Youth taught drug awareness, nature skills at camp

Johnny Morgan  |  7/31/2018 9:16:22 PM

(07/31/18) CLINTON, La. — Many people would think that 4-year-olds are too young for instruction on drug abuse. But getting information to them about the dangers of drugs was the goal of a recent camp in East Feliciana Parish.

The 4-H Cloverbud Camp held at the LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station in Clinton on July 25-27 was sponsored by the East Feliciana Drug and Alcohol Awareness Council and the East Feliciana 4-H Club.

Dawn Barnett, AgCenter 4-H agent in East Feliciana Parish, said the camp is one of the ways she is strengthening the 4-H program in the parish.

“We feel that if we can get these young people from the time they are in kindergarten through third grade, then they should be ready for regular 4-H activities by the time they reach fourth grade,” she said.

Cloverbuds are children who haven’t yet reached fourth grade, the age when they are eligible to join a 4-H club. It’s a good time to begin getting them prepared, Barnett said.

During the three-day camp, the participants rotated among stations where they learned about teamwork, wildlife and technology.

The lessons taught during the camp were based on STEAM — science, technology, environment, arts and math — and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

The 60-plus students who participated in the camp were given lessons on how drones can be used in beneficial ways. They also were taught about the value of teamwork and the dangers of using drugs and alcohol.

“They are really preparing to be 4-H‘ers,” Barnett said. “They learn many of the lessons taught in 4-H, but they will not be competing against each other at this point.”

Rhonda Torrence, project coordinator for the East Feliciana Drug and Alcohol Awareness Council, said the idea for the camp was to give the younger children a chance to go to a camp that was age-appropriate.

The council started in 2010 with its main focus to teach about prescription misuse, underage drinking and marijuana use, she said.

“This has been a great collaboration since we had a grant to provide the information and 4-H has the kids, so it worked out perfect,” Torrence said. “We also partner with schools to do programs on bullying and personal hygiene.”

Torrence said the council has received a six-year, $625,000 grant that focuses on encouraging middle and high school students to stay drug-free.

“One of our challenges in reaching the youth has been transportation,” Torrence said. “But we are in the process of applying for a transportation grant.”

At another stop at the camp, the children learned about animals in Louisiana.

Paul Davidson, who recently retired as director of the Black Bear Conservation Coalition after 25 years with the organization, presented a lesson on bears.

“Even though we don’t have a breeding bear population in the parish, I remind the students that in the next 20 years they will probably see an increase in the bear population,” he said.

Davidson wants the kids to know they will have to be prepared to coexist with these animals.

“That won’t be as difficult for youth in this area because they are more familiar with animals because this is such a rural parish,” he said. “So they are used to seeing deer, coyotes and foxes, unlike, say, students in Baton Rouge or New Orleans.”

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LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Dawn Barnett, of East Feliciana Parish, is helping to strengthen the 4-H program in the parish by working with children four years old through third grade. The recent Cloverbud Camp held at the LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station near Clinton on July 25-27 and cosponsored by the East Feliciana Drug and Alcohol Awareness Council taught lessons on technology, teamwork and wildlife. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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Ariel Bourgoyne, left, shows Cloverbuds the importance of using drones. She also showed them how to catch and measure insects during the Cloverbud Camp on July 25-27 at the LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station near Clinton. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Elaina Vercher, of West Feliciana Parish, shows young children how to work as a team during a recent Cloverbud Camp on July 25-27 at the LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station near Clinton. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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