AMES, Iowa -- Eleven Iowa 4-H’ers are partnering with 4-H professionals and representatives from agricultural industry and land-grant universities to teach others about agricultural science and innovation. Lyon and O’Brien County 4-H youth joined teams of youth and adults from 13 states at the National Youth Agri-Science Summit Jan. 16-20.
Sponsored by Merck Animal Health, the summit provided numerous opportunities for youth to learn about the latest innovations in agricultural science and technology and increase their awareness of the careers available in this rapidly expanding field. The summit took place at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.
Lyon County 4-H’ers Jessica Harberts, Brooke Matson, Sierra Fastert, Heather Moser and Rebecca Van Regenmorter, along with chaperone Jill Postma, and O’Brien county 4-H’ers Leah Bunkers, Eric Koehlmoos, Stephanie Maass, Karle Negus, Jake Sells and Taylor Paulsen, along with chaperone Doug Koehlmoos, participated in the summit. The Iowans met with representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture, Rutgers University, University of Maryland, Merck Animal Health and several national agricultural commodity groups and regional agribusinesses to learn about the production of food, feed, fuel and fiber and the challenges currently facing agriculture in the United States and around the world.
The five-day event included field trips to the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The summit also included an agricultural issues forum, career panel and several hands-on workshops about global food security, sustainability and how youth can play a role in teaching others about agricultural science. Session topics included precision agriculture, agricultural biotechnology, biofuels, aquaponics, food safety, the role of robotics in agriculture and international agricultural development.
In addition, the 4-H teens worked in teams to research an agricultural science topic and develop a poster for their team presentations on the final day of the summit. The teens learned several activities they can facilitate with others to increase the understanding of agricultural science in their communities.
“It is exciting to work with such a talented, motivated and dedicated group of young people,” said Chad Ripberger, program director for science at National 4-H Council. “I was very impressed with the level of interactions and discussions these young leaders had with the ag scientists and researchers. It was clear from their poster session presentations that these teens are ready to tackle some of the biggest issues facing agriculture today.”
The National Youth Agri-Science Summit is one of many 4-H science programs designed to combat a national shortage of young people pursuing science college majors and occupations, and to enhance the nation’s contribution to the sciences. Currently, more than five million young people across the nation participate in 4-H science, engineering and technology year-long programming.
Through 2015, it is estimated that there will be 54,400 annual job openings for those with agricultural college degrees. While the percentage of these opportunities in production agriculture (farming) has declined, 27 percent of these jobs will be in science and engineering and 47 percent will be in management and business. A shortfall of graduates for these science and business positions is projected, especially for the anticipated demand in animal and plant biotechnology. These emerging areas of agriculture are addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues related to food security, nutrition, energy and sustainability.
As part of the Cooperative Extension System of USDA and implemented by the nation’s land-grant colleges and universities, 4-H has been educating youth in the sciences for more than 100 years. 4-H’s robust, university research-based science curriculum equips young people with the necessary technical skills to help America maintain its competitive edge in the global marketplace.
Iowa participants in the National Youth Agri-Science Summit are (left to right) O’Brien County 4-H’ers Karlene Negus, Leah Bunkers, Eric Koehlmoos, Stephanie Maass, Taylor Paulsen and Jake Sells, and Lyon County 4-H’ers Rebecca VanRegenmorter, Sierra Fastert, Jessica Harberts, Brooke Madson and Heather Moser.