Florida Youth Naturalist Program Launches Statewide

By Meaghan Goepferich Posted on February 25, 2022

A new program is available for young nature enthusiasts interested in learning more about Florida’s
environment. Inspired by the Florida Master Naturalist program, this youth program takes kids aged
10 to 13 on a journey through Florida’s ecosystems.

Florida Youth Naturalist Program Launches Statewide

The Florida Youth Naturalist Program Instructor Field Guide, developed by UF/IFAS Extension,
Florida 4-H and the Florida Master Naturalist Program, offers 24 hours of instruction including
hands-on activities, field trips and more. The curriculum is geared toward non-formal instructors like
Extension agents and nature center educators that host youth programming but could be used by
formal educators.

The program is flexible and can be taught across the span of a week-long summer camp or spread
over several months for groups that may meet monthly. It’s also adaptable to younger ages if needed.
“This is a critical age to expose youth to environmental appreciation and develop an understanding of
the natural world,” said Shelly Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension state specialized agent in natural
resources. “We want youth to understand and appreciate nature to ingrain a conservation ethic in
them. Then, they grow up to be adults that care about Florida’s natural resources.”
Highlights

– A new curriculum for youth nature enthusiasts developed by UF/IFAS Extension,
Florida 4-H and Florida Master Naturalist Program is available for purchase.
– The curriculum is available for purchase at the UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore.
– Those interested in offering the program or sending youth through the program can visit
the Florida Youth Naturalist Program website.

The curriculum covers three Florida ecosystems – uplands, freshwater and coastal, and includes
lessons on animals, plants, and humans living together with nature. It introduces participants to career
opportunities in natural resources, ways to give back to their community and outdoor safety.

“Programs like this help to create life-long learners with a curiosity for exploring,” Johnson said.
“We want youth to leave this program and grow as young naturalists and budding scientists.”
The curriculum is available for purchase by anyone. Everyone is encouraged to become an endorsed
instructor to receive additional resources and evaluation materials. Endorsed instructors will be listed
on the program website to help draw participants to the program.

“This project has been in the works for a long time and we’re excited to get it in the hands of
educators around the state,” said Johnson. “We look forward to feedback so we can improve the
curriculum going forward. We hope to continue modifying and updating it over time so it stays
relevant. Then, we hope to develop curriculum for the 14- to 17-year-old age group, too.”
To Instructor Field Guide is $40.00 and available for purchase at the UF/IFAS Extension bookstore.
For more information on the program, to become an endorsed instructor or to find an endorsed
instructor offering the program near you, visit the Florida Youth Naturalist Program website.

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS)
is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that
knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen
research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s

agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.

ifas.ufl.edu

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