Your children have an opportunity to use time at home, some of that screen time, on supervised activities like caring for horses, for chickens, for themselves and for their community.
4-H has been nurturing Miami-Dade youth since before the last great national pandemic more than a century ago. There are nearly 20 active clubs strategically placed in almost every local community. Miami-Dade County 4-H staff conducts educational programming in more than 100 classrooms each month from September through March. Staff also provides training and curriculum to volunteers who lead local clubs.
Local 4-H clubs pivoted in the pandemic to online programming in gardening, agriculture, money management and STEM activities. We had nearly 1,900 children registered for virtual summer camps. 4-H even helped teachers with curriculum add-ons in robotics, environmental education and more.
There’s no need to wait until the pandemic subsides to start preparing your child to make his or her mark on how to confront climate change or how to feed the world. It’s a great time to get your kid started on what we call “adulting” skills like creating a personal budget, applying for jobs, and doing home maintenance. We have a virtual club for that.
The questions we ask of your children go way beyond “How do you care for a hog?” We ask deeper questions, like, “What type of leader do you want to become?” and “How do you want to bring about positive change throughout your lifetime?”
4-H is where former President Jimmy Carter and former Florida Governor (and Miami-Dade native) Bob Graham were asked those questions. So were 4-H alumni like Triple Crown-winning horse trainer Bob Baffert, legendary basketball coach Pat Summitt, Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, actress Julia Roberts, country star Luke Bryan, Grammy Award-winning singer Jennifer Nettles, and celebrity chef Carla Hall.
There’s no telling which of Miami-Dade’s 1,400 current 4-Hers will add their names to this honor roll. Maybe it will be Laura Manzueta of Miami Gardens, who has immersed herself in leadership and community service along the way to being elected to the eight-member council that represents 200,000 students statewide. It might be a member of the Reyna family, who took in a 50-pound hog and in six months raised it to a 330-pound behemoth they showed at the county fair.
One caution about enrolling your children: They’re going to love it. They’ll want to raise chicks, build robots, make speeches, and leave you for a week to go to (post-COVID) camp. This won’t be costly – much of it is low-fee or no-fee, with waivers for those who can use a break financially (and who can’t right now?).
As a former ex-oficio member of the national board, a decades-long donor and now the leader of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), which runs 4-H, I think 4-H is one of the most important things UF does.
Before we can start asking your child what kind of leader he or she wants to become, we need you, too. Talk to your child about what they are interested in—chances are good 4-H can help them pursue that interest. Then contact us.
UF/IFAS is perhaps better known for helping Miami-Dade grow avocados, mangoes, limes and ornamental plants. The most important thing we grow, though, are leaders. Please give the one under your roof a chance to grow with 4-H.
Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).