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Q&A with Sheri Trent, 4-H/agriculture extension agent

Sheri Trent was recently named the new Seminole 4-H/agriculture extension agent. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

Sheri Trent is the Seminole Tribe’s new Seminole 4-H/agriculture extension agent. Her first experience in 4-H was as an 8-year-old in Okeechobee. The experience had an impact on her life and the lives of her four children who are all in 4-H. Trent earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from the University of Florida, spent about eight years managing a horse farm and then taught math at Okeechobee High School for 10 years before joining the tribe in October.

What are your responsibilities as 4-H/ agriculture extension agent?

Mostly I do 4-H with a little agriculture. The 4-H staff, Kimberly Clement, Sheli Tigertail and Dionne Smedley, and I support the clubs as they plan to get back to face-to-face meetings. We are also planning for the show and sale in March. I’m still learning things and figuring out where I can grow the program a little bit.

What does the Seminole 4-H club do?

4-H has different clubs on every reservation. We have swine and beef clubs at Brighton, Immokalee, Big Cypress and Hollywood. We are also in the process of starting a horse club in Hollywood for kids who like to ride. We’ll do whatever they want to do like showing, trail riding, ranch riding, barrels, roping. There are horse shows in areas around the state. It’s an amazing program. Hollywood and Brighton also have small animal clubs for children ages 5 to 7.

4-H kids are working daily to keep their animals warm, safe and healthy. Clubs have been meeting, electing officers, deciding on community projects and having fundraisers for their clubs. 4-H is a great way for children to have opportunities to interact with others, develop their public speaking and leadership skills, learn about agriculture, health and well-being of animals and, of course, have fun.

We are very excited to have a face-to-face show and sale in Brighton March 10 and 11. The show will also have a country fair in which any age 4-H member can enter different kinds of projects: photography, sewing, cooking and drawing.

What are your goals for the program?

To develop a horse program over the next few years. I think it’s a great opportunity because a lot of kids are already doing it. I’d like to let them show off their skills and do something they already love. Animals teach so many things to kids: responsibility, time management, success. Kids need a goal; they need to be busy to stay out of trouble. If you don’t keep them busy doing something productive they will find something else to do. There are all kinds of programs in 4-H that give them opportunities to excel and learn about the world. We want to keep these kids busy and get them involved.

What is the most important aspect of your job?

Motivating kids and parents to show up. A lot of people are interested, but getting them together can be a challenge. Families are large and everyone is going in so many directions; time is very valuable. We want to get everyone involved.

What challenges do you anticipate?

Not that many. Kim, Sheli and Dionne do a great job. For me, it’s getting to know everyone and learning about the culture.

What is it like working with the tribe?

I love it; it is way better than I even imagined. Everyone has welcomed me with open arms, offering to help with whatever we need. I learned that the culture is evident throughout all the reservations and the older tribal members love to talk about tradition and history. The wealth of knowledge they possess is astounding. From what I’ve witnessed, family is the most important thing in the tribe. Parents focus on their kids and want what is best for them at all times. We need parents to raise their kids with morals and appreciation for history everywhere in this country. I only hope that I can assist these families to keep their kids busy, help them form goals with either animals, plants, leadership, public speaking and the many other activities through 4-H.

Agriculture is very important to the tribe; this makes me so happy. Agriculture is the backbone of this country; it keeps food on our table, clothes on our back and shelter above our heads. I love that the Seminole Tribe appreciates the importance of agriculture and is instilling these attributes into [the tribe]. I am very proud to be the new 4-H/agriculture extension agent for the Seminole Tribe of Florida and am very excited to see what 2022 holds for us.

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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