2023 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – 4-H Youth Development
Heather Pogue, UF/IFAS Extension, Putnam County, East Palatka, FL
Wendy Mussoline, UF/IFAS Extension, Putnam County, East Palatka, FL
Situation: Most local 4-H members are familiar with the potato industry that dominates the commercial agriculture scene in Putnam County. However, most are not aware that local vineyards produce approximately 228,205 bottles of wine every year and several thousand pounds of muscadine grapes. Fruit sets and competitive muscadine yields depend on cross-pollination by indigenous insects, particularly bees. Methods: The program was a three-part series that extended over three months. Part one involved hands-on workshops to provide context and lay foundational principles. For example, students were given beehive frames and taught how to melt and apply beeswax to each side to help stimulate honey production. Part two was a farm tour of a commercial beekeeping operation where students engaged with live bees, tasted honey, and observed the beekeeper’s role. Part three was a farm tour to a commercial vineyard/agritourism venue during the peak grape harvest season, where students participated in U-Pick, learned business aspects of the farm, and engaged with a drone photographer, winemaker, wedding planner, and groundskeeper.
The primary objectives of the youth program were to:
- Increase knowledge of muscadine and beekeeping businesses
- Demonstrate different careers in agriculture
- Expand participation in 4-H programming by offering engaging workshops and farm tours.
Results: Students increased their knowledge of bees by 49% and grapes by 51% based on pre and post-test results. The combined total number of participants was 203 students ranging in age from 8 to 18. Conclusion: The program provided a hands-on approach to teaching youth about the agriculture industry. It brought awareness of agriculture in their community and careers in agriculture to 203 students. 170 (87%) youth who had never attended a 4-H event were in attendance, bringing recognition to the Putnam County 4-H program.