U.S. Sugar Named To Florida 4-H Golden Circle Of Friends

By:
Ami Neiberger, Florida 4-H Youth Devel

GAINESVILLE—The U.S. Sugar Corporation has been named to the 4-H Golden Circle of Friends for its support of environmental education. Mike Richards, president of the Florida 4-H Foundation, presented the award to Andy Rackley, the director of corporate affairs and grower relations, during ceremonies at the annual Florida 4-H Congress hosted by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in Gainesville this week.

“We consider 4-H clubs to be an investment in the future,” said Rackley as he accepted the award before 500 youth delegates at Florida 4-H Congress, who gave him a standing ovation. The Golden Circle of Friends is a prestigious honor for those who show a visionary commitment to the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program. Previous recipients include Tropicana, Chevron USA, and the Selph Family. The 4-H Youth Development Program is part of the UF/IFAS Cooperative Extension Service. More than 285,000 youth ages 5 through 18 are involved in the 4-H program around the state.

“We are very pleased to present this award to the U.S. Sugar Corporation,” said Nadine Hackler, the acting assistant dean for the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program. “Our county 4-H agents needed more environmental education materials to support youth programming. Sustained support from U.S. Sugar enabled us to develop curriculum in several subject areas. U.S. Sugar is a very special friend to the 4-H Youth Development Program.”

Seven years ago, the U.S. Sugar Corporation donated funds to 4-H for environmental education curriculum development for young people. Titles like Earth Connections, Recycling Adventures, Energy Encounters, Water Wise Guys and Aquatic/Marine Ecosystems were the result. With special guides for leaders, take-home pieces for youth, and plenty of hands-on activities, the materials were a success.

“The curriculum helps kids learn the basics of how ecosystems operate,” said Jerry Culen, an assistant professor and youth development specialist in the UF/IFAS Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences. “It helps them understand the relationships and interactions between humans and their environment.”

“The hands-on activities are the most important part of the program,” said Culen. “They take water samples, simulate soil erosion, discuss recycling and study freshwater and marine creatures. There’s something in the material for everyone, no matter what their interest.”

The curriculum was awarded the Governor’s Award for Environmental Education in 1993. Nearly 2,000 volunteer and teacher instruction notebooks have been distributed through Florida Cooperative Extension Service programs and through sales to educators. The materials are being used in 59 of Florida’s 67 counties, in 22 states, and in five countries outside the U.S.

The U.S. Sugar Corporation has continued its partnership with the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program over the years. Members of the company have served on the Florida 4-H Foundation Board of Directors and have been active in securing additional funding for the program.

-30-Editor’s Note: Photo available; please call Tom Wright or Milt Putnam at (352) 392-1773.