Okaloosa County 4-H has been very busy the last couple of weeks. Many events happened all at once and will continue to occur over the next month or two.
We are officially in fair season for our area. Local 4-H members participated in the Northwest Florida Fair held Sept. 25-30 at the Northwest Florida fairgrounds in Fort Walton Beach.
Nightly shows and hosting at our 4-H building keep our 4-Hers busy. We even had youths from Walton and Santa Rosa counties join in the both our goat and beef shows.
Our youths offered over 175 project exhibits and over 40 chickens, ducks, pigeons, rabbits, and even cavy for the public to come and check out. They also displayed their showmanship skills in poultry, dairy goat, meat goat, beef, rabbit, and dog shows.
These youths competed for ribbons and trophies, but also took home lessons that will last a lifetime. Many of our senior level youths took time to assist our Cloverbud (5-7 year old) participants, proving that 4-H is not always just about animals, but also about developing teamwork and leadership skills.
Okaloosa County 4-H has partnered with a county in southern Florida that was recently affected by Hurricane Irma. Many of the youths in that county lost feed and supplies for their show animals. This fair was a perfect place for our 4Hers to reach out for community help. They set up a donation jar in our 4-H barn to help buy new feed and supplies for our sister county and they were pretty successful. They were able to raise over $30 toward this effort, and in doing so realized that community does not just consist of your own neighborhood, but can reach far beyond it. They learned that even the smallest contributions can make a difference.
So what’s next for our youths? Many of them plan to participate in the Walton County Fair and may even travel to the North Florida Fair in Tallahassee in November.
Also look for Okaloosa County 4-H outside Tractor Supply in Crestview this month, where they will support the Paper Clover Event. Part of the proceeds of every paper clover purchased helps support local 4-H programs.
Veronica Graham is an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.