Teaching Agriculture Awareness Through Summer Day Camps
Situation: Sumter County is a unique county. With over 1,300 farms, most would consider it a rural county, but Sumter County also has the fastest growing town in the United States (The Villages). With these two distinct populations, it is very important our youth continue to learn about the importance of agriculture, especially local agriculture. When youth increase their knowledge about nutrition and agriculture, they are able to make informed decisions about their diets and their overall health (agday.org). In addition, youth who learn and understand agriculture become informed citizens who are able to participate in making informed policies that will support agriculture. During the summers of 2015 and 2016, two summer camps were held – Fresh from Sumter County and Farm to Table. The purpose of both camps was to increase participants’ knowledge about local agricultural industries, local food systems, career opportunities, and food safety. It also taught youth the significance of the local farmer’s market and livestock market. Educational Methods: Delivery methods of educational materials included lectures using PowerPoints, group discussions and activities, educational games, field trips, handouts, and hands-on learning activities. Results: Pre and post-tests were given. Results from the Farm to Table camp concluded there was a 124% knowledge gain (n=14). Results from the Fresh from Sumter County camp concluded there was 110% knowledge gain (n=10).
Conclusion: The success of this program was due to the partnerships with local agriculture producers, agricultural organizations, business owners, Hernando County Extension intern – Chelsea Allen, and extension agents – Martha Maddox, Ed Jennings, and Stacy Strickland. Due to these partnerships, we were able to visit the following locations: Sumter County Farmers Market, Sumter County Livestock Market, Milk-A-Way Dairy, Florida Forestry, Speedling, Fussel Farms, FWC Fish Hatchery, Beasley Farms, and JG Ranch.