BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The Ag Innovators Experience grant is a collaboration between National 4-H Council and Bayer that provides 6,000 youth in six (6) selected states, from urban, suburban and rural backgrounds, the opportunity to develop the workforce skills to feed the planet. The AIE will drive youth awareness of, and interest in, agriculture innovation and agriculture careers.
Katie Buckley, University of Illinois Extension McLean County 4-H youth development educator and lead on the grant for Illinois, states that according to the USDA’s report, Employment Opportunities for College Students in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources and the Environment 2020-2025, the number of agricultural jobs that require a science or engineering degree are expected to continue to increase in the coming years, and diverse graduates with strong STEM skills will be essential to develop the technologies that support feeding the world in a sustainable way. In order to increase rural and urban youths’ interest in the wide range of careers available, Illinois Extension 4-H professionals, working collaboratively with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Center for Digital Agriculture, will create the AIE Feeding the World Challenge.
The Feeding the World Challenge will be a visually-engaging, hands-on, and culturally relevant instructive escape room challenge for youth to learn about agricultural technologies. Research has shown educational escape rooms promote engagement, develop social skills, and ignite students’ interest. Youth will learn about technologies including robotics, IoT, seed genetics, and sensor technologies, while solving a variety of linear and non-linear games in order to achieve the goal of feeding the world.
Students will learn how technologies are used to help farmers produce more food, and more importantly how advancing technologies in each part of the food chain will be necessary to feed a world population of 9.3 billion by 2050.
About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.
About Extension: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.