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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dear Editor:

I have personally been affiliated with Florida 4-H since I was ten years old and, like many of you, camped at Cherry Lake nearly every summer, from grammar school through high school. Cherry Lake is a very special place!

When I was employed at North Florida Community College, I served on the Madison County 4-H Advisory Council for eight years, often judging the Tropicana 4-H Speaking Contests. In 2002, the Henry Davis Scholarship, in honor of Taylor County's long-serving Agricultural Extension Agent, was established to assist in funding 4-H members from Taylor County to attend Camp Cherry Lake. The Scholarship was recently endowed with the University of Florida Foundation thereby generating additional income for Cherry Lake scholarships. For the past several years, I have served as Chair of the Scholarship Committee.

Several months ago, I was asked to serve on the Florida 4-H Foundation Board. At my first meeting, I learned that there are only three 4-H Camps left in Florida; Camp Timpoochee in Niceville, Camp Clover Leaf in Lake Placid, and Camp Cherry Lake in Madison County. I recently visited two of those camps and intend to visit the third camp in the near future. When I was a teenager, there were at least six or more 4-H Camps in Florida. We cannot afford to lose another 4-H Camp!

Every year, nearly 3,000 4-H members and others attend Camp Cherry Lake. Twenty-seven Florida counties bring their 4-H members to Cherry Lake. That is over 40% of Florida's 67 counties that camp at Cherry Lake. In the past nine years, nearly eight thousand 4-H members have camped at Cherry Lake (7,986 to be exact). This past year, Jefferson County sent 103 4-H members to Cherry Lake and over the past nine years, Jefferson County has sent 953 4-H members to Cherry Lake. Cherry Lake is our camp!

Camp Cherry Lake, in particular, is a vital component of the 4-H experience not just for our community but for twenty-six other Florida communities. In addition to what Camp Cherry Lake does for the 4-H members who camp there, Cherry Lake is an economic development issue when you consider the financial impact it has on our community. Many, if not most, of the summer employment at Camp Cherry Lake comes from the North Florida community. Much of the food for campers and staff is purchased from local merchants. Adults accompanying campers buy gasoline and may dine in our local restaurants. One of the tenants of Economic Development, in addition to recruiting new business and industry, is to keep the businesses you have from closing or collapsing.

But there is good news! Camp Cherry Lake is due for a major renovation of the pavilion in the New Year. The renovation will cost $750,000, however, $500,000 is already available for the project, leaving a shortfall of $250,000. The University of Florida Foundation has agreed to match any amount prospective donors may make starting with a minimum of $1,000. That means we only have to raise $125,000 to meet the goal. Several generous donors have already stepped forward to receive matching donations.

The purpose of this letter is to solicit contributions for the renovation project for 4-H Camp Cherry Lake. Online payments can be made at the following site: www.uff.ufl.edu/give/4Hcamps. Personal checks should be made out to The University of Florida Foundation, with a notation in the lower left-hand corner that specifies 4-H Camp Cherry Lake and mailed to:

Mendy Allen UFIIFAS Advancement Team 1604 McCarty Drive, PO Box 110170 Gainesville, Fl 32611 (352) 294-0886 Office (352) 222-8585 Cell.

If you have questions regarding this project, please call me at 850-584-6947 or Mendy Allen with the UF/IFAS Advancement Office.

Sincerely,

Morris Steen

Florida 4-H Foundation Board of Directors

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