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Today's Teens Lead the Way

At 13 years old, Luke Preyss of Avon, Indiana, admits he has a strong passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). In summer 2023 he had the opportunity to grow in those areas as one of 20 Indiana 4-H students selected for the Ag Innovators Program.

The Ag Innovators’ mission is to train 4-H youth to utilize modern technology for precision agriculture and other 21st century career paths. In 2022, only 30% of eighth-grade students in Indiana scored at or above grade level on statewide mandated math testing. Indiana 4-H was one of five states awarded a grant from the National 4-H Council in collaboration with Bayer to deliver the annual Ag Innovators Experience.

After undergoing a three-day training session lead by Indiana 4-H educators, Preyss began to share what he had learned with other students to raise awareness of agriculture innovation and careers in agriculture. The 20 trained teens delivered the Ag Innovators Experience to over 1,500 K-8th grade students statewide.

The great part of this program is that it gets young kids to realize, ’Hey, wait a minute, even if I didn’t grow up in a rural area or know anything about farming, there’s still exciting stuff happening that I can relate to and that I might consider for my future.’” said Bill Decker, Indiana 4-H youth educator and county extension director for Madison County.

Preyss experienced just that with the nearly 150 youth who attended his training sessions. “It was great to see that all of the kids I taught were excited to learn more about technology, agriculture and drones. They had a lot of fun with it.

The program is designed to show kids practical and exciting uses for STEM, Decker explained, and to “flip the switch” that turns on their excitement.

Preyss couldn’t agree more and was grateful to have the opportunity to help teach others. “It was exciting to learn and then to share with the next generation. They are the ones who we need to continue to be creative and innovate to make things better. We have to focus on our future.”

PROGRAM IMPACT

THE NEED:

In 2022, ONLY 30% OF EIGHTH-GRADE STUDENTS IN INDIANA scored at or above grade level on statewide mandated math testing.

THE OUTCOME:

20 TRAINED TEENS from Indiana 4-H delivered the Ag Innovators Experience to over 1,500 K-8TH GRADE STUDENTS STATEWIDE.

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