Volunteering In The Panhandle

4-H Alumnae Reconnect through Love of Horses

Russell and Julie McMillian, Gulf County 4-H Alumnae and 4-H Leaders

Russell and Julie McMillian both grew up in Gulf County and together have established a thriving business based on their love of horses.  They now own a small farm in Dalkeith, just south of Wewahitchka, and their business Rockin’ M Ranch, consists of horseback riding lessons for beginners and beach rides for tourists and locals alike along the beautiful beaches of Cape San Blas.

How did this all begin?  Russell and Julie both grew up as Gulf County 4-H members of the Big River Riders 4-H Club.  They both participated in a variety of 4-H programs; including Horse Camp, Camp Timpoochee, Congress (now known as 4-H University), District Events, North Florida Fair Ag Judging, Area A and State 4-H Horse Shows, etc.  They both learned the values of 4-H through learning how to raise and compete with their animals, agricultural commodities, leadership skills, public speaking, community service, good decision making skills, and much more…

As adults, they both went in separate directions, but still maintained their love of horses and the farm life.  Russell began his career in flooring and tile work, while Julie received her education degree and taught Kindergarten at Wewahitchka Elementary School.  After reconnecting as adults, they married on September 25, 2010 and turned their passion for horses into a full-time love by creating their own business, Rockin’ M Ranch.  Russell still does flooring, tile work on the side, and helps his grandparents with their hay business.  Julie decided to leave the teaching field, and she manages their business full time.  She began giving beach rides on the Cape at the age of 14 and still loves it as much today.

Julie and Russell McMillian pictured with daughers, Brooke (left) and Hayleigh

Russell began his time with 4-H at the age of 12 and Julie was 8 years old.  As members of the Big River Riders 4-H Club, they adored their 4-H leaders, Mr. Jesse Eubanks and Ms. Jean McMillian (Russell’s grandmother), and the Gulf County Extension Director, Roy L. Carter (now retired), whose passion for horses was contagious.  Julie explained that she was a very shy child and that participating in public speaking for District Events really helped her come out of her shell.  They both loved learning the values of the four H’s: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.  They feel 4-H has helped them develop into productive adults with good decision-making skills and in-stilled in them the importance of giving back to their community.  They have served as 4-H volunteers for the Big River Rider’s 4-H Club since Russell’s daughters joined 4-H years ago.  Their daughters, Brooke (17) and Hayleigh (15) also ride horses and have competed in a variety of Gulf County 4-H programs throughout the years. Russell and Julie have also taught a variety of horse riding classes at multiple Gulf County 4-H day camps.

As 4-H and community leaders, their most important goal is to give back to the community that gave to them as 4-Hers growing up here. They really love introducing new riders to the love of horses and 4-H.  On any day, Russell and Julie can be found throughout the county at various events supporting their daughters, 4-H members and any youth for that matter.

When asked what advice she has for someone thinking about becoming a 4-H volunteer she said, “Do not have regrets…just do it. Do not be scared off by the fingerprinting and application process.  It is quick and easy, and maintains the safety for you and the children.  Get started! 4-H is a great opportunity for youth and adults.”

“As a 4-H extension agent, you can only hope to find 4-H volunteers as dedicated as Russell and Julie McMillian.  Their passion and love of 4-H is infectious and draws in youth looking for a place to belong.”  -Melanie Taylor, Gulf County 4-H Agent

For more information about Rockin’ M Ranch, please go to http://www.therockinmranch.com/.  For more information about how to become involved in 4-H, either as a youth member or adult volunteer, visit florida4h.org or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.  4-H offers a variety of roles for volunteers to share their passions, skills and interests.

 

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Author: Melanie Taylor – metaylor@ufl.edu

Melanie Taylor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/24/4-h-alumnae-reconnect-through-love-of-horses/

Florida 4-H Celebrates Global Youth Service Day

Teens from across the panhandle joined forces to take a stand against cancer by celebrating Global Youth Service Day.

This weekend, hundreds of Florida 4-H youth are taking a stand against cancer by distributing chemo kits to cancer patients.  Our 4-Hers are joining millions of others around the globe who are celebrating Global Youth Service Day during the weekend of April 21-23.

This youth-led initiative was spear-headed by Danielle Tinker, a 4-Her from Escambia County.  She and a committee of youth from across the Florida panhandle collected nearly 1,000 items for chemo kits, organized them, and packaged them with a handwritten note of encouragement.  One of the “H’s” in 4-H stands for “hands to larger service” and is a cornerstone of the 4-H positive youth development experience.  Because of programs like this, 4-Hers are 4X more likely to give back to their communities.

Regional Specialized 4-H Agent Heather Kent shares, “It has been a honor to support these youth in this project- they continue to amaze me!  I don’t know of a family that has not been touched by cancer and I can’t think of a more relevant cause to support.  This project has help our group grow compassion, and has helped the cancer patients grow courage!”

Youth collected nearly 1,000 items for the kits and organized them by age group and gender.

Each kit had a handwritten note of encouragement included.

Youth sewed fabric drawstring bags to contain the kit items.

This project would not have been possible without the support of Youth Service America, State Farm and Farm Credit of Northwest Florida.  Farm Credit of Northwest Florida not only supported this project monetarily, but their employees also collected and donated items for the chemo kits.  This weekend marks the culmination of this project during Global Youth Service Day.  Global Youth Service Day recognizes the positive impact that young people have on their communities 365 days a year. GYSD is celebrated in more than 135 countries with youth-led service projects and community events and is the largest service event in the world.

“We know that young people are uniquely suited to help solve problems – if given the opportunity,” said Steven A. Culbertson, CEO and president of YSA (Youth Service America), the leader of GYSD. “Today’s social and environmental problems are immense; we need youth in Florida to be leaders and problem solvers today, not just the leaders of a distant tomorrow.”

4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization. Over 230,000 members in the State of Florida help to make up the community of more than 6.5 million young people across America. 4-H is a non-formal, practical educational program for youth and is the youth development program of Florida Extension, a part of the University of Florida IFAS.  To find out more information, or how to get involved, visit http://florida4h.org or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

Learn more and browse GYSD activities around the world on the GYSD Map at www.GYSD.org.

Connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/youthserviceamerica and on Twitter @YouthService and #GYSD.

 

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/21/florida-4-h-celebrates-global-youth-service-day/

Is a Rabbit Right for your Family?

Rabbits are a popular small animal project- but is it a good fit for your family?

With spring in the air, you may be interested in getting a real live bunny.  There are a few things to consider before bringing a bunny into your family:

  1. First consider what purpose you have for the rabbit.  Do you want a pet, a rabbit to show, a rabbit to breed, or one for meat?  Depending on how you answer the question will depend on what breed you choose.  There are many options.  The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes around 47 different breeds.
  2. Rabbits come in various sizes, shapes, fur types, and colors.  Rabbit range from 2 to 20 pounds.  There are several fur types to consider with normal fur being most common to unique fur that require special consideration.  Satin fur is known for its luster and sheen.  Angora fur is distinctive because of its length and its woolen consistency.  Rex fur is a dense fur type, noted for its velvet softness and thickness.
  3. There are five shapes of rabbits: commercial, compact, full arch, semi-arch, and cylindrical.  The most common is the commercial shape.  This type is found most often in meat rabbits.   The compact is similar to the commercial but has a shorter, more compact body.  A rabbit that has a full arch shape is taller than they are wide and have longer limbs.  Semi-arch breeds are not as common, are pear-shaped.  The cylindrical shape is only found in only one bread, are long and slender.
  4. Rabbits have an array of color.  Some breeds are only recognized in one color and other breeds are recognized in multiple colors.  It would be helpful for you to spend time reading about the different breeds as well as spending time with breeders or others who have rabbits.  Make sure you look for healthy and lively rabbits who have glossy coats, clear, bright eyes, and clean teeth and ears.
  5. Rabbits are fun to keep buy need lots of care and daily exercise.   They need a roomy cage to in live. Do not use a cage with a wire bottom as the wire hurts their paws.  Cages should be washed out once a week with warm, soapy water and rinsed with clean water.  Rabbits are like us, they don’t like living in dirty cages.  Remove wet bedding and droppings every day.  Keep unscented wood shavings in the bottom of the cage.  They should have fresh water and hay available at all time.  Food should be put in heavy bowls so that they cannot tip them over and fed two small meals a day.  Wash their water bottle and food bowls every day.
  6. Rabbits can be a lot of fun as they are friendly and love to be stroked.  You must be a good pet owner and learn to look after your rabbits properly, they may live for up to 10 -12 years.  Caring for a rabbit will help you learn how to be responsible for a living animal and how to treat animals properly.

Check with your local 4-H office to see if there is a rabbit club for you to join.  You may choose to join the club to become more knowledgeable about rabbits before you become an owner.  You then would be able to make informed decision about the perfect breed for you and your family.  If you have a passion for rabbits, consider becoming a 4-H rabbit project leader to inspire the next generation of rabbit owners and breeders.  Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit florida4h.org for more information.

4-H Rabbit Project Page

Online 4-H Rabbit Project Book

North Florida Fair Rabbit Show

 

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Author: Monica Brinkley – brinkley@ufl.edu

Monica Brinkley has served as an Extension Agent since 1985 in Jackson, Calhoun and Liberty Counties. She currently is the County Extension Director, Family and Consumer Science, and 4-H Youth Development Agent.
http://www.liberty.ifas.ufl.edu

Monica Brinkley

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/14/is-a-rabbit-right-for-your-family/

Plan to Purple Up on April 21st

April is the Month of The Military Child! When we think of honoring our military, we often think of Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Did you know there is also a time identified to honor our youngest heroes, military children? Since 1986, April has been designated Month of the Military Child. This allows us to honor military children and their families for their commitment and sacrifice. In Florida, we have over 94K active and reserve military members whose families worry that they are in harm’s way when they deploy. Most people think of the color green when they think of 4-H, but on April 21st, 4-H youth and volunteers in Florida and Nationally will be sporting the color purple to show support for our military families.
Here locally we want you to join us in showing your support and to celebrate our young heroes! Participate in the 7th annual Purple Up! For Military Kids. Wear purple on Friday, April 21st, as a visible way to show support and thank military children for their strength and sacrifices. Why purple? Purple is the color that symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is the combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red and Navy blue.
The goal is for our military youth to see the support of their community. Please join us in honoring these young heroes as we Purple Up! For Military Kids on April 21st! Be creative….the goal is for military youth to see the support in their school, youth groups, and the community! If you don’t have or own a purple shirt wear a purple ribbon, tie, headband etc. Just show your support and let our youth know we care about them! Can’t make the 21st ? Then do something another day in April. We would like to encourage you to take pictures of your group wearing purple and share them on social media using #fl4h, #purpleup.

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Author: pmdavis – pmdavis@ufl.edu

4-H Youth Development Faculty Bay County Extension
http://bay.ifas.ufl.edu/4-h/

pmdavis

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/06/plan-to-purple-up-on-april-21st/

Remember the 3 R’s! – Earth Day April 22, 2017

Do you remember the 3 R’s?  If you are over the age of forty you are probably thinking of a classroom, a teacher, and learning about Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.  These are the basic standards for learning, of course.  However, it is now 2017and the 3 R’s have a new meaning to a new generation of young people:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

In today’s society, we constantly hear concerns about the environment and how we need to implement changes to make a positive impact upon its future.  It is nearly impossible to pay attention to any media without feeling bombarded by messages of conservationism.  “Go Green!”  “Green… it’s the new black.”  “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”  However, are these sentiments new?  Think about it.  “Give a Hoot… Don’t Pollute.”  “Keep America Beautiful.”  “Keep Our Forests Green.”  The use, or abuse, of our natural resources has long been an issue debated by our nation.  It has more or less been the price we have had to pay for progress; but regardless of one’s political views and beliefs, the fact that Earth is the only planet that will sustain human lives is a hard fact to deny.  It is therefore critical that all of promote principles of conservationism for our future generations.

The practice of reducing, reusing, and recycling may be easily incorporated into many aspects of your everyday lives.  As YOU reduce, reuse, and recycle in your daily lives, you will be teaching by example your own children at home.  Knowing that youth learn by seeing and doing, they will be much more likely to implement  the practices of reducing, reusing and recycling into their own daily lives if they see you practicing the 3 R’s in yours.

How does the Environmental Protection Agency describe each of the 3 R’s?                                                                                                                                                                                               Reduce the amount and toxicity of trash you throw away.  One way is to turn off or unplug lights during the day. Doing so will save energy and help your lights last longer. Use food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic wastes to create a compost pile. Adding the compost you make to soil increases water retention, decreases erosion, and keeps organic materials out of landfills.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Reuse containers and products. There are many creative ways to reuse items, which might normally find their way into the waste stream: old shoeboxes may be used for storage, plastic containers for planters, etc. You can also donate or give away items rather than throwing these items away. For a large number of unwanted items, you can hold a garage sale. It is also encouraged to shop at garage sales before buying new!

Recycle as much as possible and buy products with recycled content.  Recycling includes collecting, sorting and processing certain solid waste into raw materials for re-manufacture into new items. These all help to cut down on the amount of waste we throw away. They conserve natural resources, landfill space and energy.

In addition, the three R’s save land and money communities must use to dispose of waste in landfills.These are all things we can do daily with just a little thought and effort.  In fact, businesses are making it easier for us every day.  We can reduce our trash in many ways, but an easy way is to reuse water bottles instead of throwing them away after each use.  We can use the reusable bags that many stores now offer for our purchases; this is a great alternative to using plastic shopping bags.  Of course, we can all make more of an effort to recycle by collecting our newspapers, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass jars for local recycling centers.  If there are not recycling centers in your area maybe you should start one or pursue your community leaders about the importance of having one.

A few points to consider…

  • The average American produces about 4.5 lbs. of garbage per person per day. This equal 235 million tons a year.
  • Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees.
  • Recycling 1 aluminum beverage can saves enough energy to run a 100 watt light bulb for 20 hours, a computer 3 hours, or a TV for 2 hours. (Currently, 45% of aluminum cans are recycled.)
  • Reduce and reuse by donating old clothes and items to charities.

By instilling the importance of the 3 R’s into today’s society we will be helping  clean the planet for the future.  After all, “A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children.”  As quoted by John James Audubon.  Our state 4-H service project theme for next year is the environment.  Why not consider planning a club, county or district service learning project in honor of Earth Day?

Source:

United States Environmental Protection Agency , https://www.epa.gov

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Author: Melanie Taylor – metaylor@ufl.edu

Melanie Taylor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/23/remember-the-3-rs-earth-day-april-22-2017/

Local Farmers Inspire the Next Generation about Agriculture

Fred and Bobby teaching a group of 4-Hers about goats.

Fred and Bobbie Golden relocated to Jefferson County from Lakeland, Florida in 2000 to establish Golden Acres Ranch LLC.  The sixty-three-acre ranch is home to one of the largest mayhaw ponds in the region, grass fed goat & sheep, free-range chickens, guineas, pet boarding, and a country store.

Bobbie and Fred have genuine love for Jefferson County 4-Hers. Can you tell the difference between a sheep and a goat?  Jefferson County 4-H campers can!  For the past six years, 5-8 year old youth visited their ranch during 4-H day camps for some hands-on learning about agriculture. The campers have opportunities to feed, pet and learn important facts about Tennessee Fainting Goats, sheep, Pyrenees and Maremma, chicken, guineas and other animals reared on the farm.

 

Abagail Loveless, day camp participant said, “the reasons I like to visit Golden Acers Ranch, you get to feed, pet, learn things about the farm animals and swing on the tire/rope. “London Skipworth indicated that she was afraid of chickens, but with help and support from teen counselors and 4-H Staff, she was able to overcome her fears. London now plans to participate in the 4-H Chick Chain Project this year.

After a day of farming, Abigail enjoys a tire swing

Bobbie Golden, said “I like inviting the campers to the ranch because I like teaching them interesting facts about our farm animals, but most importantly bringing the youth back in touch with agriculture.”

Bobbie is a member of the Jefferson County Extension Ag Advisory and Vice President of the Overall Extension Advisory Committee.  Bobbie also chaired the Extension Office open house committee.  Bobbie and Fred support Jefferson County Extension in every capacity.

Annually, Jefferson County Extension participates in the Millstone Farm Tour and the Mayhaw Festival; both held events at Golden Acers Ranch. Each Extension program area provides interactive displays and hands activities for the youth and adults. For more information about Golden Acres Ranch, please go to https://goldenacresranchflorida.com/.

Campers leading songs on a hay ride around the farm.

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Author: jgl1 – jgl@ufl.edu

jgl1

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/03/local-farmers-inspire-the-next-generation-about-agriculture/

Announcing the New 4-H Insectathon Event

Photo credit: UF

There are two kinds of people in the world- those that think bugs are really cool and those that run screaming from anything that slightly resembles an insect.  If you or a family member are the former, then prepare to be excited!  We are happy to announce that there will be a new competitive event coming to Florida 4-H.  It is being developed by a team of specialists, volunteers and youth who are passionate about the exciting world of entomology.  The Florida 4-H Insectathon will be held January 20th, 2018 in Gainesville, FL and will include the following events:

  • Insect Collection Contest
  • Honey Bee Essay Contest
  • Insect Art Contest
  • Entomology Identification and Skill-a-thon Contest
  • Educational tours for both contest participants and their family members

This event will help youth master skills such as how to use a dichotomous key, how to make observations, record keeping skills, pinning skills, and communication skills- it may even aspire some youth to pursue a career related to entomology!  To help volunteers, parents and youth get started, the experts will be teaching a workshop here in the Panhandle on Saturday, May 6th, from 10AM-2PM.  Registration is open March 1st through April 28th via 4HOnline.  Participants will receive hands-on experience collecting, identifying and pinning insects, as well as a startup kit of resources to share with other youth in your county.  Counties are encouraged to send a team of youth and adults to this workshop.  Lunch will be provided, so there is a small fee of $ 15.00/person.

If you have a passion for nature and would like to inspire the next generation, consider sharing your expertise as a 4-H entomology project or resource leader.  For more information, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.

Other Resources of Interest:

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/23/announcing-the-new-4-h-insectathon-event/

Using LEGOs to Grow Literacy Skills in 4-H Clubs

4-H Leader and Librarian, Renae Roundtree, found a way to teach not only STEM, but help youth develop a life-long passion for reading.

Books, DVD’s, audio books, magazines and…LEGO’s?  Yes, all of these can be found at the Washington County Public Library along with enthusiastic 4-H Club Leader, Renae Rountree.  Renae, Director of the WCPL, partnered with Washington County 4-H three years ago to “LEGO My Library” and start the Brick Bratz 4-H Club that meets twice a month at the library.

The secret to this club’s success (that always has a waiting list) is Renae’s commitment to providing a fun, educational experience where kids are free to explore, question, succeed, fail and try again.  Using the LEGO StoryStarter program, youth listen to a task that gets them and their partner started on an adventure of writing a comic-style story.

The StoryStarter kit includes LEGO pieces with five small panels and a computer based program.  Working with a partner, youth illustrate their story with LEGOs, panel by panel, then take pictures of each panel and upload them to their laptop.  They add dialogue and background scenes to finish their story.  It’s so much fun, the kids don’t even realize they’re practicing skills like communication, teamwork, decision making and conflict resolution.

Rebecca Lee, a Brick Bratz 4-H Club member for three years,  said “I like Lego club because it’s very fun to create our own stories and make the Legos move.  Ms. Renae makes us laugh too!”  Rebecca and her brother, Sam, “…always look forward to club days and are excited to share their creations with me and their father,” says their mom, Terri.

Youth practice creativity while building sets that serve as the backdrop for their robots to act out scenes from their favorite books.

Why does Renae volunteer her time with 4-H?  She wants to give kids access to new and exciting ways to learn and grow that appeal to their sense of curiosity.  Her enthusiasm for learning and sharing is infectious, and her club members are thriving with her guidance and direction!

Thanks to volunteers like Renae Rountree, 4-H is growing in Washington County!  If you would like to provide the spark to ignite a youth’s interest in a field or hobby that you are passionate about, consider becoming involved in your local 4-H program.  4-H offers a variety of roles to fit your schedule and interests. If you’d like more information on how to get involved as a 4-H volunteer, contact your local 4-H agent or visit http://florida4h.org.

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Author: Julie Pigott Dillard – juliepd@ufl.edu

Julie Pigott Dillard is the 4-H Youth Development Agent in Washington County..

Julie Pigott Dillard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/15/using-legos-to-grow-literacy-skills-in-4-h-clubs/

Exciting Changes for 4-H Day at the Capitol #4HtoTally

4-H Day at the Capitol provides youth an opportunity to use their voice and practice good citizenship while
educating representatives and senators about the 4-H Program. 4-H members are highly encouraged to make an appointment with their congressmen or a congressional aide to talk about how the Florida 4-H Program has impacted their lives. During the day, participants will hear from public officials, participate in educational workshops, and see their congressmen in action.  This year’s event is planned for Thursday, March 23rd.

Registration for this event is open through March 1st via 4HOnline.  You may have participated in this event in the past, but this year, there are several important changes that will make your experience a little different (and hopefully even better).

This year, there will not be planned workshops for you to register for, but the 4-H Day at the Capitol Guidebook does include suggestions for educational tours and sites in Tallahassee that your club may want to take advantage of.  Your registration includes a 4-H polo and lunch.  Please wear dress pants, a skirt or khakis with your polo (no jeans or shorts).  You want to look professional for your meetings with elected officials!

One of the primary goals of this event is for 4-Hers to have an opportunity to connect with their representative and/or senator to educate them about the 4-H program.  Learning how to do this is a valuable citizenship skill.  Please refer to the guidebook for detailed information and frequently asked questions.  Here are a few tips to help you set up your appointments and prepare for your visit:

  • Identify your State Representative and Senator
  • Call the Capitol Office and request an appointment- Contact the Capitol office the first week of March to request an appointment. The secretary will ask you to call back closer to March 23, 2017 to confirm an appointment time.
  • Learn about your Elected Officials
  • Make a Plan for your Visit and Practice – During the months the Florida Legislature is in session, legislators work long hours and have limited time. Most likely you will only have 3-5 minutes for your meeting, so you need be prepared.  Refer to the guide for some tips on preparing for your meeting.  Decide what member(s) of your club or council will speak and practice!
  • Call to Confirm your Appointment- Call your legislators’ Capitol Office again the week before 4-H Day at the Capitol to confirm your appointment with your legislator (or their aide of the legislator is not available)

Do you have an interest in government and citizenship?  If so, consider enrolling in 4-H as either a member or volunteer.  We have several programs to help youth learn about how our government works and how they can be an involved, caring and compassionate citizen.  Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit some of these links:

 

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/08/exciting-changes-for-4-h-day-at-the-capitol-4htotally/

Which Breed is Best for Backyard Poultry?

The term “Backyard Chickens” is one many people use today.  The idea of having a pet help you make breakfast is growing in popularity.  I am often questioned as to which breed of chicken is the best breed.  When asked, I always reply, “What do you want the chicken to do?”  The reason I ask is because The American Poultry Association recognizes 65 different breeds of chickens. Each breed can meet a different need.  Many people will blurt out, “I want eggs!”  Well, do you care what color eggs? Do you care how often you get eggs?  Does the size of the egg matter? Each breed is different and there are pros and cons to each breed.  Some of the more popular breeds that you can find at your local feed store during upcoming “Chick Days” are described below:

  • Rhode Island Red: This is a breed that is a large-bodied bird that lays a large to extra-large brown egg.  These hens are very personable and can have a great personality.  This breed can become a pet in no time.
  • White Leghorn: This particular bird will lay a large white egg on a very regular basis. The Leghorn is not friendly and is often referred to as “flighty”.  Leghorns will not, as a general rule, become pets.  They will lay you an egg almost daily, but will run from you when it’s time to collect those eggs.
  • (Buff) Orpington: Usually sold in the color buff, additionally available in other colors.  This is a large-bodied friendly bird.  Orpingtons can become fast friends and will serve as a dual-purpose member of your flock.   This means that they are great egg layers, and will also serve as a good meat bird if the desire or need arises.
  • Sex-link varieties: With this breed, you will not get a breed, but they have great production. Sometimes called Red Star, or Black Star, the chicks show a difference when day old chicks.  It will be easy to determine between the two.  If chicks are not your thing, you can always purchase young hens that are just starting to lay.

Many people are not ready to wait five to six months to get their beloved eggs from their new pets.  If that is the case, you can always check with your local extension office to inquire if a local 4-H member might have some young hens for sale.  On September 30th, 4-H members from across the panhandle will have a “Chick Chain” show and Auction.  Save the date and get the best breed for you!

If you have children between the ages of 5-18 (as of September 1st, 2016) and you are interested in starting a backyard flock, you may want to sign up for the 4-H Chick Chain.  This program teaches youth how to raise, care for, and show chickens.  Registration is open February 1st-24th via 4HOnline.  Youth will receive 12, day-old pullets on March 29th.  Throughout the spring and summer, youth will learn the ins and outs of poultry farming, and how to market their eggs and hens for profit.  They will keep business and health records, learn about bio-security, and gain poise, confidence, and communication skills while showing their hens in the fall.  For more information, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or read about last year’s program.

4-H Poultry Project

4-H Embryology Project

4-H Chick Chain

Poultry Breeds:

Care of Baby Chicks

Factors Affecting Egg Production in Backyard Chicken Flocks

Intestinal Parasites in Backyard Chicken Flocks

Prevention and Control of Fowl Pox in Backyard Chicken Flocks

Small Flock Poultry Nutrition

Vaccination of Small Poultry Flocks

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Author: Prudence Caskey – prudencecaskey@ufl.edu

Prudence Caskey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/02/which-breed-is-best-for-backyard-poultry/

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