Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hello Everyone!

Thank you for visiting our 4-H Summer of Science blog! This blog will not be utilized until next summer (and trust us-- we have a lot in store for you!), but you can keep up to date with all things 4-H in Oakland County by visiting our official blog at:

There are many exciting events, programs, and services that occur year round with 4-H, so don't miss out on all of the excitement!

You can also find us at our other social media sites!

If you have any questions regarding this blog, or the 4-H in OC blog, please contact Oakland County 4-H Youth Development at 248.858.0889.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

4-H Kids in the Garden Recap

This summer, 4-H Youth Development of Oakland County partnered with the Charter Township of Royal Oak and the Neighborhood Garden Coalition to reach over 100 youth in Ferndale and the surrounding communities with the 4-H Kids in the Garden program.  Summer Youth Leaders Rachel Matich and Iris Shen-VanBuren met twice a week for eight weeks with the children attending the Royal Oak Township Recreation Center day camp, to plant their own Children’s Garden full of their favorite vegetables and even some vegetables that were new to their plates.

While learning how to take care of their own garden, they also learned about nutrition, plant science, water quality and the value of hard work through fun, hands-on learning activities. All of the children also had the opportunity to create fun and useful crafts for the garden such as scarecrows, wind chimes, a decorative and flashy garden barrier, and cement stepping stones that will be a marker of their hard work and ownership for years to come.

One of the greatest testaments to the success of the program was the enthusiasm of the children and the initiative they showed in caring for the garden. The walk from the community center to the garden is a half-mile stretch of usually littered road and sidewalk, but the kids made a fun competition out of who could collect the  most trash and throw it away where it belongs.

On Wednesday, July 27th, participants in 4-H Kids in the Garden created their own personalized stepping stones. These stones will be kept in the garden as a memento of the children's summer-long effort and participation in the program. Check out all of the action in the photos below!

  All photos by 4-H Youth Development Administrative Assistant Margi Miller

For more information about 4-H Kids in the Garden, please contact Julie Scislowicz at (248) 858-1018 or

Friday, August 19, 2011

4-H2O Eco Challenge: Day 5!

It's Friday, and that means two things:
1.) It's the last day of 4-H Eco Challenge 2011
2.) It's time for 'The Challenge'!

This morning, all of the campers were divided into their groups in preparation for 'The Challenge'. As a team, each group had to complete various tasks throughout the park in order to receive points towards their end goal. They were given maps and GPS units to navigate throughout the park to find these activities, which ranged from rock climbing, to mazes (while blind-folded!) and to scavenger hunts. While traveling from activity zone, campers also had to record their nature-findings with Flip video cameras as proof of their discovery. Using their knowledge from the past week, everyone was able to find different insects, edible and inedible vegetation, and so much more!

'The Challenge' kept everyone busy until the early afternoon, and so after lunch Eco-Challengers were able to enjoy their last day at Indian Springs Metropark. Thanks to Oakland County Parks, we were able to have a rock wall set up for our campers-- and boy were they able to climb up fast! The Spray-&-Play was also in full use, so participants were able to cool off with some watery fun in the afternoon.

Towards the end of the day, all members of the 4-H Eco Challenge 2011 spent some time in the Environmental Discovery Center to review the results of 'The Challenge', get their sweet 4-H Eco Challenge 2011 t-shirts, and vote for the Most-Spirited Eco-Challenger. Congrats to Sean, Omari, and Lebaron on their nominations-- it was well deserved!

On behalf of everyone from the 4-H Eco Challenge 2011, we'd like to say THANK YOU to all of our campers, and to the wonderful staff at Indian Springs Metropark. The past week has been so much fun, and it would not have been possible without each and every one of you. We can't wait for next summer, and keep a look out for our upcoming programs this fall!

4-H Eco Challenge 2011 - We all took the Challenge!

4-H2O Eco Challenge 2011: Day 4!

Thursday was filled with birds, butterflies, and insects! In the morning, Nora and Justin prepared a fascinating presentation about visual recognition; campers were able to realize how much recognition has an impact on our day to day lives by reviewing corporate logos and linking them with their corresponding corporation. This then led to using visual recognition in nature, especially with activities like birding. While in the classroom, we reviewed different bird and butterfly types that we would be seeing later in the day, and listened to various bird songs and calls to prepare us for our birding adventure.

Dividing into two groups and hitting the paths, campers were able to use binoculars and scopes to get an up close look at the birds and butterflies at Indian Springs Metropark. The scopes allowed us to really zoom in on the birds-- it was just like what astronomers do with a telescope when reviewing the sky!

Meeting at the top of the highest hill at the park, Justin had a multitude of nets available for the campers to use so they could have their hand at insect hunting. Each camper was able to catch their own bugs in the prairie, store them in a box, and use our books to review what they caught. It was quite a scene to see more than twenty Eco-Challengers running through the paths with giant nets--but it looked like they were having a blast! 

Earlier in the week, Jason made a promise to the campers that he would eat an insect if another camper did. Well, sitting on top of that hill, Jason had his first ever locust to the chants and cheers of all the Eco-Challengers. We have to give him props-- he kept his promise! However, we're not too sure if he liked the taste all that much. Afterwards, he said it was "a bit too crunchy for my taste". Ahh!

On the walk back to the classroom for lunch, some campers even came across another rattlesnake in the prairie; Justin said we have to come back and visit more, because he only ever sees them when we're on site. How cool!

After lunch, everyone headed to the fen pond to skim the water for different aquatic life. A few turtles were even caught! Taking the smaller organisms and insects to the laboratory in the Environmental Discovery Center, campers were able to use microscopes to study what they skimmed out of the water, but don't worry-- we returned the turtles to the water before hand!

I can't believe that tomorrow is our last day of 4-H Eco Challenge. This week has flown by! But tomorrow is a big day; in the morning, we have 'The Challenge'. So campers, be prepared and rest up-- you're going to need it!

Jason, prepping his locust for consumption:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

4-H2O Eco Challenge 2011: Day 3!

Wednesday was Wilderness Survival Wednesday, and it was definitely filled with loads of helpful information for all of our campers!

The morning started out with a group activity that had the campers deciding on which five items they would want with them if stuck out in the wild. It was so interesting to see how items varied from group to group, and the reasoning behind their choices. Afterwards, Justin took us on a hike through the nature trails to talk about edible and inedible vegetation found in nature. We even had a few campers eat ants-- talk about bravery!

Once everyone was finished with lunch, we played a fun game with a tarp; each group had to fit onto a tarp, and then flip it in half without having any member of the group step off the tarp. It was great seeing everyone work together towards one goal-- with a quite a few laughs in there, as well!

We then hit the trails, and spent some time with Justin learning about fire safety and primitive fire starting techniques. After a lesson on the necessities for a fire (oxygen, fuel, and heat-- the fire pyramid), campers split into groups and used different tools to start a fire: steel wool and a battery, oversized magnifying glasses, and flint and steel kits were available for the groups to try out. Each fire was started inside a pie tin (safety first!) and doused in water at the end of the activity, so Smokey the Bear won't have to worry about a thing!

Once all of the fires were put out and the messes cleaned up, Rachel gave everyone a lesson on the seven 'Leave No Trace' principles, which are: plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors. These principles are designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike and/or camp-- definitely valuable information for Michiganders.

Campers were also showed the process of water purification, and why it is important to have clean water while out in nature. We even purified some of the water from the pond to make it drinkable!

To close out the day, everyone was placed into pairs where one team member was blindfolded. The non-blindfolded team mate had to assist their blinded friend through a mini obstacle course by giving them detailed information about their every move. Talk about a difficult task!

Thursday promises to be another exciting day at 4-H2O Eco Challenge 2011-- we have birding on the schedule, so check back tomorrow night for a full update on the day's activities!