26th 4-H Ecology Field Day dedicated to UF Biologist Sharon Fitz-Coy

On April 8, 220 of Madison County’s third graders descended upon the 26th annual Madison County 4-H Ecology Field Day at NFCC for a day of hands-on educational activities in science, ecology, and environmental protection.  This event is a collaboration between the Madison County School Board, North Florida Community College (NFCC) and the Madison County Extension Office 4-H.

Each year, Madison County third graders make the trip to NFCC to experience the Ladell Brothers Outdoor Environmental Center while learning about ecosystems, human impact on the environment and how they can preserve and protect these precious resources.  Madison County High School’s FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America) and Madison County 4-H student volunteers interacted with and led various groups of participants through each of the hands on educational ecology stations. Each station educated students about a different topic including stewardship of the land, plant identification and use, reptile and fish habitats, entomology, and an introduction to the 4-H program.  Instructors included representatives from the University of Florida/IFAS Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Florida A&M Entomology Department, Madison County Extension’s 4-H Youth Development program, and Madison County Farm Bureau.

This year, Madison County’s 4-H Ecology Field Day was dedicated to Mrs. Sharon Fitz-Coy, the University of Florida’s senior biologist with the IFAS Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Fitz-Coy passed suddenly prior to this year’s event.  She has been part of the program from almost the very first year and loved the program’s long-standing tradition of educating youth on life skills and the importance of being good stewards of the environment while exposing them to their local community college campus. With wonderful presenters such as Fitz-Coy, this event allows students to translate classroom knowledge to real world experiences. By providing opportunities for the youth to have hands on experiences, chances of high academic achievement both in the classroom and on standardized testing such as the End of Course Exams, SAT and ACT are being improved.  Due to the program’s effectiveness and focus on science, engineering, technology and math, other organizations have been inspired over the years to develop similar events for their local youth.  We cannot thank Sharon Fitz-Coy enough for her more than 20 years of service and the passion she has shared with over 150,000 youth across the state of Florida.  Her loving smile, beautiful personality, and passion for aquatic sciences will be greatly missed!

We could not continue our efforts without everyone’s contributions to create a day of fun and exploration for Madison County third graders.  We would like to thank each of the instructors, teachers, volunteers, coordinators, and most importantly the third graders of Madison County for making this event possible.

If you are interested in having your youth participate in other 4-H activities such as Summer Camps, Day Camps, and Clubs, contact Becky Bennett at the Madison County Extension Office at (850) 973-4138 or by email at  bvbennett-@ufl.edu.

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