2022 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – 4-H Youth Development
V. Prevatt, UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County, St. Augustine, FL.
Situation: Today, youth have limited knowledge about agriculture, many believing their food comes from the grocery store rather than a farm (Boleman & Burrell, 2003). This lack of knowledge can be partially blamed on the increase in population and the move from rural communities to urban communities (Reidel, Wilson, Flowers, & Moore, 2007). With 76% of its population being urban, St. Johns County is posed with an increasing divide between youth and their knowledge of agricultural. Methods: Youth participated in a two-day animal science camp where they learned about different types of livestock and production animals. Topics such as breeds, nutrition, anatomy, care and purpose were covered. Emphasis was also placed on the role these animals play in the food system. Campers worked to identify different animal products and were then able to taste and touch each product. Youth wrapped up the camp by touring local farms where industry professionals shared their wealth of knowledge and gave the campers hands on opportunities with the animals. Results: Of the thirteen youth who participated, 100% reported they were more knowledgeable about livestock and production animals, 92% reported they had a better understanding of the by-products of each animal, 92% reported they had a better understanding of the importance of agriculture, and 46% reported they were interested in starting a 4-H animal project in the future. Conclusion: The knowledge youth gained during camp developed their understanding of how animals play a role in the food system chain and the importance of agriculture in their everyday lives. The cultivating of agricultural interest among youth can ultimately lead to a more agriculturally aware society and a workforce to support agricultural practices that enable society to thrive (Holz-Clause & Jost, 1995).