As we roll from fall into winter, many of us begin pulling out the warm clothes and preparing for some time indoors. We have such beautiful weather along the gulf coast that most of us usually dread the end of summer. However, this time of year doesn’t have to be the end of all the fun! Many of our 4-H clubs have started projects in natural resources. They’re exploring the outdoors through hiking, biking, camping, bird watching, and GIS. This is the perfect time of the year to start off a club project in one of these areas. The weather is perfect and the changing seasons provide a wonderful educational opportunity for youth of all ages to see our native ecosystems. Youth can incorporate science, technology, math, art, and healthy lifestyles into one project. A few examples are listed below:
– Take your members on a hiking trip to a local state park! Members should be divided into groups of 3-5 and provided with a local wildlife guide and some type of device to take photos. Each group will have 45 minutes to find, identify, and photograph 5-10 native animals or plants. The first group back the starting point wins a prize!
– Early winter is perfect for a casual bike ride. Take members out on a local closed bike path and ride a couple miles. To break up the distance, stop at various points along the way to identify native trees, plants, wildlife, or areas where the ecosystems change. Youth can also make their own trail mix or flavored fruit water to take along with them as a healthy alternative to candy bars and soda.
– Provide each member with a strip of different color shades from the paint store. As you hike they should look for the colors in the landscape. As they identify one, have their leader punch a hole in that paint chip. Members will see the wide variety of colors within the native area.
– If your local club or county has GPS units, go on a treasure hunt! Out together These hunts are becoming more popular and a great way to work on direction, map reading, and using technology.
These are just a few of the activities your club could do outdoors. It could be as simple as moving a club meeting to an outdoor area or having a parent/member picnic. The outdoors provide us a great opportunity to build on all types of skills, so don’t miss out: Explore the Outdoors!