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Growing on the inside by being outside – Kentucky 4-H Environmental Education Camp

The Kentucky 4-H Environmental Education Camp (EE Camp) Program aims to provide elementary students the opportunity to learn about Kentucky’s natural resources in an out-of-school setting.  The program is designed for 4th and 5th grade classrooms with tailored lesson plans supplementing Next Generation Science Standards.  Class instructors provide meaningful, hands-on programs to educate youth in environmental sciences and cross-cutting concepts to bolster their in-class learning.

Classes are led by trained interns who have a passion for teaching youth about the great outdoors around them.  Each of the four 4-H Camps has a unique menu of classes to choose from that complements the natural setting of their location using curriculum from Project WET, Project WILD, Project UNDERGROUND, 4-H curriculum, and many others. 

Educational classes include content on lake studies, Kentucky history, animals tracks, nocturnal animals, owl pellets, cave studies, enviroscape, nature hikes, Kentucky mammals, bird adaptations, and more.  Recreational classes include fishing, archery, and teambuilding.

While there are day camp options available that include up to 200 instructional minutes, this isn’t your standard “field trip.”  Most participating schools choose an overnight package that includes six hours of instructional nature classes during the day, a one-hour educational evening activity, three meals and a snack, and an overnight stay in a climate-controlled cabin with their classmates and chaperones.

During the 2022 calendar year, 52 Kentucky schools representing 14 counties participated in 4-H EE Camp.  This included 3,149 students, 914 volunteers, and 47 extension staff that were present for day and overnight programs.  A survey conducted in the spring of 2019 found that 70% of students experienced their first outside-of-school mentor at EE Camp, 80% felt they accomplished a new goal or learned a new skill because of their instructor, and 95% of adult volunteers say being a part of a group working toward a common goal had a positive effect on them.

Extension staff interested in receiving an Environmental Education Camp Information Guide are encouraged to reach out to the 4-H Camp Director in their area who can also assist with planning meetings with your school contacts.

More information on 4-H Environmental Education Camps is available at the Butler County Extension office.

The Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is an Equal Opportunity Organization with respect to education and employment and authorization to provide research, education information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, physical or mental disability or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.  


By: Lloyd G. Saylor, County Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development

Source: Joey Barnard, agriculture extension specialist


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