Getting wild with 4-H day camp

Ashley Hunter
ECB Publishing, Inc.

The Jefferson County Extension Office was filled with children from Jefferson and Leon Counties on Monday, July 8 through Friday, July 12 as the Jefferson 4-H held their Wildlife and Recreation Day Camp.
The camp was attended by 60 youth campers between the ages of 10-15, along with 24 presentations, volunteers and staff – all of whom were instrumental in organizing and keeping the camp lively.
During the week-long day camp, youth participated in a multitude of hands-on projects that were aimed to help them learn more about environmentally aware.
Each day, there were three different groups of activities, each with their own spotlight on forestry, soil conservation or wildlife.
The Forestry team consisted of Brooks Churn, who is a forester with the Florida Forestry Service and Ryan Slyter, a Wakulla County forester. Through the instruction that Foresters Churn and Slyter gave them, campers participated in planting seedlings, learning about natural regeneration, identified wild plants, counted tree rings and were educated on tree measurement, forest history and dendrochronology.
The Conservation team consisted of Allen Vanerson with FAMU/Jefferson County Extension Program, Rachel Mathes a Leon County Horticultural Program Assistant and Molly Jameson, a Leon County 4-H Agriculture Agent. Campers participated in hands-on activities pertaining to soil erosion and compaction, soil texture determination, orienteering-compass training and got a chance to try out geocaching.
The Wildlife team consisted of Kali Spurgin, a Lionfish Outreach Coordinator with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Spurgin gave the campers an intriguing look at Florida's invasive lionfish by allowing the campers to llearn more about the fish's habitats, ecological role, conservation status and behavior and the braver of the campers were able to witness Spurgin dissect a lionfish. In addition, David Moody with the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge presented hands-on activities related to wildlife habitats and Julianne Dinkel, a Jefferson County Family and Consumer Science Agent, led the campers in an outdoor cookery session, where the 4-H campers learned how to cook using various outdoor cooking techniques.
Campers were also treated to a special Aquatic Day that was held at Lake Lafayette Heritage Park, in Leon County. The youth fished, canoed, collected and identified aquatic insects and plants before David Moody demonstrated how to fillet and cook fish.
On the last day, there was competitive shooting in archery, shotgun skeet and air rifles. Campers also had an opportunity to learn about Marine Ecology, from Erik Lovestrand, the Franklin County Extension Director who is also a Sea Grant Agent.
Like any good summer camp should, the week of education and adventure ended with snow-cones on Friday.
For more information about 4-H activities and other Jefferson County Extension Office programs, call or visit the Extension Office. The office is located at 2729 W. Washington Hwy., just west of Monticello. The office can be reached by calling (850) 342-0187.