Chenango County youth will have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors this year thanks to a grant from the state Office of Child and Family Services.
The Chenango County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved acceptance of the $6,605 grant at its June meeting.
Chenango County Youth Bureau Director Kathryn Clemens said the goal of the grant was to get “more young people involved in physical activity.”
She said the grant came after the state agency noticed fewer children were exercising during the COVID-19 quarantine period. The purpose of the grant is to encourage children to participate in sports or outdoor activities, she said. Clemons said, “Our county is so rich in existing youth sports,” including football, soccer and baseball in communities and in schools. “With the little money we were given, we decided to focus on outdoor activities instead.”
The program’s goal is to encourage children ages 10 to 17 to participate in a 30-minute activity, such as hiking or boating, she said.
Clemons said she found out about the grant, but there was only a five-week window to complete the application and submit the programming. She said she contacted the Rogers Environmental Education Center, but “the time frame was too short” to launch the program.
Clemons then approached the 4-H program through Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chenango County, and Erica Clark, a 4-H subject educator, came up with a “great proposal,” she said.
“She chose five different sites across the county to hold the events,” Clemons said. Sites include Round Pond in Pharsalia, Guilford Lake, Whaupaunaucau State Forest, Cook Park in Greene, and Bowman Lake.
In addition to the activities, there is an educational component at the events, she says. “We make a fire and set up camp,” she said. “One was about edible plants and there’s one about orienteering as well. These are all skills children living in the county will need. With so much public, free and accessible land that Chenango County has, these skills are important to learn.
According to the 4-H Outdoor Adventure website, the next scheduled activity is a kayak on Guilford Lake on July 26. To pre-register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.