January 2014
Youth Matters

Come Alive Outside

  The Alabama Department of Conservation was at the event demonstrating Alabama’s wildlife and the programs they have to get you outside.

Event Attracts Young People to Outdoor Activity

The Come Alive Outside Challenge found its way to Alabama for the 2013 competition. The competition is sponsored by John Deere and JP Horizons Inc. The Challenge was created to bring high school FFA students together with college Horticulture students. John Deere saw a way to get young people out in their communities to take action and "Come Alive Outside." The contest was brought to Alabama this year when Auburn University hosted the Professional Landcare Network’s Student Career Days.

Left to right, Elmore County Junior Master Gardeners were there sharing what the program does for the schools in Elmore County. Jimmy K. Lanier, founder of the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, discusses the many trails and hiking adventures the area has to offer.

Congratulations to the Elmore County 4-H and FFA for winning the 2013 Come Alive Outside Challenge. Seven groups from around the state entered the competition, but only one could come out on top. The Elmore County 4-H and FFA group won $1,500 for their program. This Come Alive Outside Challenge was a two-part event: 1) Encouraging folks to join the Come Alive Outside movement during the event itself and 2) asking for your vote for the best five-minute video capturing the event’s ability to portray the essence of "Come Alive Outside." Also, part of the competition was determined by the input from the Auburn University Horticulture student mentor Jack LeCroy. LeCroy, Elmore County 4-H leaders and youth, Junior Master Gardener leaders and youth, and Wetumpka High School FFA students came together and planned a fabulous event held June 15. The group worked hard to advertise their event through a variety of channels to ensure a good turnout.

Betty Benjamin demonstrates the art of Horse Driving with some young Elmore County residents.  

Fort Toulouse National Historic Park came alive for an incredible day of sharing the outdoors with the citizens of Elmore County and surrounding areas.

"True simplicity in event planning was inviting community leaders, groups and individuals to participate by sharing their love of Coming Alive Outside," LeCroy stated.

He went on to comment about the importance of expressing the true meaning of Come Alive Outside from the community’s perspective in their own voices.

The team approach continued when they began organizing the participants for the event. Local community clubs/groups were asked to participate in the event activities in various ways. Even groups with prior engagements still participated by having handouts and flyers available for display during the event. Groups represented through handouts and table displays were the Coosa Paddling Club, Coosa River Keepers, Trail of Legends, Wetumpka YMCA, Piedmont Birding Trail, Elmore County Humane Society and Heroes of the Water. The local Wetumpka Bonnie Plants representative donated plants for display at the Junior Master Gardeners table. In all, over 25 groups were scheduled to share their perspective of Come Alive Outside.

Central Alabama Master Gardeners were a large supporter of this wonderful event. They were on hand to share their love for gardening, discuss composting and demonstrate the use of rain barrels. JMG, a 4-H youth gardening program, was highlighted by Suzanne George, a Central Alabama Master Gardener who volunteers her time at Holtville Middle School with their JMG 4-H club. Many CAMGA members received JMG Leader Certification and are now actively involved as JMG leaders in middle schools throughout Elmore County.

  The Central Alabama Beekeepers Association was teaching about our bees and the many uses of honey. What a great hobby to get you outside.

Dawn Cermak, also a CAMGA member, enjoys sharing outdoor gardening and nature activities with preschool-age children. Theresa Jones, Dawn’s 4-H co-leader for a local neighborhood club, came with her daughter to share 4-H club information. She, like most parents, was surprised to find our 4-H membership is free. While the co-leaders talked to interested adults, the children demonstrated 4-H arts and crafts.

Many local teenage 4-Hers were out demonstrating the many outdoor activities available through 4-H, including livestock clubs, hiking, gardening and many others. Marie Powell, local high school arts teacher, member of the Outdoor Women Unlimited club and 4-H Volunteer, shared examples of re-purposing and adding art to enhance gardens and provide functionality to someone’s garden using other people’s by-products. Powell works with the JMG club at her school decorating pots, garden labels and simply making the garden more attractive. The list of participants, food vendors and the Fort Toulouse activities could go on and on.

LeCroy did mention how impressed he was by the visitors to the park who also enjoyed the events of the day. Archeology college students and their professor from Chicago joined in on the fun, as they demonstrated how their careers allow them to spend time outdoors. Campers from as far away as Canada enjoyed seeing what outdoor activities Elmore County had to offer. Visitors enjoyed learning about Alabama’s vast diversity in nature and historical events. State Representative Greg Wren was also in attendance and invited folks to Come Alive Outside and enjoy what the Alabama outdoors has to offer and suggested it be shared with family and friends.

To see the videos from all the Alabama Come Alive Outside Challenge participants, visit http://comealiveoutside.com/cao2013-challenge-videos/. LeCroy and the Elmore County team want to thank everyone who participated in making this event a success, by doing and expressing how you Come Alive Outside and desire for others to do the same! As the Come Alive Outside motto says, "Everybody wins when somebody goes outside!"

What a fabulous event on a beautiful day.

"Often we get so busy in daily lives, we forget the riches of natural beauty and the wonderful adventures that surround us," LeCroy concluded. "The team discovered Come Alive Outside is vast and an adventure for all ages. It was a thrill to see the kaleidoscope of perspectives from those who dare to make the adventure and share their experience."

Luci Davis is the State Junior Master Gardener Coordinator. For more information on the program, phone 334-703-7509.