2023 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – 4-H Youth Development
Chelsea Jones, UF/IFAS Extension, Marion County, Ocala, FL
Situation: Marion County, Florida has approximately 330,000 acres of farmland. It is also one of the fastest growing counties in Florida with a population of 385,915 (US Census Bureau, 2021). Youth who have recently moved to Marion County are unaware of the agricultural industries in their own backyard. Additionally, youth who do have knowledge of these industries need to be given the tools to confidently educate others. Due to the pandemic, 4-H was unable to provide in-person day camps, which has made it difficult to give youth the knowledge they need. This has also resulted in a need to revitalize our summer day camp program. Objective: At least 90% of camp participants will gain knowledge and advocate for agricultural industries as a result of the camp. Methods: The day-camp was four days long and included three tours of agricultural operations. These tours were at the UF Plant Science Research and Education Unit, a swine operation, and a peanut and cattle operation. The camp also consisted of guest speakers including UF/IFAS Extension Marion County agents who covered topics ranging from food to fork, equine science, financial risk, and water resources. Dr. Bittar and Dr. Chris DeCubellis also served as guest speakers to teach about cattle reproduction, the Florida dairy industry, and Florida 4-H Dairy Program opportunities. Results: 100% of participants (n=9) reported in a post-reflective evaluation that they gained knowledge and will be advocates for Marion County and Florida agricultural industries. Conclusion: Youth who participated in the 2022 Ag Industry Day Camp gained knowledge of Florida agricultural industries. In addition, they gained confidence in advocating and will advocate for the aforementioned agricultural industries. Youth connected with University of Florida research and faculty. Youth were exposed to 4-H day camps and stated that they would attend more in the future.