4-H Wildlife Program Connects Youth With Environment

Wendy-Lin Bartels (352) 392-7622

Mark Hostetler hostetlerm@wec.ufl.edu, (352) 846-0568
UF/IFAS Volusia County Extension (904) 822-5778

DELAND, Fla.A group of teens identified animals, plant life and wildlife habitats recently in Deland’s Bicentennial Youth Park as part of a 4-H competition designed to reconnect young people with their environment and foster environmental stewardship.

The contest required more than three months of preparation. It tests 4-H members on their knowledge about wildlife and encourages them to use critical thinking skills to solve problems. Contestants also have to rank and verbally defend their answers.

didn’t expect perfect scores, but the concepts and techniques they learn are invaluable,” said Mark Hostetler, wildlife specialist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Hostetler wrote the questions for the competition and coordinated the wildlife habitat evaluation program, which is organized by UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Teams for the competition are organized by county extension offices and coached by community volunteers or extension agents.

The program provides an opportunity for environmental educators to influence the future. want to reconnect these kids to the environment in the hopes of affecting their behavior in tomorrow’s workforce,” said Hostetler.

Word games help participants remember important terms. Flipping through white study cards before the contest, Kaylie Maresca, 15, and Tanya Dillon, 15, members of the Volusia County team, recalled different kinds of vegetation. For example, to remember algae, fungi and lichen, Maresca and Dillon used the phrase, you’re a fun guy. I liken ya.”

Minutes before the contest began, the Volusia team huddled outside with their coach, Al Evans, listening to his advice. is not about winning or losing. It’s about having fun,” said Evans, who told them how proud he was.

Even though it is a relatively new contest, the confidence level of the participants was impressive, said Greg Klowden, a UF graduate student who assisted with the event. if they didn’t know the material, they took their best guess and went with it,” said Klowden.

To find out more about the wildlife habitat evaluation program and other extension wildlife programs, visit online: http://www.wec.ufl.edu/extension/educational_resources.htm

To learn more about the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program, visit online: http://4h.ifas.ufl.edu/



Posted: July 19, 2001

Category: UF/IFAS

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