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National 4-H Week In Florida Highlights Celebration And Service By America’s Largest Youth Organization

Marilyn Norman, (863) 206-1654

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—4-H is 100 years old, and it’s time for America’s largest youth organization to have a party. The yearlong celebration of 4-H’s centennial continues during National 4-H Week (October 6-12, 2002), with proclamations, parties and community service.

Active throughout Florida in both rural and urban areas, 4-H involves more than 287,000 young people ages 5-18 annually. Organized by the University of Florida’s Cooperative Extension Service, 4-H has focused on positive youth development using a hands-on learning philosophy for a century. There are 6.7 million members nationally.

Jacksonville’s City Council will proclaim National 4-H Week Oct. 8. Downtown Lake Placid in Highlands County will host a 4-H birthday party Oct. 12 for the public, complete with clowns, a bicycle safety rodeo, and of course, a huge birthday cake. Displays about 4-H will dot the Lakeland area with green and white.

Libraries in Seminole County will distribute 3,000 bookmarks made by the Teens in Action 4-H Club during National 4-H Week. The Royal Ride 4-H Club will host story time at the Jay library in Santa Rosa County on Friday this week. The projects tie into the statewide Tales From Teens: a 4-H Literacy Initiative, a youth-led effort to improve literacy in Florida.

Throughout Santa Rosa County, Power of YOUth and anti-violence pledges will be collected in area high schools by the 4-H Teen Council. The PAIR-UP 4-H club, a ballet class for underprivileged children, and the Growing Gardeners Project will host a parent expo on Monday at the Milton Housing Project.

“4-H is marking its centennial by giving back to communities through the Power of YOUth pledge campaign,” said Marilyn Norman, state 4-H leader at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in Gainesville. She said that Floridians pledged more than 54,560 hours in the national Power of YOUth pledge drive so far this year. Pledges can be made online at

“We view giving back to the community as an important part of youth development, which is represented in the 4-H pledge when we say giving our “hands to larger service,'” said Norman. She said that many 4-H clubs conduct service projects throughout the year.

Originally founded to spread new agricultural techniques to rural youth, 4-H has mushroomed in recent decades and branched out beyond cows and cooking, organizers say.

Innovation, youth involvement, hands-on learning and tailoring programs to meet local needs are at the heart of the 4-H youth movement, Norman said. “We teach young people about the connections between society and living things. We still offer agricultural programs, and our animal science remains very popular, but we also have programs in leadership development, service learning, public speaking, cooking, seatbelt safety and financial management, just to name a few.”

This week is also a time to mark history. In Osceola County, county 4-H Council members will “sign the walls” in the old agricultural center and thank the county commissioners for helping build a new agricultural center. The council has met for decades in the building, and the Osceola County Cooperative Extension Service is moving to a new facility next week.

A luncheon in Marion County will thank 150-200 volunteers and donors for their support throughout the year. Supporters also will be thanked in Bradford County, with visits from 4-H members carrying baskets of cookies. In the panhandle, Holmes County 4-H will host its awards program Oct. 8 at the agricultural center and Gadsden County 4-H will be featured in advertising in several area newspapers.

And of course, there are plenty of parties planned for this week. In Palm Beach County, a 4-H centennial celebration with a poster contest will be held at the Clayton Hutchinson Agricultural Center Oct. 12. A centennial party and county 4-H Council officer installation will happen in Arcadia for Desoto County 4-H.

For more information about Florida 4-H, visit To volunteer with 4-H, call toll-free 1-888-4HCLUBS or contact your county extension office.