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 inner-city areas.

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 from.

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 food-processing facilities.

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 lead them.

“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 it.

The focus, she stressed, will be on developing important life skills in these kids.