McCormick, Kaydie, Woodard, Chelsea, McIntyre, Tina, UF/IFAS Extension, Seminole County, 250 W. County Home Road, Sanford, FL
Situation: Many of the integrated pest management (IPM) principles used in the home and garden to encourage beneficial insects and reduce pest species are also ecologically sound practices that increase biodiversity and reduce the overuse of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. In order to increase the diversity of the audience given this messaging, two entomology day camps were held over the summer of 2019 to introduce youth to entomology, biodiversity, jobs centered around insects, and environmental principles. Youth ages 9-12 and 13-18 were the target audiences for the two camps.
Objectives: Youth participating in the day camps gain knowledge on STEM topics related to entomology, biodiversity, and ecology as well as careers in fields related to entomology.
Educational Methods: Field trips to local landscapes and natural lands trails were utilized to teach youth about ecosystems and introduce them to biodiversity in the environment. Multimedia presentations and insect collections covered topics on biodiversity, insect ecology, and insect IPM. In the teen camp the participants were required to catch insects the first two days of camp in order to learn pinning techniques and how to identify insects to order.
Results: Of the youth that participated, 100% (30 of 30) showed increased insect identification skills and changes they can make to increase insect biodiversity in their yards. Teens also learned proper pinning techniques for entomological collections and how to care for live insects. Several successes outside of the objectives were also achieved. Two neurodiverse youth showed increased peer to peer ability during and after their time in the camp, with one parent reporting that their child was also better able to cope with touching insects, plants, and other outdoor things. Another teen participated in order to determine her major area of study in college and decided on Environmental Sciences after participating in camp.
Conclusion: Offering an entomology day camp opened an opportunity for Seminole County youth to learn about insects and greater ecological concepts. While the youth gained basic knowledge on these concepts, they were also introduced to potential careers in science and learned IPM concepts they can use into adulthood.