Sarasota County Extension launching free outdoor exploration program for youth at home

‘4-H Outdoor InvestiGATOR’ webinar sessions to show children ages 8-11 how to search for and better understand importance of insects, animals and other living things around them

Image courtesy UF/IFAS

Registration is open for Sarasota County Extension’s new online summer program “aimed at getting students outside to investigate nature that exists just beyond their front door,” the Extension staff has announced.

“Free and open to the public, the ‘4-H Outdoor InvestiGATOR’ webinar program shows children ages 8-11 how to search for and better understand the importance of insects, animals, and the variety of living things all around them,” a news release explains.

“We hope to give children something to look forward to and an outlet to channel their creativity throughout the week,” said Abbey Tyrna, water resources agent with the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Services (UF/IFAS) Extension Sarasota County division and creator of the program, in the release. “I know that my own kids do best when they are given assignments that allow them to experiment and showcase their creative side,” she added in the release.

The InvestiGATOR program will launch on June 2 with a three-workshop webinar series focusing on living things found on dry land, the release notes. Offered Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m., each hour-long workshop will feature a subject expert teaching students about the natural world around them, include ideas for extending investigations beyond the webinar, and end with tips on staying well during a pandemic, the release explains. “Students will be encouraged to share their skills and interests with videos, photos or other artwork after each meeting,” the release adds.

A second, three-workshop session focusing on living things found in water environments will follow, starting June 23, also offered at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, the release says.

Registration is open to 4-H and non-4-H youth alike, but seats are limited, the release emphasizes. Children who participate in all three workshops in a session will earn the honor of “4-H InvestiGATOR,” and will receive a badge, magnifying glass and the chance to win the 4-H InvestiGATOR T-shirt, the release notes. Learn more and register by using the links below:

“UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, a partnership between the University of Florida and Sarasota County, translates academic research into community initiatives, classes, and volunteer opportunities in a variety of fields, including youth development,” the release explains.

For more information, visit, call 941-861-9818, or email