Building the Base of Sustained Rural Systems

Youth Education within The Foundation

Based upon "Random Thoughts on 4-H Program in Wildlife by Bob Giles, 2-15-83

Basic 4-H was created to create a generation of informed adult farmers, equipment and supplies purchasers. That's changed, but idea may be relevant. We have described Decent Work and have objectives for youth programs. We see youths as both the end as well as the means to the end of achieving sophisticated useful natural resource management.

The work includes The Line.

We realize that we cannot have more sophisticated programs than land owners and leaders can handle or for which materials can be developed. Project, display, congress, etc. may be the present pattern. It may be appropriate to "defy" that pattern (if necessary), and go your own way with rewards, incentives, competitions, and then later to fit into the national picture. It seems likely that several grants can be gotten for novel programs or projects (Purina, National 4-H, commercial computer like A Fari). This will expand the financial context. Certainly members can pay for some club expenses. A learning sequence strategy is needed. One such sequence:

  1. Comprehend the animals
  2. Comprehend the animals' homes
  3. Comprehend the animal ecology (A & B)
  4. Comprehend the animal yield (C)
  5. Comprehend the use (open respect, etc) D
  6. Comprehend the sport (D & E)
  7. Comprehend the Scenery (???)
  8. Comprehend management and manipulation (C & F & G)

The product of the educational system is the sensitive, educated, ecologist-statesperson.The alive, aware, fully informed citizen is the goal. The more active the better, but that can be a secondary goal.

A unit strategy may provide structure:

  1. A leadership unit (to teach leadership in wildlife work and 4H program-process and content).
  2. A work unit. A team of people can join to do work (e.g., build a trail, plant a food patch or border; see The Wildland Crew)
  3. Conspicuous statewide achievement awards program (intensive news media scheme).
  4. A sponsored seminar program, open to the general public on wildlife topics (lecture tours, movies, etc.).
  5. Special wildlife camps by age and achievement in the previously indicated sequence.
  6. Computer contest project: Gamma-Deer, Gamma-Grouse, Gamma-Quail, Gamma-Birds, etc.
  7. Field projects.
  8. Educational tours: wildlife of mines, beaches, pine forests, ponds, trout streams, cove forests. These are pay-as-you-go, but are planned and excellent 1-2 day (weekend) experiences with our graduates teaching the classes.
  9. Speech contest program
  10. Wildlife sports (hunt, fish, trap, bird watch, fish watch, life lists [use BOVA], and phenology club).
  11. Excursions project to collect wildlife (or make observations) to improve regional database.
  12. Monthly "comic book" project
  13. Rural System Camps project - weekend sessions in school periods (for scheduled groups) and summer camps (like Audubon camps).

Highly personalize the entire program through computer op-scan sheets (tests, progress, etc.).

Carefully monitor costs for future reports. Costs should be amortized early and made part of planning. Computer optimization of sites for central teaching and campus and training sessions (minimizing travel costs, time, etc.) can be done based on memberships.

Weather stations can be operated to get temperature and rainfall on opening days of hunting season can improve harvest estimates 10-20% A weather and astronomy program can be useful in many areas of Rural System work and participation.

Nature Folks - a club devoted to those rare, special places (e.g., seeps, caves, marshes, cavities, sink holes, coves, bogs, etc.) is a special place for many people of diverse interest. A phenology club can become a new sport like discussions of bird watching. They could be members (at reduced rates, special programs, etc.).

There can be 3-5 project research programs each year.. Everyone will do the same (2 of 3) projects statewide and reports are aggregated for some information to improve knowledge in the state.

Consider a "coin" as the award given. Perhaps 3 types moving up a sequence of excellence and achievement that a participant can carry and display (modestly). Or just knowing it is in a pocket or purse is pleasurable and it is a reinforcer or reminder.

An alumni group will be valuable. Create a alumni group for adults - anyone who has been in the programs.

Have a grad student each year study the scope, changes in, potentials of, comparisons with, and conceptual parallels and didactic grounds for the current program.

Don't duplicate excellent commercial materials available. Work on wholesale arrangements or deals. These participants buy many things (sheep, combs, etc. Why not a bird book?)

Develop a program with other Rural System Centers to "trade" campers and participants?

Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .


Rural System
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
October 16, 2006