Engaging Youth in Sustainable Agriculture through Hands-On Experiences

Final report for YENC21-170

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2021: $3,994.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Jackson County Extension Council
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Manager:
Dwayne Morrison
Jackson County Extension Council
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Project Information


Original Summary Submitted by Previous MU Extension Educator, Jessie Furgins in 2021: 

  • "Our goal is to use the 4-H model coupled with partnerships, established through Missouri Extension, to expand youth's knowledge and skills in sustainable agriculture. This will be completed through two major programs, Farm to Table Camp and Embryology curriculum in school classrooms. We anticipate giving youth the opportunity to learn where their food comes from, potential careers in agriculture, and best practices for sustainable agriculture through hands-on activities. We hope participants share their newfound knowledge and skills with their families and neighbors." 

Additions Submitted by new MU Extension Field Specialist in 4-H Youth Development, Joshua Shinn, in March 2023: 

  • Introductory Note: I came onboard with MU Extension at the Field Specialist in 4-H Youth Development in mid-2022, thus, I am reporting to the best of my ability what I know of my predecessor's work.  
  • Farm to Table: See report from previous project coordinator.
  • Embryology Curriculum: The Embryology Program in Jackson County is quite robust, and I am helping to oversee the execution of it this year. It is one of our most sought-after programs that we will continue in the foreseeable future. Both youth and educators love the ways in which the program provides direct experience and hands-on-learning with the life cycle of poultry. If we had the funding, we would have used it to purchase at least 10, if not more, new Manna Pro Harris Farms Nurture Right Incubators for our program. As it stands, Jackson County has 37 incubators, 25 of which are hand-made, old, and in need of replacement/ updating. 


Project Objectives:

Original Project Objectives Submitted by Previous MU Extension Educator, Jessie Furgins in 2021: 

  1. Increase youth's awareness of where their food comes from. 
  2. Provide hands on experiences regarding sustainable agriculture. 
  3. Introduce youth to potential careers in sustainable agriculture. 
  4. Share project concept and results with colleagues through conference poster session. 

Revised Project Objectives Submitted by new MU Extension Field Specialist in 4-H Youth Development, Joshua Shinn, in March 2023: 

  1. Improve youth's ability to plan and conduct a simple investigation.
  2. Improve youth's ability to use simple equipment and tools to gather data.
  3. Improve's youth's ability to use data to construct a reasonable explanations and conclusions.
  4. Improve youth's ability to communicate investigation explanations and conclusions. 
  5. Improve youth's understanding of the life cycle of organisms (e.g., embryos to chicks) 

Educational & Outreach Activities

2 On-farm demonstrations
2 Tours
7 Workshop field days
47 Other educational activities: Embryology- In 2021 it was delivered to 47 schools in Jackson and Clay County, reaching over 2,128 students

Participation Summary:

8 Farmers/ranchers
2,222 Youth
5 Educators
50 Other adults
Education/outreach description:

Original Education and Outreach Description Submitted by Previous MU Extension Staff: 

Although Jessie Furgins left her position with MU Ext in June of 2021, the 4-H program continued with the mission of teaching youth about sustainable agriculture through Farm to Table Camps and Embryology curriculum in school classrooms. Below are the programs we facilitated in 2021, which taught 2,222 youth about sustainable agriculture in Missouri.

Teen Camp at Innovation Center.
Twelve years old and up. Attended by 20+ youth which was a drastic change from previous years because of the help of the scholarship, assisted the teens to attend:

  • New community partners, SANKARA Farms, Farming by Amber, Chef Polly with Necessary Catering, and the Innovation Center. 
  • Teen Camp was a three-day camp. The first day, the teens were on SANKARA Farms, where they harvested food to make smoothies, using a blender bike with the help of the owner, Ryan Tenney. 
  • The next day at the Innovation Center, they used the harvested food to make lunch in an industrial kitchen led by Chef Polly. 
  • The last day was 4-H Entrepreneurship, where the youth made t-shirts that they designed and marketed using the theme of healthy living. 

Urban West Region Teen Camp.
Teens all across the Urban West Region gathered for a three-day camp to explore the dynamics of food to table concept, Urban West Region Teen Camp. 37 youth engaged with a guest chef cooking class, participated in a Jr. chef cook-off competition, a garden production field trip, and designed your favorite foodie t-shirt while learning to enhance their entrepreneurship skills. Hosted by Jackson County 4-H. 

A day on the Farm camp 
New program to this year, A Day On The Farm Camp in partnership with Weston Red Barn Farm, engaged 37 youth ages 8-12 through hands-on experiences in an exploration of, but not limited to, farm animals, pumpkin growing, bees, and food sourcing. Using a broad base of 4-H curriculums, two volunteers and three youth leaders offered five one-day-long experiences at Weston Red Barn Farm during June and July. Hosted by Platte County 4-H.

(Embryology) Jackson 4-H Embryology Hatching Chicks in the Classroom Project gives students the opportunity to learn about the cycle of life and development all through hands-on learning. Students have the opportunity to monitor the incubator, take care of the eggs, and so much more during a two-week duration. The program provides educational information regarding embryology, supplement/enrich ongoing studies, youth to experience the birth and possible death process, and the opportunity to relate the development of the chick to the development of other living creatures. In 2021 it was delivered to 47 schools in Jackson and Clay County, reaching over 2,128 students. 90% of the students identified themselves as white. Reaching majority of elementary age students.  

New Education and Outreach Description Submitted by Field Specialist in 4-H Youth Development, Joshua Shinn, in March 2023: 

  • Embryology Program: Jackson County 4-H will is currently engaged in kicking off its 2023 Embryology Program (see marketing flyer below), and while the numbers for it will not be in until the program has ended, the impact is expected to be substantial. We currently have 31 Jackson County classrooms registered for Session I. At an average of 25 youth per classroom, that is at least 775 youth who will be directly participating in the 2023 Jackson County 4-H Embryology Program. We do, however, expect many more once Session II completes as well.  

2023 4-H Embryology Program Marketing Flyer

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.