ATHENS, Ga. — Seven Georgia 4-H’ers from Grady County participated in the virtual 2021 National 4-H Youth Summit on Agri-Science, connecting with other youth from around the country to learn about emerging issues and careers in agriculture, food security and sustainability.
The high school 4-H members worked alongside industry and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension experts in a collaborative, hands-on experience. The summit was hosted by the National 4-H Council and sponsored by Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Brightmark Energy, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Nutrien.
The Grady County participants, part of the Georgia 4-H Pollinator Ambassador program, were selected to attend the summit through the National 4-H Council’s Pollinator Habitat Grant that is sponsored by Corteva AgriScience. Deron Rehberg, county Extension coordinator, and Lisa Starling, county Extension 4-H agent, mentor the group in addition to their typical Extension responsibilities.
Students attended a series of workshops and career panels in agriculture literacy, agriculture technology, animal science, environmental science, food science, plant science or food security.
“My favorite part of the summit was the career panelists,” said Lily Norton, Grady County 4-H’er. “My 4-H project was on embryo transfer because that is a job I would like to pursue in the future. My career panelist was a vet who specialized in embryo transfer, and I learned so much about something I am truly interested in. I am so thankful for all the adults who have guided me in 4-H and FFA because without them I would have no idea where I wanted to go in life.”
Lectures such as “Solving the Food Waste Crisis,” were led by agricultural experts, university faculty, 4-H alumni and National 4-H Youth in Action winners.
“Georgia’s farmers and producers contribute over $70 billion annually to the state’s economy. With a varied climate and topography, nearly any crop can be grown somewhere in our state,” said UGA Extension 4-H science specialist Kasey Bozeman. “Fewer young people are growing up on large-scale farms. It’s important now more than ever for youth to be connected to their food and fiber source.”
Bozeman hosted a workshop on plant science called “Wild Mustard, Selective Breeding and Plant Biotechnology: Engineering Crops to Feed the World.” Participants learned the history of the wild mustard plant and how it has been modified to create cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale. Students also “bred” their own plant varieties through an interactive probability game.
“I was honored to be an instructor, sharing my passion for plant sciences and biotechnology,” continued Bozeman. “Youth that are interested in problem-solving and critical thinking should consider careers related to agricultural sciences.”
Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 190,000 people annually through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit georgia4h.org or contact your local Extension office.
–Cristina deRevere, Georgia 4-H