Published on 06/04/15

Annual 4-H20 Camp educates students on water usage and conservation

By Clint Thompson

The University of Georgia C.M. Stripling Irrigation Research Park (SIRP), in Camilla, Georgia, provided heat relief for south Georgia 4-H’ers on Wednesday, June 3, during the annual 4-H20 Camp.

More than 130 campers attended the second session of the three-day camp at SIRP. They learned about water conservation, water’s importance in agriculture and its environmental impact.

“The camp is all about helping our 4-H students understand the importance of water to our region of the state, and why it’s important to protect it, conserve it and use it wisely, so it will be around for future use,” said Calvin Perry, SIRP superintendent.

The camp is a collaborative effort coordinated every year by SIRP, Mitchell County Extension and the Flint RiverQuarium in Albany, Georgia. Mitchell County was one of 11 counties – the others being Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Crisp, Decatur, Dougherty, Lee, Mitchell, Quitman, Randolph, Sumter, Terrell and Worth – with 4-H’ers in attendance.

“Our 4-H’ers enjoy group activities. They like to spend time with their friends from other counties and learn at the same time; 4-H20 is the perfect activity for that,” said Jennifer Grogan, Mitchell County Extension coordinator. “It is vital that youth learn about the importance of water for the growth of plants and southwest Georgia agriculture, while at the same time realizing that yes, plants need water but not too much.”

This year marks the eighth year 4-H20 has been held. The camp started as a summer activity for Mitchell County 4-H’ers in 2008. Surrounding counties expressed interest in participating, and the following year, 4-H20 was turned into a districtwide camp.

The camp started on Tuesday at the Flint RiverQuarium in Albany.

On Wednesday at SIRP, the 4-H’ers learned about water’s importance to wildlife from Nick Fuhrman, an associate professor in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Science. Also known as “Ranger Nick,” Fuhrman brought along animals native to Georgia to help him teach the children.

Sylvia Davis, Baker County Extension’s family and consumer sciences agent, taught the importance of staying cool and hydrated with water during the hot Georgia summer.

Wes Porter, UGA Extension irrigation specialist, showed the children an irrigation pivot and talked about water’s role in the growth of crops.

“Unless children grow up on a farm, sometimes it’s hard to understand what goes into producing a crop. During this camp we specifically focused on water use and the importance of water in agriculture,” Porter said. “It’s easy to think that we don’t need irrigation, or that irrigation water is free and plentiful for everyone to use. Our main focus was informing the campers about the importance of our water resources and what we can do to conserve them.”

On Thursday, the students met with Rome Ethredge, Seminole County Extension agent, at Andrews Lock and Dam on the Chattahoochee River. The camp concluded at a water park in Dothan, Alabama.

For more about Georgia 4-H programs, go to

Clint Thompson is an agriculture writer based in Tifton, Georgia.

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