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4-H Partners with Local
Industry and Organizations

to Train Teen Teachers

Kathryn OrvisKathryn Orvis

The Teens Teaching Youth AgriScience/Biotechnology program is part of a national 4-H initiative called Science in Urban Communities, which focuses on expanding the quality and quantity of out-of-school science programming. Its project director, Chad Ripberger, county 4-H educator and County Extension Department Head for Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County in Trenton, N.J., is a former student of Kathryn Orvis at Purdue—a connection that led to her serving as the primary content partner for the Teens’ curriculum.

Orvis, associate professor of Extension education, built opportunities for area companies and organizations to participate into the curriculum. For example, kickoff partners at the national training, and the topics they brought to the Teen Leaders, included:

  The United Soybean Board and the Indiana Soybean Alliance—new uses for soybeans, how to effectively communicate the biotech story, a panel of Purdue students and faculty from the Soybean Innovation Contest

  Purdue—Biotechnology 101, DNA extraction and sequencing activities

 Beck’s Hybrids—seed production, input and output traits, trait testing activity

  Dow AgroSciences—biotechnology and global food security, product pipeline

The students also toured Beck’s Hybrids in Atlanta, Ind., and Dow AgroSciences in Indianapolis. “The idea is to capitalize on local resources, but also get the kids connected with industry so they see where the careers are,” Orvis explains. “Career exploration is one of 4-H’s key life skills. We want them to see that the possibilities are large.”

Orvis has been instrumental in training the Teen Teachers and in engaging other content-rich partners such as the Biotechnology Learning Center of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.