John Lawrence’s message from Oct. 28, 2019
There’s nothing quite like a “Shark Tank” experience to test innovation. Like the popular TV program, AgOvation provides an opportunity for innovators to present their work to industry professionals. However, in this 4-H version, youth pitch their science-based solutions for local agricultural problems. Did you know?
- AgOvation is a new, research-based competition for youth in grades 7-12. They work in teams of two to five members to identify an ag-based issue in their community and develop a project to address it.
- Youth work with a team coach and mentor from the agricultural field that most closely relates to their project. They also are encouraged to connect with representatives from Iowa State and the agribusiness community.
- Topics youth are addressing this year include technology for timed feeding of individual swine and easier snow removal on the farm. The teams have been developing prototypes and designs.
- Youth participated in regional events in September. Teams from Cherokee, Dallas, Linn, and Sac counties will be participating in the final competition, Nov. 16 at the Field Extension Education Laboratory. There they will present their solutions to industry professionals and receive feedback. The top three teams will receive scholarships for post-secondary education. Support for the program this year has been provided by Cargill and Channel Seed.
Iowa 4-H already is planning for next year’s competition, because AgOvation helps develop our future workforce of agricultural scientists, engineers and technologists. County youth coordinators and other staff are encouraged to help recruit participants, adult mentors and supporters. The more counties and teams that get involved, the greater the learning opportunity and program impact. For more information, contact Maya Hayslett, crop sciences youth education specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other 4-H news, the numbers are in for the 2018-2019 4-H program year. Here are a few highlights.
- More than 160,000 youth participated in 4-H last year, an 18.7 percent increase from 2017-2018. This includes youth who were enrolled in Clover Kids (for K-3 youth) or as 4-H members (grades 4-12), as well as youth who participated in either six or more hours of 4-H programming, and those who participated in six or fewer hours of programming.
- The number of enrolled youth was slightly lower than the previous year. However, over 28,000 additional youth participated in six or fewer hours of programming, compared with the previous year. Our 4-H program continues to focus on moving these youth to longer-term involvement.
- Community club membership is down, but after-school club enrollment is growing.
- 4-H also has seen an increase in the number of youth participating in school enrichment programs for more than 6 hours: 38,370 youth, which is 781 more than in 2017-2018. This may be our best area for recruitment and growth, reaching families who might have other barriers to participation in community clubs, such as transportation.
- Congratulations to David Brown, ISU Extension and Outreach colleagues, and partners in seven north central states working on Farm and Ranch Wellness: The Next Steps. The regional project has received a $480,000 grant from USDA NIFA as part of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. It is one of four regional projects funded by the FRSAN program, which was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. For more information, contact David at email@example.com.
- Learn about the Iowa Agricultural Extension Association during a Zoom informational meeting at 9 a.m., Oct. 30, or noon, Oct. 31. You’ll get a quick, general overview of IAEA and answers to questions you may have about the organization. The Zoom URL is https://iastate.zoom.us/j/2720995534; to join the meeting from a dial-in phone line, call +1 646 876 9923 or +1 669 900 6833, with meeting ID 272 099 5534. If you are unable to join LIVE, you can watch a recorded version afterward. You also are invited to attend the fall meeting Nov. 14 at the Boone County Extension Office. For more information, contact Alan Ladd, firstname.lastname@example.org.
— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach