Did you know that youth ages 12 to 18 can participate in a 4-H leadership camp that teaches Community Emergency Response? This year, youth will learn CPR, communication strategies for community leaders, financial management skills, and more.
In summer 2021, 27 teens wrote a new chapter in Wakulla history. They were the inaugural participants in the county’s first Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training course. The first graduates of the program were Alex Barlow, Jayden Castineira, Carter Christensen, Kendall Coleman, David Davis, Sadie Donaway, Olivia Evans, Vanessa Foreman, Alexis Green, Brooklynn Green, Mattie Harrell, DeShea Jones, Avery Hurst, Sophia Kamal, Isabella Laughton, Carson McCullen, Rylee Morrison, Bree Mosley, Kadence Mosley, Sam Nagy, Scott Nagy, Noah Pearson, Vanessa Rakes, Lily Teague, Alex Wilson, Charles “Chase” Weston, and Emily Zak. Participants in the 2022 camp will join this accomplished group of teen leaders.
Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, graduates of the Teen Leadership CERT camp continued to serve the community. Youth served as volunteers during Hazardous Waste Day drop off day, assisted the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office with public safety during the 2022 Valentine’s Day Parade, and more. Most recently, the CERT youth graduates wrote a grant to receive funds for a service project. They were awarded a Community Pride grant by the Florida 4-H Foundation to prepare 100 personal readiness kits for local senior citizens. Youth have prepared informational presentations and are available to come speak to local community groups about disaster safety and personal readiness.
This summer, the 2021 CERT graduates will be assisting at this 2022 Teen Leadership CERT camp July 11-15. Spaces for this camp are limited. 4-H is accepting applications for youth ages 12 to 18. The cost per youth is $100. Limited scholarships are available. Ask 4-H agent Rachel Pienta for an application.
CERT is a national program offered through FEMA. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates volunteers, who may be adults or teens, about disaster preparedness specific to the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. The CERT program offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization. CERT team members serve in supporting roles to professional responders during disaster situations, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks.
The introductory course was offered as part of the 2021 Wakulla 4-H Teen Leadership Camp. The program was offered in partnership with Wakulla County Emergency Management. Generous community sponsors helped to make the week possible. These sponsors included the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office, Wakulla County Coalition for Youth (WCCY), the Wakulla County Farm Bureau, Panacea Waterfronts, and the Wakulla County Health Department.
Participants received hands-on training in disaster medical response, light search and rescue, and fire suppression from Wakulla’s professional fire and emergency medical services first responders. Guest speakers provided additional opportunities for the youth to expand their knowledge about government and civic engagement. Visitors throughout the week included Representative Jason Shoaf and Senator Loranne Ausley. UF/IFAS Extension faculty and 4-H volunteers provided hands-on lessons in disaster resistant gardening, how to cook outdoors, and archery.
The 2022 course offers an introduction to Community Emergency Response Training and 4-H Youth Leadership Development. Graduates of the summer course are offered the opportunity to continue with the program during the school year. Those youth who opt for the 2022-23 4-H Teen CERT program will be able to take a deeper dive into emergency preparedness and will engage in hands-on service to the community while developing key leadership skills.
For information about this program and other 4-H programs, please contact the UF/IFAS Wakulla Extension office located at 84 Cedar Avenue in Crawfordville, Florida. Wakulla 4-H can be reached at 850-926-3931, the website https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/wakulla/4-h/ , on Facebook or by email at email@example.com.