4-H Youth in Action: Visiting the Bayer Care Center

By Jacob Shuman September 29, 2016

On July 22, 2016, I was very fortunate to visit the Bayer CropScience facility in Research Triangle Park, NC. Bayer was the corporate sponsor for my 2016 Youth in Action Award in Agriculture and Animal Sciences. We received a warm welcome from Sarah Meyer and the research staff before continuing on with a tour of the BeeCare Center.

The Bayer CropScience facility is second to none. I was extremely impressed not only with the amount of brochures, research literature, and videos they had, but also with the interactive educational exhibits. One of the exhibits I really enjoyed was about beekeeping. It demonstrated the role honey bees play in the pollination of our crops. I sampled a variety of local honey, which surprisingly tasted different from the honey made in Ohio! In another exhibit, the different types of honey bees found in a hive were mounted on display. Other notable exhibits I enjoyed were the bee life cycle charts and the detailed honey bee models.

It was wonderful meeting Kim Huntzinger and the researchers and interns. I was able to see the current testing on bee parasites such as Varroa Mites and Nosema. It was exciting to wear a lab jacket, safety goggles and even perform some of the testing myself! I was given in-depth instruction on how Nosema is evaluated under a microscope and was allowed to complete some sample evaluations. I sampled and counted a Varroa infestation in a lab sample that was sent to the Bayer facility for evaluation.

Afterwards, we toured the ‘bee-utiful’ beecare center grounds where crops such as corn, alfalfa, soybean, tomatoes, cotton, and wheat were grown in their vegetable garden. The flower garden and native pollinator plants were superb, featuring an assortment of colorful plants and a remarkable irrigation system. 

The greenhouse displayed the vast areas of crop research that are currently taking place at the facility. Led by Nate, the tour was informative, and I found the projects and studies they were working on exciting. I learned about the parameters researchers altered to see the effects on various crops.

The current expansion of the Bayer CropScience facility is great. It is inspiring to see the partnership between Bayer and farmers grow, with the facility testing innovative methods to help farmers with crop production and increasing crop yields.

After attending the National 4‑H Council’s AgriScience summit in 2015 and 2016, I learned about the field and all that it has to offer. The summits further fueled my interest in pursuing a career in the field of AgriScience. Visiting a corporation like Bayer was beneficial because it provided me with a hands-on introduction into the field and encouraged my decision to go forward with my educational pursuits in AgriScience.

Following my visit, I was able to speak with members of my local beekeeping club in Ohio about my visit and the various research that is being conducted at Bayer. Like me, they were impressed and excited about the future of honey bees, agriculture, and Bayer Crop Science.

Winning the 2016 Youth in Action Award was simply amazing! It was the highlight of my 4‑H career. Visiting Bayer was a great opportunity and learning experience. Moreover, they could not have been more cordial and hospitable towards my mom and I. Being an advocate for honey bees and agriculture, I am proud that Bayer is my sponsor and supports 4‑H, agriculture, and America’s youth.