April is the Month of the Military Child, and no Volunteer Appreciation Celebration would be complete without acknowledging our 4-H military volunteers. The team of volunteers and staff at the Naval Support Activity Youth Center in Panama City ensure that military youth have an opportunity to participate in a wide variety of 4-H Programs at their youth center. One of the newest programs they offer is the 4-H shooting sports project. The leadership team for this 4-H club include Ms. Alana, Mr. Cole, Ms. Heather, Ms. Jessica, Ms. Shelby and Ms. Tammy. To allow all interested youth to participate, they started multiple archery clubs that meet weekly helping new archers develop strength, accuracy, and discipline. A small competitive traveling team has also been organized to help youth improve their skills and potential of becoming competitive archers through their 4-H learning experiences.
Cole is a five year veteran 4-H volunteer who did not grow up in 4-H, but was drawn into the program by the opportunity to teach youth life and workface related skills through projects like archery, aerospace, film making, photography, outdoor cookery, robotics and rocketry. His favorite 4-H experience so far has been with the rocketry project: “The youth just really got into it! We learned about force, drag and flight. It was a unified project where everyone became involved and the learning just exploded. They were learning physics, science, and communication skills all at once. 4-H can really make a difference and cause youth to consider different careers too. It is really nice when you see a child that may be struggling in a different part of their life find their niche during one of the 4-H projects. You just see their confidence sky rocket and then carry over into their social confidence also.”
When talking with him recently he said that “4-H is conducive to relationship building while learning life skills allowing both youth and myself to grow. It gives us an organized meeting time with specific goals and direction allowing us to maximize our time and growth. It helps make a difference because it is the conduit running in the background to allow everything to happen. 4-H allows the flexibility of being able to try ideas, experience things and make their curricula work for my needs. The best part is that when youth leave here they have something consistent to look forward to at their next duty station. It provides youth with one consistent thing to look forward to. I feel like we are literally planting the seeds to help youth develop their life skills. The program is nationwide and can help with the many changes and challenges our youth face. We are an important cog in the wheel for navy youth.”
Cole offers advice for anyone thinking about working with 4-H and kids. “If you have even an inkling that you would enjoy working with youth, then do so! It can be very valuable to that child, to know someone cares about them. Your follow through with one child can make a great deal of difference in their life and be the encouragement they need to become something great. Quite often there are not enough role models and caring adults for today’s children. Take the 4-H challenge and help a kid today!”
Dr. Paula Davis, the Bay County 4-H Agent says, “I want to recognize that this 4-H club is truly a team effort. With so many youth involved, it definitely can’t be done with one just person. I really appreciate the teams diligence, enthusiasm, and willingness to try new things with 4-H. The quality of a youth’s 4-H experience to a large extent depends on the relationship built between the 4-H members and their volunteer leaders, and these are some of the best!”
Do you have a passion or expertise that you would like to pass on to the next generation? Consider becoming a 4-H volunteer- we offer a wide variety of opportunities to fit your interests and schedule. Contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org/volunteers.