- Education and Training: demonstration, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, youth education
- Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture
- Production Systems: holistic management
- Soil Management: soil microbiology, organic matter, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, leadership development, local and regional food systems, public participation, urban agriculture
The 4-H Experiential Learning Model of Do, Reflect and Apply is the framework for the Teen Challenge for Sustainable Solutions Project.
During summer 2013, a team of twelve 4-H teens, three 4-H leaders and I will engage in a multi-night Global Village Program at Heifer International Ranch, Perryville, Arkansas to experience the causes, challenges and sustainable solutions to global hunger, poverty and protecting the environment. Participants will be living the lesson of poverty first hand in addition to observing and learning about sustainable agriculture from the ranch, learning by doing.
During their sustainable ranch experience, the participants will reflect upon their experiences journaling and sharing in daily guided discussions which will guide their personal projects.
The application level of learning of this project will be teaching the teens to be ambassadors for sustainable agriculture solutions in the fight against world hunger. The teens will present a renewable energy lesson to elementary classroom(s) creating a model biogas digester. The participants will be challenged to create related additional service learning projects following 4-H Key Award project guidelines to qualify for multiple level recognitions. Participants will prepare a presentation for community and 4-H audiences sharing the project’s mission.
Detailed Project Description
The 4-H teen participants for this project, ages 13-17, will be selected from applications from the three counties I serve. The application will require commitment agreements to the three levels of this project and an essay question: “Why is it important to care for the earth in the fight against world hunger?” The applications will be reviewed by key community supporters for this project representing the Missouri Soil and Water Districts, county commissioners, 4-H alumni and at least two elementary teachers.
The Heifer Ranch requires a minimum of fifteen participants for the Global Village session. Our fifteen participants in a summer 2013 session will include myself, three 4-H adult leaders, and twelve 4-H teens equally representing each of my three counties. During our experience, I anticipate all individuals will develop teamwork, leadership and a keener awareness of the challenges for sustainable solutions for world hunger issues. The $2,000 from the SARE grant will be applied to the Heifer Ranch fees for the twelve teens and their Teen Challenge t-shirts with remaining adult fees, transportation, presentation materials, and t-shirts paid from funds collected by the participants from 4-H County Council scholarships and/or community fund raising efforts.
The team members will develop their teaching plans with their local elementary school principal and a cooperating teacher to finalize classroom presentation(s) during early October 2013 following the Heifer educational resources on biogases. Using the Heifer International lesson plans ensures a credible resource addressing national science and geography standards. Pre and post tests will measure impact of the lessons. The adult Heifer participant and I will oversee the completion of the plans, accompany team members to class presentations, and provide support as needed.
Each teen will be encouraged to create a personal service learning project as a result of the Heifer Ranch experience addressing challenges of creating sustainable agriculture solutions for global food issues. The Missouri 4-H Key Award guidelines will serve as the framework for this additional level to qualify the teens for potential state and national awards. The 4-H Key Award program focuses on community/service learning projects requiring a mentor which would be the adult 4-H leader participant from the Heifer Ranch experience. The Key Award supports collaboration with 4-H and other youth service organizations.
Each participant will be asked to prepare a media presentation for 4-H county spring contests and community groups promoting the global food issues and sustainable agriculture solutions. The presentation would be eligible for youth competitions and recognition programs.
Measurement tools of pre and post surveys and an essay question “Why is it important to care for the earth in the fight against world hunger?” will assess participant’s changes in knowledge and actions as a result of this project.
Specific practices learned
Heifer Ranch is a working model of sustainable agriculture and our participants will be able to learn specific practices through classroom presentations by the staff, living for three days within the sustainable agriculture model, participating in ranch chores and eating the food raised on the ranch. The ranch models SALT practices, biogas digesters, conservation of natural resources, and the recycling of all organic materials generated on the ranch including composting toilets. Participants will reflect upon their experiences in their daily journals.
Teaching others demonstrates a higher level of understanding. Participants will be conducting a renewable fuels third grade lesson to include a pretest and posttest, lesson on renewable fuels, setting up a biogas digester experiment, and challenging the elementary students to create a project related to the October 16 World Food Day. Local press releases and radio programs will publicize these classroom projects.
The additional challenge application level will be each teen’s personal service learning project related to sustainable agriculture concepts and global food issues using the guidelines of the Missouri 4-H Key Award to be completed in 2014. Surveys and final essay will measure the participant’s changes in knowledge and behaviors as a result of the entire project.
I anticipate the ‘Ripple Effect’ will be the prevalent manner in which the message of finding sustainable agriculture solutions to the global food issues will create the impact of this project. Over 200 elementary third grade students will learn the value of renewable fuels through the teaching efforts of the twelve teens in multiple schools in their three home counties. Challenging the elementary students to conduct a project for the World Food Day will increase awareness of the global food issues, solutions and the impact each individual can make. Pre and post tests or surveys will measure understanding of the elementary students.
By challenging 4-H teens to create a service learning sustainable project using the Missouri 4-H Key Award guidelines, the sustainable lessons will reach a multitude of audiences within their local communities. In addition, regional, state and potential national audiences could be reached with 4-H media presentations. I anticipate the adult 4-H Leader and Heifer participant as mentor and assistant for the teens will also become ambassadors sharing the commitment promoting sustainable agriculture in their communities.
Heifer International Ranch will be the major resource for the 4-H teens to ‘Learn By Doing’ during their stay at the ranch. They will have the experience of working on a true agriculturally sustained farm, experiencing global poverty, learning from the ranch workers, and eating the foods produced on the sustained farm. Teens will use the Heifer Classroom Lesson Plans which address science and geography national standards in teaching the importance of renewable sources of energy. Additional resources will be Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, World Food Day, and SARE.
A project t-shirt will be designed by the teens to be worn during presentations and will include approved branding from supporting organizations such as 4-H and SARE.
Community resource people for the teens will be the administrators and teachers of the elementary classrooms in which the teens will be teaching in their three home counties; staff from county Soil and Water District Boards; and local, regional and state media.
4-H resources will include local and state 4-H staff and leaders, the Missouri 4-H Key Award, Public Speaking Contests, 4-H Film Fest, 4-H Million Trees, Camp Food and Fitness, and State 4-H Congress as presentation opportunities.
I will measure and monitor the teen’s understanding of sustainable solutions to world hunger throughout the project in a variety of methods beginning with the application process, their possible Missouri Key Award applications, and pre and post surveys and essays. This information will provide the impact and value of this project not only for the youth involved but their view of how they may have impacted others.
I will prepare my own video presentation capturing the story of their projects beginning with the Heifer Ranch experience, including their teaching lessons, recording stories from their personal projects and showing some of their presentations. I would like to conclude with reflective statements from each of the teens responding to “What would you like to teach the world about sustainable solutions for the challenges of world hunger?”
I will volunteer to share my presentations with Missouri 4-H Staff, community organizations, and submit proposals to present at National 4-H Extension Agent and Extension Conferences.