South Dakota 4-H launches OWLS Program

South Dakota State University Extension
4H News

BROOKINGS, S.D. — South Dakota State University Extension and South Dakota 4-H have unveiled a new, yearlong program for youth interested in outdoor education and natural resources.

The OWLS (Outdoor, Wilderness and Life Skills) Program will educate and engage teen participants in a variety of activities to better prepare them to be good stewards of the land. Experts from South Dakota 4-H, as well as South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, will partner to provide the youth with comprehensive training through monthly webinars, three hands-on camping experiences and a year-end adventure.

"There's nothing like this in the state of South Dakota," says Katherine Jaeger, SDSU Extension youth outdoor education field specialist. "It provides youth an opportunity for in-depth, hands-on learning with 4-H and GFP professionals. This is an excellent opportunity for youth that have interest in pursuing a career in the outdoors or just love to learn new skills outdoors. It's not a camp where youth come for three to four days and have no follow up; it's a yearlong learning experience."

The OWLS Program is open to all senior 4-H members. The program will run each year from fall through summer. OWLS participants will be announced at the South Dakota State Fair Sept. 2-6 in Huron.

A sample calendar for year one of OWLS could include events from canoeing, kayaking and outdoor cooking in Oakwood Lakes Sate Park to snowshoeing, camping and winter survival in Custer State Park.

"It's a wide range of outdoor education and natural resource programming," Jaeger says. "The idea is to have three years of programming without major overlaps so youth could participate for one to three years and still gain a variety of worthwhile experiences."

To apply for the OWLS Program, visit the SDSU Extension Events page. Applications are due Aug. 15. For additional information, contact Jaeger at 605-782-3290 or Katherine.Jaeger@sdstate.edu.