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Adventures by Land & Sea: 4-H Youth Naturalist Day Camp in Gulf County, FL

Extension Education

Ray Bodrey
Agent II-(CED)
UF/IFAS Extension Gulf County


Introduction: Gulf County is a rural, ocean-facing county in the Panhandle of Florida, known for its great outdoors. This area is home to a pristine bay system, St. Joesph Bay, and is outlined partially by maritime forest habitat. Despite abundant natural resources, there are very few youth-focused educational opportunities built upon conservation, environmental sustainability and stewardship content. Those most in need of—and likely to experience a lasting impact from—sustainability outreach are our youth (Chawla, 1998; Schusler, Krasny, Peters, & Decker, 2009). Therefore, UF/IFAS Extension County Agents planned, implemented and evaluated a day-long camp to educate youth about their local natural environment.

Methods: Utilizing feedback from our Overall Extension Advisory Committee and interest from the community, a day camp focusing on area flora and fauna was designed. The St. Joseph Bay State Buffer & Aquatic Preserve was the host location of the event. A morning session involved classroom lecture and live demonstrations. Florida Sea Grant Agents educated the youth on bay scallops and seagrass habitat, as well as amphibians and reptiles found in the area. A local sea turtle conservation group taught about sea turtles in the area, their nesting strategy and migration pattern and how they protect and foster sea turtles around the bay. Afternoon programming consisted of a guided tram tour of the maritime forest. Topics included native and rare plant identification, archeological resources, and forest management practices, such as prescribe burning. A kayak safety lesson and short paddle tour of the bay concluded the day.

Results: Ten participants were surveyed using a pre/post-test method with seven questions/true and false statements. Survey topics included, reptile anatomy, scallop biology, seagrass habitat and sea turtle species identification. Pretest results yielded a collective 44% correct response rate (31/70), whereas the post-test garnered a 74% correct response rate (52/70). This equates to a 60% positive change in knowledge gained.

Conclusion: Youth day camps focusing on the natural environment can result in a better understanding of conservation, with increased knowledge, and can change attitudes and behavior. Experiences such as this increase youth conservation awareness and promote environmental stewardship behaviors.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted only for display at AM/PIC. Poster is not to be judged, but the abstract will be published in the proceedings.

A poster file has not been provided

Authors: Ray Bodrey, Anitra Mayhann, Erik Lovestrand
  1. Bodrey, R. Agent II-(CED), UF/IFAS Extension Gulf County, Florida, 32465
  2. Mayhann, A. 4-H Youth Development/Family Consumer Science Agent I, UF/IFAS Extension Gulf County, Florida, 32465
  3. Lovestrand, E. County Extension Director, Agent III, UF/IFAS Extension Franklin County, Florida, 32320