BONIFAY — Holmes County Extension Agent Judith Corbus and Holmes County 4-H Agent Niki Crawson for the University of Florida IFAS Extension visited the Bonifay Kiwanis Club on Wednesday, March 6 to talk about the services they provide to both adults and children in Holmes County.
“Our goal is to take IFAS information down to a county level,” said Corbus. “Holmes County is highly agricultural and we’ve been blessed with an abundant food supply at an affordable price. We’re working with sustainable resources and we’ve got all the resources of the University of Florida right here on a county level, which can help establish things like organic farming and beekeeping.”
She said there are a total of 309,120 acres in Holmes County, 1,037 farms, 151,812 acres on those farms that include woodland, 210,000 acres of managed timberland, 45,991 acres of cropland and the market value of agricultural products sold in Holmes County is $24 million.
“We’ve got agronomic crops, which is your peanuts, cotton, soybeans and field corn and we’ve got livestock production that includes beef cattle, goats and horses,” said Corbus. “We’ve also got farmers who are looking for other options, such as vegetable crops, beekeeping and organic farming and that’s what where here for. To help them get started and assist them in any way possible.”
An example is the soil sampling service they provide. For $7 they take a soil sample and after tested they can determine what is required of the farmer or homeowner to do what they wish to do.
“Our main area of interest is in the community,” she said. “We focus on nutrition and health, food preservation, housing and homebuyer education, resource management, consumer education and balancing work and family in stress management.”
In the area of Nutrition and Heath they work with MyPlate, physical activity/healthy lifestyles, Nutrition Education to 25 Council on Aging congregate meal participants monthly, food safety, food preservation with pressure canning classes, safe food handling and temperature testing of COA home-delivered meals.
“Not everyone knows that we’re involved in the State Housing Initiative Partnership, which provides down payment and closing cost assistance for first-time homebuyers and rehab assistance for existing homeowners,” said Corbus. “We also have the SHIP Homebuyer Education Program, which is a six-hour class to make sure you’re ready and able to buy a house. We’re about improving the quality of life in Holmes County.”
She said they are also a credit report provided and their research management includes establishing a spending plan, credit use, credit report/credit score, certified credit report reviewers and a Master Money Mentor Program.
They even help with stress management courses, she said.
Upcoming programs include the monthly Healthy Cooking Demonstrations with the Holmes County Health Department at the Holmes County Agricultural Center, which is held at 9 a.m. on March 28, 12 p.m. on April 25, 11 a.m. on May 16, 12 p.m. on June 20 and 11 a.m. on July 18.
Homebuyer Education Classes will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on March 19 and 21 at the Holmes County Agricultural Center.
A Beginners Pressure Canning Class will be held from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on March 26 at the Holmes County Agricultural Center.
A Multi-County Cooking Class will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on May 23 at the Washington County Agricultural Center.
A You Be Jammin’ 4-H Day Camp will be held on Aug. 7, which will teach youth the basics of making and canning jam.
For more information visit their website at holmes.ifas.ufl.edu and www.solutionsforyourlife.com.
Crawson gave a quick update on the Farmer’s Market, since it was a matter of topic at the last meeting she attended.
“We’re looking for some vegetable crop producers to get the Farmer’s Market up and running,” said Crawson. “It’s going to come back in phases. The University is trying to work with the Farm Bureau to get a coop going.”
She said that in order to see it come back it would need the community’s support.
“So if you do vegetables and are interested in distribution, contact the office for more info,” said Crawson. “I really want to see that come to fruition.”
Crawson was present mainly to talk about the 4-H program.
“This isn’t about barns and animals any more,” said Crawson. “We’re unique because we learn by doing. With us there’s no mistakes; you don’t know if you don’t try and if you don’t get it just right then we’ve just learned something else.”
She said that the UF/IFAS Extension 4-H Youth Development Program “uses a learn-by-doing approach in safe environments, utilizing caring adults to help youth gain the knowledge and skills they need to be responsible and productive citizens.”
“You ever bump into a kid in the grocery store and they don’t even say ‘excuse me’ and their heads are down in their technology and the reason they bumped into you in the first place is because they weren’t mindful of where they were heading?” she asked. “4-H is about respect. Our motto is to make the best even better through learning leadership skills, positive decision making, communication skills, problem solving skills, goal setting and responsibility.”
The best way to learn, she said, is by doing.
“Your brain can only hold as much as your derriere can endure,” she said. “Kids these days have even shorter attention spans then when I was young so we’ve got to keep our youth doing in order to keep them learning.”
She said they had many programs to do just that, which include clubs like the Dead Center Archery Club, Sewing Club and United Clovers Club and activities like the 4-H Camp Timpoochee, 4-H Food, Fun and Reading, 4-H/Tropicana Public Speaking Contest and much more.
“We’ve also got an Air Rifle Club, Shotgun Club, SeaPerch Underwater Robotics, Summer Day Camps and School Enrichment Programming coming up soon,” said Crawson. “What’s more is that we could really use some volunteers. If you’d like to be an instructor but don’t know how I’ll send you to training and we’ll pay for it.”
If someone wasn’t interested in being a leader there were also minor roles of supervisor, judge or sponsor.
“You can simply donate your time or invest as a sponsor,” she said. “Like with the SeaPerch Underwater Robotics it’s $150 per kid and $150 per robot. They put this robot together and compete if they’d like and one robot can have up to three kids.”
She said if who bought the robot would be the sponsor of that team.
“For example if USDA bought a robot then that would be team USDA,” she said. “Or you can just donate. We’re also looking for reliable transportation.”
The 4-H youth has a van, however Crawson said there is a short in the electrical where they can’t use both the headlights and the windshield wipers.
“The only way we can insure a bright future for our children is to work with them now,” she said. “There’s a lot more freedom in 4-H for teaching children.”