WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — To help reach students in all areas
of Indiana, the 4-H program has been working to connect with youth who live in
Renee McKee, the program leader for 4-H and Youth
Development, noted that the organization has the tremendous opportunity of
teaching people where food comes from, regardless of where they come
The youth agriculture group also has an interest in science,
especially since it will take individuals who have an extreme knowledge of
science, as well as those involved in production agriculture, to feed the
world’s estimated population of 9 billion people by 2050, she added.
“We have the opportunity to grow more students broadly to a
representation of what population looks like today,” she said.
Whether it’s getting youth involved in agriculture through
“farm to gate” or “farm to table,” there are plenty of careers in food
production for 4-H members, McKee said.
She added that to have enough food to feed billions of
mouths, there will be a need for people to work in food laboratories, fields and
Over the last four years, she noted, the Indiana 4-H program
has concentrated its efforts, with the help of grant funding, to reach out to
the student population in more urban areas and show them that they don’t have to
be a part of a multigenerational farm family to be involved in 4-H.
One particular grant they received allowed the group to work
with students in Fort Wayne, as well as East Chicago, and will allow for the
expansion of three sites in Indianapolis, McKee said.
The hope, she explained, is that since 4-H has been
successful and accepted by communities, that they also support the idea of
reaching out to students who live in inner cities and even volunteer to help
“We want volunteers in the community to help support the
program, once funding diminishes,” she said.
McKee added that the help of volunteers was something they
had to build into the program, otherwise there would be no hope of sustaining
The focus, she stressed, will be on developing important
life skills in these kids.