Vigo County 4-H Club Uses Pioneer Grant to Learn Science
posted by Stefanie Mojonnier
May 31, 2012
Update from Krista Farthing, Extension educator—4-H Youth Development Vigo County
This year, Vigo County 4-H was very fortunate to receive a grant from Pioneer Seed and the Indiana 4-H Foundation to start a 4-H Club that focused on science. Looking around our county, we had many opportunities to use our local resources to help our 4-H youth members learn about science and what is available in our community.
Since starting the club in January, 4-H members have participated in many different science activities. They have traveled to Reynolds, Indiana where they visited the Meadow Lake Wind Farm, which after participating in Wired for Wind (youtube link), helped them understand even more about wind energy and see various forms of alternative energy at work.
A trip to BioTown Ag introduced them to the anaerobic digester, and how cow manure can be turned into energy. Youth members saw the cattle in the feed lot and then toured the plant where the manure was converted into energy, leaving a by-product that is used for fertilizer and animal bedding. The plant is very close to purifying the water that is also a by-product of the process, which would eliminate any waste from the process.
At Indiana State University, club members met in the food science lab, where they learned about food science by baking brownies and understanding how gluten works in our food. Club members made “gluten balls” by combining different types of flour. They ran the balls through water, and essentially washed away the starch, leaving only the gluten behind. Flour with high-gluten levels resulted in a very stretchy dough, suitable for making yeast rolls. Flour with low-gluten levels provide light dough, often used in pastries.
A trip to Ivy Tech taught the 4-H youth how greenhouses work and were able to plant vegetables that will be used in Vigo County’s Giving Garden, where all produce is donated to food pantries and soup kitchens.
Most recently, the Science Club participated in a stream assessment at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. Working with the biology department, 4-H members donned waders and jumped in the stream to test the water and look for insects.
Through hands-on experience, Vigo County 4-H members have had the chance to learn that science isn’t only what you learn in textbooks; it’s something we use in everyday life.
About the Pioneer Mini-Grants
In 2011, Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont company, awarded the Indiana 4-H Foundation a $20,000 grant to help develop the next generation of scientists. The funds created $4,000 grants awarded to five counties: Henry, Howard, Shelby, Union and Vigo. The money will be used to establish new 4-H science clubs place special emphasis on involving female and minority youth. Additionally, these new clubs will work to engage science volunteers from several different science and technology industries.
“We are thrilled to bring together the desire of our long-time corporate partner, Pioneer, to help develop the next generation of scientists and the Indiana 4-H Youth Development Program’s proven ability to reach the youth of Indiana with impactful educational programs,” said Shelly Bingle-Coffman, former Foundation Executive Director said at the time the grants were announced. “I’m proud that the Indiana 4-H Foundation is able to bring together such partnerships that help fund the future of our state, and really, our world.”
“We have found a tremendous partner in science and technology education through the Indiana 4-H Foundation and Indiana 4-H Youth Development,” said Brad Lance, Business Director for Pioneer. “Their broad reach across the state, and their youth-focused curriculum and programs enhance learning and personal development opportunities for all young people.”
Activities in the new clubs will especially focus on the science of food, agriculture, and renewable energy. The curriculum for these 4-H science clubs feature hands-on experiences that will help spark a lasting interest in discovery and science for the 4-H youth involved. Each 4-H science club will facilitate at least one field trip that will reinforce different topics studied and science career exploration. To connect with a 4-H club in your area, visit the Purdue Cooperative Extension website to find your local county office.
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