Laura Lok 352-846-0996 ext. 237
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Almost a quarter-million Florida 4-H members will celebrate and share their accomplishments within their communities during National 4-H Week, Oct. 1-7. Counties across the state will observe the week with proclamations, events and community service activities.
National 4-H Week is also a time for local clubs to thank community supporters and recruit new members, said Marilyn Norman, state 4-H leader and an associate dean with the University of Florida’s Cooperative Extension Service, which administers Florida’s 4-H program.
“This is a great community outreach event for our youth, and 4-H’ers take great pride in showing friends, neighbors and community leaders what we do during the year,” Norman said.
Florida’s 4-H program serves more than 240,000 youth ages 5-18 in all 67 Florida counties, as well as Seminole tribal lands. Nationally, 4-H has almost 7 million members, making it one of the largest youth-development programs in America.
Virtually every Florida 4-H club plans at least one special event to celebrate National 4-H Week, but the activities are as varied as the youth involved, Norman said.
Open houses and ice cream socials are popular ways to give communities a taste of what 4-H is all about, said Geralyn Sachs, St. Johns County 4-H agent.
“We are inviting county and city commissioners and the school board to an ice cream social to learn more about 4-H from our youth,” Sachs said.
Alachua County 4-H’ers plan to hold an open house for new and prospective members and their families.
Clubs in many counties, including Gilchrist, Palm Beach, Santa Rosa and Walton, are heading out to city government facilities during the next week to receive proclamations recognizing National 4-H Week.
“Proclamations are a great learning tool for youth during this week,” Norman said. “They are able to visit with their city/county leaders and learn more about the democratic process.”
In Central Florida, Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia county 4-H clubs are making plans for a peanut butter drive to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. 4-H’ers will invite shoppers to donate jars of peanut butter at stations set up outside area Publix stores, beginning on Make a Difference Day, Oct. 28. Twenty to 30 youth from each county are expected to participate in this event.
Other counties are going straight to the schools to promote 4-H. Putnam County 4-H’ers plan to promote their clubs by wearing 4-H shirts all week at school, while handing out buttons and brochures to friends. Okaloosa County 4-H plans a similar marketing campaign, using fliers and brochures.
Youth members in Bradford County are delivering baskets of goodies to businesses and individuals who have supported their clubs throughout the year. Santa Rosa County is also having annual 4-H Awards Night to acknowledge the accomplishments of youth throughout the past year.
4-H is Florida’s only youth development program directly connected to the technological advances and latest research at the University of Florida, Norman said. 4-H members learn leadership, citizenship and life skills through hands-on projects in three primary program areas: science, engineering and technology; healthy living; and citizenship.
Studies show youth who participate in 4-H do better in school, are more motivated to help others, feel safe to try new things, achieve a sense of self-esteem and develop lasting friendships.
Founded in 1902, 4-H serves boys and girls of all races and ethnic backgrounds in urban, suburban and rural communities across America and on U.S. military installations worldwide. All programs are open to all persons regardless of race, color, age, sex, handicap or national origin.
For more information on joining a 4-H group in your area, contact your local county extension office or visit the Florida 4-H Web site at http://www.florida4h.org.