GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mary Bartosek made sure each of her eight children was a 4-H member. But she didn’t stop there. As a 4-H club leader in Brevard County for more than 20 years, she brought hundreds more youth into the program, where she helped nurture their confidence and sense of community.
This Mother’s Day, Mary Bartosek’s story is a reminder of the impact a caring adult can have on a child. Her legacy continues through the Mary Bartosek/Brevard County 4-H Club Endowment, recently established through a gift provided by the Brevard County 4-H Youth Foundation, Inc., located in Cocoa, Florida.
“This is a phenomenal gift that will provide support to the 4-H activities in Brevard County in perpetuity,” said Michael Gutter, state program leader for the University of Florida IFAS Extension 4-H youth development program. “The Brevard County 4-H Youth Foundation has a long-standing tradition of providing funds for kids taking part in 4-H, and this commitment assures that its legacy is preserved for future generations of 4-Hers.”
The Brevard County 4-H Youth Foundation, Inc., established by Bartosek in the 1970s, has a renowned history of providing leadership to the youth of Brevard County. As a club leader, Bartosek worked with more than 500 children, guiding them through volunteer projects, state competitions and more. She passed away in 2012.
“She loved the 4-H principles because she saw how they could help kids develop into responsible adults who give back to their communities,” said Tom Bartosek, Mary Bartosek’s son. “It’s terrific that the endowment is named after her. We are so proud her name will live on.”
Liz Olson, a member of Mary Bartosek’s club during the 1970s, said she had never participated in community service before joining 4-H. Olson remembers the summer the club worked to fix up a community park in Rockledge, Florida, planting trees, and adding flowers and benches. That was the year of the U.S. bicentennials, so all the flowers and benches were red, white and blue.
“Mary Bartosek showed me that you can always do something to help your community,” Olson said. That spirit of stewardship and care followed Olson throughout her career, first as a biologist, and now as a veterinarian based in Orlando, Florida.
Marg Bartosek, the eldest of Mary Bartosek’s children, remembers how hard her mother worked to give her club members the best experience possible. “She was often on the phone talking to parents or writing up club announcements at her typewriter. Our house was always full of things 4-H related,” she said.
“I think she and my dad, who was also a 4-H club leader, saw 4-H as life skills training,” Marg Bartosek said, recalling the time when her mom coached her through her first public speaking project, a demonstration of how to make hot chocolate. “I still use those public speaking and organization skills today as a movement class teacher.”
The UF/IFAS Extension Florida 4-H Youth Development Program uses a learn-by-doing approach to help youth gain the knowledge and skills they need to be productive citizens. During the 2016-17 program year, Florida 4-H reached over 201,000 youth, ages 5 to 18, through 4-H clubs, school enrichment, camping, school age child care programs, etc.—with the help of more than 12,000 adult and youth volunteers trained by Extension 4-H Faculty statewide.
The Mary Bartosek/Brevard County 4-H Club endowment meets the requirements for the Road to 67 challenge that Nick Place, dean of UF/IFAS Extension, issued to supporters for the University of Florida Go Greater Capital Campaign. The Road to 67 seeks to create an endowed fund in all of Florida’s 67 counties, which will provide support to each county’s Extension programs. Endowed funds assure that the programs they support will sustain excellence and continue as a lasting legacy.
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.