Thanks to a $12.5 million grant from The Children’s Trust, the 4-H Youth Development Program at UF/IFAS Extension Miami-Dade County is set to expand its outreach to communities in need.
The Children’s Trust has awarded the grant to the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department to enhance its free after-school and summer camp programs, renowned for how they help participants’ health and fitness. UF/IFAS 4-H Miami-Dade County is one of the partners in the grant that provides free programs and services.
“Thanks to the significant grant, the UF/IFAS 4-H youth program at UF/IFAS Extension Miami-Dade County, in partnership with Miami-Dade County, is determined to create opportunities for all,” said Kenan Bridges, one of two 4-H agents in the county.
The grant presents an opportunity for the county to broaden the scope and capacity of its after-school and summer camps, serving many children from diverse backgrounds.
“The inclusion of 4-H as a partner in the grant will enable more children, particularly those in underserved communities and those with disabilities, to gain valuable life skills in healthy living and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education,” said Bridges.
Thanks to the grant, the number of Children’s Trust-funded locations will increase from seven to 10 general program sites and from three to six Therapeutic Recreation and Inclusion (TRI) sites, providing programs and events at facilities geared specifically for persons with disabilities.
By targeting the unique needs of underserved communities, the initiative aims to promote equal access to educational and recreational opportunities for all young people in the region. Through this collaboration, 4-H will contribute nonformal and practical education to empower over 1,200 youth annually.
“As a key partner in this endeavor, 4-H will provide invaluable support in delivering educational programs that foster personal growth, skill development and community engagement,” said Bridges. “With this partnership, youth will form deeper connections within their communities, exploring their interests and honing their talents under the guidance of experienced mentors.”
Each participating site will join the 4-H community, which spans across Florida and boasts a membership exceeding 230,000 young individuals. Being affiliated with 4-H offers numerous benefits, such as access to a wide range of resources, opportunities for leadership development and a network of like-minded peers. By joining this expansive network, youth will be empowered to shape their futures, acquire essential life skills, and contribute meaningfully to their communities.
4-H will expand its offering of immersive curricula emphasizing healthy living, social-emotional wellness, STEM and agriculture education. Participants can expect a rich variety of activities designed to promote personal growth and well-rounded development such as this summer’s AgriTech and Food Systems Internship. This five-week apprenticeship addresses food insecurity by showing 4-H youth how to grow food in unconventional spaces in Miami’s Overtown community. Applications are currently being accepted.
4-H is the youth development program of the land-grant university system and Cooperative Extension System. The program provides hands-on educational programs and experiences for youth ages five to 18 with the objective of developing youth as individuals, and as responsible and productive citizens. In Florida, 4-H is administered by the University of Florida/IFAS Extension and Florida A&M University. Learn more at florida4h.org. If you are interested in investing in the future of 4-H camps, contact Caylin Hilton at grow4H@ifas.ufl.edu.
By Lourdes Mederos, firstname.lastname@example.org
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) 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 brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.