UGA Extension Office

Our Impact

Outdoor Education: Adventure Awaits

Summary: Today's adolescents are spending less time outdoors than previous generations due to technology, environmental stressors, and the fear of safety. The Fayette County 4-H & youth Development Agent has addressed these issues by promoting the importance of outdoor recreation opportunities and knowledge via social media and through the development of special interest clubs and events.

Situation: Richard Louv’s, Last Child in the Woods, states today’s youth are experiencing nature-deficit disorder, thus resulting in declining physical activity coupled with increasingly higher diagnoses of cognitive and emotional disorders among youth. In a recent journal article, [20(2): 1328], published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, spending time outdoors increases motor skills, cardiovascular health, social, emotional, and cognitive development.

Response: Due to the increase in youth spending less time outside, the Fayette County 4-H program has implemented numerous outdoor hands-on activities for all ages of youth to participate in to help increase social and emotional skills, physical activity, and to teach hard skills. Activities included: hiking, horse trail riding, ziplining, canoeing, archery, camping, pond ecology classes, and lake clean-up events. Social media is also being utilized as an effective tool in which the program is posting on Facebook and Instagram about outdoor opportunities within their local region and outdoor education on various topics.

Results/Impact: From February 2022 to October 2023, the Fayette County 4-H program has reached 191 youth in grades 1st-12th through 19 different outdoor events. Post event evaluations were conducted for members of the 2022 Adventure Club and the 2023 Adventure Club which included eighteen 4-H’ers. Of the 5 responses, 60% recalled how to properly use the restroom in the backcountry. 80% felt comfortable cooking meals on various types of camping stoves after practicing within the club and putting that skill to use at the end of the club camping trip. 80% learned how to set up a campfire. After the 1-night Adventure Club 2023 camping trip, one middle school 4-H’er stated, “Thank you for this, I really needed it”. Another high school 4-H’er who attended both years of the club and attended the 2-night camping trip in 2022 stated, “From what I learned, I feel comfortable camping alone without worries of breaking the rules and not attracting animals”.

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