Tag Archive: Showers

April Showers Us With Generosity

The month of April brings one of my favorite times of the year.  We have the Easter Bunny showering us with treats on Easter and the Earth dancing on its axis for Earth Day.  Pick any type of towering tree for Arbor Day and then there are a gazillion funny pranks and jokes to be told for April Fool’s Day.  Add a week to highlight the wonderful generosity of volunteers giving in organizations around the world and you have one fabulous month of the year!  That’s right!  April dedicates a week each year, National Volunteer Appreciation Week, to recognizing and celebrating individuals that give of themselves to help others.

Kim Gilbert is a 4-H volunteer that values both the impacts she makes and receives from being involved in 4-H.

To help the month of April highlight our NW District’s large green family of fabulous 4-H volunteers, let me introduce you to one of my 4-H volunteers befitting of April, 4-H, volunteering, and bunnies, oh my!  Meet Kim Gilbert, a Holmes County 4-H Volunteer, who has been the Rabbiteers Club Leader for the past two years.  With two daughters in 4-H of her own, she is a true example of a 4-H parent, volunteer, and supporter.  Kim fully supports the idea of 4-H being a big family and continually emphasizes this point in her 4-H club meetings.  She believes in 4-H’s essential elements and strongly stresses belonging and generosity with her club members.  As Kim explains, “You become a big family when you join 4-H and you can count on everyone to help out and pitch in.  I love my 4-H family!”


Chloe, learned to show her rabbit before a judge in a local 4-H fair.

Kim is always full of enthusiasm, encouragement, and new ideas that she shares with the youth and their rabbits. Armed with a soft rabbit in each arm and usually sweets for each club member too, Kim hops off to get her club meeting started.  With a background in raising, breeding, and judging rabbits, Kim is knowledgeable in a variety of rabbit breeds including Holland Lops, English Lops, Polish, Lionheads, Angoras, and Giant Angoras.  Not raised in 4-H as a child herself, she is thankful that she is able to provide 4-H opportunities to her own daughters and also give back by volunteering through leading the 4-H Rabbiteer Club.  Since Kim’s involvement with the Rabbiteers, Holmes County 4-H youth have learned how to participate in showmanship in local rabbit shows and fairs. When not leading club meetings, Kim will often times volunteer to work on exhibits and events to help staff and other clubs.

When asked which of the 4 H’s best represented her, i.e. Head, Heart, Hands, or Health, Kim stated that was actually a very hard question.  As a 4-H Agent who has worked closely with her for two years, I had no doubt which one represented her immediately but I patiently waited for her own reply with a secret smile on my face.  After a moment, Kim replies, “I would say it is a tie between Hand and Heart but if I had to choose, I guess I will go with Heart.”  Without a doubt, she nailed the answer perfectly! Kim is definitely one that is always thinking of others first, whether it is a simple note of well wishes or a thoughtful goodie bag of treats for each youth.  She leads the youth and other adults with her heart and demonstrates the role of a 4-H club leader very well, truly encompassing the passion that was founded when 4-H adopted the motto “to make the Best Better.”

Kim is a true advocate of 4-H, firmly believing that not only does she positively impact youth as a 4-H volunteer but that she is being impacted by the organization as well.

According to Kim, “4-H has totally impacted my life in a way that I would not have seen two years ago.  It has changed the way I look at things, how I handle things and has also taught me more things about my own self.  4-H has also brought my own family closer, learning to share more with each other.”  Ah, there’s that generosity component we 4-Hers love to spread so much!

Hop on over to http://florida4h.org/volunteers_/ to join our 4-H family!

With truly caring volunteers in our 4-H family, it’s no wonder that 4-H is one of the nation’s largest youth development organizations in the world.  If you are not a 4-H volunteer yet, what is stopping you?  Hop on over to our website at http://florida4h.org/volunteers_/  to join our 4-H family as a volunteer!  We have something for everyone!


Author: Niki Crawson – ncrawson@ufl.edu

Niki Crawson is the Holmes County 4-H Extension Agent in the NW District.

Niki Crawson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/25/april-showers-us-with-generosity/

April Showers Bring May… Snakes

April Showers Bring May… Snakes

This rhyme has been around for decades suggesting that rain increases during the month of April.  In recent years the amount we have received has caused local flooding, and most in Escambia County will remember receiving 26” of rain in 24 hours! These heavy localized rain events have certainly removed pollen from the air but they have also dropped blossoms from plants, dropped baby birds from their nests, forced fire ants to surface and move to high ground, and then there are the snakes.


Gray rat snake crossing a driveway.  Photo: Carrie Stevenson

Gray rat snake crossing a driveway.
Photo: Carrie Stevenson

It was actually these flooding events that developed the need for the snake program I am currently doing for Extension.  Highly saturated ground forced the snakes to search for high ground.  Patios, driveways, garages, and occasionally bathrooms, became popular places for the reptiles to dry off.  In the last week or two I have had calls about snakes in buses, on bushes, and in the laundry room, and I actually met someone at a restaurant to identify what kind of snake they found in their home.


For many, it does not matter what kind of snake it is, they are all terrifying and dangerous and unwanted in the yard. For others, nonvenomous snakes are not welcome but they are not life threatening.  Venomous snakes on the other hand… well that’s a different story.  The problem here is that many do not know how to tell a moccasin from one of the water snakes.  When you are not sure, you are more nervous than you may need to be.  Venomous snakes truly bother people psychologically.


There are six venomous snakes in Florida and all six have been found in the panhandle.  Five of these are members of the “pit viper” group and can be identified by their triangular shaped head, elliptical pupil in the eye, and a heat sensitive pit in front of their nostril. Most venomous snakes also have a dark colored “mask” (stripe) across their face.  It is the mask character that I look for first, because many nonvenomous snakes flare their head when threatened and you have to get close to check the shape of their pupil.  The pit vipers include the Copperhead, Moccasin, Pygmy Rattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake, and the Eastern Diamondback.  The non-pit viper is the Eastern Coral Snake.  Each of these snakes should be considered dangerous and handled only by a professional if in your home.  Remember, 95% of the people bitten by venomous snakes are either trying to catch or kill them.


The head of a pit viper.  Notice the additional pit, elliptical pupil, and "mask" across the eye.  Photo: Molly O'Connor

The head of a pit viper. Notice the additional pit, elliptical pupil, and “mask” across the eye. Photo: Molly O’Connor

There are several methods you can use to reduce the chance of an encounter in your yard or home, and Extension would be glad to help with these.  But remember, you live in Florida and snakes are part of the landscape here. Also remember there are four snakes in the panhandle that FWC staff are tracking:  the Florida Pine Snake, Southern Hognose, Eastern Indigo, and the Eastern Diamondback.  If you do encounter any of these visit http://myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/wildlife/snakes/ to log a report and include a photograph and GPS location if possible.  If you have any questions about snake encounters contact your county Extension office.


Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/04/24/april-showers-bring-may-snakes/