Facts and Commonly Asked Questions about Escambia County 4-H
What is 4-H?
4-H is the youth development program of the nation’s 109 land-grant universities and the national Cooperative Extension System. 4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization. There are more than 220,000 members in Florida.
University of Florida Extension, which is part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, is responsible for the 4-H program in Florida.
A 2012 study by Tufts University found youth engaged in 4-H are nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school; nearly two times more likely to plan to go to college; 41 percent less likely to engage in risky behaviors; and 25 percent more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities.
What is the Langley Bell 4-H Center?
The existing Langley Bell 4-H Center includes a 8,400-square-foot auditorium building, bathhouse, pastures, livestock pens, and a pond on 240 acres off of 9 Mile Road in Escambia County. The property was donated in 1943 by Langley and Minnie Bell.
The original donation was 400 acres. Since that time, portions of the land have been sold.
In 1968 property was sold to construct Interstate 10. Funds received from the sale were used to construct the building known as the “Langley Bell 4-H Auditorium.”
In 1992, property was once again sold to the Florida Department of Transportation to build a new Florida Welcome Center. Proceeds were used to place water and sewer connections and to rebuild the condemned road over the dam.
In 2001, 68 acres of land were sold to Escambia County for $1 million to develop a commerce park. The entire commerce park was then bought by Navy Federal Credit Union. The current campus of Navy Federal now sits on that portion of land. $750,000 from this sale was used to create an restricted endowment at the University of Florida Foundation through a gift agreement known as the “Escambia County 4-H Fund.” These endowed funds are used to produce annual income for the Escambia County 4-H Youth Development program. The rest of the money was held locally to help pay for upkeep on the Langley Bell 4-H Center property and to also fund local 4-H programs.
In 2012, Navy Federal Credit Union purchased the remaining 240-acre Langley Bell 4-H Center site for $3.6 million, and has since announced a $200 million expansion of its Pensacola operation.
Why was the land sold?
In 2012, Navy Federal Credit Union approached Escambia County 4-H about purchasing the property. NFCU had a master plan to expand its 68-acre Heritage Oaks campus, which sits next to the Langley Bell site, with estimates that the expansion would eventually mean thousands of new jobs for Escambia County.
Navy Federal Credit Union offered Escambia County 4-H $3.6 million for the land. As an incentive, Escambia County Board of County Commissioners also offered an additional $1.5 million in local option sales tax funds to support the building of a new 4-H Center on Stefani Road.
Who approved the land sale?
The Escambia County 4-H Council, which is comprised of 4-H members representing 25 4-H clubs, was required to vote on the sale of the land, and the Escambia County Commissioners serving as Trustees for the property were required to approve the sale as well.
The 4-H Council voted 21 to 16 in favor of the land sale in an election conducted by the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections. Vote counts were observed by media representatives. The Escambia County Commission, which is the trustee of the land, approved the sale on May 3, 2012.
How much money was generated from the sale?
The sale generated $3.6 million for Escambia County 4-H. All funds were deposited into the Escambia County 4-H Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable corporation directly supporting the local 4-H youth development program.
What happened to the money generated from the sale?
$2 million from the sale was placed in the existing University of Florida Foundation Endowment through a gift agreement created with proceeds from the prior property sale in 2001. This fund is designated as “The Escambia County 4-H Fund,” with the interest earnings committed strictly for 4-H program support in Escambia County. The addition of $2 million brings the endowment fund total to about $3.36 million, and substantially increases Escambia County 4-H’s annual interest earnings. As before the current land sale, Escambia County 4-H still functions largely with support from this interest income, and never touches the principal.
As outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding (see below), $1.6 million is invested in a short-term fund for Escambia County 4-H to use for facilities construction, projects or purchases. These funds are set aside to support the proposal or option selected by the Dean of Extension. This is in addition to the unrelated $1.5 million in local option sales tax funds the Escambia County Commission agreed to spend to build a new 4-H Center on Stefani Road.
What is UF/ IFAS Extension in Escambia County doing now?
UF/IFAS in Escambia County is continuing its normal programming and outreach efforts, which include educational programs related to agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, horticulture, and 4-H youth development.
The 4-H task force is looking at additional land options that support animal science, outdoor education and other 4-H uses.
The Stefani Road building was assigned a design firm by the Escambia County Commission on Jan. 3, 2013. The $170,000 architectural and engineering contract was awarded to Hernandez Calhoun Design International. While its new facility is being built, 4-H has a lease agreement for the use of the Langley Bell 4-H land, which expires August 2014.
What is the Memorandum of Understanding?
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an agreement between the Escambia County 4-H Foundation, Inc., the University of Florida Board of Trustees, on behalf of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Service in Escambia County (UF-IFAS Escambia County Extension Service), and Escambia County, a political subdivision of the state of Florida, that governs the sale of the Langley Bell land.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding – signed by Escambia County 4-H Foundation, the University of Florida Board of Trustees and Escambia County, and approved by Escambia County Commissioners on May 3, 2012 – a new Langley Bell 4-H Center will be built on 23 acres of county-owned property adjacent to the current Escambia County Extension office on Stefani Road, about 6 miles from the 4-H Center’s current location.
The MOU also called for the creation of a 4-H task force to review all options about potential additional property for 4-H animal science, outdoor education and natural resources education. The task force is responsible for fact-finding, not decision-making or making recommendations. Instead, it will turn its findings over to the UF/IFAS Dean for Extension, who will make a final decision.
What is this task force?
A 12-person task force that includes representatives from Escambia County 4-H youth, 4-H Club Leaders, 4-H Foundation Board members and other individuals representing various community interests was asked to review the needs of Escambia County 4-H and identify options for potential land that can be used by 4-H to support animal science and outdoor education programs. It will submit its report to the UF/IFAS Dean for Extension, Dr. Nick Place.
The task force members were selected and appointed by Dr. Place from a pool of 25 applicants.
The task force is currently fact-finding on multiple options outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding. The $1.6 million in proceeds from the sale of the 4-H Langley Bell property will be used to support the option selected by the UF/IFAS Extension Dean. Task force meeting documents are posted on the Escambia County Extension website at http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/4-h-task-force-information.
The panel is expected to submit a preliminary report to Dr. Place shortly after its next meeting, scheduled for May 2.
What is the task force doing?
The task force has met regularly since December 2012 to consider the pros and cons of several options as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding for considering land needs for Escambia County 4-H animal-related and other 4-H activities.
The task force has studied the needs of 4-H in the county, its current property usage, expected upkeep costs and the types of activities that could be conducted on any property the group might consider.
What are the responsibilities of the task force?
The charge of the task force is to study the facility needs (in addition to the new 4-H facilities on Stefani Road) of the 4‐H program related to animal science, outdoor education and natural resources education. It also is looking into all proposals brought forward to determine whether they are in in the best interest of 4‐H in Escambia County and to collectively develop forward‐thinking and sustainable options that will advance the 4‐H Youth Development Program.
When will a decision be made?
According to the MOU, the final decision about which option is selected rests with the UF-IFAS Dean for Extension, Dr. Nick Place. There is no deadline by which he must make a decision. The task force is expected to offer a preliminary report sometime after its May 2nd meeting.
Can anyone attend their meetings?
The task force is a UF/IFAS-appointed panel and a notice of its meetings is posted on the Escambia County Extension website: www.blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco. The panel’s meetings are open to the public for observation. The task force may allow public participation at some point in its proceedings.
How do I share my ideas with the task force?
Public comments and suggestions may be sent to: 4Hfeedback@ifas.ufl.edu