Delaware 4-H’ers Compete at State 4-H Horse Bowl Competition

March 14, 2014 in Kent County 4-H, mainfeature

85 Delaware 4-H members representing 26 teams competed recently in the State 4-H Horse Bowl Competition held at Lake Forest North Elementary in Felton, Delaware. The Horse Bowl event is a knowledge- based, quiz bowl competition. The Delaware 4-H Horse Advisory Committee, a group composed of 4-H volunteers from all three Delaware counties that are dedicated to providing quality 4-H horse programs to members, sponsors this annual event. Members compete on teams of up to four individuals and teams are divided into brackets based on age. 4-H volunteer adult leaders coach young people to prepare them in the months leading up to the competition. 41 Delaware 4-H volunteers assisted with the Horse Bowl event.

The top three teams in each age division were:

Beginner (8-10 year olds)

1st Place- Mini Stars- Sussex County

Team Members: Ruby Phillips, Layne Smith

Coaches: Jodie Gravenor, Heather Smith

Beginner Team-Palomino Ponies- competing L to R- Alexia Carroll, Cheyenne Bowman, Donne Mullins, Paige Taylor

Beginner Team-Palomino Ponies- competing L to R- Alexia Carroll, Cheyenne Bowman, Donne Mullins, Paige Taylor

2nd Place- Palomino Ponies, Sussex County

Team Members: Cheyenne Bowman, Alexia Carroll, Donna Mullins, Paige Taylor

Coach: Heather Taylor

3rd Place- Stable Minds- Kent County

Team Members: Bethany Butler, Alex Docherty, Ally Smith, Ashton Stafford

Coaches: Heather Crouse, Stacy Stafford

New Horizons 4-H club senior team competing L to R- Chad Dempsey, Peyton Ridgely, Ashley Hurd

New Horizons 4-H club senior team competing L to R- Chad Dempsey, Peyton Ridgely, Ashley Hurd

Junior (11-13 year olds)

1st Place- Boots “N” Spurs- Sussex County

Team Members: Katelyn Records, Garrett Smith

Coach: Heather Records

2nd Place- Westville Wicked Riders- Kent County

Team Members: McKenna Corbeil, Maggie Kling

Coach: Brittany Blacksten, Laura Pomatto

1st Place Senior Team- Buckin Beauties-  L to R Rebecca Arpie, Jackie Arpie, Whitney Records, Mikayla Ockels

1st Place Senior Team- Buckin Beauties- L to R Rebecca Arpie, Jackie Arpie, Whitney Records, Mikayla Ockels

3rd Place- Hearts-4-Horses- Kent County

Team Members: Rebekah Baughman, Nicole Cannavo, Ashlyn North, Donna Urian

Coach: Betsy Cannavo, Lee Halloran

Senior (14-19 year olds)

1st Place- Buckin’ Beauties- Sussex County

Team Members: Jackie Arpie, Rebecca Arpie, Mikayla Ockels, Whitney Records

Coach: Cindy Ockels

2nd Place- Hearts-4-Horses-Kent County

Team Members: Lexi Bloxom, Haley Reynolds, Hannah Ziccarelli

Coach: Rosemary Baughman, Connie Edwards

2nd Place Senior Team- Hearts-4-Horses- L to R Hannah Ziccarelli, Lexi Blocksom, Haley Reynolds

2nd Place Senior Team- Hearts-4-Horses- L to R Hannah Ziccarelli, Lexi Blocksom, Haley Reynolds

3rd Place- Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club- Kent County

Team Members: Sara Deason, Katie Messick

Coaches: Sharon Little

4-H is a community of young people across Delaware learning leadership, citizenship and lifeskills. Join the Revolution of Responsibility! For more information on becoming a 4-H member or volunteer in Delaware please contact your county extension office:

New Castle County: (302)831-8965

Kent County: (302)730-4000

Sussex County: (302)856-7303

Wood Science 4-H leader builds respect – saluted for excellence by National 4-H

March 11, 2014 in mainfeature

Ernie Lopez, UD Extension specialist presents Clyde Mellin with the Salute to Excellence Award. As of March, Mellin is a county, state and Northeast regional winner

Ernie Lopez, UD Extension specialist presents Clyde Mellin with the 4-H Salute to Excellence Award. As of March, Mellin is a county, state and Northeast regional winner

With the right lumber and tools, Clyde Mellin can show just about anyone how to build a birdhouse. But the bigger take away is what is built within – the patience, character and confidence that develops when a 4-H’er participates in an experiential 4-H activity project taught by caring and dedicated adult volunteers.

On March 4, 2014, Delaware 4-H learned that Sussex County 4-H leader Clyde Mellin, Seaford, was named a 2014 Northeast Region recipient of the 4-H Salute to Excellence Award (STE) a national volunteer recognition program. Mellin, recognized as a state winner at February’s Delaware 4-H Leader Forum, is now is one of four individuals in consideration for national honors as the 4-H Volunteer of the Year. The national award winners will be announced during National Volunteer Week, April 6-12.

Clyde Mellin wears a fake ponytail to show how easily hair can get trapped in tools

Clyde Mellin wears a fake ponytail to show how easily hair can get trapped in power tools. A kitchen blender serves as a less threatening example in this safety lesson

Mellin, a professional carpenter, began volunteering for Sussex County 4-H in 2011. Mellin invigorated interest in 4-H’s wood science area by offering a wide assortment of wood science projects and activities. Under his guidance, 4-H members constructed bat houses, robin nesting lodges, and giraffe recipe holders. But Mellin’s goals go far beyond showing someone how to build an object. With his workshops always at peak attendance, having a captive audience for a few hours means, for Mellin, an opportunity to reinforce skills such as tree identification, botany, suitability of wood for carpentry, wildlife and ecology (another 4-H project), math and measuring skills, safety best practices and following directions. Mellin serves as a judge for county 4-H project books and helps develop 4-H youth critical thinking skills through wood science judging contests at the county and state level. Mellin offers trainings throughout the 4-H year (see a 4-H YouTube of Mellin in action) and in 2013 serves as the project chair for the state. He has been a fixture at the Delaware State Fair organizing wood science trainings and a visible booster for 4-H overall. A regular at county meetings and wherever help is needed. Mellin does not always need lumber or power tools to build enthusiasm for 4-H.

“Clyde is very meticulous and organized,” said Jill Jackson, Sussex County 4-H Educator. “He has a wonderful connection with the 4-H members and they listen intently to what he teaches them in workshops and trainings.”

Beginning at the county level, The Salute to Excellence Award acknowledges outstanding volunteer service within two service divisions – Volunteer of the Year (VOY) for service 10 years or less and Outstanding Lifetime  Volunteer (OLV) for service greater than 10 years. From the county level, candidates are considered for the state – regional and possible national levels of recognition. In Delaware, the Salute to Excellence Award is sponsored by the DuPont Company and the Delaware 4-H Foundation.

Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of National 4-H Council stated in the announcement that each nominee was evaluated and scored “through a rigorous selection process.” Regional recipients will “receive $200 to be donated to the 4-H program of their choice and a $400 travel scholarship to attend their respective STE Regional 4-H Volunteer Forum,” Sirangelo wrote.

Delaware 4-H leaders celebrate, learn and receive recognition

In Delaware, more than 60,000 youth are impacted by 4-H programs and curriculum delivered through traditional clubs, afterschool programs, day and overnight camping and other events. Michelle Rodgers, associate dean at UD’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources and director of Cooperative Extension addressed the group. Growing up on her family’s dairy farm in Pa., Rodgers was an active 4-H’er and continued in collegiate 4-H while obtaining her undergraduate degree.

Rodgers said the success of the program in Delaware could not be realized without the contribution of the 4-H volunteer. “Our entire Extension program really runs with volunteers. You extend the work we can do in ways we can count that are very tangible in terms of the outreach and education and the impact we have realized in Delaware.  My personal thanks to you for your role and leadership.”

At February’s forum UD Cooperative Extension specialist Ernie Lopez welcomed the large gathering of volunteer leaders who meet once a year to train in several 4-H curriculum areas, exchange ideas and are the focus of the special day of honoring their service. “The Salute to Excellence Awards are the pinnacle of recognition for our 4-H volunteers, not just here in Delaware but across the country, Lopez said. “We are all blessed for all of our wonderful volunteers.”

Delaware 4-H Salute to Excellence winners, from left to right: Michelle Rodgers, UD Extension, Joanne Carter, Kim Klair, Patricia Leach, Clyde Mellin. Not available for photo: Sharon Anderson, Elaine Webb

Delaware 4-H Salute to Excellence winners, from left to right: Michelle Rodgers, UD Extension, Joanne Carter, Kim Klair, Patricia Leach, Clyde Mellin. Not available for photo: Sharon Anderson, Elaine Webb

The list of First State 4-H volunteer winners for 2014 are:
• New Castle: Volunteer of the Year : Patricia Leach, Lifetime Volunteer: Kimberly Klair
Kent County: Volunteer of the Year: Elaine Webb, Lifetime Volunteer: Joanne Carter
Sussex County: Volunteer of the Year: Clyde Mellin, Lifetime Volunteer: Sharon Anderson

Click here to learn more about the other Delaware 4-H Salute to Excellence winners.

From these outstanding county winners, Delaware 4-H announced that Clyde Mellin and Sharon Anderson were selected to represent Delaware.

To become a Delaware 4-H leader, adults go through an extensive application process which includes a criminal background check. In addition to training opportunities at the annual forum, 4-H volunteers receive curriculum training and support at the county level, and many participate in regional and national 4-H leader forums and 4-H sponsored events.

For more information on Delaware’s 4-H programs visit the Delaware 4-H website.

Article by Michele Walfred, photos by William Campbell

Jayla Cannon, Health Rocks Youth Ambassador at Summit in DC

February 28, 2014 in mainfeature

jayla-cannonOn January 30, 2014, Sequoia Rent, Young Health Program Coordinator and Jayla Cannon attended the Health Rocks Youth Ambassador Summit at 4-H National Conference Center in DC. The summit was part of the 4th annual National Drug Facts Week which took place from January 27–February 2, 2014. The week-long event, launched in 2010 by NIDA, provides an opportunity for teens to shatter myths about drugs and drug abuse. In community and school events all over America, teens and experts come together for an honest conversation about how drugs affect the brain, body and behavior. Students also have the opportunity to ask scientists questions about drugs, or discuss NIDA materials designed for teens.

4-H partnered with NIDA and presented the Health Rocks! Youth Ambassador Summit, which exposed youth leaders participating in Health Rocks! to top notch experts in their field,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, National 4-H Council President & CEO. “To date, the Health Rocks! program has impacted more than 400,000 youth since implementation 15 years ago.

As part of the celebration, David Mineta, deputy director of Demand Reduction for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, served as keynote speaker. Lisa Lauxman, director, Division Youth & 4-H at National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, also took part in the ceremony along with staff from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Youth representatives from eight states who have implemented the Health Rocks! program presented on substance abuse issues most affecting their community including our very own Jayla Cannon. The event allowed youth to gain more insight about the effects of substance abuse to further assist their local program implementation.

Sarah Bell wins inaugural 4-H Diamond Clover Award

February 6, 2014 in mainfeature

On Saturday, Feb. 1, Delaware 4-H announced Sarah Bell, of Seaford, as the first recipient of the Delaware 4-H Diamond Clover Award, the highest honor a 4-H member can earn. The 4-H Diamond Clover Award is Delaware 4-H’s formal acknowledgment of Bell’s achievement to make a significant difference in her community and state. Sarah is a member of the Stateline 4-H club based in Seaford.

Sarah Bell, center with her parents Gerald and Karen Bell

Sarah Bell, center with her parents Gerald and Karen Bell. Sarah is a member of the Stateline 4-H Club.

Delaware 4-H has long acknowledged excellence with blue ribbons, trophies, project pins and has awarded many scholarships to its 4-H members. However, as the largest youth program in the nation, 4-H did not have a signature capstone award to honor members who demonstrated extraordinary, sustained and focused service learning in their community.

Bell, it turns out, was Delaware 4-H’s diamond in the rough.

Before a crowd of adult 4-H volunteer leaders, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension and 4-H staff, family and friends, Bell was officially presented with the inaugural award.

“The Boy Scout Eagle is the gold standard of youth awards and it was used as the model for the Diamond Clover,” said Dan Tabler, a retired 4-H agent with a long tri-state career in Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia.

Tabler authored the concept and first suggested the Diamond Clover Award idea to his Maryland 4-H colleagues where it has become the premiere 4-H award. Tabler said the award should be regarded in the same high-esteem as the Scout award and added, “As with the Eagle, a very small number of members achieve this ultimate level of recognition.”

To attain the Diamond Clover Award, a 4-H member must progress through five stages. Upon completion, each stage is marked with a gemstone award designation – amethyst, aquamarine, ruby, sapphire, emerald and diamond. “The sixth level requires the 4-H member to propose a major community service project that must be approved by a local Diamond Clover Committee and the State 4-H project leader,” said Tabler.

Marian Harvey, representing the Delaware 4-H Foundation and Michelle Rodgers, UD Cooperative Extension Sarah Bell and  Mark  Manno, Delaware 4-H program leader

Marian Harvey, representing the Delaware 4-H Foundation and Michelle Rodgers, UD Cooperative Extension Sarah Bell and Mark Manno, Delaware 4-H program leader

Tabler explained the process is completely voluntary, “but it is something that 4-H members choose to strive for.” At present, the Diamond Clover Award has been adopted in Maryland, Delaware and Nebraska, Tabler said. The Delaware 4-H Foundation sponsored the award for the First State.

At the award ceremony, Delaware 4-H program leader Mark Manno described the 4-H Diamond Clover Award process as intense, noting that the final level will likely take more than one year to complete. “It is not a race, it is a journey,” Manno said.

After Bell’s presentation, Manno held up his index finger and acknowledged the power of one. “That’s one 4-H’er. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of youth who are capable of making a difference like Sarah has made,” he said. Manno told the audience that approximately 80 Delaware 4-H youth are presently working on one of the six levels toward a Diamond Clover Award.

Bell’s project

Bell selected childhood illiteracy as her sustained service-learning project after hearing a presentation from Read Aloud Delaware given at Sussex Tech High School, where Bell is a member of the Class of 2014. She titled her project “Read to Succeed Delaware!” and through exhaustive research, Bell discovered that one in five Delawareans are functionally illiterate.

Bell learned that illiteracy rates could be positively impacted if children are reached at a young age. Her examination of the issue also revealed that families with low income had few or no children’s books in the home, a significant contributor to illiteracy.

Bell conceived a plan to establish a means by which families could obtain free children’s books. Bell partnered with the Delaware State Service Center, operated by Delaware’s Division of Health and Human Services.

The centers help families in need with a variety of services. “I thought the idea was perfect. I contacted all the service center administrators in the state and all of them wanted literacy centers,” Bell said. “Their passion for helping people was evident.”

Sarah Bell sets up a literacy center in the Appoquinimink location

Sarah Bell sets up a literacy center in the Appoquinimink branch of a DHSS Center

All 15 centers agreed to provide space and a table for reading and obtaining literacy resources. Bell then approached Read Aloud Delaware and pitched the idea to permanently sponsor the literacy centers. They were willing to help, Bell explained, on the condition that she first establish an initial supply of books to serve all 15 centers, as well as create or obtain literacy resources and displays for families visiting the centers.

Bell recruited a team of 12 youth and adults, and began the process of fundraising and establishing book drives throughout her community. Bell also took advantage of valuable contacts within her communities at Delaware 4-H, Delaware Girl Scouts and her Gethsemane United Methodist Church. Bell credits them for giving her moral support, agreeing to serve as a book donation site, or donating books or the money to purchase them.

Bell put the donations to efficient use and became a book bargain hunter, finding suitable children’s books for as low as ten cents apiece at yard sales and thrift stores. Her church community led in donations for the approximately 3,000 books needed to get the literacy centers in operation. Read Aloud Delaware now oversees responsibility.

The 15 centers, along with new parents at the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, now have access to bilingual materials that stress the importance of literacy and point to where literary resources are available.

In pursuit of the 4-H Diamond Clover Award, Bell soon realized her ultimate goal was less about the award, than it was about making a lasting difference. “It taught me that I can be capable of leading adults as well as youth, and that I can achieve things that I previously thought were beyond my abilities,” she said.

In addition to 4-H, Bell has received numerous recognitions in the Girl Scouts, is a 2014 recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, and is active in her school and church organizations. Bell plans to one day become an elementary school teacher, saying “I look forward to helping my students achieve high literacy levels so they can become successful learners, which will help them become successful adults.”

Click here to view Sarah’s presentation at the award ceremony

Read more about the award process

Article by Michele Walfred

Photo by William Campbell for Delaware 4-H


4-H youth and adults set healthy living goals at conference

January 26, 2014 in mainfeature

Imagine a weekend with close to 80 teenagers, all willing to get up early to walk, run or jog along a cold, coastal boardwalk, eat healthy foods, read nutrition labels, try new exercises, do a fair bit of listening to adults and other peers – meet new friends without awkwardness, and step up to the challenge to help solve health issues – and do it all without any grumbling!

The Delaware delegation at the 2014 youth adult partnershp

The Delaware delegation at the 2014 youth adult partnership

Well, that is exactly what happened! On January 17-19, Delaware 4-H invited the regional 4-H community to “ride the wave to healthy living” and participate in Delaware’s first 4-H Youth-Adult Partnership Conference or YAP. In total, more than 125 4-H youth, parent leaders and UD staff eagerly devoted their bodies, minds and spirit toward learning more about nutrition, fitness and healthy living for themselves, their clubs and their communities. The weekend event was held at the Atlantic Sands Hotel & Conference Center in Rehoboth Beach.

Early morning fitness! ___, Cameron Ernst and Ashley Gouge get their cardio workout

Early morning fitness! Danielle Dixon Cameron Ernst and Ashley Gouge get their cardio workout

For those involved with the 4-H Youth Development, the largest youth program in the country, it comes as no surprise, for 4-H members and leaders are only practicing what they preach. The 4-H pledge, recited at every meeting and event, calls upon members to devote their heads, hearts, hands and health toward better living, clearing thinking and making a difference in their lives and those of their community.

Twenty five 4-H youth and adult volunteers served as the planning committee and met regularly over the past year to develop a program with engaging workshops, two motivational speakers and group activities designed to advance awareness and offer tools toward healthy living goals.

“I can’t say enough about how the teens and adult volunteers embraced the idea and dove into the planning process,” said Mark Manno, Delaware 4-H program leader. “They did everything and the success of the conference is all theirs.”

Part of the West Virgina delegation wave goodbye on Sunday, leaving before the larger group shot for the 5-10 hour trip back home.

Part of the West Virgina delegation wave goodbye on Sunday, leaving before the larger group shot was taken, for the 5-10 hour trip back home.

Manno said the idea of holding a  regional youth-adult conference was first discussed in 2010, when Delaware hosted Northeast adult leaders from 13 neighboring states.  4-H delegations from Massachusetts, West Virgina and Maryland attended this year’s YAP conference.

Sequoia Rent a 4-H Youth Health Program Coordinator, challenged youth with her workshop "Don't Stress About Stress."

Sequoia Rent, 4-H Youth Health Program Coordinator, challenged youth with her workshop “Don’t Stress About Stress.”

The energy was palpable as teams of youth and adults moved from room to room  having selected their choices from the 15 workshops, which covered topics across three broad areas: Nutrition and Fitness, Mental and Emotional Wellness, and Personal and Community Development.  Yoga, cardio-movement, peer-pressure, developing a positive self-image, Internet safety, distracted driving, dealing with stress and conflict, bullying, personal responsibility, identifying healthy refreshments and making wise consumer choices were a few of the specific activities offered. Eleven staff members from UD’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, as well as three Delaware 4-H alumni served as presenters.

Betsy Morris and Michele Rodgers3_1000fb90fd_h

Betsy Morris, one of 11 UD CANR staff who taught at the 4-H event, with Michelle Rodgers

Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension was impressed by her visit of Saturday’s full agenda. “This youth-adult partnership  was packed full of educational content on the health mission mandate,” Rodgers said. “It was a valuable hands-on learning environment.” Rodgers, a Pennsylvania 4-H alumna expressed her gratitude during the Saturday’s luncheon.

“I am delighted to see all the great things you are doing. 4-H has been part of my life. I know what you are doing today and in your club and in your community will really have an impact on your entire life. I want to congratulate you for choosing to use your time in a such valuable way, learning way and appreciate the way you give back to others, ” Rodgers said.

Group or roundtable work was an important component of the weekend

Group or roundtable work was an important component of the weekend

Between sessions, youth and adults, worked in small teams and tasked themselves to identify an issue or need in their school or larger community. Then they developed a strategic plan of action and ways to measure or assess progress. Each team reported their findings to the assembly on Sunday. Some of the issues the 4-H youth identified, and plan to address locally include school bullying, driving while texting, obesity, sexual health and responsibility, drugs and alcohol abuse prevention.

Keylani Warfield poses with healthy snacks in a workshop taught by Kathleen Splane, FCS agent

Keylani Warfield poses with healthy snacks in a workshop taught by Kathleen Splane, FCS agent

Keylani Warfield, seventh grader at Kirk Middle School, where she attends a 4-H Afterschool program, learned a lot from the weekend experience. “I am committed to try new fruits and vegetables before deciding if I like them and also plan to find new ways to incorporate them in my meals.”

Morgan Absher, a student at Phyllis Wheatley Middle School and not currently enrolled in 4-H, was invited to attend the event by her teacher, Krista Scott, a 4-H alumna from Sussex County. “I really want to join 4-H now!” Absher exclaimed.

Shannon Oleen, Saturday's keynote speaker

Shannon Oleen, Saturday’s keynote speaker

Two featured speakers were well received. Shannon Oleen, a Missouri 4-H alumna and former NFL cheerleader for the Kansas City Chiefs, was the keynote speaker who reinforced the importance of a lifelong commitment to fitness and how the right attitude can help a person achieve personal goals. Oleen got everyone up out of their seats during her talk. Oleen also conducted a workshop on fitness in the workplace.

Dylan Bradley & Dr. Gillio exchange information. Gillio is eager to have 4-H'ers become a Force for Health

Dylan Bradley & Dr. Gillio exchange contact information. Gillio is eager to have 4-H’ers become an active partner in a Force for Health

Dr. Robert Gillio, MD, executive director and co-founder for the Force for Health Foundation, gave Sunday’s capstone speech and related his his experiences with disaster relief, including Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina and the Boston Marathon bombings. Gillio also demonstrated his current focus on technology and apps that empower youth to be agents of change. Gillio said that youth are particularly well-suited for the call to volunteer action and making a tangible differences.”Youth can turn around an entire community’s spirit,” Gillio said. Finding 4-H to be the best organized adults and youth  volunteers in the country, Gillio invited 4-H’ers to  join him as  a force for better health. But Gillio reminded his audience, “If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.”

4-H youth and adults took pre and post event i>clicker surveys

4-H youth and adults took pre and post event i>clicker surveys

Pre and post surveys showed a growth in awareness of healthy living issues

Pre and post surveys showed a growth in awareness of healthy living issues

Technology also played a role at the event as attendees used  i>clickers to gauge attitudes about various health topics such as exercise, nutrition and relationships with others. Sundays closing survey demonstrated a measurable shift in favor of new awareness. At Saturday evening’s 4-H dance, Instagram and Twitter posts with the hashtag #DE4HYAP were collected using a social media aggregate platform and projected on the screen to the delight of dancers and chaperones.

Mallory Vogl, NCC 4-H agent and Jill Jackson,SC 4-H agent served as the event co-chairs

Mallory Vogl, NCC 4-H agent and Jill Jackson, SC 4-H agent served as the event co-chairs

Jill Jackson, 4-H youth educator served as staff co-chair along with 4-H educator Mallory Vogl, knew the 4-H staff and planning committee had hit a home run with the event. “I believe a lot of the excitement and camaraderie stemmed from our first roundtable session on Friday night” Jackson said.  “The activities and conversations helped the youth and adults feel more comfortable with each other and they recognized that when youth and adults work together, using everyone’s talents, they can make a positive change.”

“I can’t believe that the fun-filled weekend down at the beach is over. I had such a great time and learned so much #DE4hyap” tweeted Matthew Ernst, New Castle County 4-H’er.

Forget the coffee. 4-H'ers wake up early and smell the sea air - and time for a peaceful silhouette to be captured. Photo by Jody Vasey

Forget the coffee. 4-H’ers wake up early and smell the sea air – and enjoy the time for a peaceful silhouette to be captured. Photo by Jody Vasey

Click here to view more photographs of the Delaware 4-H Youth-Adult Partnership

Story and photos by Michele Walfred

Delaware 4-H Leader Forum

December 10, 2013 in Kent County 4-H, mainfeature, New Castle County 4-H

Be a part of Delaware 4-H’s tradition of excellence and attend the upcoming 2014 Delaware 4-H Volunteer Leader Forum!

YoUDee mascot wearing a 4-h apron

YoUDee is simply floored by Delaware 4-H volunteer leaders! We couldn’t do it without you!

A winter tradition, our forums offer a full day of educational workshops and fellowship with 4-H volunteers and a larger Extension family of experts, agents and educators.  The location of the forum rotates annually among our three counties. This year, Kent County 4-H serves as host at the Polytech High School in Woodside, Delaware.

We are pleased with our diverse workshop offerings! We encourage our 4-H volunteers to learn a new skill to take back to your 4-H clubs!  The Delaware 4-H Leader Forum is open to all Delaware 4-H volunteers and also to adults who are considering joining our fantastic volunteer force.  We will also continue our recognition in leader excellence by announcing the  county and state 2014 Salute to Excellence winners.

Questions or comments? Contact Ernie Lopez, Delaware 4-H Extension Specialist (302) 856-2585 x 561

Delaware 4-H hosts students from Colombia, Ecuador

November 7, 2013 in mainfeature

The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension 4-H Program recently hosted 24 students and four adults from Colombia and Ecuador as part of the 2013 Youth Ambassadors Program.

4-H Youth Ambassadors - PhillyThe program is funded by Department of State through its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

The participants stayed with host families for three weeks, from Oct. 6-27, and participated in various activities that included visiting historic sites in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, meeting with officials including U.S. Rep. John Carney, visiting Delaware schools, taking in a live showing of the theatrical production Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and touring Times Square in New York City.

Mark Manno, Delaware 4-H program leader, said the participants learned a lot about American culture during their stay, perhaps most of all from the host families with whom they stayed. “It was interesting to hear, after they had stayed with host families for awhile, how their opinions changed,” said Manno, noting that a lot of the students came to the country with preconceived notions about the United States and American families.

Flickr Photos of their visit.

Continue reading the article on UDaily

Delaware 4-H delegates head to National Congress

November 5, 2013 in mainfeature

NIne of ten Delaware 4-H'ers pose

First row: Shannon Bradley and Miranda Hunter. Second row: Dustin Waller, Holly Anderson and Jessica Sullivan. Back row: Philip Moore, Ben Shaffer, Jonah Vincent and Andy Duvall. Not available for photo: Ashley Gouge Photo: M.Walfred

Ten Delaware 4-H youth will travel to Atlanta from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3, 2013 and represent Delaware as delegates to the National 4-H Congress. The 92-year tradition recognizes a career of 4-H leadership and project work. In order to be eligible, 4-H’ers must be 14 to 19 years of age and submit a state 4-H record book which chronicles the scope of their leadership, community service and project work acquired through their years of involvement as a Delaware 4-H member.

The delegates from the First State will join approximately 1,000 other delegates from the U.S. and its territories. The theme for this year’s National 4-H Congress is “A Passport to Excellence.” Delegates will participate in leadership development workshops, and engage in a hands-on,  service-learning experience. Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, delegates meet other 4-H members and exchange best practices from their states on how 4-H Youth Development is implemented. When they return to Delaware, they share what they have learned with their clubs and fellow 4-H members across the state.

Congratulations to these ten outstanding 4-H youth.We look forward to hearing all about their trip to Atlanta!

Additional photos (individual and grouped by county) may be found on the Delaware 4-H Flickr site. Here is a little bit about each 4-H delegate:

New Castle County:

Ashley Gouge, 17, is an 11-year member of the Porter Gang 4-H Club in Newark. She grew up on the UD Farm, so it seems to many at the 4-H office, she’s been a 4-H member much longer. Ashley’s major projects are market animals, leadership and textiles and clothing.  Ashley has gone from cutting out patterns to learning how to attach a bodice and skirt to make a dress. She also has learned how to stitch in a ditch. In the sheep project she learned how to pull a lamb and treat abscesses. Ashley has served as her club’s president and New Castle County Junior Council president. Ashley gives a lot of credit to 4-H for making her the outgoing and personable leader she is today. She credits giving demonstrations and participating in 4-H camp skits for giving her the confidence to try out for acting parts in school. Ashley is currently serving as vice president of the State 4-H Teen Council. She lives with her brother and parents Ron and Karen in Newark and aspires to be a veterinarian.

Miranda Hunter, 17, attends St. Elizabeth High School in Wilmington. Miranda has been a 4-H member for nine years with the Flock of Friends 4-H Club. Her major projects have been sheep and dairy. Although not a “farm girl” Miranda has taken to agriculture as if her family had farmed for generations! Miranda’s sheep skills have grown from cleaning out pens to lancing wounds and administering antibiotics. With the dairy project, Miranda has learned what cows eat and the challenging skill – haltering breaking cows. In 2013, Miranda was selected to attend the 2013 National 4-H Dairy Conference in Madison, Wisc.  Miranda has had many leadership experiences including serving as her club president.  Miranda believes that 4-H is about people and she has  made many friends and grown closer to her family as a result of her involvement. Miranda and her sister live with their mother Robyn in Newark.

Ben Shaffer, 17,  of Middletown has been an 11-year member of the Summit Bridge 4-H Club. During this time, his major project areas have been foods and swine. Ben’s leadership experiences have been teaching foods at Delaware State 4-H camp and preparing and serving food at the Emmanuel Dining Room.  Through his swine project, Ben has learned a great deal about animal agriculture and employing the five methods of giving pigs injectable medications.  Ben cites his 4-H experiences at Camp Barnes as a defining moment in his life. Ben aspires to be an architect. Ben has two brothers who were also in 4-H. He is a senior at St. Mark’s High School and is the son of Brenda and Dennis Shaffer.

Kent County:

Philip Moore, 17, of Dover, is an 8-year member of the Woodside Emeralds 4-H Club and attends Polytech High School. Philip’s involvement with 4-H is marked by large amounts of community volunteer service and has completed no less than 13 projects. Of these, his main 4-H projects have been photography, woodworking, leadership and citizenship. In 2012, he attended National 4-H Conference where he got to meet people from 33 states, Puerto Rico and 10 Canadians! Since 2008, Philip has volunteered an impressive 2,409 hours of community service. Philip has been involved in many volunteer 4-H leadership experiences, holding offices and serving on numerous committees. Philip is the son of Bryan Higbee and Tracey Moore-Higbee. He has one brother and aspires to a career in aeronautics or aviation, no doubt inspired by his volunteer work at Dover Air Force Base. Philip is currently working on his Diamond Clover Project at Dover AFB.

Jessica Marie Sullivan, 16, is a member of her hometown’s Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club. She has been in 4-H forever, or for at least most of her 16 years!  Her major projects are clothing, goats, photography, leadership and citizenship, although she has tried just about everything 4-H has to offer. Like so many of the top 4-H members in Delaware, Jessica spends a lot of time volunteering. Since 20o5 Jessica has logged in an impressive 4,000 hours of community service. During that same time span she spent 9,720 hours in school. Jessica has embraced all that 4-H offers and she has held many offices with leadership responsibilities, promoted 4-H  both locally and statewide and has held leadership experiences as a class officer in FFA and in the Business Professionals of America. Jessica has one brother who was also in 4-H. She is the daughter of Dale and Linda Sullivan and attends Lake Forest High School. Jessica aspires to a career in marketing or public relations. She got a great start to that this summer when she interned at the Delaware State Fair.

Sussex County:

Holly Anderson, 16, of Milton, is an 11-year member of both the Hollymount and Sussex County 4-H Livestock Clubs. She isa sophomore at Sussex Tech High School.  While she has taken many projects, her strengths have been in dairy, foods, leadership and citizenship. Since 2005 Holly has lost over $3,000 on her dairy projects!  This is clearly a real-world learning experience in modern agriculture, but she’ll probably tell you that the learning she received was well worth the cost. In addition to 4-H, Holly has been active in the Delaware Junior Holstein Association. She has been active in just about everything that 4-H does in Sussex County. In addition she has been very involved in school and community-based projects. Holly’s parents are Paul and Sharon Anderson. She has one brother and one sister, both of whom are very active in 4-H. Holly aspires to a career in veterinary science.

Shannon Bradley, 16, of Seaford, is a member of the Seaford Blue Jays 4-H Club. She is a sophomore at Sussex Tech High School. Shannon has been active in a number of projects in her eight years in 4-H, but the ones that have kept her the busiest are clothing and textiles and foods, including food preservation. Foods is her favorite because it allows her to be creative. She does admit to burnt food, mushy fudge, brick biscuits and a disastrous effort in making strawberry jam using the wrong recipe. But mistakes are how we learn! Shannon enjoys both Delaware 4-H State Camp and the Delaware State Fair. Her newest project is photography which Shannon sees as important in capturing life’s memories. Shannon’s parents are Steve and Jacalyn Bradley and she has one brother, Nathan, a 4-H alumni. She aspires to a career in business.

Andy Duvall, 17, of Millsboro, is a member of the Country Clovers 4-H Club. He is junior at Sussex Tech High School. This is his 7th year in 4-H. Andy has taken a number of 4-H projects over the years including fishing, archery, horticulture, leadership, citizenship, wildlife, tractor and small engines. Andy has been a fixture at the Delaware State Fair’s 4-H compact tractor operation contest. He represented Delaware at the National 4-H Engineering Event at Purdue University where he earned Seventh Place  nationally. He has also been very active in the wildlife project. Over the past five years Andy has spent more than 3,700 hours in wildlife management, most of it associated with the Quality Deer Management program. He also volunteers extensively with Delaware Wildlands, Inc. Andy’s parents are Tammy and Charles Duvall. He has one brother. As you might expect, Andy aspires to a career in wildlife management, no doubt due to his long association with wildlife projects in 4-H.

Jonah Vincent, 16,  is a senior at Delmar High School. He is an 8- year member of the Rossakatum 4-H Club. Jonah has had a wide variety of project experiences in 4-H including field crops, beef, swine, foods, health and more. Jonah’s most memorable experience came early on in his 4-H journey when he was selected to be globe bearer at his first state 4-H camp. In 2013 he was selected to represent Delaware at National 4-H Conference in Chevy Chase, Md. In school he has been active in football, basketball and golf as well as FFA. Jonah comes from a long time 4-H family in Laurel. He has four brothers and two sisters. Jonah’s parents Raymond and Charity.  He aspires to be a professional golfer,but has a good backup plan, that of being a farmer.

Dustin Waller,16, of Georgetown, has been member of the Clover Knights 4-H Club. He attends Sussex Technical High School. He has taken the woodworking and archery 4-H projects for 7 years each, photography for six years and goats and rabbits for five years each. Recently he has been taking electric and robotics. He has been in 4-H for 11 years. His first and best love though is woodworking and all the learning experiences that gave him. In his first county woodworking contest he placed first. Dustin actually admits to studying for the contest. The best part of 4-H though says Dustin is that it allowed him to do things with his dad. Dustin has been very active in both leadership and citizenship in 4-H participating in everything from Tots for Tots to beach cleanup. Dustin’s parents are Norris (Bo) Waller and Donna Waller. He has two brothers and two sisters. He aspires to a career as an HVAC electrician.

Fall into Sussex 4-H Family Fun Night

October 18, 2013 in mainfeature, Sussex County 4-H

As part of the Engaging Youth, Serving Communities initiative we had over 41 4-H youth working the event, and 12 adult volunteer leaders!  Additionally, we served over 166 community youth and adults who came to the event, and 60 of them were first time attendees to the Seaford Family Night on October 4, 2013!

Our partners were the Sussex Health Promotion Coalition and the Boys and Girls Club.  The goal of the evening was to share the wonders of 4-H and allow the community to sample just a few of our Healthy Living Initiatives.

Guests experienced our beautiful fall decorations, a “slow bike race”, line dancing, hula hoop contests, IM40 Asset Development, Health Rocks modules, games, tin punch craft, cup cakes (yum!), corn toss, music, pizza and swimming.  With the Sussex 4H leaders and youth, guests knew they were in for a fun and well executed event!  It was a great evening for our youth and the community.  What a fun way to show others the wonders of 4-H.  And, 95% of those who filled out surveys told us that they learned something new about living healthy as a result of the event.

Mary Argo named 2013 Joy Sparks Spirit of 4-H Award for Sussex County

October 9, 2013 in mainfeature, Sussex County 4-H

mary Argo poses with award

Mary Argo stands with Mark Manno, right, and members of Joy Sparks family, niece Lindsay Gooden Hughes, right,  and Sparks’ brother Alex Gooden, left.

Delaware 4-H has announced Mary Argo as the 2013 recipient of the Joy Sparks Spirit of 4-H Award for Sussex County. Argo was honored during the Sussex County 4-H annual achievement celebration held on Sept. 28, 2013 at the Carvel Research & Education Center in Georgetown, before an audience of approximately 150 4-H families and supporters. Recipients for the award in New Castle and Kent County will be announced at later 4-H events.

Mary Argo expresses her surprise and gratitude for the honor

Mary Argo expresses her surprise and gratitude for the honor

Argo, who retired in April 2013 as Sussex 4-H educator was surprised as her name was called to the stage. In attendance to support her grandchildren in 4-H, and to later present the Friend of 4-H Award to volunteer leader Dr. William Campbell, Argo was continuing her career tradition of happily handing out awards to others.  Her arrival on stage to accept the honor was met with a standing ovation.

“This is a surprise! I had not a clue about this!” Argo exclaimed. “I have been very, very jealous of all the people who have gone before who have won this,” Argo continued. “This is a wonderful, wonderful award. I can’t think of anyone finer to follow than Joy Sparks.”

The Joy Sparks Spirit of 4-H Award was established in 2009, in memory of Joy Sparks, Delaware 4-H program leader, who died in February of that same year. The honor recognizes outstanding achievement in individuals who exhibit dedication, enthusiasm and embody 4-H values. The four H’s of the program represent Head, Heart, Hands and Health, which members and volunteers pledge to dedicate to their club, community and country through leadership, citizenship and the furtherance of life skills and community service.

Mary Argo’s career began at the University of Delaware 23 years ago, the last 18 as Sussex County 4-H agent. One of Argo’s signature events was coordinating the annual 4-H Spring Farm Tours at Green Acres Farm – an event that invites area school children to visit Delaware’s largest dairy farm, owned and operated by the Hopkins family of Lewes.  Each year, for two day in May, this valuable partnership welcomes between 1,500 and 2,000 youth who embark on discovery and participate in the sounds, smells and textures offered as lessons in an authentic agricultural experience – oftentimes, receiving their first introduction to Cooperative Extension and the University of Delaware. With the help of Argo’s colleagues at Carvel, tens of thousands of young students have been reached through this one event alone during her tenure as 4-H agent.

Argo was recognized for her belief in the value of personal visits, through which Argo cultivated many strong community relationships throughout her career.  A particular favorite program Argo initiated was Fridays with 4-H, an afterschool program at La Casita in Georgetown. Every Friday, Argo introduced 4-H curriculum and experiential learning activities. The outreach program impacted hundreds of Latino youth in Sussex County and was the direct result of Argo’s networking and personal touch in her community.

“All who know Mary never fail to mention her tireless work ethic, positive outlook and enthusiastic dedication to make 4-H available to every child in Delaware,” said Mark Manno as he read from the nomination. “She has never missed an opportunity to shine the spotlight on an accomplishment of a 4-H youth member or adult volunteer.”

Argo joined 4-H at the age of 10, as an inaugural member of the Broadkill Kool Kats 4-H Club, a club founded by her mother, Frances Millman. As an adult, Mary served as the club’s organizational leader for 12 years. In 1986, Argo was inducted into the prestigious 4-H alumni organization known as the Sussex County 4-H Order of the Link. Two of Argo’s daughters are currently Delaware 4-H leaders, and 10 of her 11 grandchildren are currently enrolled in Delaware 4-H.

Argo was joined on stage by members of Joy Sparks family, brother Alex Gooden and niece Lindsay Gooden Hughes,who presented Argo with the award.

Donald Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair in Soil and Environmental Chemistry was not able to join family members at the ceremony, said later, “Mary richly deserves the 2013 Joy Sparks Spirit of 4-H Award. Her numerous contributions to Delaware 4-H will be long lasting. I wish her the very best.”

For a career and 4-H program dedicated to “Making the Best Better,” Argo’s best will be hard to beat.

Article and photo by  Michele Walfred