Editor’s note: Funding for the Florida 4-H program is on Gov. Rick Scott’s veto list. The director of the Indian River County Extension, UF/IFAS, in Vero Beach, Christine Kelly-Begazo wrote this guest column.
We’ve learned that funding for the Florida 4-H program is on Gov. Rick Scott’s veto list. We do not know when the governor will act, but time is very short. The only way to save this funding will be to demonstrate how many Floridians support this youth program.
The loss of youth development faculty will have a significant impact on the Florida 4-H Program (Head, Heart, Hands and Health).
There will be fewer of the traditional clubs, such as livestock, equine, veterinary science, biotechnology, raising and training animals, forestry, citizenship and leadership.
Florida 4-H program changes with the times
In addition, there will be fewer of the newer type of clubs that engage students in robotics, rocketry, computer science and electrical engineering to teach problem-solving, creative and critical thinking, and to build excitement for engineering and technology.
4‑H is delivered through land-grant universities by Cooperative Extension — a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing.
4-H volunteers create economic impact of almost $14 million yearly
Florida has a vibrant program, with over 200,000 Florida youth actively participating in the 4-H youth-development program through the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Extension. It involves 16,000 volunteers whose 650,000 hours of service equate to a $13.8 million economic impact annually.
The program educates children in all 67 Florida counties — as well as the Seminole Tribe — on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), citizenship/leadership, entrepreneurship, and healthy living — to help them grow into contributing members of society and the workforce.
Please let Gov. Scott know that you support Florida’s 4-H program and why it is important to you. Time is of the essence.
Email [email protected]; or call 850-488-7146.