J.S. Kelly, UF/IFAS Extension, St. Johns County, St. Augustine, FL and K.C. Helseth-Anderson, UF/IFAS Extension, St. Johns County, St. Augustine, FL.
Situation: After in-person programming was suspended in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an assessment was sent to 4-H families. The majority of the 31 families who responded indicated they did not want online programs. In the past, youth reacted favorably to environmental science-focused summer programming and were most engaged when the programs were outdoors and included identification of flora and fauna. Because of this, we offered a virtual program that exposed families to outdoor activities they could do together. Objectives: To inspire youth to visit local, natural areas and learn by engaging with Florida plants and wildlife. Methods: To stay relevant during the cessation of in-person programming, we created an eight-episode, environmental science video series filmed at outdoor recreation areas such as parks, forests, beaches, marshes, a lake, and the St. Johns River in St. Johns County. We performed activities including kayaking and cycling to add exercise for the health benefits. Whenever we pointed out an animal or plant, the video transitioned to a slide with fun facts. Links to the videos (on YouTube and an average of 28 minutes long) and post-video evaluations of facts were in the weekly newsletter and on the county 4-H website. Results: The eight videos had over 450 views. As a result of watching the videos, assessments reflected that 96% wanted to visit the video locations and 98% understood the value of Florida plants and wildlife. Additionally, 87% identified characteristics of an average of more than 4 animals per episode and 74% identified characteristics of more than one plant per episode. Conclusion: When shown how much fun people can have in outdoor environments, St. Johns County 4-H youth participants want to explore local areas and care more about nature.