ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia 4-H Environmental Education program is accommodating the needs of students around the state by offering both virtual and socially distant in-person visits at its six facilities in Georgia.
As a response to COVID-19 restrictions, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension’s 4-H environmental educators around the state began posting videos to highlight activities, concepts or ideas that would have been traditionally taught in person. Since March, over 50 videos from the centers have been posted on topics ranging from animal care to the geography of Georgia to wilderness survival. The videos also allowed each center to highlight local and unique environmental landmarks such as the salt marshes and beaches on the coast and the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests.
Following the launch, one teacher summarized her experience with the program to organizers by saying, “I just wanted to let you know how much we loved the 4-H videos you posted last spring. We spent the last couple of weeks of sixth-grade remote learning doing Outdoors Atlanta lessons. Your videos were great starters and models for the students who then went outside to do their own tree walks, pond explorations, bug hunts, sunset watches, shelter-building, etc. Thanks so much for making these available.”
The series has already reached a total of 217,900 youth and adults throughout the state. Due to its popularity, the 4-H Environmental Education program will continue this series throughout the fall with 10 additional video uploads occurring through the end of November.
Social media is not the only way youth can experience the Georgia 4-H facilities and programs. Beginning this fall, all centers have added in-person lessons and one-hour virtual sessions are available for scheduling. These two additional avenues of interaction reflect the traditional experiences youth have when visiting the centers, while following UGA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to ensure the health and safety of everyone.
“Tens of thousands of K-12 students and teachers typically fill our 4-H facilities during the school year, building memories and bringing learning to life using Georgia as a classroom without walls. We hope that by offering these short virtual programs, we can give youth and adults a way to stay connected to our facilities and our programs during these times when so many are missing their annual field studies with us,” said Melanie Biersmith, associate state 4-H leader.
To learn more about the virtual and in-person offerings through the Georgia 4-H Environmental Education program, visit georgia4h.org/eeor contact the centers directly. View the current library of videos at georgia4h.org/ee/archive.
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 175,000 people annually through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit georgia4h.org or contact your local Extension office.
–Austin Clark, Georgia 4-H