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4-H Impact:Teens Teaching Youth Biotechnology


Today many young people are generationally and geographically removed from farming and agriculture.  Yet, it is vital that these young leaders and future decision makers understand the cirtical role of agricultural science innovation in addressing the world’s most pressing problems.  4-H, with more than 1.4 million urban participants, is uniquely positioned to reach new and under served urban youth audiences.


4-H has the systems and the infrastructure in place to share promising practices and strategies that can engage and excite urban teens about AgriScience and biotechnology.  These tactics will lay a foundation for increased outreach and impact with urban youth audiences.  National 4-H Council in partnership with the United Soybean Board and five Land Grand Universities conducted Agriscience/Biotechnology demonstration programs in ten urban areas, including the University of Delaware.  Specifically, Delaware Cooperative Extension, through the Kent Count 4-H Program, partnered with the Boys and Girls club in Clayton, the Delaware Housing Authority in Dover, Urban Promise in Wilmington and a local school to deliver four agricultural biotechnology summer camps from June through August.   A leadership team was formed with 20 teens to be trained in the biotechnology curriculum, and deliver the program, through a teens teaching youth method.  The United Soybean Board provided the grant funding to support the grant, in the amount of $25,000.  Some of the concepts included: Agriculture Literacy, Challenges for Agriculture, Introduction to Agriculture Biotechnology, Science of Biotechnology and Agriscience/Biotechnology Career Awareness.


A total of four, 20-hour programs were implemented in Delaware , totaling 143, urban, at-risk youth.  57 students were grades 4-5 and 82 were middle school level students.  74% were Black students.  The Youth Engagement, Attitudes and Knowledge Survey (YEAK) was administered to the Teen Teacher before training and again after completing their teaching responsibilities.  The survey asked teens to select three things they liked best about the program as a measure of their opinions of the program environment.  There was a marked increase in self-confidence: 67% liked the opportunity to do hands-on activities and projects; 47% liked the opportunity to demonstrate what they learned in front of others; and 41% liked that adult staff, leaders, and volunteers were kind and caring.    A few other important impact statements that arose from this program included:  51% indicated they could analyze the results of a scienctific investigation; 45% indicated they could communicate a scientific procedure to others, 43% indicated they could use science terms and share results effectively; and 41% indicated they could design a scientific procedure to answer a question.   There was also a marked increase in life skill behavior: 45% indicated when solving a problem I can compare each possible solution with others to find the best one, and 38% said I compare ideas when thinking about a topic.  By reviewing the evaluation of this program, it is clear that it made a huge impact on our urban youth!

I was responsible for implementing the $25,000 Teens Teaching Biotechnology grant, in Urban parts of Kent and New Castle Counties.  We reached over 100 youth with a 20 hour science program.  Communities included Urban Promise, Boys and Girls Club, Delaware Housing Authority and Hartly Elementary.

I collected data for the shooting sports program in Kent County, and we had over 500 youth hours and 300 volunteer leader hours logged.

Participation in Poultry Judging continues to grow, up another 25%.

Participated in the National Science Conference through their online platform.  25 hours of training.

Embryology participation continues to grow and there will be 48 classrooms participating in embryology this spring.  I have also made a contact with the Milford school district, and anticipate participation to increase in that area as well.

I attended the National Engineering Event, and learned about the computer and bicycle events.  Then presented a “Bicycling is Fun” workshop at the annual leader forum.  Working with colleague, Mike Love, we hope to encourage additional participation.

I was responsible for implementing the $25,000 Teens Teaching Biotechnology grant, in Urban parts of Kent and New Castle Counties. We reached over 100 youth with a 20 hour science program. Communities included Urban Promise, Boys and Girls Club, Delaware Housing Authority and Hartly Elementary.


Credit to: Kristin Cook, June 2013