Michigan 4-H used $20,000 grant to train teen leaders to promote agriscience career exploration

A 2016 4-H Agriculture Innovators Experience project engaged teen 4-Hers to teach the important link between pollinators and food production to younger youth.

Michigan 4-H was named one of eight states that received a $20,000 grant through National 4-H Council to implement the 2016 Ag Innovators Experience project. This was the third year for the project, administered through National 4-H Council and sponsored by Monsanto.

The Ag Innovators Experience project was implemented December 2015 through July 2016. The project engaged 24 4-H teens who taught a lesson linking the importance of honey bees and other pollinators to food production and security to 1,250 youth in grades 3-8. The activity, “The Honey Bee Challenge,” incorporated the USDA MyPlate and illustrated the path from food production to consumption. The Honey Bee Challenge took place in counties throughout Michigan through Michigan State University Extension 4-H programming in schools, camps and clubs.

Through this project, 4-H teen leaders had the opportunity to grow their leadership and communication skills, engage in finding solutions to local and global food security issues and explore career opportunities in science and agriculture. The 4-H teens leading the Honey Bee Challenge activity participated in the Michigan 4-H Teens as Teachers Workshop, where they were trained by the State Leadership Team to facilitate the activity.

The project engaged youth in scientific exploration that allowed them to increase their skills in critical thinking, decision making and problem-solving. The activity provided an opportunity to explore how an interest in science could lead to a related career in agriculture. The demand for skilled labor in the agriculture career sector is increasing with pressures of a growing world population creating a need for increased food production. As fewer young people enter the agriculture sector of the workforce, the average age of America’s farmers has increased for the past 30 years to its all-time high, 57 years old.

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