I'll spare you the boring details but I will be very open. I wrote my first post, Escambia County 4-H: I'm Taking a Stand, out of pure passion and emotion. After a week or so, I took a breath and stepped back and asked myself, "What can I do to change things?" "How can I make a difference?" "What do 4-Hers need for the future?" Here we are. I've been working tirelessly with a group of individuals who I didn't even know but knew they wanted the same thing as I did: To make a difference for the future of 4-H and the youth.
After many long nights, weekends, and hours spent toward discussions and writing, the committee of "Friends of 4-H" has completed our proposal. As with anything else, there are many background stories of things that we have discussed and that have been discussed in other meetings. We met with other concerned citizens and 4-H youth and took the time to listen to what they wanted. We unveil to you, our proposal to anyone that will listen.
We spoke to the newly formed 4-H Animal Science Task Force Committee tonight about our proposal. We hope they will stick to their word and look into all viable options on the table for the Escambia County 4-H youth. Only time will tell, but I urge you to speak out to Escambia County 4-H, Escambia County Extension Service, the Greater Pensacola Chamber and your Board of County Commissioners.
The "Friends of 4-H" Proposal
The “Friends of 4-H” represent Escambia County 4-H youth as a unified voice. We are concerned citizens, parents, 4-H alumni and friends of Escambia County 4-H. The “Friends of 4- H” are in favor of the sale of the Langley Bell 4-H Center; there are conditions that come with our support.
We feel that economic development in Pensacola is a top priority for our growing county. We want the 4-H youth to vote yes to sell the Langley Bell 4-H Center as long as their needs are being met properly.
Prior to 1943 the Langley Bell 4-H property was used for conducting timber, grazing and game demonstration. It was also there for 4-Hers to develop an appreciation for the conservation of game and wildlife. Florida 4-H recognizes Dr. M. Langley Bell, Jr. and his family in the 4-H Hall of Fame for making an impact on 4-H that ensures its continued growth and success. The history showcases the intended use of the land at the Langley Bell 4-H Center.
The mission of National 4-H Headquarters is to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well being, and communities by creating opportunities for youth. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “Fewer than 2 percent of Americans farm for a living today, and only 17 percent of Americans now live in rural areas. Yet, the extension service still plays an important role in American life—rural, urban, and suburban.”
We can confidently speak as a unified voice after meeting with voting delegates and hearing their concerns and opinions; we are bringing their vision to you in one document. These are the wants and needs from our children and their views for the present and future of 4-H. We are trying to bring a win-win-win to the table. A win for Navy Federal Credit Union and Escambia County Economic Development, a win for the Extension Service and a win for the Escambia County 4-H program.
“Friends of 4-H” Proposal Options:
1) Escambia County 4-H to receive comparable land acreage to the Langley Bell 4-H Center; 240 acres.
2) $1.5 million LOST dollars going toward the additional building on Stefani Road at the Escambia County Extension Office, as well as the 23 acres for future development.
3) The 4-H youth to have a voice in usage of the building on Stefani Road
4) GCA/NRA partnership land usage agreement (a lease of 20 to 30 acres on the new 4-H property for GCA/NRA to host livestock shows and additional events to fit the needs of the youth in Escambia County) The Escambia County 4-H youth would have a voice in the partnership agreement.
We are proposing the former Bayer Crop Science Facility as a property of equal value. We feel this is the best property that is currently on the market to continue the 4-H slogan, which is “Learn by Doing.” The property is located in Molino, Fla. at 2996 Crabtree Church Road and consists of 250 acres. It is settled in a rural agricultural area not enclosed by surrounding urban development. It hosts over 4,100 square feet of greenhouses, three irrigation ponds, three buildings, three storage barns, a weather station, and complete acreage is fenced in with security gate.
The Bayer Crop Science Facility land would be purchased with $1.3 to $2.1 (maximum) million dollars. The funding to purchase this piece of property would come from the purchase of the Langley Bell 4-H Center.
This land would be purchased by:
a) The 4-H Foundation and held in trust for Escambia County 4-H or b) by Escambia County and held in trust for Escambia County 4-H.
How the remainder of the money from Navy Federal Credit Union and the Greater Pensacola Chamber is distributed would be left up to the 4-H Foundation. The 4-H Foundation would decide how much would go toward the 4-H endowment and how much to keep in Escambia County for the maintenance and upkeep of the property.
c) If the above options of the 4-H Foundation or Escambia County purchasing the property to be held in trust for Escambia County 4-H are not plausible, then the “Friends of 4-H” propose to Navy Federal Credit Union to buy the former Bayer Crop Science Facility and donate the land to be held in trust for Escambia County 4-H. Navy Federal Credit Union has been doing their best to come to a mutual understanding and agreement and this would still make a win-win-win situation with the remainder of the money going to the 4-H Foundation.
Since we are thinking outside the box, our second proposal is also the former Bayer Corp Science Facility but the facilities that are located on Crabtree Church Road include 10,014 square feet of office space. These offices and building could be used to relocate the entire Escambia County Extension Service to central Escambia County. If this option was utilized, then the $1.5 million LOST dollars currently allocated to an additional building Stefani Road could be used for slight renovations or additional buildings at the former Bayer Crop Science Facility. The Master Gardeners would have access to the 4,100 square feet of greenhouses. We feel the facility is already set up for hands on demonstrations and the property and functioning of the land are in line with the core reasons Dr. M. Langley Bell donated the original 400 acres. The facility will come with a complete environmental study to insure there are no environmental issues, as a phase one environmental study is currently in process. We feel that this facility would promote rural economic development if used correctly.
The time frame in which Escambia County would have to provide for Escambia County 4-Hers an auditorium at either location would be two years from the date of the sale of the Langley Bell 4- H Center to Navy Federal Credit Union, as long as Navy Federal Credit Union agrees to rent the camp back to 4-H for those two years.
Benefits The Langley Bell 4-H property has been used for numerous events and projects over the years. The usage requirements have been knowingly diminished for 4-Hers and other partners. Here are some examples of what the Langley Bell 4-H Center has been used for in the past.
- Bee Keepers
- Trails for hay rides
- State prisoners kept cattle
- Civil War reenactment
- Day camps
- Dog training
- Homemakers Association meetings
- Blueberry Jamboree or other festival
- Agricultural projects
- Horse trails and rides
- Livestock shows
- Creek Indian demonstrations
- Educational camps
The sale of the Langley Bell Center with the guaranteed purchase of the Bayer property or a similar type property to be held in trust for the Escambia County 4-H youth would:
- Facilitate economic growth in Escambia County
- Allow for expansion of Navy Federal Credit Union
- Continue legacy of Dr. M Langley Bell
- Allow for growth of Extension Office either on their current site or the Bayer Property
- Supply master gardeners with state of the art greenhouses and facilities
- Provide space for GCA/NRA to continue their livestock programs
We are asking for discussion of this property and/or another property of equal value to be a part of the Escambia County 4-H members vote options. As stated previously, we are here to help Pensacola move forward, remember our history and to continue the education and growth of our youth to become future leaders. We feel that if this option was proposed to the Escambia Country 4-H members, they would vote yes the first time around and it’s a win-win- win situation. We move to put this in the Memorandum of Understanding presented to the 4-H youth. We as “Friends of 4-H” would like to continue the 4-H motto “To Make the Best Better.”
Respectfully signed, “Friends of 4-H”
Whitney Vaughan Fike