Youth and Invasive Plants
The Impact of 4-H Youth
4-H began because adults within the farming community were not educated regarding new agricultural development in the late 1800’s. In fact, many farmers did not want to accept or attempt using new agricultural developmental tools. Researchers began tapping into youth as they discovered that youth were more willing to experiment with innovative ideas and developments. As youth began to use and recognize the success of new agricultural technologies, they began presenting and applying new agricultural technologies in their communities. Due to the youth’s willingness to try something new, farmers began to utilize these agricultural developmental tools. Without rural youth programs such as 4-H, farmers might not have utilized new agricultural technologies.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), at least 45% of the invasive non-native plant species found in Florida were imported for ornamental or agricultural reasons, and 39% of the worse invasive plant species are still commercially available for sale and continue to spread. It is estimated that more than 1.7 million acres of Florida’s remaining natural areas have become infested with non-native plant species. This spread of invasive plants stems from people being uninformed. Invasive non-native plants damage Florida’s natural environment and lead to a loss of biodiversity and resources. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services states that Florida spends about $30 million dollars annually on invasive plants. It is essential that residents become informed on invasive plants, and that we start doing our part to prevent invasive outbreaks. For more information on invasive plant species in Florida, check out the FWC’s website: http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/invasive-plants/
4-H Youth Providing Education On Invasive Plants
Considering the history of 4-H, I know that educating youth is crucial to generating a change in Lake County concerning invasive plant species. As 4-H youth once educated farmers on new agricultural technologies, Lake County 4-H youth will educate locals on invasive plants. Education is key for Florida’s remaining native ecosystems. There is hope that native ecosystems can be preserved and restored, and I am confident that this hope starts with our youth. Lake County 4-H aims to train youth to develop into environmental civic servants and for them to take that knowledge and educate other youth and adults on being responsible conservationists.