100 Plus Years of 4-H Youth Development
Although we are celebrating 100 years of Extension, 4-H has been in existence for a few more years. National 4-H became established in 1902 and Florida 4-H began in 1909. Today’s blog will feature part of the Pinellas 4-H Program.
Four-H is about empowering youth. This is a youth development program and trains youth to becomes tomorrow’s leaders. By utilizing the Essential Elements of 4-H (Mastery, Independence, Belonging, and Generosity) 4-H youth learn to become productive members of society and valuable members of the workforce.
Here are some of the ways Pinellas County can participate in 4-H:
1. Youth may become members of 4-H clubs in the community, after school programs, or school programs. Children can master projects in horse, dog, Junk Drawer Robotics, health, performing arts, cooking, chickens, environment, rabbits and the list continues. Jamerson Elementary and Ridgecrest Elementary currently have 4-H in their schools. The Greater Ridgecrest Area Youth Development Initiative (G.R.A.Y.D.I.) and Boys and Girls Club also have 4-H clubs as part of their after school programs. Public speaking and community service are essential parts of all the 4-H clubs.
2. Pinellas has quite a large horse program for an urban county. Most of the 4-H’ers either own or lease a horse, but that isn’t a requirement. Horse project members learn everything there is on owning or taking care of the horse. In the spring, the Area E 4-H Horse Show is a high point for the riders. In this show there are over 100 riders competing from nine counties.
3. Attending 4-H Camp Ocala is a highlight in the year of many 4-H’ers. This week long camp is located in the Ocala National Forest. The campers sleep in air conditioned cabins but spend most of the day outdoors in the beauty of the forest. Sellers Lake borders the camp, so swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and boating are all popular past times. Each camper takes four classes a day, choosing from rocketry, cooking, environmental education, robotics, archery, crafts, from among about twenty choices.
4. The Ochs Garden 4-H Club is a very unique club. It meets at the Chester Ochs 4-H Educational Center in Largo. Here the 4-H members garden in 10′ X 10′ foot plots assigned to them. Gardeners learn to plan, be organized, patient, and helpful, as they work together to grow their crops. When harvest times comes, the 4-H’ers take home their vegetables. Some 4-H’ers donate some of the vegetables to food banks or other families. This program teaches children (and parents) the origins of food and the challenges agriculture faces. This program is now looking for volunteers to help with the garden maintenance.
5. The opportunities aren’t just for the children. The Pinellas County 4-H Association exists to assist in funding for the 4-H program. This is a volunteer opportunity for people of a variety of talents and experiences. It offers adults and teens the opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives by supporting the 4-H program.
The Cooperative Extension Service was established with the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 and allows us all to benefit from research and education of each state’s Land Grant University. In Florida Extension has helped millions by tapping the latest information from the research engines from the University of Florida and Florida A & M University and converting it to practical knowledge we use every day.
UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County