Elizabeth, IL- University of Illinois Extension and Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation (JDCF) are teaming up to offer a new opportunity to youth in our area. The 4-H “Nature Explorers” Club will provide participants with unique, hands-on experiences which will spark their excitement about nature, environmental stewardship, and citizen science.
JDCF has focused on supporting citizen science initiatives in Jo Daviess county since its inception. “It is a great way to get people outdoors to grow an appreciation for our natural spaces. By educating the public about the importance of land protection and stewardship, the local communities now have access to nature preserves around the county,” says Jessica Carryer, JDCF Outreach, and Education Manager.
Nature Explorers is open to all youth who are currently in 5th-12th grade. 4-H membership is not required. This club will meet six times between October- August and the meeting locations will vary. So what will this club do? We have endless possibilities! Do you enjoy catching and observing frogs? Want to monitor birds and wildlife? Plant trees? How about participating in a scavenger hunt while floating the Galena River? If you answered yes, then this club is for you!
One of the highlights of the club will be to adopt a local river and learn to monitor its water quality. Why water quality? Water connects us all and is crucial to all living organisms. We believe we all have a responsibility to conserve and protect land and water. Illinois has a total of 119,244 miles of streams and there are only three fixed monitoring stations on tributaries in Jo Daviess County. This limits the background and current data sources for determining stream impairment levels and changes. These three stations are the only sites that have consistent monitoring data. Unfortunately, most streams in Jo Daviess County have “impaired stream” designations and are based on limited samples taken. Our goal will be to connect participants with researchers from Illinois RiverWatch who need help collecting this crucial data. Participants will learn to collect samples from “our” river. “We will be the legs, eyes, and ears for these researchers as we collect and contribute data that would be difficult for them to collect themselves”, stated Angela Miller, 4-H Youth Development Program Coordinator.
The first meeting will take place on Wednesday, October 27. Register today by visiting go.illinois.edu/jsw or by calling the Extension Office at 815-858-2273. The deadline to register is October 20. Can’t make this first meeting date? Don’t worry there will be plenty more. “I cannot wait for the first club meeting! When you find the right partners, fun and engaging topics, and have kids that are eager to learn...great things happen,” stated Angela Miller.