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A New Year a New 4-H !

4-H Okaloosa wants to wish everyone a happy new year! The year 2020 was certainly unprecedented for our country. We witnessed youth organizations and businesses close. We felt the hardships with uncertainty as we tried to navigate through safety precautions to help our youth. I am pleased to announce that 4-H never shut down. In Okaloosa, we conducted three virtual day camps where children participated in activities in their homes and with their families. Over 100 kids learned about wildlife, facts about the state of Florida, and food preparation.

The Okaloosa County 4-H program had over 2,000 educational contacts in 2020. The faculty at UF IFAS Okaloosa felt that 2020 created more opportunities for our services to be relevant than ever before. Agents shifted their programs virtually converting all their programs online.  This created more work and obstacles than before. However, our programs reached new clientele this year. 4-H created two new social media accounts in Twitter and YouTube. 4-H Okaloosa created two on-line educational programs called Science Fair Friday and Spring into 4-H.  Science Fair Friday gave children the opportunity to conduct science experiments in their home! They could have fun learning about water properties and the scientific process. Spring into 4-H allowed youth to take a virtual tour of our vegetable gardens. We learned about insects, pollination, and vegetables.

The new year looks very promising for Okaloosa 4-H.  As we still have everyone’s safety in mind, our programs will still be offered by virtual means. However, we are now starting to offer some face to face group meetings. These meetings will still follow CDC guidelines by social distancing, sanitation measures and wearing face masks during all meetings. We as an office are tying to move in the right direction to find normalcy while keeping safety our first priority.

With that being said, we have some exciting news about our club meetings. Two of our 4-H clubs are currently meeting with groups of ten or smaller. The new art club, Created to Create, meet every 3rd Monday, except January they will meet January 25. This group has a lot of fun through art projects and crafts. The Dog House Club is also meeting. This companion animal club is for you if you want to learn about dogs, training and showing.

Coming soon, our livestock and agriculture club called Country Club will be open. If you have interest in farming, animal husbandry, or the good ol’ country life, this is for you. We also have a leadership club called Clover Connections where we help the community.  This Spring we will have two new clubs meeting face to face! W.O.L.F. Club will be all about nature. We will do activities about wildlife conservation, hunting, fishing, hiking and a lot more environmental education! The big announcement for 2021 is that we are bringing back shooting sports! Youth will be able to learn and compete in archery, shotgun and rifle disciplines.

We are excited about what the future holds here in Okaloosa 4-H. I am not just writing to our youth; we need caring adult volunteers who want to foster positive youth development! If you have a passion or an interest please contact the 4-H office to volunteer. We are currently looking for adults to help with our shooting sports programs.  You could be a Coach! If you want to start a club that I did not mention please give us a call at 850-826-1316 or email rcowan1@ufl.edu. Please feel free to contact me with any 4-H questions or concerns.

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