4-H Youth Compete at Inaugural Pennsylvania Science of Agriculture Challenge

Penn State Extension launches new problem-based educational model for workforce investment.

The first-place overall team from Westmoreland County, named the Westmoreland Equestrian Team.

The first-place overall team from Westmoreland County, named the Westmoreland Equestrian Team.

Westmoreland County 4-H teens were named the winners of the first Pennsylvania 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge after competing amongst nearly 90 4-H youth from throughout the commonwealth, in grades six through twelve, at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center in State College on June 7-9.

The first-place overall team from Westmoreland County, named the Westmoreland Equestrian Team, was comprised of Leah Androstric, Elizabeth Brassart, Livy Jumper, and Abigail Payha. Their presentation entitled, “Medical Information Carrier” was under the American Farm Bureau Agricultural Literacy pillar of the Relationship between Agriculture and Lifestyle. Each member of the team received a $1,000 scholarship to be used for further education and/or training beyond high school.

The second-place overall team from Clarion County, named The Marketing Team, competed with their presentation entitled, “Saving Small Farms One Bean at a Time.” Their presentation was under the American Farm Bureau Agricultural Literacy pillar of the Relationship between Agriculture and the Economy. The team was made up of Sam Anderson, Briar Kentzel, and Emilee Klingler. Each member of the team received a $750 scholarship to be used for further education and/or training beyond high school.

Placing third overall was a team from Armstrong County, named the Armstrong Idea Makers, with their presentation entitled, “The Smart Lamp - A Controllable Heat Lamp.” The team members included Laurie Enders, Jachob Haines, Gabrielle Kriley, and Grace Stockdale. Their presentation was under the American Farm Bureau Agricultural Literacy pillar of the Relationship between Agriculture and Animals. Each member of the team received a $500 scholarship to be used for further education and/or training beyond high school.

“The Pennsylvania 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge has provided me with another fantastic opportunity through my 4-H journey,” said Livy Jumper, member of the first-place overall Westmoreland Equestrian Team. “I know that I will use the skills I have gained through this new program in my future career – no matter what field of study I pursue.”

In addition, the team from Indiana County, named Calfway – a Pathway to Better Calf Care, received the Community Engagement Award, along with each member of the team receiving a $100 scholarship. The team members included Elizabeth Bruner, Josiah Empfield, Ryan Fabin, and Annalee McCloskey. This award was focused on the team’s community outreach and communications efforts.

The teams were scored using a tabulation system based upon completing the following: print article in newspaper; print article in non-newspaper publication; picture in newspaper; public service announcement and news release; radio interview; questionnaire; social media video; and face to face presentations.

The other teams included (in no specific order):

  • Allegheny County team including Norah Carter, Sydney Ford, Emilie Hoover, Sarah Mee, and Connor Smith; presented “Horse Feed Tracking App.”
  • Blair County team including Dana Heitzel, Darcy Heitzel, Kara Stultz, and Emilee Wertz; presented “Preparing 4-H’ers to Answer the Tough Questions about Animal Care.”
  • Elk County team including Mikala Biondi, Julie Hill, and Emily Peluso; presented “Where is the Disconnect between Ag Education and Ag Careers.”
  • Fayette County team including Kathy Bash, Madison Davis, and Anna Poorbaugh; presented “UV Sterilization in the Dairy Industry.”
  • Fayette County team including Kenzie Mowry, Isabel Poorbaugh, Trisha Poorbaugh, and Jessica Wolfe presented “Sheep Production.”
  • Indiana County team including Elizabeth Bruner, Josiah Empfield, Ryan Fabin, and Annalee McCloskey; presented “Colostrum Management for Dairy Calves.”
  • Lebanon County team including Jolene Bomgardner, Ashley Morgan, Evelyn Troutman, and Leesa Woodcraft; presented “Support Your Local Farmers – Local Food”
  • Lehigh County team including Marisa Berger, Kerigrace Hertzog, and Carrie Spangler; presented “A Spud-tacular Way to Better Marketing.”
  • Sullivan County team including Taylor Bottiglieri, Joshua Heess, Noah Phillips, and Blaine Warburton; presented “Bridging the Gap Between Dairy Consumers and Dairy Farmers.”
  • Venango County team including Erika Hepler, Jolene Hepler, Orie Hepler, and Sabrina Hepler; presented “Beef Jerky.”
  • Washington County team including Brandon Janusey, Brittany Janusey, Brooke Janusey, and Samantha Stritzinger; presented “What is in Our Meat?”
  • Wayne County team including Brianna Metschulat and Carmen Rutledge; presented “Agriculture is Not Just Cows…It’s Our Future.”

“The Pennsylvania 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge is a new and innovative program that provides our 4-H youth with a chance to showcase the wide array of skills that they have gained through their 4-H experiences,” said Dr. Joshua Rice, Assistant Program Director for Penn State Extension’s 4-H and Youth Development Program. “The program asks youth to showcase their problem solving, public speaking, and entrepreneurial skills all while learning more about local agriculture and career opportunities.

“This program will have an enormous impact on the growth and development of not only our 4-H youth, but also on our communities throughout the Commonwealth.”

The Pennsylvania 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge, part of an expansion from a program started in Minnesota, engages youth in navigating opportunities in Pennsylvania’s food and agriculture industry and workforce.

The concept of the program was built upon the six Pillars of Agricultural Literacy as designed by American Farm Bureau. The six pillars involve the relationship between agriculture and the following topics: Animals; Environment; Food, Fiber, and Energy; Lifestyle; Technology; and Economics.

These pillars were the basis used by the teams to determine their presentation topic, as well as serving as the basis for the competition. Each team selected a topic that falls under one of the pillars. They then competed against other teams in the same pillar to be named the winner of that specific pillar. The winning team then proceed to compete against the winners of the other pillars to be named the winner of the Pennsylvania 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge.

Administered in Pennsylvania by Penn State Extension, 4-H is a community of more than 6 million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. Penn State Extension has Extension Youth Development Educators in all 67 counties throughout the commonwealth administering the local 4-H program through non-formal education and outreach.