Escambia County 4-H - It's why I am who I am today!
A passionate leader!
In response to New jobs riding on youths' decision on 4-H land deal on pnj.com by Carlton Proctor and Jamie Page. (Please note: when you write with passion, there will be mistakes because it's like blurting everything out you've been holding back.)
The sell of 240 acres of land that was donated to Escambia County 4-H by Mr. M. Langley Bell.
Read about him here in the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame.
"Mr. Bell envisioned the camp as a place to provide opportunities for personal growth, leadership and citizenship development through the Escambia County 4-H clubs. His strong belief in youth fueled his desire for 4-H members to develop skills and attitudes, to strengthen personal standards and philosophies, and to work well with others. He wanted for young people to discover, develop, and wisely use their individual abilities and talents.
The center has been used for 4-H camps, retreats, timber projects, livestock projects, and as a meeting site for extension agents. The Langley Bell 4-H Center comprises about 240 acres of the original 400 acres. Four cabins, a kitchen, meeting hall, nature trails, forestry and livestock educational areas, barns, pastures, a 5-acre lake, and a campfire circle made the camp an ideal place to learn."
First of all, these talks should have NEVER escalated to where they are today. 4-H, the Extension Office and Pam Allen should have said, "Our land is not for sale." That should be the end of this story. Unfortunately, here were are bickering back and forth and weighing the difference of selling 240 acres of land to Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) or continuing the education and history of our 4-H land for our children to grow and learn. Isn't that was Pensacola promotes, history. We are however a very historic city...founded by Spanish Conquistador Don Tristan de Luna in 1559.
I understand Vision 2015 from the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and by no means am I saying that NFCU shouldn't expand, but why take away something so valuable to our future leaders? When is the last time NFCU tried to approach the Navy about purchasing the landing field to the west of their campus? Two to three years ago? Things have changed since then, i.e. from what I have read, the Navy is having financial troubles with rumors of doing away with the Blue Angels. Well, since it is NAVY Federal and the NAVY needs the money, just maybe they might be interested in selling some of the land now. The land would be much more appropriate for use. It is flat, cleared and doesn't have a big pond or wetlands. Have they spoke with our local Congressman and solicited his help?
Ask yourself this...where would be be without farmers? Where would you get your meat and vegetables to eat? Do you want free range raised chickens, turkeys, etc. Do you want organic food? Where do you think those farmers learn these things? Future Farmers of America...sure, but they come from 4-Hers before that. I have been involved with the 4-H program for 13 years. Yes, my sister was 8 when she was able to join. I was 4 and at that time was unable to join, but was still involved.
I raised and competed in competitions with many chickens, rabbits, goats and mainly pigs. I learned leadership training by running for club, county, district and state office. I ran for State President! I served on the State Executive Board for four years, once as Reporter and as State Historian. I served as a State Board member for two years. I was in charge of the biggest State 4-H event: State Congress. I represented Florida at National Congress in Atlanta. I learned the Legislative system through 4-H Legislature, a mock session that lasted a week in Tallahassee. We studied at the camp before attending. These positions and events required that I travel throughout the State of Florida. During these travels our County was always being told that we were so lucky to have a facility like Langley Bell 4-H Center. We were the only one in the state to have such a place - Langley Bell 4-H Center was well known statewide.
I remember teaching kids how to make bird houses at the camp. I remember James Blum (Panhandle Poultry Club, and also the Assistant Superintendent to his father, Al Blum, at the Pensacola Interstate Fair) teaching us about the different breeds of chickens in front of the pond. I posed for pictures for the Pensacola News Journal on that land with Zack Brown and my rabbits. I remember hay rides through the back fields and learning how the posts were made from recycled diapers. The many many many livestock shows. Cattle use to free range through different fields, that was such a highlight. The old Chautauqua Fundraiser on the land with Civil War reenactments. I (we) competed in numerous Consumer Judging competitions, day camps, cookouts, 4-H dances, awards ceremonies, kayaking, and candlelight ceremonies. I ran those fields like they were my own. This is family land where families gather. I remember taking dog training classes through Suzie Rogers. I remember sneaking through the fencing and going to get free orange juice from the Welcome Center (Hey, it's what kids do).
In September 2004, the Langley Bell 4-H Center was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ivan. More than 2,000 trees were uprooted and destroyed. The roof was lifted off the auditorium and several buildings on the property were destroyed. Even when faced with such devastation, the Escambia County 4-H program did not give up. A portable saw mill was purchased to try to salvage some of the timber so the barns at the Langley Bell 4-H Center could be rebuilt. After much hard work, the Langley Bell 4-H Center is again today being used for 4-H programs and supporting young people.
The camp is also used by other non-4-H organizations that used to use the land and facilities at the 4-H Center and who I think are not allowed to use it now under some "new" guidelines. The Bee Keepers Association and the Bow Hunters Association. The facilities are use regularly by Escambia County Home and Community Educations Association (HCE Homemakers) the largest club in the State and the Cattleman's Association.
Florida 4-H, where is your viewpoint on this?
These are only a FEW photos that I have immediate access to because I used them in my wedding. My wedding! 4-H was that important in my life to share with my family, friends and new family and friends.
|This was a state poster contest in 2002, themed 4-H: The Power of Youth.|
I want to know where the conflict of interest comes in with those that sit on the 4-H Foundation. Who will be doing the land sale? Is there a realtor? Will that be Eric Gleaton or his company? If so, he should have removed himself from the vote or any other decision involving this land. Also, I believe there is someone that works for Navy Federal that sits on the Foundation. She should have removed herself from the vote or decision as well.
Take a look at the National 4-H website. Join the Revolution of Responsibility. The Revolution of Responsibility comes to life everyday through real 4-H'ers who are making a real impact in their communities. These former 4-Hers are telling their stories on how 4-H helped them become the person they are today. This is where we get our leaders!
A former 4-Her, Christina Eligio DelaPuente, wrote this in a response to the comments made about the Langley Bell 4-H Camp.Christine comes from a family where 10 of her brothers and sisters were 4-Hers in Escambia County. They have been with the 4-H program for a long time and have seen so many uses of this land.
Fact 1: The 4-H'ers need a place where they can fish, canoe, kayak, run around in fresh air, not have to worry about neighbors and noise ordinances, property that is zoned for animals and livestock. None of these needs will be met at the would-be "new" facility although they are ALL met at Langley Bell.
Fact 2: There will STILL be unused portions of the property if NFCU were to purchase it because they will not be able to build on the wetlands. The portion of the property that is "unused" is used for outdoor activities and preservation of wetlands including the home to endangered species (gopher tortoise). Just because there is not a building on a piece of grass does not mean it is being unused.
Fact 3: Science and technology labs are not what 4-H is about. The 4-H slogan is "learn by doing"…not by sitting in front of a computer in a lab. These kids have science and technology labs in school. Although many 4-H'ers are involved in technology type projects, the purpose of 4-H is to expose children to different learning situations of all kinds, with an emphasis on nature and animals.
Fact: The Navy has better land next door that is even more underused . Why isn't anyone bullying them?
Fact: During the original land sale, Commissioners told 4-H'ers that the original building would only be one level. The land was then sold to NFCU. From a 4-H'ers perspective, the original land sale was full of empty promises.
Fact: The Langley Bell facility is CURRENTLY being used annually for the following: social gatherings, Christmas party, workshops (Record Book, Consumer Judging, Camp Counselor Training, Extreme Cuisine, GPS), day camps (Clown Camp, Technology Camp), night animal hunt (bats, bugs, etc), astronomy night, 4-H Birthday party for the Navy children, community service projects (made scarves for the needy, held food drives, had animal shelter collections, and collected books for literacy), award ceremonies, and banquets. The facility also hosts the annual 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Contest which is open to all 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the county. There is also a new 4-H club that holds all of their club meetings at Langley Bell.
As the 2001 Langley Bell Award Recipient, I credit the facility with giving me my first of the following: job (picking up sticks off the land that was being cleared for grazing), paddling a canoe, milking a cow and goat (and then used that milk to make cheese, cookies, and ice cream), CPR/First Aid/Baby Sitter certified through the America Red Cross. At Langley Bell, I also learned how to can fruit, make good consumer choices, and to rise to ask a non-debatable technical question of the Bill Sponsor. It deeply saddens me to think that if I had the "new facility" that is being proposed instead of Langley Bell, that many of my childhood accomplishments would have never happened.
It also saddens me that these children are being viewed as uneducated and naïve on the importance of both sides of this matter. Through a special 4-H program (State Legislature), these children are trained to research a topic fully before forming a firm opinion. They are also well versed on expressing their own beliefs and opinions based on their own research. They have toured the NFCU and have attended informative meetings on both sides. The reason why the media hasn't been present at any of the open meetings is because the children have been instructed by Ms. Allen to not speak to the media while she herself, speaks on their "behalf". I believe the reason the media has yet to be invited to an open meeting with the children is because the children have been finding and questioning inconsistencies with the information provided to them by Ms. Allen and their attorney (who is being paid by the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce). The pressure that has been put on these children to "straighten out" the economy is unethical at the very least.
There is a meeting tonight (Monday, February 27) at the Extension Office (not the Langley Bell 4-H Camp) at 4:30 p.m.