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4-H Wildlife Habitat Education Program

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Environmental education is critical for a sustainable future. Environmental and human health are inseparable. Children need opportunities to spend time in nature and develop a connection and interest in outdoor spaces, then build upon that interest with learning how ecological systems work and why natural resources matter. Research shows that time spent outdoors can benefit children’s health and academic performance through increased physical activity and improved attention spans.

In the winter of 2023, Madison County 4-H formed a group to participate in the 4-H Wildlife Habitat Education Program (WHEP). The 4-H WHEP group held ten educational programs from January to May, including hands-on field trips, to learn about wildlife in North Carolina, ecosystems and habitat needs, and habitat conservation and management strategies. Youth had the option to compete at the State 4-H WHEP Contest.

Nine youth participated in Madison County 4-H WHEP, learning about wildlife and conservation. 

The 4-H WHEP program gave youth of diverse learning abilities the opportunity to gain knowledge and confidence through experiential learning in classroom and outdoor settings. Youth were challenged with critical thinking and knowledge application during WHEP group meetings and the State 4-H Contest, and each one demonstrated knowledge gain over the four month period. Participants were very eager to spend time outside as often as possible! One participant stated, “The most important thing I have learned in 4-H is more about the area I live in. I have learned about the plants and animals that live around me and how to make sure that they thrive. I know how to manage wildlife and habitats, and can identify many more birds, fish, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles than I used to be able to.” 

Children pose in a rock garden.