Tag Archive: Opportunities

Exploring Opportunities in Agritourism in North Florida – September 30

Exploring Opportunities in Agritourism in North Florida – September 30

UF IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center

155 Research Road – Quincy, FL 32351

Saturday, September 30, 2017

8:00 AM – 4:30 PM Eastern Time

Eventbrite Registration

Call 850-875-7100 for more information


Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/16/exploring-opportunities-in-agritourism-in-north-florida-september-30/

4-H Provides Opportunities for Military Volunteers

Through 4-H, Victoria is able to share her skills and passions to help young people grow workforce and life skills.

Victoria Ballard came to Santa Rosa County 4-H in 2011 from Texas.  Her family has been involved in 4-H since her oldest daughter turned eight.  As a military spouse, Victoria has seen 4-H in two states.  Prudence Caskey, the Santa Rosa County 4-H Extension Agent, has worked closely with Victoria and the two clubs that she leads. These clubs have completed projects on Marine Science, Wildlife, Horseless Horse, Robotics, and Veterinary Science; in addition to supporting a wide variety of individual projects such as poultry, photography, leadership, community service, and many more.  To say that Victoria is vital to the success of the 4-H clubs that she leads would be an understatement. But the true success of the clubs comes from the dedication of the youth leaders that volunteer to serve as club officers and run the meetings and present program. The youth, ages 8-17, work together to decide their projects and activities, and learn what it takes to run an official meeting and be a leader in the community.

Victoria worked diligently to establish a summer horse day camp program.  Creating the schedule, designing activities and obtaining volunteers was all part of the process, and she handled every aspect of the program.  “When you find a volunteer’s passion, then you can just let them take the reins, so to speak”, says Prudence Caskey, 4-H Extension Agent.  “She has a passion for horses and youth and so it was such a natural fit!”

When asked what she enjoys most about being a 4-H volunteer, Victoria says, “I really enjoy teaching kids about technology and animals that otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to those topics.”  Prudence Caskey said, “We would not have been able to implement nor offer several programs if not for the tenacity and dedication of Victoria.”

Do you have knowledge and skills that you would like to share with young people?  Consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.  4-H is in every county, in every state, and several countries, so it a perfect opportunity for military families especially.  4-H offers a wide variety of roles to fit any schedule.  To find out more, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.


Author: Prudence Caskey – prudencecaskey@ufl.edu

Prudence Caskey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/26/4-h-provides-opportunities-for-military-volunteers/

Volunteers SPIN into 4-H and Find New Friends and Opportunities!

Becky Pengelley, SPin Sewing volunteer

Becky Pengelley, SPin Sewing volunteer

Many of our greatest relationships can be traced back to chance encounters. Evelyn Gonzalez and Becky Pengelly, the Leon County 4-H Sewing SPIN (Special Interest) Club Leaders, met by chance though the encouragement their 4-H Agent, Stefanie Prevatt. Evelyn learned of Leon County 4-H in the summer of 2014 through her service with the Tallahassee Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. A few short weeks later, Becky found the 4-H Office after learning about the program through her college coursework at the University of Florida. Both had a love of sewing, a passion for working with youth, and jam-packed schedules.  Not to be deterred, Evelyn and Becky quickly decided Florida 4-H’s new SPIN club model was the best fit for their busy schedules. When asked why she choose to volunteer with 4-H, Evelyn replied:

“Volunteering is always gratifying. There is a need and you are trying to fill it. Working with youth is stimulating and rewarding. They are smart, fast, and funny. They make me laugh. You learn about what makes kids tick, what their concerns are, and you learn about what you are teaching [sewing].

Evelyn Gonzalez teaching youth how to sew patches of a quilt.

Evelyn Gonzalez teaching youth how to sew patches of a quilt.

Sewing is expensive. The cost of material is the number one concern for the continual operation of the Leon County 4-H Sewing SPIN Club. Fees are necessary for some projects, but Evelyn and Becky work around this issue. Evelyn has lived in Tallahassee for years and has used her connectedness to solicit fabric donations to reduce fees for club members. Becky is a repurpose queen with a passion for teens. When asked what inspires her to continue to be a 4-H volunteer, Becky replied: The teens in our clubs come to each meeting so excited about what we are going to do, and they have so many ideas about what they will make once they learn4-H has provided opportunities for [them] to learn things that they wouldn’t learn anywhere else in the community.

The Leon County 4-H Sewing SPIN club has been serving Tallahassee since early 2015. With each new “spin,” members embark on a journey of learning new skills and creating projects that show their mastery of the subject. One parent stated: “Ms. Evelyn and Ms. Becky are so patient with the students.  They clearly put a lot of work and energy into every meeting.  The students leave with increased confidence and skill, which is evident from the huge smiles on their faces.  We so appreciate these two ladies, as well as the other volunteers that give so generously of their time.   The students are inspired, as well as challenged, to do more than they thought they could.”

Evelyn and Becky teach youth and parents to sew!

For those thinking about volunteering with Florida 4-H, Evelyn and Becky have this advice: “Don’t be afraid to work with someone different from you. Becky is a young college girl. We think we’re busy. And they’re busier. I marvel that they carve out some time on a Saturday to come help teach sewing. Share the load. Work with a team” (Evelyn) “I have had the opportunity to meet new people and to share the things I love with them! If you have something to share with children, 4-H will support you in doing this!” (Becky)

If you have a desire to make a difference in your community, think about sharing your talents with us!  You can fuel the extraordinary efforts of our youth by joining us as a volunteer.   To find out more, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org/volunteers.  Happy National Volunteer Appreciation Week- Come back tomorrow to learn about Gadsden County Community Club Leader, Mrs. Linda Jones.



Author: Stefanie Prevatt – sduda1@ufl.edu


Stefanie Prevatt

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/14/volunteers-spin-into-4-h-and-find-new-friends-and-opportunities/

Opportunities and Challenges of Alfalfa Production in North Florida

Jackson County alfalfa producer Bill Conrad. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Figure 1.  Jackson County alfalfa grower Bill Conrad. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

J. Dubeux, Jr. and A. Blount, University of Florida/IFAS – North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC), 3925 Highway 71, Marianna, FL

P. Munoz, University of Florida/IFAS – Agronomy Department, Gainesville, FL.

Florida has approximately 119,000 dairy cows and a well-developed horse industry that generates $ 6.5 billion annually.  Producing local alfalfa hay is an opportunity for growers in the southeastern U.S. Reduced transportation costs compared with alfalfa shipped from other areas of the country provides local growers a potential advantage to supply the Florida market.

Alfalfa is a forage legume with high crude protein and digestibility. Alfalfa also has N-fixation capacity reducing the need for N fertilization. Alfalfa fills the gap of forage production in the early Spring and late Fall, providing high quality forage during that time of the year when warm-season forages are not actively growing.

Alfalfa requires high nutrient inputs and soil fertility, and the warm weather and high humidity during summer in Florida and in the Southern Coastal Plains increases disease pressure on the this crop.  In many areas of the southeast, soil fertility is inadequate and cultivars used are not adapted to local conditions. In order to establish a successful alfalfa stand, the pH needs to be maintained between 6.5 and 7.0.  Additionally, current alfalfa commercial varieties do not tolerate flooding, meaning that a well-drained site needs to be selected to establish an alfalfa stand.  Combinations of these factors reduce the potential for alfalfa production in Florida as compared to other parts of the country.

One way to overcome these challenges is to breed alfalfa varieties adapted to local conditions. Fall dormancy, for example, is a critical trait that describes the alfalfa growth during the fall due to decreasing temperatures and day length. Fall dormancy scores range from 1 to 11, with lower numbers representing cultivars that exhibit less growth in the fall. Warmer regions should target non-dormant alfalfa varieties with fall dormancy > 8. Currently, several non-dormant alfalfa varieties are being tested in North and Central Florida as part of the alfalfa breeding program of the University of Florida.

For Florida production, high-yield disease/pest resistant improved varieties with a fall dormancy >8 are preferred. There are many varieties in the market for northern states, however, not many of them have been tested under Florida conditions. In North Florida, hay producers are expanding the alfalfa area (Figure 1). In North-Central Florida, alfalfa is also managed for hay on dairy farms or even under grazing conditions for purebred cattle producers (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Livestock grazing bulldog 805 alfalfa in High Springs, FL. Photo credit: Dan Marvel.

Figure 2. Livestock grazing bulldog 805 alfalfa in High Springs, FL. Photo credit: Dan Marvel.

In Marianna FL, six alfalfa varieties were tested (Ameristand 855T RR, Ameristand 901 TS, Ameristand 915 TS RR, Bulldog 805, FL 77, and FL 99) under two harvesting intensities (two and four inches) for two years. Because no irrigation was provided, alfalfa stands were harvested only five times during the year.  FL99 was ranked among the top-yielding varieties followed by FL77 and Bulldog 805. Ameristand varieties in general yielded less (Table 1).Dubeux Table 1Because FL99 and FL77 are discontinued varieties, there are no seeds currently available on the market. Bulldog 805 is the only commercially available alfalfa variety currently recommended for Florida (Blount et al., 2015). These three varieties (FL99, FL77, and Bulldog 805) presented the best stand after two years of harvest in Marianna (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Alfalfa varieties after two years of harvests at UF/IFAS – NFREC, Marianna, FL. Photo credit: Jose Dubeux

Figure 3. Alfalfa varieties after two years of harvests at UF/IFAS – NFREC, Marianna, FL.
Photo credit: Jose Dubeux

Harvesting at a two-inch stubble height resulted in greater alfalfa productivity than did harvesting at a four-inch stubble height. (Table 2). Harvesting intensity affects tillering and regrowth after harvest by not only modifying residual leaf area and carbohydrates in the roots, but also by creating a light environment that favors plant regrowth.  Overall, however, alfalfa productivity declined after the first spring cutting in 2014. Dubeux Table 2Under irrigation, alfalfa yield potential in North Florida is much greater. In an on-farm extension project, the forage team from NFREC has been measuring the yields in a commercial alfalfa field in Jackson County, Florida. The best yielding varieties averaged almost 1,800 lbs./acre per cutting, with a cumulative yield in a 12-month period of 14,390 lbs./acre. Harvest occurred every 30 days. The productivity in the second year, however, declined as well. It is important to mention that maintaining high alfalfa productivity requires fertilization after every cutting, to replace the extracted nutrients.Dubeux Table 3Alfalfa production is an option for North Florida. Alfalfa varieties FL99, FL77, and Bulldog 805 are among the best options, however, only Bulldog 805 is currently commercially available for producers. Although alfalfa productivity declined after the spring cutting of the second season, the shorter longevity of alfalfa stands observed in Florida, as compared to Midwest production regions, might be compensated for by the additional price paid in Florida for alfalfa hay.

Literature Cited

Blount, A.R.S., P. Munoz, J. Dubeux, J. Vendramini, A. Babar, K. Kenworthy, and K. Quesenberry. 2015. 2015 cool-season forage variety recommendations for Florida. 



Author: dubeux – dubeux@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/11/06/opportunities-and-challenges-of-alfalfa-production-in-north-florida/

4-H Opportunities at School

4-H embryology is a great way for school youth to learn about STEM and agriculture

4-H embryology is a great way for school youth to learn about STEM and agriculture

For more than 100 years, 4-H clubs have been (and still are) the backbone of our youth development program. But did you know that 4-H also provides opportunities for youth to participate in programs during and after school? Not all youth have access to transportation to and from club meetings. 4-H school programs are a great way for those youth to glean the benefits of 4-H and to learn about other opportunities to be involved longer term.

Some examples of 4-H School programs offered in the 4-H Panhandle include:

Sometimes school programs such as 4-H Embryology or 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking are taught by teachers, using 4-H curriculum and resources with support from the 4-H Extension Agent. Other programs are coordinated with a team of volunteers and 4-H staff (such as 4-H Ag Awareness or Ag Literacy Week). County Extension offices offer training, curriculum, and equipment for teachers and volunteers interested in leading 4-H programs at local schools. In addition, these programs receive support from extension agents and UF IFAS specialists with subject matter expertise, so you can be sure that youth are receiving the most up to date, non-biased information available.

If you have skills that you would like to share with the next generation, consider partnering with your local school and 4-H program. To find out which opportunities are available in your area, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org/volunteers.


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/2015/08/21/4-h-opportunities-at-school/