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2018 National Youth Summit on Agri-Science “opened eyes” of CA teens to how agricultural science applies to their daily lives

The Issue

Youth today are confused about where their food comes from. Children have been quoted as saying cheese comes from plants and pasta from animals (Newsweek, 2017). This confusion is no surprise, as only two percent of Americans live on farms today, disconnected with food and agricultural production. Further, most of the youth today are not aware of the science of food, agriculture, and production, or the need for young people to consider careers in these fields. Creative minds are needed so that we can address the looming worldwide food shortages in the future.

What Has ANR Done?

Dr. Charles Go, 4-H Advisor for Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, led the California Science Matters program which aims to inspire young people to become tomorrow’s science leaders, positively impacting the health of people, plants, and animals. Urban youth leaders were recruited, applied and interviewed to take part in this program. The three main activities of the program were identifying, exploring and proposing solutions on a local community issue that could be solved through agriculture and science, leveraging local BAYER employees as team partners, and participating in a national youth summit – with the focus of this article on the latter. Participants in the program were able to attend the 2018 National Youth Summit on Agri-Science through funding from the National 4-H Council and BAYER which covered travel and registration scholarships. At the summit, participants were exposed to the challenges facing agriculture, food security, and sustainability by leading agricultural scientists, researchers, politicians, and advocates, with emphasis on hands-on educational experiences.

The Payoff

Students increased knowledge and understanding of agri-science

A diverse team of thirteen teens (3 Hispanic/Latino and 3 Asian) and 4 adults (2 Hispanic/Latino) were selected to represent California 4-H at the National Youth Summit on Agri-Science, from January 12-15, in Washington DC. A pre-post trip survey indicated that all teens increased their knowledge of agricultural science and agricultural career options. The teens also expressed changes in understanding and attitude, highlighting the impact of the career fair and a better understanding of the role of technology and science in agriculture, as expressed in their quotes below.

“I was expecting rural traditional farmers who were against the technological and scientific improvements to agriculture. This was not the case...” 4-H summit participant

“The summit gave me insight on farming and how big the industry is. I know now I need to care for it more and not take it for granted.” 4-H summit participant

“The most impactful was the career fair. I met a woman named Helen, who showed me another field of study I am now super interested in. Sustainability sounds super cool especially in an urban setting and I'm actually considering studying this in college as a potential career path now.” 4-H summit participant


Supporting Unit: Alameda County

Charles Go, 4-H Youth Development Advisor, cggo@ucanr.edu, 510-963-0659