4-H maps Main Street

Published 1:38 am Sunday, November 13, 2011

4-H club members (from left) John Hinsley, Hunter Williams, Keyontae Worsley, Sherfield Smith, and Jacob Cannon gather outside the Turnage Theater, as they follow the clues to the next destination on their downtown adventure with group leaders Erin Massie and Ambrose Griffin. (WDN Photo/Vail Stewart Rumley)

Local 4-H’ers kicked off their celebration of the worldwide Geography Awareness Week with a unique expedition in downtown Washington on Friday.
Armed with maps, podometers, digital cameras, and a booklet of clues, groups of 5- to 19-year-olds navigated to various locations on Main Street, Market Street, and the waterfront, collecting prizes and knowledge of the town and businesses operating here.
“Back when things were groovy, you could go here to see a movie,” read one of the clues. The answer led to the Turnage Theater, and access to a box of costumes, the stage, and the heights of the balcony.
“We’re finding clues and finding prizes,” said Sherfield Smith, 9, a fourth-grader at John Small Elementary School. “And since it’s Veteran’s Day, whoever finds the most veterans gets another prize.”
In 1987, the National Geographic Society started Geography Awareness Week as a way to promote geographic education in schools, in communities and organizations. Every year brings a different theme—this year’s theme is how geographic perspective is important as a way to understand all communities, regardless of size or how long someone has lived in that community.
“We wanted to introduce the kids to mapping and make them more aware of their county seat,” said Erin Massie, 4-H youth and development leader, and the organizer for this year’s event. “We have lots of great things and resources downtown but a lot of families don’t know about it.”
Massie and other volunteers led 24, 4-H’ers on the mapping mission, paying visits to the waterfront boardwalk, N.C. Estuarium, Marsh House, Visitors Center, Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, and the Washington Daily News. At I Can’t Believe It’s a Book Store, the kids were treated to a visit to the old Bank of Washington’s vault and a ghost story read by co-owner Gary Ceres. Pizza at Main Street’s La Bella Pizzeria, followed by ice cream at Scoops, wrapped up the downtown adventure.
The 4-H youth development program, sponsored by Beaufort County Cooperative Extension Service, N.C. State University, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, promotes a “learn by doing” philosophy found in Friday’s event. Information gathered on the mapping expedition—the number of steps taken, pictures of various landmarks—was then taken back to the Cooperative Extension Service office to be analyzed and consolidated into a Power Point presentation. Massie designed the complete project to show the kids the value of geographic information systems (GIS), which is the capture, management, analysis, and display of geographic information so that people can better understand relationships and trends in the world around them.
As fascinating as such charting could be, these 4-H’ers were far more impressed by the heights of the Turnage’s balcony and the waterfront’s cracker-stealing seagulls.