Florida 4-H Is There During the Teenage Years
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When Deb Jordan dropped off her daughter Maggie at 4-H’s Intermediate State camp last June, she reminded Maggie that if she wanted to go home at any time, mom was just a phone call away.
“I was a wreck,” Jordan said, recalling how she drove away from the camp and parked at the top of a nearby hill, waiting for Maggie to call. But she didn’t. Maybe cell reception was bad, Jordan thought.
The next time Jordan heard from her daughter was a few days later when the camp ended. “When I picked her up I saw the joy on her face,” she said. Her daughter had been so busy learning and making friends, she hardly had time to miss her mom.
Maggie, now 12, is looking forward to spending another long weekend at Intermedia State, held at the 4-H Camp Cherry Lake grounds in Madison County, Florida. The camp, set for June 15 to 17, is designed for youth ages 11 to 13, and aims to show them the kind of experiences available to older 4-H members.
A member since age 8, Maggie has participated in 4-H mainly through showing llamas. Attending Intermediate State showed her there is more to 4-H than livestock projects.
“The activities and classes were more grown up — they show you 4-H isn’t just for little kids. We learned to do things like camp in the woods, build a campfire, use an air rifle and identify plants,” she said.
And though she didn’t know any of her fellow campers, the social scene wasn’t intimidating. “Everyone was so nice and accepting. You can make friends immediately,” she said.
This kind of acceptance is an important part of Intermediate State, said Montana Smith, 17, chair of the camp’s planning committee.
“Middle school can be a tough time, and we want 4-H members to know that 4-H is there for them during their teenage years, too,” said Smith, who joined 4-H when she was 9 years old. “I’m thankful for having 4-H in my life. I used to be really shy, but now I can talk in front of 500 people. I also want other youth to have the opportunity to find their voice.”
Current 4-H members can register for Intermediate State through the Florida 4-H Online portal.
The UF/IFAS Extension Florida 4-H Youth Development Program uses a learn-by-doing approach to help youth gain the knowledge and skills they need to be productive citizens. During the 2016-17 program year, Florida 4-H reached over 201,000 youth, ages 5 to 18, through 4-H clubs, school enrichment, camping, school age child care programs and more, with the help of more than 12,000 adult and youth volunteers trained by Extension 4-H Faculty statewide.
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.