August 4, 2010

A Farewell from Our 4-H Youth Mentors

Jean Rogalsky, 4-H Agent, Pinellas County Extension

As summer draws to a close, so do the job assignments of the 4-H Youth Mentors. Youth Mentors have developed and delivered programs, wrote curriculum, and assisted in a variety of office tasks. The 4-H Youth Mentor position has been supported by the Pinellas County 4-H Foundation for the past two years. During this time, 4-H Youth Mentors have contributed articles to Timely Topics. Melissa Sharp and Andrew Yuan both completed their tenure as Youth Mentors last week. Before they left, they each wrote a final article describing their experiences in 4-H and as Youth Mentors. Melissa will be attending the Florida Institute of Technology and Andrew will be attending Duke University.

A 4-H Farewell
By Andrew Yuan

I came into 4-H in the fall of 2007 through a bit of an unconventional route. My brother Eric was a 4-H Youth Mentor and he had the car. I needed volunteer hours and I didn’t want to take the bus home. So I became a 4-H volunteer in the Pinellas County Extension Office. I helped my brother and Richard (the other mentor) with whatever projects they were working on. I learned to do as I was told, and I became very familiar with the copy machine. Throughout the school year I worked on developing the Technology Team.

I stayed on in the summer, expecting to work more with the 4-H Tech Team. Instead I was thrown onto the 4-H Nutrition Team. We went out daily to local recreation centers (up to four a day!) and through a series of pre and post tests, presentations, skits, and interactive cooking lessons, we showed youth in our community the merits of eating healthy and exercising. As the summer drew to a close and the previous mentors preparing for college, I was finally offered the position of 4-H Youth Mentor.

My brother passed the torch on to me and I gained new responsibilities and a low but steady income. Through this job, which I would easily consider one of the most interesting jobs a teen could have, I have had so many experiences. Within the past two years I have headed the Tech Team and co-founded the Teen Council. I have created websites, developed curriculum, created presentations, slideshows, brochures, postcards, flyers, and labels. I have done clerical work such as entering volunteer hours, using 4-Honline, and records managing. I have even moved furniture, packed boxes, helped cater banquets, and hosted events. Last year I had the opportunity to go to Congress and Melissa and I placed first with our team demonstration. This year I got to go to Legislature and see the inner workings of the Florida government as well as advocate a bill to increase speed limits. Just this summer I have worked with people of all ages, from teaching senior citizens to use computers to working with elementary to middle school youth in a drama class.

Most of all, I’ve noticed that everything in 4-H is founded on the same basic principles: helping people and building life skills. Through my experiences in 4-H I have developed cooking skills, technology skills, public speaking skills, leadership and teamwork skills, and an unparalleled level of flexibility. I am truly thankful for my time here and I will miss it. I was fortunate enough to have a behind-the-scenes look at 4-H as well as participate in 4-H activities. I have seen the layers of support in 4-H all the way from our 4-H agent at the top, to dedicated club leaders, to generous parents, down to enthusiastic youth, so I know 4-H will continue to be strong in Pinellas County.

A Goodbye to 4-H
By Melissa Sharp

My last six years here in 4-H have been full of wonderful and exciting moments. From a frantically beating heart as you stand in front of the judges just about to present your demonstration, to winning a blue ribbon and first place at State 4-H competition, to developing programs to benefit the community, to hanging out on the 22nd floor of the capitol building where you almost swear you can see all of Florida, 4-H really is an amazing program full of opportunities you won’t find any where else, and I was lucky enough to experience a lot of them. In the last two years alone, I have started a Teen Council which will, starting next year, become the County Council. I have gone to 4-H Executive Board and helped plan for our state activities, and won a blue ribbon and first place last year with Andrew on our team demonstration of how to build a club website. I helped Pinellas County push forward the new 4-H science initiative by being a part of our state fair activities and trying to implement it in our outreach and community programs. This year for the first time, I went to 4-H State Legislature where I was a House Representative. I learned a lot about the way our government works and formed some valuable friendships. I was also able to develop curriculum for our Palm Harbor Library Drama Class, and Intergenerational Technology Class. Both went very well and we were asked multiple times to come back again.

I have learned a lot and grown so much because of 4-H. I am more confident in myself and with my peers, and I know that I will succeed in my future. I really feel like 4-H has given me a firm foundation to fall back on and I am grateful for it. Even though I am leaving and won’t be a part of Pinellas County 4-H, I hope that 4-H here continues to grow and influence the young people of our county and state.

I will miss 4-H and everyone I have met through it. I hope to see all of you again.

For information on the Pinellas County 4-H program, visit the web site at or contact Jean Rogalsky at

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