78 high school students from five Benton County school districts attended the Get the 411 on Agronomy event at New Century FS in Vinton on September 14. Students explored new and improved ways of agriculture while networking with agriculturalists devoted to careers related to agronomy.
According to a study commissioned by the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers, farming and ag-related industries, including agronomy, accounted for more than 31% of Iowa's total economic output in 2017, as well as being one of five jobs in the state. Educational immersion events, like Get the 411 on Agronomy, expose youth to agronomy concepts and feature career opportunities in high demand for young professionals. This event integrated guest speakers from the ag industry, Hawkeye Community College, Kirkwood Community College, and Iowa State University to wrap the hands-on experiences into planning for post-secondary education and careers in Agriculture.
"We were excited to be able to offer this event to youth in Benton County and not only provide hands-on learning but also get the students thinking about future potential career opportunities." shares Iowa State University Extension Field Agronomist Rebecca Vittetoe. Get the 411 on Agronomy was planned in partnership between Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and 4-H, New Century FS, Robert Hanson-Pioneer, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other generous local sponsors and volunteers.
Students rotated through eight educational stations covering assessing soil, water quality, commercial fertilizer products, Iowa Corn Biofuels, aerial applications, combines, and soybean cyst nematodes. Students also asked agriculture professionals about their career paths and opportunities for women in agronomy during a career panel over the lunch hour. "[I] learned a lot about different paths you can take after high school," shared one high school student, "I was amazed by all of the possibilities." After the event, 98% of students reported having some knowledge or being very knowledgeable about agronomy-related topics, compared to 69% of youth reporting this before the event.
Get the 411 on Agronomy engaged high school students in hands-on learning experiences related to careers in agronomy. Youth participants gained exposure to agronomy careers, networked with Iowa companies and agriculture professionals, and connected with other agriculture-interested students. Engaging immersion experiences, like this event, provide an environment for youth to explore skills and careers and consider options for future employment.
To learn more about 4-H Youth Development and youth events in Benton County, please contact Benton County Extension and Outreach by visiting extension.iastate.edu/Benton or calling 319-472-4739.