4-H Members Participate in Natural Resource & Environmental Science Academy

The 4-H Natural Resource & Environmental Science (NRESci) Academy is a three-year program designed to teach youth about their natural environment.

In the program, scholars participate in hands-on investigations to learn about Kentucky’s water, forest, entomology, and wildlife resources. Each year of the three-year program, scholars participate in a variety of field exercises, such as stream sampling, forest measurement data collection, wildlife survey, and insect collection and identification, and interact with natural resources professionals.
Scholars also have the opportunity to visit natural areas throughout the Commonwealth and learn about the diverse natural resources in our state. Scholars who have graduated from the academy in good standing may apply to be a NRESci Teen Ambassador.

In July, scholars spent the night at the Robinson Forest. Robinson Forest, managed for research, teaching and Extension education by the University of Kentucky Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, is one of the largest research and educational forests in the eastern United States. Robinson Forest is a collection of eight tracts totaling 14,800 acres and is located on the Cumberland Plateau in southeastern Kentucky.

The forest was conveyed in trust to the University of Kentucky in 1923 by the E. O. Robinson Mountain Fund for the purposes of agricultural experiment work, teaching, and the demonstration of reforestation. The virgin timber was logged from Robinson Forest prior to 1923. However, continued protection from mining, commercial logging, and fire has resulted in a healthy second growth forest.

The plant communities in Robinson Forest are excellent examples of the mixed mesophytic type, which is characterized by high diversity of species and complex structure. The variable, dissected topography of Robinson Forest contributes to a wide variety of microclimatic conditions of sites and provides a unique outdoor laboratory in which to conduct long-term forest research.

In addition to exploring the streams, forest, and wildlife in Robinson Forest, the NRESci summer event also included a graduation ceremony for the scholars who had completed their third year in the program. Riley Weaver, a junior at East Carter High School, was awarded a certificate and wooden medallion for completing the program.

The new year of the Academy began with the annual fall retreat at the Lake Cumberland 4-H Center. New Carter County scholars include Nevaeh Kouns and Emma Riggs. Kouns and Riggs are both members of the 4-H Homeschool club. Cheron Flaugher has also been selected to serve an additional term as a Teen Ambassador.