Water Safety!

Summer is here and that means it’s time to get in the water!  Beaches, springs, rivers, lakes, pools, and rain puddles there isn’t a limit for water activities in Florida.  That’s why teaching our children (and reminding ourselves) the importance of water safety is critical.  No matter how young or old, everyone should have a basic understanding of how to stay safe in and near the water as well as looking out for the safety of others.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ready.gov, and the American Red Cross all provide tips on staying safe in all types of water conditions.  Here are a few to remember as water levels are high and summer water activities ramp up.

Flood Safety:

  1. Avoid flooded streets or water running across a road. Water is deceptive and is often deeper and stronger than it appears.  Flood water poses drowning risks for everyone, regardless of their ability to swim. Swiftly moving shallow water can be deadly, and even shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children.  Remember “Turn around, don’t drown!”
  2. Vehicles do not provide adequate protection from flood waters. They can be swept away or may stall in moving water.
  3. Roads may still be closed because they have been damaged or are covered by water. Barricades have been placed for your protection. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, go another way.
  4. Be alert and avoid contact with displaced animals, insects, and reptiles due to flood waters or storms.
  5. Be cautious if you have to cross standing waters as flood waters may contain sharp objects, such as glass or metal fragments, that can cause injury and lead to infection.
  6. Do not drink water from standing puddles or flooded areas as these may be contaminated and contain infectious diseases and/or chemicals.
  7. Avoid downed power lines, especially near water. The risk for electrical shock is even greater near water.


Water Activity Safety:

  1. Be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
  2. Always wear a lifejacket when enjoying a watercraft activity.
  3. Maintain active supervision within arm’s length of children around any type of water. NEVER leave children unsupervised even for a minute!
  4. Be aware of current water and weather conditions such as approaching storms, tide times, undertow, currents, wind advisory, chop levels, sudden drop offs, etc.
  5. Stay vigilant of watercraft nearby when in the water. These crafts are bigger and move faster than you and often cannot spot a swimmer in the water until it is too late.
  6. While operating a watercraft, be aware of smaller craft and persons in the water. Look for buoys indicating a dive site as well.
  7. Never dive into a body of water unless the depth is known. Water is deceptive and is often deeper than it appears.
  8. Follow posted swimming guidelines and obey flags and orders of stationed lifeguards.
  9. No basic first aid and CPR procedures in case of an emergency.
  10. Never go into a body of water (man-made or natural) alone. Always make sure more than one person knows where you are and establish check-in times.

Originally published in our monthly column for the Madison Enterprise Recorder.

Suwannee Valley Open House Twilight Field Day, May 2nd


We would like to invite all of you to join the Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center to our upcoming Open House Twilight Field Day on the evening of Tuesday May 2nd   from 5pm to 8:30pm.

We have divided the evening into five tour options and you will be able to join any two of the five tours during the event. The tours include: Agronomic Crops, Vegetable Crops, Greenhouse / Hydroponics, Whole Farm Integrated Pest Management, and Diversified Fruit Orchard Crops. Each tour will give a brief overview of the research and demonstration activities being conducted at this Center.  In addition, youth ages 5-18 can join a Youth Tour that will include an introduction to Florida 4-H with some activities like taste testing, entomology, and a couple of other surprises. This event is open not only to farmers but to the community and to anyone in the region interested in learning about what we do.

The cost is $5, and admission is free for children less than 5 years of age (dinner is included).

Registration is required.

Online registration is available at http://www.2017twilight.eventbrite.com or https://tinyurl.com/l5hjhww

For more information see the attached flyer or contact Dilcia Toro at (386)362-1725 ext. 102 or svaec@ifas.ufl.edu

Please share this information with anyone you think might be interested.

2017Twilight Field Day Flyer


We love our TedTalks at Madison 4-H! Be sure to check out this informational article on TedxTeen, a Ted site molded for our youth.

Florida 4-H: Northeast District

Love TED Talks but looking for something that resonates even more with your 4-H youth?

Enter TEDxTeen.  Talks especially designed with teens in mind.  Check them out at:  www.tedxteen.com

How can you use TED Talks?

  •  To teach public speaking.  A great way to allow 4-H members to critique other speakers.
  • To learn new skills.   The magnitude of the scientific TED Talks available is mind-boggling.
  • To motivate.  Are you about to teach bullying prevention to 4-H camp counselors?  Find a video that paints the importance of looking out for one another.
  • To continue a conversation.  Have you been discussing the value of leadership in 4-H County Council meetings?  How about assigning a TED Talk of the month, and dedicate a few minutes of each meeting to discussion on how 4-H’ers can apply what they learned to their own leadership style.
  • Search TED-ed for lesson plans based on TED Talks!

What’s your favorite…

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Give the Gift of Camp!

If you are interested in supporting the 2017 Madison County 4-H summer programs or the general fund, please contact the Madison County Extension Office.  Our office hours are 8a.m. to 5p.m., Monday through Friday.  You can reach us at 850-973-4138.

Thank you to our 2016 summer sponsors!

4-H is a national and international non-profit organization that depends heavily on generous supporters to maintain our quality programming and activities.  Madison County 4-H is proud to have the wonderful support year-in and year-out from our community.  Even the smallest monetary donation or provision of supplies allows us to give our youth the opportunity to develop into bright, independent, contributing citizens.

We would like to thank our 2016 Summer Sponsors who helped send 110 youth to summer camps, day camps, and leadership opportunities:

Madison County Community Bank

Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Jeff & Mina Bloodworth


Ronnie Moore

Leigh Barfield (Political Advertisement)

Lisa Tuten (Political Advertisement)

Tim Sanders (Political Advertisement)

Bailey & Leigh Ann Browning (Political Advertisement)

Tommy Hardee (Political Advertisement)

Johnson & Johnson

Freddy Pitts

Deloris Jones


Journey 2050 Online Game Teaches Students Sustainability

Via Florida Ag in the Classroom:

Hello, Florida middle and high school teachers. On days when you have a half hour or so to fill and you need to teach your students about sustainability in an engaging way, Florida Agriculture in the Classroom has the answer.

Journey 2050 is an online educational platform that allows students to compete against each other to become the most sustainable farm. They can play individually on hand-held devices or lap tops or computers, or as a class with the game projected on a screen. If you play the game, conduct a couple of the activities available on the Journey 2050 website and complete a short Survey Monkey poll at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Journey2050 by June 1, 2017 we will pay you $50. Just email Becky Sponholtz at sponholtz@ufl.edu and let us know you completed the project.

To learn more about the Journey 2050 educational platform and to register as a teacher at no cost, please visit http://www.journey2050.com/teacher-experience/ Please feel free to contact Lisa Gaskalla at info@naitco.org if you have any questions.

Stress Management Series- Part 4 of 4

Part 4

Learn by Doing, the motto that leads us all.  Now that we’ve concluded our Stress Manangement Series, we’d love to hear from you!  Share what you’ve learned by posting on any of our social media sites with the hashtags #madco4h and #4HGrowsHere

For example:

Have you tried out any of the suggested stress management techniques?

What have you learned from those that you’ve tried?  Were they helpful?

How did you modify them to meet your needs or the needs of the youth in your life?

Would you make any suggestions to others?

Stress Management Series- Part 3 of 4

Per request we are publishing the “Stress Management” series published in our monthly column for the Madison Enterprise Recorder.

Part 3

Congratulations!  We’ve successfully navigated the first month of 2017!  As we rounded out 2016 we were exploring stress management techniques for our youth, families, and ourselves.  Have you been able to be mindful of keeping your stress in check?  Have you noticed your efforts rubbing off on those around you, especially your kids?  Remember “Lean By Doing” is not just the 4-H motto, it’s the most successful method for breaking bad habits and building new ones.  Managing stress is often a trigger habit to help you and your family stick with those New Year’s Resolutions.  The American Psychological Association offers tips on navigating stress to reach healthy habit goals.


APA offers the following tips to get you and your family started down a healthy path:

  • Evaluate your lifestyle.As a parent, it’s important to model healthy behaviors for your children. Children are more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle and less likely to associate stress with unhealthy behaviors if the whole family practices healthy living and good stress management techniques. So, ask yourself ― How do I respond to stress? Do I tend to overeat or engage in other unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, when I feel stressed? In what ways could my stress coping skills be improved?
  • Talk about it.If you notice that your children are looking worried or stressed, ask them what’s on their minds. Having regular conversations can help a family work together to better understand and address any stressors children are experiencing. Low levels of parental communication have been associated with poor decision making among children and teens.Talking to your children and promoting open communication and problem solving is just as important as eating well and getting enough exercise and sleep.
  • Create a healthy environment.Your home, work space and even social environment can influence your behaviors. Altering your environment can help alleviate stress. For example, cleaning up a cluttered environment can help. Look around your home and even your car and ask yourself, does this space feel clear and relaxing? Clearing up your home space for the family is something you and your children can control, and it teaches children to focus on those things they can control when feeling stressed.
  • Focus on yourself. The correlation between health, obesity and unhealthy choices is strong. When you and your family are experiencing stress, make a conscious decision to take care of yourselves. Get adequate doses of nutrients, physical activity and sleep. When you feel overwhelmed it is easy sometimes to fall into cycles such as eating fast food, plugging into sedentary electronic activities like playing video games or watching TV, or not getting enough sleep. Research shows that children who are sleep-deficient are more likely to have behavioral problems. And, parents have an extraordinary amount of influence on their children’s food choices. A healthy dinner followed by an activity with your family, such as walking, bike riding, playing catch or a board game, and topped off with a good night’s sleep can do a lot to manage or to lessen the negative effects of stress.
  • Change one habit at a time.You may aspire for your family to make multiple important changes at once such as eating healthier foods, being more physically active, getting a better night’s sleep or spending more time together. However, if you are already overextended from juggling many different responsibilities, doing all of this at once can feel overwhelming. Changing behaviors usually takes time. By starting with changing one behavior, you and your family are more likely to experience success, which can then encourage your family to tackle other challenges and to continue making additional healthy changes.
  • Seek Professional Help. If you or a family member continues to struggle with changing unhealthy behaviors or feels overwhelmed by stress, consider seeking help from a health professional, such as a psychologist. Psychologists are licensed and trained to help you develop strategies to manage stress effectively and make behavioral changes to help improve your overall health.