With the new year a few short weeks away, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on 2022 with appreciation for those in the community that have joined with and supported the youth development work of the Orange County 4-H Program.
Our 4-H Volunteers
Those at the top of the list would have to be our selfless and amazing community club volunteers. These are the boots on the ground, caring, hard-working individuals that not only make the club program a reality, but donate thousands of hours every year helping our 4-H members achieve and grow and thrive. Research and experience tell us that these youth-adult relationships are a key ingredient in the future success of our kids. An additional group of critical volunteers benefits our youth by filling roles on advisory boards, judging contests, volunteering for summer camps, donating resources, promoting our events and much more. Overall, the monetary value of Orange County 4-H volunteer hours in 2022 was an impressive $135,462.00!
Our Community Partners
Orange County 4-H could never reach as many children as we do without our school and community partnerships. Orange County Public Schools is our largest partner for the Florida 4-H Public Speaking Program allowing thousands of elementary and middle school students the chance to practice the art of speech writing and public speaking with the incentive of classroom, school, learning community and county level contests. OCPS hosted the county-wide contest in the spring with an impressive group of future leaders presenting on their chosen topics. We look forward to the event again in the spring of 2023.
4-H Garden Clubs deliver healthy living education to students in OCPS Extended Day, private schools, charter schools, and city and county community centers. We are extremely grateful to our community partners that are committed to teaching students how to grow their own food and create life-long healthy eating habits. Although we bring the educational materials and supplies, the site staff, teachers, and volunteers care for the garden day in and day out and lead the students through many of the learning activities. Undoubtedly, without their commitment, it would not be possible to impact the more than 200 students that are enrolled each year.
Our Orange County Residents
Finally, I will close with a big “thank you” for the support from our residents for our annual poinsettia sale. Our 4-H Clubs wrapped up this important fundraiser by selling and delivering an impressive 1400 plants – the most ever. This would not be possible without the community choosing to join with us to help Orange County youth grow and thrive. I am very grateful for this amazing community and look forward to “Making the Best Better” in 2023!
For more information on the programs available through UF/IFAS Extension Orange County 4-H, please email us at Orange4H@ifas.ufl.edu or call 407-254-9222.