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Enhancing 4-H Shooting Sports with Civic Ecology & Citizen Science

New York State 4-H Shooting Sports programs have an excellent safety record and we are proud of the safety skills and awareness we have instilled in future generations.  We stand for safety and the youth who participate in our 4-H Shooting Sports programs, as well as their parents, are keenly interested in learning all aspects of the proper safety practices.

Beyond vital safety components, there are additional skills and areas of knowledge that we can also instill in our youth participants.  Every 4-H Shooting Sports youth participant should be involved in some sort of community service activity.  Recently, in collaboration with the Civic Ecology Lab (http://civicecology.org/) in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University a survey was conducted to determine what counties are participating in Citizen Science activities and which of these counties also has a 4-H Shooting Sports program. 

Civic Ecology is the study of the interactions between community-based environmental stewardship, education and learning situated in these stewardship practices, the people and institutions involved, as well as the ecosystem services produced by the people, their stewardship, and educational practices.

Citizen Science is a useful way of gaining situational understanding of a given social-ecological landscape through data collection, and it can also serve as a gateway into additional stewardship activities.  Citizen science is where members of the public assist scientists with the gathering of biological data by reporting data that they themselves observe throughout an area.  For example, Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology has a map of the migration of birds and butterflies migrating across the United States.  The map then displays the reported sightings of these animals over a period of time.  It is sort of like a time lapse image displayed on the map of the United States.   The colors pulse and move northward across the country as the birds/butterflies migrate, which contributes to our understanding of these creatures and their conservation and management.   

Of the thirty-three (33) counties that responded to the survey, twenty-eight (28) counties have a 4-H Shooting Sports program. Fifty-one (51) percent, or approximately seventeen (17), of counties have a Citizen Science program.  However, only six (6) county 4-H Shooting Sports programs are currently active in an overlapping Citizen Science program signifying an opportunity for new growth in this area. 

In addition, Cornell University Cooperative Extension faculty and staff members have developed a series of activities and programs related to science, technology, engineering, and math or as we call it - STEM.  The kit is called the STEM Tool Kit and is available online free of charge.  In the same survey above, we asked how many 4-H programs and how many 4-H Shooting Sports programs are using the STEM toolkit.  The responses were as follows:  fifty-eight (58) percent of counties participate in at least one STEM Tool Kit activity, but only six (6) percent of the counties are actively using the STEM Tool Kit in coordination with 4-H Shooting Sports.  Geospatial science/GPS is the primary tool of choice for 4-H Shooting Sports programming. 

What does all that mean?  It means that 4-H Shooting Sports has a tremendous educational opportunity to increase youth participation by offering both Civic Ecology and Citizen Science programming.  Bird & insect monitoring and awareness programs go hand in hand with migratory waterfowl tracking and identification and forestry programming respectively, for example. 

Under STEM, youth learn through such activities as exploring local streams with nets to catch bugs and small critters and comparing what they find with a standard chart for species that occur in either clean or polluted waters.  In such a way, they can help determine the health of their local environments. They learn how to use a key, they learn how to examine data (insects and small creatures, in this case) and draw conclusions from that data. 

To learn more about these programming opportunities contact the 4-H staff member in charge of your local/county 4-H Shooting Sports program and ask them about Civic Ecology and Citizen Science projects.  In addition, we are offering a Combined Coordinator/STEM Training as part of the Winter Instructor Workshop in February 22-24, 2013 at the 4-H Training Center in Ballston Spa, NY.

New York State 4-H Shooting Sports Sets New Record!

The recent completion of New York State 4-H Shooting Sports participation records confirms that over 25,500 youth were reached by NYS4HSS between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012. 

The numbers reached were comprised from the following categories:

  • 1670 youth were involved in 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs
  • 1225 youth were involved in 4-H Special Interest Programs
  • 5841 youth were involved in 4-H Camp Activities 
  • 13,941 youth were reached through 4-H at County/State Fairs
  • 2800 youth were reached through additional Special Interest Programs (i.e. conservation field days, JAKES events, etc.) 

Volunteer instructor hours reached 14,800 hours.  At a current general rate of $23/hour, our instructors provided the equivalent of nearly $350,000 in services to our youth! 





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4H Shooting Sports

The 4-H Name and Emblem are a Federal Mark and are protected under 18 USC 707 and subject to regulations that prohibit the 4-H Name and Emblem to be used in any way that implies endorsement or exclusivity of any firm, product or service.  The inclusion of entities, websites or other sources cited on the New York State 4-H Shooting Sports website, or New York State 4-H Shooting Sports affiliated online or media outlets, is representative of a cooperative partnership with 4-H and does not imply endorsement or exclusivity.