Tammie Naison, Keep Wakulla County Beautiful director; Lauretta Compton, 4-H member; Lesley Cushman, KWCB board member; Caden Gruebel, 4-H member; Steve Cushman, KWCB board member; Rachel Pienta, 4-H agent.

Special to The Sun

Youth members Caden Gruebel and Lauretta Compton represented Wakulla 4-H in St. Augustine at the 2023 Keep Florida Beautiful annual meeting.  The Wakulla 4-H Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was recognized for their collaboration with Keep Wakulla County Beautiful as “Outstanding Partnership of the Year” during the state awards luncheon.  This award was the culmination of a year-long effort that began as a 4-H Community Pride Grant project called “Let’s Clean Wakulla Together.”.  Youth wrote a small seed grant to fund their idea of engaging the community in environmental preservation through clean up and anti-littering efforts.  Through their work on the project, youth learned how to plan an effort from start to finish.  Youth also visited a radio recording studio to learn and apply interviewing skills in creating two podcast episodes.  
The project, including the two podcast recordings and a collaboration with local artist Rachell Mathis to create three original art designs, led to the adoption of one design as the 2023 International Coastal Clean Up shirt design for Wakulla’s annual effort in September. Wakulla 4-H youth invited 4-H members from counties around the Big Bend to join them for this year’s International Coastal Clean Up.  Youth from Gadsden, Leon, and Jefferson counties joined Wakulla in the Coastal Clean Up activities. Together, they collected the most cigarette butts in the annual competition along with gathering bags of trash along the Wakulla County coastline.  The day ended with a tour of the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in Panacea, where the youth learned more about the various types of marine life that benefited from their cleaning effort. Project leader Caden Gruebel said, “Environmental awareness is a very important concern in today’s society, and the world needs more people to make an effort to keep the planet healthy, safe, and prosperous.”  
This 4-H project was made possible with support of the Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners, Keep Wakulla County Beautiful, Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Management team, Doug Apple and WAVE 94, Rachell Mathis, Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, and the Florida 4-H Foundation.  
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions, or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating.
For more information about Wakulla County Extension programs and 4-H, please visit the Crawfordville office at 84 Cedar Avenue or online at https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/wakulla/.