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Madison County schools celebrate Arbor Day

Country artist Trace Adkins sings a song titled "Just Fishin." In the song there's a little girl and her father sitting on the bank of the river with lines in the water, and she thinks they are just fishing. However, the daddy knows the real truth is there is so much more going on. Stuff like relationship building, memory making and maybe even a little environmental education.

We could change the title of that song to "Just 4-H-ing" because there is so much more than just being in a 4-H club. Stuff like relationship building, memory making, education and a huge amount of fun! Last Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting Lee Elementary, Pinetta Elementary, Madison County Central, Madison Creative Arts Academy and Greenville Elementary to celebrate Arbor Day. Our county forester, Zachary Butler, joined me as we educated students about Arbor Day and the proper way to plant a tree. Thanks to Alan and Amy Webb of Superior Trees, Inc., a class from each school was able to plant a Red Maple tree on their school's campus.

4-H gave these students the chance to do something that few children get to experience - planting a tree. But they were doing much more than just planting a tree! They were learning to work together as a team, improving and beautifying the environment, engaging in an environmental education lesson, memory making and, above all, having fun. The students are now responsible for the welfare of that tree so they are also learning a little responsibility along the way.

Your child can also greatly benefit from a Madison County 4-H program! These programs are grounded in the belief that kids learn best by doing, like planting and taking care of trees on their school campuses, for example. Kids complete hands-on projects in areas like science, health, agriculture and civic engagement, all in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Kids can concentrate on one focus area or they can try a variety of programs throughout their 4-H experience. Regardless of the project area, all 4-H programs include mentoring and career readiness as their core elements.

4-H focuses on four major program areas:

1) STEM and Agriculture. 4-H science programs provide 4-H youth the opportunity to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through fun, hands-on activities and projects.

2) Healthy Living. 4-H healthy living programs help 4-H youth learn how to lead lives that balance physical, mental and emotional health.

3) Civic Engagement. 4-H civic engagement programs empower young people to be well-informed citizens who are actively engaged in their communities and the world.

Madison County 4-H is waiting for you and your children ages five to 18. Sign your child up today, it is never too early to enroll and your 4-H adventure awaits --"Just 4-H-ing." Give us a call at the Madison County IFAS Extension office (850) 973-4138.

The University of Florida Extension/IFAS-Madison County is an Equal Employment Opportunity Institution.

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