2023 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – 4-H Youth Development
Daugherty, J., UF/IFAS Extension, Lake County, Tavares, FL and Meringolo, D., UF/IFAS Extension, Lake County, Tavares, FL
Situation and Objectives: Food Insecurity is a reality for many throughout Lake County. By educating youth on vegetable gardening practices though active gardening we teach them skills that they can take home to their families. In a partnership with the City of Eustis Parks and Recreation afterschool program, UF/IFAS Extension Lake County Master Gardener Volunteers (MGV), and Lake County 4-H Volunteers, the Eustis Community Garden targets underserved youth aged 5-13. This garden provides the opportunity for youth to learn how to grow nutritious foods, utilize crops grown, and give back to the community by donating vegetable surplus. In addition to increasing food security, gardens such as this can boost morale for the youth, community, and involved organizations. Community gardens help bring people together and satisfy the basic need for reliable sources of nutrition. This program aims to increase knowledge in growing and maintaining an edible garden with additional goals of seeing the behavioral change of growing edible plants at home and making improved food choices. Education Methods/Procedure/Approach: The location for the garden was provided by the City of Eustis. The Eustis Parks and Recreation program brings participants in the afterschool 4-H program to the garden for programming twice a month during the spring and fall school semesters. 4-H and MGVs set up raised garden beds and deliver educational programming on a range of topics from planting a seed to harvesting plants. The Parks and Recreation program leader takes enrolled youth to the gardens weekly to tend to the garden.
Results: At the conclusion of six sessions 100% of participants (n=79) exhibited knowledge gained in one or more topics taught.
Conclusions: Youth involved in this program gained knowledge in areas such as identifying bugs, parliamentary procedure, and growing seasons. Youth applies their knowledge by planting a variety of plants. Program success has led to the expansion from a spring program to a full year program for the 2022-2023 year. This program is easily replicated; however, it does require time and patience from plan development to program implementation.