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.