AMES, Iowa – The Iowa 4-H Agri'CY'ence Academy has received $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development will use the grant to carry out a four-year project with youth in West Pottawattamie County.
The Agri'CY'ence Academy is part of NIFA's $8.2 million investment in 11 projects that provide experiential learning opportunities for students to enter or gain skills applicable to the food and agriculture career fields. This funding will help students develop critical thinking, problem solving, digital competency, and communication skills needed for pathways into future employment and higher education. This grant strongly emphasizes exposing youth participants to hands-on learning experiences, specifically in data science, including artificial intelligence, automation, robotics, gene editing and biotechnology.
The Agri'CY'ence Academy is intended for youth in grades 7-12 to engage in scientific research and explore career pathways in highly technical agricultural fields of study.
"The academy will grow the next generation of digital citizens," said Cayla Taylor, 4-H senior program manager and Agri'CY'ence Academy project director.
"We are excited to engage Southwest Iowa youth in the Agri'CY'ence Academy, which will include six monthly educational sessions that explore agriscience careers through hands-on activities, worksite visits and engaging with local professionals and businesses working in the spotlighted profession," said Taylor.
Following the monthly educational sessions, youth will identify their agricultural areas of interest to develop a scientific research project. Over the next six months, the youth participants will work with an adult mentor to conduct research and present their findings at the State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa. Through the Agri'CY'ence Academy, youth will be encouraged to participate in other ISU Extension and Outreach and 4-H programs for long-term engagement in local, state and national 4-H learning experiences.
"The NIFA grant in West Pottawattamie County is igniting lots of excitement," said Kerry Aistrope, ISU Extension and Outreach regional director. "When I talk about it with partners, their eyes light up as they can think of several youth from our county that will flourish by participating in the Agri'CY'ence Academy!"
For more information about the program and to register for the Agri'CY'ence Academy, please contact ISU Extension and Outreach West Pottawattamie County.
Shareable photo: Iowa 4-H youth participate in robotics.