In 1998 the Harlan County Extension 4-H Program hosted a one-day 4-H Environmental Camp held at Camp O’ Cumberland Scout Camp near Wallins. Two schools attended bringing all their fourth grade classes.
There were four environment classes presented by Kentucky Forestry Service, local volunteer Archie Ridings, Rob Miller, former agriculture agent, and Tim Anders from the Soil Conservation office.
What began as a one-day affair grew to a two-day 4-H Environmental Camp in 2000 held at Camp Blanton in Watts’ Creek. In 2001 the camp was held at Kingdom Come State Park, where it became a three-day camp featuring seven presenters from different agencies across the county and state. For the past 12 years, the camp has been held at Martin’s Fork Lake.
The 17th annual 2014 4-H Environmental Camp will be held Sept. 9, 10 and 11 from 9 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. and will consist of 30-minute classes presented by the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife, Kentucky Division of Air Quality, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture (Forestry), Kentucky Division of Forestry, Kentucky Division of Water, Kentucky Department of Agriculture and local environmentalist Archie Ridings.
More than 500 third, fourth and fifth graders from Black Mountain, Rosspoint, Cawood, Green Hills, Harlan Independent, Cumberland, Evarts, Wallins and James A. Cawood Elementary Schools will pack a lunch and head to Martins Fork Lake.
Rosspoint, Cumberland and Green Hills will attend Sept. 9; Cawood, James A. Cawood and Wallins will attend Sept. 10; and Harlan third grade, Black Mountain and Evarts will attend Sept. 11.
According to teachers who attended in past years, students learn best from hands-on experiences. “Lab experiments and good textbooks are crucial instruments for learning about the environment, but nothing can replace the outdoors. Learning from experts in their respective fields makes environmental education a true-to-life experience for students,” stated a fourth grade teacher.
Another teacher added, “And there couldn’t have been a more beautiful place for this camp to be held. As the students went from agency to agency, they started noticing their surroundings more. Some picked up leaves for a closer look, and some picked up walnuts. It’s very important for our students to learn what goes on in their surrounding environment and to appreciate what they have here in the mountains.”
According to some teachers, “The 4-H Environment Camp covers Core Content for Practical Living and Science, while exposing students to a variety of careers from expert presenters in their fields in Harlan County and in the state of Kentucky. As teachers, this gives us a direct contact by being there and talking to these experts to bring them into our schools to present programs. Our students appreciate the natural beauty and resources of our area as a result of spending the day out doors. Kids always look forward to going. They have a good time learning while they are there.”
Terry Connors, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Forestry Division, presents Wood Products Environmental Lessons. This will make his eleventh year presenting lessons for Environmental Camp. He enjoys teaching these students so much he schedules next year’s camp on the last day of each camp.
Rob Miller, former Harlan County agriculture agent who now works for the Kentucky Division of Water (in London) and one of our original presenters from 17 years ago will present a program on water conservation.
Third and fourth graders are the target focus for Environmental Camp. For information about 4-H Environmental Camp or other 4-H projects contact Raymond Cox at the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Service at 606-573-4464 or 606-273-0835.
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.