4-H Science Matters: Youth Empowerment
“[I learned] that youth can make an actual difference in their community if they work together and are determined." - Ben, Grade 11.
"The project helped me see that big impacts can come from small changes when they are multiplied by something all of us do every day. The purpose of this was to not only make a 6-month difference but a life-long impact." - Sophia, Grade 12
For youth educators, these words are what we wish to hear from every young person; for youth to see that their voice matters and their actions can make a difference. For the past two years, the Science Matters project empowered youth to address needs within the community with the support of trusted adult mentors. As we move into Year 3 of this project, we would like to recap the success of the 2018-19 year.
What impact did the teens in the Science Matters project make in 2018-19?
2018-19 #WatchYour Waste Team: After learning that their generation will need to find a way to feed 9 billion people by 2050, the Food Group identified that they wanted to address the increasing food waste issue. Working and learning from multiple community organizations, the team decided to address the food waste at schools. The team wanted schools to adopt practices and/or set policies that will encourage food waste prevention. The team visited the 8th grade classrooms of two middle schools to share what they learned with a hands-on composting activity. As a result, the students started to ask questions about why their school district does not compost their food waste and the team hopes that as the 8th graders move on to high school, they will encourage the administration to take action. Ultimately, the team made a proclamation at the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners meeting to declare May 23 as Johnson County Food Waste Prevention Day.
2018-19 #WasteWaterEvaluation Team: This team wanted to address the amount of trash in the community and the importance of permeable surfaces. First, to address the issue of trash, one of the teen leaders, Halle, organized a river clean-up event with the help of Johnson County Parks and Recreation District and invited the community. The group successfully encouraged over 20 youth and adult volunteers to support the river clean-up event. The team then used the trash picked up from the river clean-up to create their display for their interactive booth and encouraged the community to replace plastic with more sustainable options, starting with reusable or hay straws. As a result of her participation in the project, Halle now carries around her own reusable straw and she indicated that she receives many inquiries and uses that as an opportunity to speak about the importance of reducing waste.
2018-19 #FatOrFit: The Animal team was concerned about the animal obesity epidemic and the impact on the animals’ quality of life. The team learned about body condition scoring that is used by veterinarians to assess an animal’s weight and they demonstrated how a “scoop” of food can differ from person to person to stress the importance of weighing feed for livestock. The group hosted hands-on booths at Tractor Supply and a local dog park stressing the importance of nutrition for their animals using pamphlets and giving away food scoops.
What opportunities are available for 2019-2020?
Five teen leaders(ages 14-18) will be selected to participate in the 2019-2020 Science Matters Team to identify and address a food challenge in the community. Thanks to a scholarship from Bayer and National 4-H Council, the youth will attend the National Agri-Science Summit in Washington D.C. to expand their knowledge of how science impacts agriculture, kicking off the Science Matters project. Once they are back in the Johnson County, their work begins to address the food challenge they have identified. This year’s project will culminate with a public presentation and participation in the Science of Agriculture Challenge at K-State (Find more information about the Science of Agriculture Challenge.
If you are interested in learning more about the program, please visit www.johnson.k-state.edu/4-h and click on “Science Matters.” The application is open until November 8, 2019 and applicants will be notified of their status between November 15-22, 2019. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 913-715-7000 or email Ami at email@example.com.