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Conservation Field Day Increases Recycling and Outdoor Exploration

August 30, 2019
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Date: September 2018

Title: Conservation Field Day Increases Recycling and Outdoor Exploration

Team: Tami Mosier

Purdue Extension Goals: Creating Quality Communities, Enhancing Positive Life Skills, Fostering Responsible Land Use and Conservation of Resources

Issue

In Steuben County, there are 101 recognized lakes.  These lakes serve as recreational landscapes for a large portion of the community, catch basins for runoff, and home to many wildlife.  As such, the recreational community, the agricultural community, and natural environment have the challenge of sharing the natural resources and getting along in the process.  In addition, Steuben County is a hunter's delight as wildlife abound.  It serves our community well to begin the conversation about conservation early in a community like ours.

What Has Been Done

Multiple community partners who have a vested interest in the natural resources teamed to offer youth conservation programming to fourth grade students.  Natural resources education by community partners served as one avenue to meet several Indiana Academic Standards for fourth grade.  287 youth progressed through six stations in which they learned about water quality, conservation, forestry, fish, wildlife, and soils in the natural environment.

Volunteers were recruited and facilities were secured for every station.  Qualified presenters taught about natural resources using hands-on education.  A written evaluation was administered at the close of the event to capture the knowledge gained, changes in attitude, and potential behavior changes.

Results

217 written evaluations were collected from students, resulting in a 76% response rate.  94% of the student respondents recognized they could easily improve water quality in our community by picking up trash to keep it out of the waterways and/or by encouraging their parents to use less fertilizers and pesticides at home. 75% indicated they saw the outdoors in a new way at Conservation Field Day.  88% recognized that since there are limited natural resources, humans sometimes have to manage forests, fish populations, and the ecological balance of predators/prey.

When asked how humans could reduce their impact on the environment, answers included:  put more paper in the recycling bin instead of the trash, take food scraps and wait a year so they can become soil, pick up trash, do not litter, recycle, cut less trees down, use less fertilizer, use less plastic, use reusable bottles, pick up animal waste, and grow trees.

More importantly than the knowledge gained, 85% of the youth reported a behavior change as they stated they plan to increase the amount they recycle at home as a result of Conservation Field Day.  89% plan to spend more time exploring the outdoors.

Outcomes 4-H - Retired October 2018

Science

Sci 1.2: Youth will express positive attitudes about Science = 194

Sci 1.3: Youth will see science in their futures and recognize the relevance of Science = 161

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