The Seminole Tribe controls more than 90,000 acres of land in South Florida, and has reservations at Brighton, Big Cypress, Immokalee, Hollywood, Tampa and Fort Pierce. It has a long history in agriculture and animal husbandry, as well as a diverse collection of business enterprises across the state. The Tribe has more than 4,000 enrolled members.
The Seminole are known for their cattle operations. The 36,000-acre Brighton Reservation, with an abundance of grassland and natural roughage, is 75 miles north from Big Cypress, near Okeechobee. It’s where the modern cattle herd was begun in the 1930s, even before the Seminole Tribe of Florida was federally recognized and incorporated in 1957.
Seminole Tribe 4-H
The Seminole Tribe has traditionally been an agricultural and animal husbandry community, and its 4-H program dates to 1955. Most Seminole youth learn about this history through school 4-H programs. 4-H was founded in the late 1800s on the principle that if youth were taught the proper ways to grow corn for increased productivity, they would then influence their own families to use the proper methods of planting and cultivating crops for higher yields. Since the beginning, 4-H programs have expanded to cover topics that cross all cultural and economic levels and programs have transcended agriculture.
The Seminole Indian 4-H Show and Sale is the culmination of months of hard work and dedication by 4-H kids caring for their animals. More than 100 kids participate as they learn first-hand what it takes to raise livestock and send them to market. Participants learn the business of raising livestock, proper hands-on care of animals and the responsibility involved. The youngest 4-H’ers, the Cloverbuds, learn to care for small animals such as guinea pigs, rabbits, ducks and chickens and proudly show their animals
The Seminole have raised cattle for generations and are now one of the largest producers in the country. The tribal cattle program is a sophisticated operation that has developed genetic lines that are optimized for South Florida’s unique environmental conditions. With assistance from University of Florida FRTEP Extension agents, the Tribe has developed a profitable enterprise which now has its own brand – Seminole Pride. The Tribe’s goal is not only to maintain its reputation as a premier producer in Indian Country but also be known as one of the best producers in the nation, on or off reservation.
- Facilitated the sale, transport and processing of all Tribal 4-H market animal products. A total of 34 steers and 66 swine were sold through safe, self-distancing measures and transported to the processor.
- Facilitating payments from the sales of market animals to 4-H members.
- Working on developing new, virtual, tribally appropriate 4-H program for Tribal youth.
- Developed social distancing protocols to keep youth and families safe during the Tribe’s cattle shipping processes.
- Continued monitoring forages for cattle producers.
- Offered 4-H programming via online formats.
- Organized and facilitated new solar well and fencing, and updates for Tribal 4-H facilities.
- Fielded numerous phone calls regarding cattle and forage issues, including forage quality, fly control issues, pregnancy checking, mineral supplementation, herbicide applications, soil testing/analysis and fertilization.
- Tribal extension has been recognized as “essential” by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Agents continue to maintain office hours for phone calls, emails or individual appointments employing social distancing practices.
Sheri Trent – Extension Agent