4-H Citrus Tree Program Offers Valuable Youth Learning Experience

Gary Cooper Citrus, Florida, General

Earlier this year in late February we participated in a 4-H citrus tree youth project Jamie Yates, UF/CREC (left) with 4-Her Gavin Fox, is seen here with Gavin's winning citrus tree, now the official Southeast AgNet Citrus Tree!auction in Osceola County, thanks to Jamie Yates at UF/CREC at Lake Alfred (left in photo). Jamie is from Osceola County and was on hand to handle our bidding in our absence. Before I share the rest of this story, I will fall on my sword and apologize publicly to Jamie and all involved for not realizing this post did not get done much sooner. It simply fell through the cracks at a very busy time. But it remains a great story and we want to give credit where credit is due. Our citrus audience should enjoy this news post so please read on and learn more about this great 4-H program involving citrus, and to find out how we came out at the auction.

Jamie Yates is the Assistant Coordinator of Canker & Greening Extension Education at UF/CREC at Lake Alfred. She is also very involved with this particular Jim YatesOsceola 4-H citrus tree youth program, as was her late father, Jim Yates (photo right). You may notice the orange slices on their shirts. These were worn in memory of Mr. Yates who started the citrus tree program in Osceola county. The program this year was dedicated in his memory.

The 4-Her in the photo with Jamie is Gavin Fox, 11, of the Silver Saddles 4-H club. His tree was the 1st place tree this year in the junior division and third overall. All of us here at Southeast AgNet are proud to have been the purchaser of Gavin’s tree, also featured in the photo. Now we have a company tree for the office yard in Ocala. Hopefully we can do as good a job raising the tree as Gavin did starting it out – we hope so!

The program works like this – In the spring, citrus project participants are given a tree from a nursery and a 5-gallon pot. All the trees come from the same nursery, are the same variety, and distributed at the same time. From there, it becomes the responsibility of the 4-H student to transplant, water, fertilize and care for the tree. Throughout the year, workshops are held to teach the students and so they can share stories about how the trees are coming along. The workshops include transplanting, basic care, cold protection and a review for the skill-a-thon.

Congratulations Gavin, and to ALL the 4-Hers…AND THANKS to the 4-H advisers and volunteers like Jamie Yates who work with this and other youth programs throughout the year. Projects and activities like these are valuable teaching tools, and 4-H and other agriculture-based youth programs need all the support they can get!