G. Sachs, UF/IFAS Extension, St. Augustine, St. Johns County, FL.
Situation: Youth raised in urban settings tend to be less connected with agriculture, unfamiliar with where their food comes from, and lack basic nutrition and food preparation knowledge. The Sweet Story About Sugar summer day camp provided a well-rounded engaging experience for youth ages 8-15 to learn about the origins of sugar (beets and cane), Florida’s sugarcane industry, the science and benefits of sugar relating to food preparation, and the ill effects of too much sugar.
Education Methods: This two-day summer camp provided 12 hours of hands on learning for nine youth. Activities at this camp centered around comparing sugarcane to sugar beets, processing cane from harvest to syrup, the science of sugar, adverse effects of eating too much sugar, reading food labels, and touring a candy business. Camp supplies were covered by camp registration fees and some equipment was purchased through a grant from the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners.
Results: As a result of the two-day Sweet Story About Sugar 4-H Camp, end of camp surveys showed:
• 9 of 9 youth learned that sugar comes from both sugarcane and sugar beets.
• 7 of 9 youth identified added sugar information on the food package.
• 8 of 9 youth identified where the majority of Florida’s sugarcane is grown on a map.
• 6 of 9 youth identified how sugar is beneficial in food preparation
• 9 of 9 youth could give one or more reasons why sugar should be limited in one’s diet.
Conclusion: The experiences and knowledge youth gained from this camp provided an awareness and appreciation of Florida’s sugarcane industry, sparked agriculturally related conversations with family members, promoted the use of reading food labels and some youth brought sugarcane home to plant.