CHEVY CHASE, MD - Two dozen members of New Jersey 4-H clubs, including Kate McHale from Hillsborough, NJ attended the National Agri-Science Youth Summit at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center here.

The purpose of the Jan. 10-13 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.

The New Jersey 4-H’ers joined over 250 youth and adults representing 27 states at the National Agri-Science Youth Summit.  Other New Jersey delegates attending the conference included Olivia Alonso from Caldwell, Jason Brenner from Lumberton, Emily Cepin of Kearny, Zahra Clarke of Freehold, Kayleen and Kristen DeMatos from Kearney, Loriann DeSousa Rego of Kenilworth, Erick Garcia from Newark, Ashlee Gibbons of Flemington, Riya Goel from West Orange, Garett and Trinity Joyce of Jersey City, Kimberly Kolibas from Belvidere, Aaron Lieboff from Hopewell, Zachary Majorossy of Flemington, Kristin Osika from Mendham, Johanna Pipoli from Randolph, Grace Reddington of Essex Fells, Sophia Solewater from Glen Gardner, and Kayla Soto of East Orange.

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Today, 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 that there will be 54,400 annual job openings for those with agricultural college degrees, according to Jeannette Rea Keywood, State 4-H Agent, Department of 4-H Youth Development

While the percentage of these opportunities in production agriculture (farming) 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. These emerging areas of agriculture are addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues related to food security, nutrition, energy, and sustainability, Keywood added.  

During the summit, participants attended 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.

 “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” Keywood said. 

For more information about the New Jersey 4-H Program visit the website at:  http://nj4h.rutgers.edu/