New 4-H facility opens in Milton

Jody Conrad | Special to the Press Gazette

For nine years, Prudence Caskey, Santa Rosa County 4-H Youth Development Agent, has waited patiently, writing grants and raising funds for the a new facility. 

On Sept. 25, that patience paid off as the new 4-H facility opened its doors and the public was invited in.

4-H members and guests enjoy the covered pavillion at the new Field Education Facility.

4-H is a youth development program available to students ages 5 to 18. The program offers a variety of extra-curricular topics to learn about, including animals, computers, cooking, gardening, natural sciences, leadership, and more. Students are taught to set goals and accomplish them through project work.

Formerly, 4-H students borrowed classrooms in the nearby extension office. Now, their own Field Education Facility boasts a classroom, laundry area, large restroom with showers for clean up following field work, a multi-purpose area, and a large covered pavilion.

The new 4-H Education Facility is located at 6263 Dogwood Drive.

“With the new building, we’ll be able to not only instruct students in their areas of interest,” Caskey said, “but we’ll be able to hold our presentations and demonstrations in our classroom and pavilion areas. With the donation of large screen TV for our classroom, our students will get even more experience with computerized presentation skills. It’s a win-win situation.”

Grace English, whose mother is Extension Agent Mary English, greeted visitors to the open house with Commander, her pet chicken in tow. Grace, who is a middle-schooler at Santa Rosa Christian School, said she’s participated in 4-H since she was much younger because of her mom’s involvement. 

Touring visitors around the facility, Grace pointed out the classroom, whose walls will soon be decorated with the 4-H motto: Hands, Hearts, Heads, Health. 

Prudence Caskey and Grace English, along with Commander the chicken, show off the sponsor board.

“On one wall all of us will get to paint our hands and put our handprints on the walls," Grace said. "The next wall will have hearts painted on it, the third wall will have faces, and the last wall will feature a health theme.”

In addition to Prudence Caskey’s fundraising efforts, Local Option Sales Tax monies contributed to this functional and much-needed facility.

Caskey concluded with a plea for volunteers to offer their time to help raise up the county’s future leaders.

“We are in need of adults to serve as club leaders, to help teach and instill positive values in our children,” she said.

Willing adults can contact Caskey at the extension office at 850-623-3868, or email her at prudencecaskey@ufl.edu.