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Minnesota Corn Growers Association: A critical partner for agronomy education

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association has been a faithful supporter of Extension education for more than 25 years.

In 2018, they helped us re-envision 4-H Agronomy, Crops, & Soils with the goal of building Minnesota's next generation of agri-scientists.

Empowering youth with tools to learn and grow

We piloted our re-envisioned  4-H Agronomy, Crops, & Soils program in five southwest Minnesota counties (Cottonwood, Lyon, Renville, Stevens, Swift). 4-H staff surveyed families and youth for feedback and ideas, and then got to work.
  • PROJECT START-UP KITS: We created project kits that youth could take home for hands-on learning in crop sciences, plant & soil sciences and vegetable gardening. Extension's crop and horticulture experts helped create learning guides included in each kit to guide youth discovery.
  • FAIRS: We created better pathways for youth to exhibit their projects at county fairs. This required improvements to exhibit spaces, signage, hands-on displays, and handouts. We also added new classes to fairbooks and new ways for youth to showcase their work.
  • TOURS: Youth participated in two Agronomy Tours to explore local agronomy businesses and career opportunities. They learned about drones, precision agriculture, soil health, field scouting and pest management as they toured large and small agribusinesses and demonstration plots.
  • SUPPORT GUIDE: We created a how-to guide for other local/regional 4-H programs to replicate the activities and events that the five pilot counties launched. This guide includes learning objectives, activity ideas, project kit lists and suggestions, judge/volunteer training materials, info for families, and more.
  • FARM FEST: We organized an Agronomy Scavenger Hunt at Farm Fest and promoted it to local 4-H and FFA members. Youth participants visited exhibitor booths, engage vendors/experts in a conversation to find answers to questions, and received a corn-shaped flash drive as a prize.

More learning experiences coming soon

Youth and families who are interested in exploring agronomy, crops and soils through 4-H can contact Brian McNeill, Extension educator based in Morris, Minnesota.
  • YOUTH AGRONOMY DAY: We're planning a spring 2019 event at Ridgewater College to explore agronomy topics in-depth with local experts, try hands-on activities like a combine simulator, and learn about ag careers. The program will be open to the public.
  • CROP SCOUTING COMPETITION: We're making plans to take a Minnesota 4-H team to participate in the 2019 Youth Crop Scouting Competition organized in partnership with Nebraska 4-H, Indiana 4-H, and Iowa 4-H.

Partnerships ensure more youth can learn and discover

Funding from Minnesota Corn Growers Association was essential for this program to build agri-science knowledge and passion in youth. Because of MCGA support, we saw a 59% increase in the number of youth who showcased learning in agronomy, crops and soils.

Imagine how many more youth could discover agri-science careers in the coming year. If your organization would like to join 4-H and Minnesota Corn Growers Association in building the next generation of agri-scientists, please contact Brad Starbuck, Extension development officer based on St. Paul, Minnesota.

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