Backyard Exploration

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville
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During the summer months, youth may resort to staring at their phones or tablets to pass the time and stop their boredom. The days can seem to drag on and the use of television or video games are used to keep youth occupied. However, there is a whole world to discover right in your backyard! At our 4-H STEM Bytes Summer Camp, we recently took a field trip to Discovery Place in downtown Charlotte. There, we watched the IMAX movie titled  Backyard Wilderness showing the ways people can observe and explore nature just by stepping outside.

When you walk in nature, you can stop and look around at the earth’s ecosystem. From the bugs moving on the ground to the birds flying in the sky to the raccoons digging in your garbage bin, the world is changing and moving in an extortionary way. A component of the 4-H Program is to inspire youth to investigate the world around them and the summer season is the perfect time to do it. 

So what are some ways you can explore nature around you? Go on a backyard camping trip with your family and friends. Listen to the sounds around you and observe the creatures you come across. Start a nature journal documenting the interesting plants and animals you run across and then share with others. The app, iNaturalist offers a way for people to take photos of their observations and share them with fellow scientists online. For more information about the worldwide nature community of iNaturalist and how to use the program, visit inaturalist.org. Who knows, you may discover a new species right in your backyard! 

Learning about the earth’s health is a step to learning about your own way of healthy living. The national 4-H website offers a healthy living activity guidebook filled with activities like how to build a mason jar herb garden and a Don’t Bug Me experiment where kids can learn how to protect themselves from bug bites. Visit 4-H Healthy Living to download. 

So this summer, move away from the tv and ask questions about the earth, make discoveries, and explore in your backyard. You never know what you will find. The more you learn about the environment, the more you can find ways to protect it. Happy hunting! This has been Leah Joyner with your Cooperative Extension report.