This past year has presented Georgia 4-H with the opportunity to create new and innovative programming options to meet the challenges of virtual school options and social distancing required by the COVID-19 crisis. Because these circumstances have precluded students from attending traditional environmental education programming at Georgia 4-H centers and 4-H club meetings at local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices, teachers and parents have needed entertaining and educational online resources to keep youth engaged in non-traditional learning environments. In response, Georgia 4-H launched “From the Mountains to the Sea,” “Zoom into Science” and “Blast Off with Georgia 4-H” to allow the state’s youth to continue their participation in 4-H programming remotely.
From the Mountains to the Sea
Traditionally, Georgia 4-H offers environmental education at each of its six facilities: Rock Eagle 4-H Center located in the piedmont in Eatonton, Georgia; Wahsega 4-H Center in the Dahlonega mountains; Fortson 4-H Center in Hampton, Georgia, near Atlanta; Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island; and Georgia 4-H at Camp Jekyll and 4-H Tidelands Nature Center on Jekyll Island. In March, Georgia 4-H centers launched an online series focused on environmental education, with highlights from each of the 4-H centers. To date, more than 250,000 youth have enjoyed the 60-lesson series, available on Facebook and YouTube. The series will continue in February. Lessons are free, available to the public and include entertaining lessons on a variety of environmental education topics. To view the series archive, please visit georgia4h.org/ee/archive or the centers’ Facebook pages for live videos.
Rock Eagle 4-H Center for Mondays at The Mound: facebook.com/RockEagle4HCenter;
Burton 4-H Center for Tuesdays on Tybee: facebook.com/Burton4H;
Wahsega 4-H Center for Wahsega Wednesdays: facebook.com/Wahsega4H;
Fortson 4-H Center for Fortson Farm Fridays: facebook.com/Fortson4HCenter.
Zoom into Science
In addition, the Georgia 4-H Science and Environmental Education Program will be continuing the “Zoom into Science” sessions. This collection of virtual learning lessons allows youth from across the country to connect with scientists, researchers and engineers through the online communication platform Zoom. Each one-hour Zoom session connects participants with lessons from specialists and experts in a variety of science-related careers. All sessions are free to attend and open to the public.
The next session, to be held Jan. 21, will highlight turtles. Participants will be joined by Georgia 4-H Environmental Educator Nike Pappas. During this session, Pappas will share information about turtles, discuss ways to help with conservation and showcase some of the animal ambassadors at the Burton 4-H Center. Participants can register for the session at tinyurl.com/scizoomturtle.
A session on Jan. 28 will feature UGA poultry science Professor Andrew Benson, who will share information on the poultry industry. Participants can register for the session at tinyurl.com/scizoompoultrysci.
The next session will be held on Feb. 11 and will highlight Fort Pulaski, a brick fort located on Cockspur Island, built to protect the port of Savannah, Georgia. Frank Middleton of the U.S. National Park Service will focus on the history and science behind Fort Pulaski. Participants can register for the session at tinyurl.com/scizoomfort.
Blast Off with Georgia 4-H
“Blast Off with Georgia 4-H” will continue to provide youth with entertaining and educational lessons and adventures on a variety of topics including agriculture, STEM, leadership and healthy living. These virtual programs are offered in a variety of formats, including livestreaming sessions, video series, solo activities and more. The series is updated weekly with new offerings and is managed by local UGA Extension agents.
The space-themed collection of statewide activities for youth of all ages allows participants to select a track, or “mission,” based on grade level. The Cloverbud Perseverance Mission is designed for youth in kindergarten through third grade. These activities, or “expeditions,” are interactive and entertaining. The Cloverleaf InSight Mission is designed for youth in fourth through sixth grades and the Junior Odyssey Mission includes a variety of experiences for youth in seventh and eighth grades. Youth in grades nine through 12 will enjoy the Senior Voyager Mission, filled with exciting, practical and even tasty experiences.
Registration is free and the programs are open to the public. To start your educational mission, visit georgia4h.org/blastoff.
Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships, and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 190,000 people annually through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit georgia4h.org or contact your local Extension office.