - ages 14-18). These awards were presented for excellence in record keeping, neatness, and scope of reporting. This award was sponsored by DuWet Custom Pools and Spas.More than 65 4-H members (ages 11-18) received project pins for outstanding accomplishments in their project study. Receiving project pins were: Beef – Bailey Burdick, Margaret Duryea, Zachary Quattlebaum, and Casey Wingate; Beef Breeding – Genaveve Henson, Alyssa Johnson, Courtney Wingate, Haley Yancey, and Cara Zeveney; Citizenship – Megan Hardy; Clothing – Madelyn Barron and Avery Kotlarczyk; Dairy – Rachel Elek, Hunter Fioretto, Michael Fioretto, and Haley Weltzien; Dairy Goat – Melinda Carter, Rachel Herriman, Kayla Hickey, and Francesca Marrero; Dog – Alysa Chapman, Trenton Ginter, Abigel Hendrickson-Boyd, and Zoe Zimmermann; Entomology and Bees – Samuel Byers; Gardening – Kristi Vole; Hog & Ham/Swine – Stephanie Brouwer; Horse – Ariel Affolter, Sierra Oliver, Yajaira Segura, and Tiffany Winters; Horse Judging – Briana Bronson; Horticulture/FNGLA – Natalie Almeter, Rachel BonAmi, Elanie Mason, and Marisa McElhiney; Land Judging – Jesse West and Samuel West; Livestock Judging – Robert Brouwer; Meat Judging – Kirstin Duryea, Isaiah Masengale and Zachary Masengale; Marine Science – Quinn Carrington; Pet Pals – Savanah Byers; Photography – Karley Holbrook, Isabella LaVassaur, and Lindsay Swaby; Poultry – Melissa Ackaway and Audrey May;Public Speaking – Kaylee Betts and Dalton Burton; Rabbits – Brittany Brewington, Breanna David, Brittany Roosa, and Isabel Taylor; Swine – Kayla Clayton, Liza Harpley, Nicole Lewis, and Laci Vole. These project pins were sponsored by several national donors and the local 4-H Foundation.Youth (ages 8-10) with outstanding general project study were eligible to receive the Lamp of Knowledge pin. Receiving Lamp of Knowledge pins: Anna Bunyak, Chloe Bunyak, Kylee Graham, Annie Hecker, Annabel Henson, Ashley Lewis, Taylor Powers, Ava Small, and Clay Wingate. These pins were sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton.4-H is the youth development program of the University of Florida Extension IFAS and the Manatee County Agriculture and Extension Service. 4-H is open to any youth between the ages of 5 - 18 without regard to race, color, sex, handicap, or national origin. For more information on 4-H youth programs, call 941-722-4524.
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Leon County 4-H Programs

The Florida 4-H Youth Development Program uses a learn-by-doing approach paired with volunteers to help kids learn the life skills they need to be productive, responsible citizens. Recent studies show that kids spending time in youth programs like 4-H are less likely to be involved in high risk behaviors, have higher grades and better work habits. 4-H stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health and is a youth development program that is available for youth ages 5 to 18 that focuses on science, engineering, technology, healthy living and citizenship.” According to Leon County Extension Agent, Marcus Boston, Jr., 4-H is the “largest youth serving organization that exists and we're the only youth organization that is tied to the University systems where they provide the research information we use for the project books."
Malek Dennard got involved with 4-H at the age of 8. He now hopes to be a role model for other kids involved in the program. He says, "every summer I go to 4-H camp Cherry Lake which , I serve as a counselor for kids ages 8 to 18 usually where we do a week of different activities, hiking , canoeing, swimming, study a lot of sciences, healthy lifestyles."
Boston states that there are 3 delivery methods at 4-H starting with the community clubs. Volunteers are recruited to serve as club leaders to help get kids involved. He says "the second one is school enrichment and that's where we provide resource material to teachers and then they implement the information or implement the program in their classroom." the third method is known as "special interest" which could include a one time day camp which might focus on a variety of different topics such as nutrition, horticulture or cooking. One of the gardens at the Leon County Extension office is maintained by the 4-H Horticulture Club. All vegetables produced will be donated to the local food bank.
Thanks to 4-H, Malek has gained confidence in himself and is proud of his accomplishments through the program. He admits he plans “to go to college and major in veterinary science and I plan to definitely stay tuned to 4-H, not just for myself but for other people planning to join 4-H, or people involved in 4-H right now because I think it's a great program."
There is no cost to join 4-H and is year round. Caring adults who would be interested in sharing an area of expertise with youth are always needed. For more information on 4-H programs log on to or call (850) 606-5204. Leon County 4-H Extension is located at 615 Paul Russell Road, Tallahassee, FL 32301.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Florida 4-H Members Explore Issues Affecting Youth at the 2012 National 4-H Conference

WASHINGTON, March 24-29, 2012 –
A delegation of four Florida 4-H youth and one adult chaperone joined 200 4-H members from across the country that came to the nation's capital to make their voice heard as part of the 2012 National 4-H Conference, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Florida’s youth delegation included Christy Connell from Santa Rosa County, Amanda Holmes from Marion County, Victoria Banner of Alachua County, Joel Weaver from Duval County and adult mentor Geralyn Sachs, St. Johns County 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent.
Guest speakers throughout the week included Dr. Jill Biden, Second Lady of the United States, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Aaron Davis, former University of Nebraska football player.
Dr. Biden, a longtime educator, spoke to conference participants about Joining Forces, the initiative she started with First Lady Michelle Obama to encourage all Americans to support military families. Dr. Biden encouraged 4-H members to not only continue their longtime support of military families, but to continue to act as role models and mentors in their communities. "These 4-H members are extraordinary role models and mentors in their communities," Dr. Biden said. "Just as our military men and women serve our country on the battlefield, these young people lead in our communities. Over the next few decades, one of the tasks that will define their generation will be their support for our returning veterans and our military families." 
Since the first conference in 1927, the National 4-H Conference, known as the "Secretary's Conference," continues to be USDA's premier forum to engage youth in developing recommendations for the 4-H Youth Development Program. "For almost 100 years, USDA and 4-H have partnered to produce some of our nation's best and brightest, including farmers and ranchers who have supported the American economy and put food on our tables," Vilsack said. "You all are tomorrow's leaders. We need you to think big, innovate and help tackle the important challenges standing between us, a stronger middle class and a stronger nation."
Mr. Aaron Davis, former University of Nebraska football player, challenged youth to develop true friendships that will help them excel in life and achieve their dreams.
In addition to meeting with Florida Congressmen Jeff Miller, 1st District and legislative aid Elizabeth Smokay, to Dan Webster 8th District, participants at this year's conference engaged in personal development experiences that aim to increase their knowledge, resources and skills on issues that matter most to them. As in previous years, delegates will participated in roundtable discussions with partnering federal agencies about topics specific to issues affecting youth and communities nationwide and the role 4-H can play in addressing those issues. Issue topics for this year's conference include: alcohol and drug use prevention, youth suicide prevention, healthy eating and living, equal education for under-represented groups, integration of veteran and military families into local communities, and using science and technology to improve local communities.  When asked about the conference, youth delegate Joel Weaver of Duval County said "National 4-H Congress was one of the best experiences of my life. Having the opportunity to represent thousands of 4-H'ers and meet with government officials is a huge blessing for me. Not only was the government aspect of the trip amazing, I also got to meet other well-rounded 4-H'ers from across the country! I couldn't have asked for a better experience."
Also during this year's conference, delegates learned about a new partnership with the Department of Homeland Security focused on cyber security. The Stop.Think.Connect Campaign provided 4-H participants with the tools and resources to help raise awareness among teens and young adults regarding emerging online threats and the importance of cybersecurity. This partnership builds on the campaign's efforts to highlight resources available to schools and communities, as well as to promote cyber awareness and educate America's youth about safe online practices.