Two Morris County 4-H members joined a contingent of two dozen from across New Jersey who attended the National Agri-Science Youth Summit that was held on Jan. 10-13 at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The purpose of the conference was to provide youth with an opportunity to learn about and develop an understanding of the critical role that agricultural science innovation plays in addressing the world’s most pressing issues.

Kristin Osika from Mendham Borough and Johanna Pipoli from Landing represented Morris County, joining more than 250 youth and adults representing 27 states at the summit.

Osika and Pipoli joined participants at workshops; engaged in hands-on activities; listened to guest speakers; and interacted with agricultural researchers and advocates who helped them to gain knowledge and skills in agri-science related to the production of food, feed, fuel, and fiber as well as learn about career opportunities.

Kristin is in grade 9 and attends the Pingry School. She has been active in 4-H for six years. Johanna is in grade 10 and is home schooled. She has been active in 4-H for eight years.  Both Kristin and Johanna are members of the Teen Council 4-H Club which focuses on strengthening leadership skills through opportunities at the county, state, and national levels.

“The summit provided the New Jersey delegates to the National Agri-Science Youth Summit with an excellent opportunity to learn about the challenges facing agriculture, including global food security and sustainability, and how they can play a role in addressing these challenges today and in their future” said Jeannette Rea Keywood, State 4-H Agent, Department of 4-H Youth Development. 

“We are extremely proud of these young ladies for representing Morris County and 4-H so well. We are very proud of them,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Deborah Smith.

In 2019, many young people are generationally and geographically removed from farming and agriculture. Yet, it is vital that these young leaders and future decision makers understand the critical role agriculture plays in our society.

It is estimated there will be 54,400 annual job openings for those with agricultural college degrees. While the percentage of these opportunities in production agriculture has declined, 27 percent of these jobs will be in science and engineering and 47 percent will be in management and business.

A shortfall of graduates for these science and business positions is projected, especially for the anticipated demand in animal and plant biotechnology. Yet, these emerging areas of agriculture are addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues related to food security, nutrition, energy, and sustainability.

The Morris County 4-H Youth Development Program uses a learn-by-doing approach to enable youth to develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to become competent, caring, and contributing citizens of the world. This is accomplished by using the knowledge and resources of caring adults to provide information, educational programs for youth in grades K-13 (one year out of high school), improve community partnerships and collaborations, strengthen skills for adults working with youth through publications and training and encourage responsibility, community awareness, and character development in youth.

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