Fall to most people means pumpkin patches, cooler weather, and preparing for the upcoming holiday season. Fall to Okaloosa County 4-H means fair week at the Northwest Florida Fair.

The Okaloosa County 4-H program coordinated the annual 4-H events and had over 100 youth participants from Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton County. The diverse group of exhibit judges this year included past 4-H’ers, Okaloosa County Master Gardeners, the Okaloosa County Farm Bureau president, and extension faculty from both the University of Florida and the University of Georgia.

The 4-H youths ranged from 5-18 years old, from both the community clubs and military clubs. They participated in a variety of animal exhibits and shows, including poultry, rabbit, beef, and meat and dairy goat. They also had the opportunity to participate in a dog show, archery competition, and enter project exhibits.

Animal projects provide the youths with a life skills package that includes responsibility, animal care and feeding, management, and record keeping. Showmanship teaches them communication, self-discipline, social skills, and sportsmanship while also showcasing what they have learned with their project animal.

The newly included archery competition allowed youths to showcase the shooting techniques, problem-solving skills, and discipline they had acquired through the safe, educational, and socially acceptable environments in which they participated in throughout the 4-H year.

Their project exhibits gave them an outlet to express their creativity while educating themselves in the subject matter of their choosing.

The Okaloosa County 4-H program had over 740 youth entries in the various events that allowed them to share their accomplishments and educate the public on their projects.

For more information about of school enrichment programs, in-school/out-of-school clubs, community clubs, or becoming a volunteer please contact us as follows: Taylor Wilken, 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent, and Katie Oakes, 4-H Program Assistant, UF IFAS Extension Okaloosa County, 3098 Airport Road, Crestview, FL 32539; 689-5850.

Katie Oakes and Taylor Wilken are agents at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.