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4-H Spotlight: Mark Harvey

Mark Harvey, Friend of 4-H

Mark Harvey is the manager of the North Florida Fair located at our capital city of Tallahassee. For the last thirteen years, Mark has worked diligently to promote both UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H Positive Youth Development. Mark took over as manager of the North Florida Fair after a successful 25 year career with the Tallahassee Police Department. He is husband to wife Suzanne, and they have raised four children. As manager of the North Florida Fair, he has systematically made positive changes to the fair to develop new partnerships to increase both funding and attract new audiences to the fair. One of his strategies has been to highlight the opportunities and strengths of the 4-H Positive Youth Development Program. With his background in law enforcement, he has long-been an advocate of positive youth development and understands why programs like 4-H have such high public value.

Mark’s commitment to 4-H goes far beyond the typical support of providing premiums to members and clubs for participation in exhibits and contests. In order to facilitate better exposure for the 4-H program and the UF/IFAS County Extension offices though continued expansion of still exhibits in two buildings at the fair as well as during the annual 4-H day where 4-H youth demonstrate their life skills though four different project competition areas. Mark has encouraged the 4-H Extension Faculty of the Northwest District to take advantage of the North Florida Fair as an opportunity to market 4-H and educate the public in the Tallahassee area about the value of our program. Each year, he provides up to $1,000.00 for building improvements, educational displays, new signage, and marketing materials. These funds have helped the agents develop interactive displays on the Butterfly WINGS program and 4-H gardening projects. This past year, Mark invested his own personal funds to secure the engineering exhibits from the Mary Brogan Museum. These interactive exhibits help youth and families explore basic engineering concepts such as levers, pulleys, torque, and gravity. They have drastically increased traffic into the 4-H building and pair especially well with 4-H engineering projects such as robotics. In fact, with Mark’s support, the North Florida Fair was the first regional fair to incorporate a junk drawer robotics competition during 4-H Day at the fair. To encourage participation, Mark allowed faculty to bring youth to the fair to experience the engineering exhibits and participate in a mock contest.

What I appreciate most about Mark is his accessibility and his willingness to entertain new ideas and methods. He never automatically says “no,” but considers carefully how to use our resources at the fair to educate, inspire, and make a difference in the lives of those who attend. Mark Harvey is definitely a friend to the 4-H program, and one of our biggest advocates who is helping to Make A Difference through the Florida 4-H Program.

Do you know of a 4-H volunteer or advocate that deserves the spotlight? Send your nominations to Heather Kent at hckent@ufl.edu.