Graduating Seniors: 4-H Years In The Making
We all agree that the last three months have been unusual and, for the most part, the majority of the population has done a great job of handling the challenging situation in the world fairly well, considering. I say this as I lead into the fact that, as the Holmes County 4-H Agent, I have had the honor of working with many and great youth and families in my career. And, of those youth and families, they have handled the covid-19 pandemic well. Included in these youth are our graduating Senior 4-Hers, who have missed out on quite a few 4-H traditions that typically close an important chapter, their final 4-H year, in their life’s book, only to introduce many new chapters in the coming months. These graduating senior 4-H members in Holmes County 4-H (and surrounding 4-H counties) have handled this disruption with grace and maturity, which lets me, volunteers, and parents know that they have truly learned and applied the essential life skills taught throughout the many club meetings, workshops, events, and activities along the 4-H journey!
In the closing of their senior 4-H year, three Holmes County 4-H graduating senior 4-Hers share some of their 4-H wisdom with us…
Isabela “Issi” Teck has been a member of the Holmes County 4-H program for eight years. Issi transformed from a young, shy new 4-H member into the bright, confident young woman that she has become today as she prepares for college in the fall. In addition to being a 4-H member, Issi also serves in the role of a teen volunteer and camp counselor. Issi shared that one of her favorite 4-H memories is when she went to camp for the very first time and her camp counselor was Emily Shelby. She stated remembering how Emily helped her to feel like she belonged and how much she loved camp and it made her want to come back the next year and become a counselor. Issi did in fact become a camp counselor every camp year until this year, when covid-19 occurred.
Issi shared advice for fellow 4-Hers – “Never be afraid to step up and get involved more. You will miss out on so much if you wait to try something new.” And when asked about advice for those not in 4-H, Issi said she wants to tell them, “4-H helps you become someone better because you get out of your comfort zone and you make new memories.”
Seth has been a 4-H member of the Holmes County 4-H program for nine years, joining as an extremely shy kid. He grew up in the 4-H program with teen leaders that took him under their wings and groomed him to be a great leader himself, filling local and district 4-H club officer roles for several years, and grooming the next set of 4-H teen leaders.
Seth participated in numerous local, district, and state 4-H events throughout his 4-H involvement, including 4-H University week, which he states was where one of his favorite 4-H memories took place. He said attending 4-H University week was one of his favorite 4-H experiences because he stayed at the University of Florida dorms for the first time, got to see the Gainesville area, met new 4-H friends and participated in new and different 4-H workshops and activities. It was an overall 4-H experience he enjoyed very much.
Seth’s take on 4-H is simply join 4-H for those that are not already members. For those that are 4-H members? Seth’s advice is plain and simple and 180 degrees from when he started nine years ago – don’t be bashful, get involved! He explains that 4-H has volunteers that are good role models that take the time and are dedicated to helping us.
Kiley Music has been a member of the Holmes County 4-H program for six years. Kiley, not known to be shy, brought the silly smiles to our club meetings and activities every month! Thus, it was no surprise when she shared that her favorite memory was having fun playing Marshmallow Paint Wars at Camp Timpoochee and was able to sneak up and tag me, her 4-H Agent, with all the colors of the rainbow, while I was innocently taking pictures, outside the game borders, I might add! It was a fun day full of sunshine, laughter and good memories.
Kiley’s advice to those friends still in 4-H is to not be afraid to be who you want to be and try something new in 4-H that you have not tried to do before.
4-H agents, peers, volunteers, parents and community partners are proud of these three 4-H seniors and the many more seniors across the state and nation that have fulfilled their 4-H journey as youth members. We look forward to the many accomplishments they will continue to make as young adults in their future endeavors.
To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as independence, organizational skills, and goal setting, to your children or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.