By Katrina Laurel-Searcy, 4-H Agent
Adel, Georgia – The tranquil woods of Adel, Georgia came alive with youthful enthusiasm on Thursday, September 14, as over sixty of Georgia’s brightest young minds gathered for the annual Georgia 4-H Area Forestry Field Day. This event, hosted by our own Cook County Extension/4-H program, provides a unique opportunity for budding environmentalists to explore the wonders of forestry, ecology, and conservation while fostering a sense of responsibility towards the environment.
The Georgia 4-H Area Forestry Field Day has been a cherished tradition many decades, attracting participants from across the southwest and southeast districts of the state. This year’s event, held at the scenic Reed Bingham State Park, proved to be a remarkable success, drawing a diverse group of students from six counties (Bibb, Cook, Crisp, Decatur, Echols, and Randolph) eager to learn about the importance of forest ecosystems and sustainable management practices.
The event kicked off with an inspiring opening ceremony, where participants, volunteers, and organizers joined together to celebrate their shared commitment to preserving Georgia’s rich natural heritage. A warm welcome was extended to all attendees by Craven Hudson, a prominent figure in Georgia 4-H’s environmental and forestry community, who emphasized the pivotal role young people play in safeguarding the state’s forests.
Throughout the competition, participants engaged in a wide array of educational activities and hands-on experiences. These activities included tree identification, bug and plant disease identification, and compass and pacing skills. The competition fostered healthy camaraderie and encouraged participants to dive deeper into their passion for forestry.
A key aspect of the event was instilling a sense of environmental responsibility. Participants were educated about sustainable forestry practices and the importance of conserving and protecting Georgia’s diverse forests. Many left with a renewed commitment to becoming stewards of the environment, ready to advocate for responsible land management and conservation. Experts from Georgia’s Forestry Commission were on hand to provide valuable insights and answer questions when the competition was over.
Dominic Bordallo, a Cook County 4-H’er who attends Community Christian Academy, won highest individual score for the junior category. Dominic shared his thoughts on the event: “The Forestry Field Day was eye-opening. I didn’t realize how much there was to learn about forests and how important they are. Now I want to do my part to protect them.”
The event also recognized outstanding participants for their dedication to environmental education. Awards were presented to individuals and teams who demonstrated exceptional knowledge and enthusiasm for forestry. Cook County 4-H junior team placed 1st and had the following team members, with the first four as top scorers: Dominic Bordallo, Matthew Alexander, Mackenzie Allen, Oakley Folsom, Bailey Grace Allen, Luke Shealey and Layla Goforth. Our Cook County 4-H senior team placed second whose members include Julia Joiner, Kallie Gaskins, Ty Herrin, Jaylin Brachsher, Peyton Daughtrey and Nacomba Hadley, Jr.
As the sun began to set over the Georgia pines, participants gathered for a closing ceremony that celebrated not only a successful day but also the beginning of their journey as responsible stewards of the environment. They left with newfound knowledge, friendships, and a commitment to preserving Georgia’s forests for future generations.
The Georgia 4-H Forestry Field Day serves as a shining example of how education and hands-on experiences can inspire the next generation to become champions of the environment. As these young environmental stewards return to their communities, they carry with them the tools and motivation to make a positive impact on Georgia’s forests and the planet as a whole.