On April 4th, 220 of Madison County’s third graders descended upon the 24th 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, and the Madison County Extension Office 4-H.
Each year Madison County third graders make the trip to North Florida Community College 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 led various groups of participants through each of the seven 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, water quality, forestry, entomology, and beekeeping. Instructors included: Dave Norton, from RockTenn Corrugated Packaging and Recycling; Justin Kania and several representative from the Florida Department of Forestry; Sharon Fitz-Coy from the University of Florida / IFAS Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences; Tony Hogg of Full Moon Apiary demonstrated beekeeping; representatives from the Learning in the Florida Environment (L.I.F.E.) group with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on water quality; Jan Peters with Florida A&M Entomology Department; Clay Olsen with Taylor County Extension and his volunteers, and finally, representatives from Florida Farm Bureau demonstrated the various uses of local crops and the importance of being stewards of the land.
Madison County 4-H Ecology Field Day is a long-standing tradition that educates youth on life skills and the importance of being good stewards of the environment while exposing them to their local community college campus. This event allows students to translate classroom knowledge to real world experiences. By providing opportunities for our youth to have hands on experiences, we are improving their chances of high academic achievement both in the classroom and on standardized testing such as the FCAT, SAT, and ACT. 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 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.