A4-H “Bug Camp” creates buzz with local students

A4-H “Bug Camp” on May 11 at a West Kendall elementary school created the kind of buzz that kids enjoy.

It all came about after a teacher affiliated with 4-H Club activity and environmental causes decided a hands-on, outdoor lesson could create more interest than classroom lectures.

Xonia Perez, who organized the 4-H Club at Oliver Hoover Elementary School in The Hammocks about 18 months ago, connected to Alex Diaz, agent for the Miami-Dade 4-H Extension and its extension programming.

“With cutbacks in school funding, local organizations are coming up with creative tools to expose our kids to higher learning,” said Sonya M. Perez, spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Consumer Services Department, which helps fund and operate the Cooperative Extension Service and its 4-H program.

As the program’s local spearhead, Perez said she wanted “to get other non 4-H club members in our school excited about environmental sciences.”

For four hours, the fifth-grade students took turns in the school’s outdoor yard, learning about vegetable and butterfly gardening after creating their own sites under Perez’s direction. This was to prepare them to “meet their new creepy-crawly neighbors.”

Included were such items as “some kind of little green thing,” as described by Brian Escobar, 11. “I haven’t figured out what it is yet, but I will now.”

It was that kind of enthusiasm that also led Daniel Perez and Kayla Gonzalez, both 11, to become president and junior sponsor of the 4-H Club activity, the first of its kind at Hoover Elementary.

“It’s really neat, learning about bugs,” they said.

“Some people eat mealworms in baked goods, stir fry, and on salads for their mild, nutty taste,” Diaz said.

Focusing on how bugs are part of our ecosystem food chain and their importance in human interaction, students were equipped with magnifying glasses and butterfly nets and other insect-collecting paraphernalia, most of it furnished by the Miami-Dade Cooperative Extension Division’s 4-H Club and Urban Horticulture Program that operated the camp.

Also on hand helping kids learn more about insects was Adrian Hunsberger, a Florida Yards and Neighborhood agent, along with Diaz who is co-sponsored by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

For information on programming, visit the Miami-Dade Cooperative Extension website or call 305-592-8044.

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