4-H and BAYER
For more than 100 years, Bayer and 4‑H have instilled the importance of science in life and careers. Together, they have teamed up to deliver Science Matters, a multi-faceted program to foster a love of scientific exploration in students across urban and rural areas around the country. Through a variety of hands-on learning experiences, more than 250,000 students receive the tools and support they need to deepen their understanding of agri-science and learn how agriculture and science play a key role in their everyday lives.
Science Matters includes several components designed to introduce youth to new areas of study and career opportunities that they had not considered previously.
- Sponsorship of 4‑H STEM Challenge. Bayer’s generous support enables science curriculum to reach and impactive diverse youth who otherwise would have limited access to STEM exploration opportunities.
- Grants to implement the 4‑H Ag Innovators Experience (AIE).
- Sponsorship of the 4‑H Youth in Action Award – Agriculture Pillar.
- Sponsorship of Ignite by 4-H in Washington, D.C.
- Sponsorship of National Ag Day student activities in Washington, D.C. including scholarships to selected young 4 H alumni to attend training sessions.
Since 2017, Bayer and National 4‑H Council have partnered to deliver Science Matters, a multifaceted program designed to enhance the agri-science and STEM education experience by equipping students with tools and support to deepen their understanding of these important topics. Download the Science Matters Three- Year Overview to learn more about how Bayer and 4‑H are helping to inspire young people as future thought leaders in agriculture and STEM.
U.S. teachers, parents and teens weigh in on Ag Science literacy and careers
Review key findings from the 2019 Bayer Facts of Science Education Survey that includes perspectives from high school science teachers, parents and teens on the importance placed on agri-science education in today’s classrooms and find out how prepared future generations are to solve the global challenges of tomorrow.
Agri-science skills for community health
Youth in Bayer’s Science Matters program are making a difference in communities across the country. Below, we share stories of young people who worked as teams to identify issues that could be solved through agriculture and science.
4‑H programming, combined with Bayer employees’ volunteer efforts, resulted in hands-on experiences for youth to lead initiatives that set up holistic, long-term solutions in their communities. Check out the highlights below, which are a sample of the many action plans youth implemented to hone their skills and passion for agri-science.
Science matters action plan topics
Teens explored a variety of animal health related topics ranging from zoonotic diseases to tests that ensure animal products are safe to enter the food supply.
Teens developed plans to reduce waste in schools, improve soil quality via composting sites and educate others about the important role water plays in community health.
Teens studied their community’s urban gardens and food deserts empowering residents with knowledge that will improve access to quality, healthy food and drink.
Awareness & Action
Teens focused on increasing awareness and action around plastics recycling, including how to reuse plastics.
A closer look: animal health
In Pennsylvania, teens created a safer heating system for farmers and young animals. This system reads the ground temperature and turns on and off a heat lamp reducing time spent checking the temperature of traditional heat lamps while reducing fire hazard risk.
“We had persistence about what we were working on. The lamp would fall apart and we had to work together, making sure we were all aware of what each was contributing and keeping the flow going when something went wrong.”
Kansas teens surveyed citizens to gauge their knowledge of animal diseases that can infect humans. Based on their findings and research discovering the lack of existing educational materials, they launched a campaign to raise public awareness about zoonotic diseases. Their efforts focused on working with Bayer employees and local vets to produce and distribute educational flyers.
“It’s rare for a group such as ours to have an opportunity like this…being able to bridge the gap between problems in the past and problems our area is currently facing."
A closer look: sustainable Ag
After realizing how much food is wasted in schools and restaurants, California Science Matters teens created a map of composting sites and food banks in their community and learned to distinguish types of waste. They conducted a waste audit at their school which resulted in additional and correctly labeled recycling bins. In touring their local Bayer facility, teens discovered how food waste can be minimized in commercial kitchens.
“We gained valuable insight from Bayer employees as we were able to collaborate with them on our issues and able to visit different places that ultimately bolstered my learning of issues affecting science and agriculture.”
In Kansas, Science Matters teens realized the importance of proper water management and conservation in their suburban setting. To address the issue, the teens created & delivered hands-on learning kits and lesson plans for teachers to use in educating students about the role they play in conserving water.
“I loved getting the chance to teach others and actually impact my community.”
A team of teens in Pennsylvania explored the impact of manure and manure management on small farm (horse) operators and the impact of this management plan on the environment. The data they collected on erosion and fertilizer loads on soil helped the youth understand cause and effect and respond in a positive manner that creates change. The youth learned how agriculture has an impact on their community and people’s lives. They are working to create awareness for manure management plans to reduce the impact of manure on the environment through run-off. One team member commented, “Through the Science Matters program I gained confidence in public speaking and in interacting with people of various backgrounds. I became more familiar with the scientific method; designing an experiment and following it through.”
Teens in Johnson County, Kansas, saw a big issue with the large amount of food waste in their community. In just their county alone, they found that an estimated 162 million pounds of food is wasted annually. The team wanted to create a policy to encourage school districts, businesses and homeowners to reduce food waste. They began with a local school and reached out to all 8th graders to push for food waste prevention measures within their school district. After looking into additional ways they could help influence policy change on this issue, they worked with their Board of County Commissioners to proclaim May 23 as Johnson County Food Waste Prevention Day to help bring additional awareness to this important issue.
A closer look: food security
Gardening takes hard work, but when the Missouri Science Matters teens revived a community urban garden for a domestic abuse shelter, they didn’t stop at weeding and planting. They encouraged the neighborhood to support the garden for improved community health, even leading kids’ crafts that demonstrated how a community is stronger when they work together.
“(Science Matters) has allowed me to be more involved…to become more myself and relate to more people. I’m more open and comfortable in a group setting. I learned how to better work within a time and improve my communication and social skills.”
One would think an urban area would not suffer from food insecurity or be considered a food desert. Yet, California Science Matters teens discovered this was the case and acted. The teens applied the data they collected from their neighborhood grocery stores and markets to create an online food desert map . They use the map in educating residents about healthy food locations.
“I will apply my experiences into advocating for a change in the city’s system to implement more affordable grocery stores. I will continue to carry this information with me and hopefully join groups who have the same goals in eliminating food insecurity.”
A closer look: awareness and action
In Missouri, Science Matters teens raised awareness about the effects of recycling stretch plastics including plastic bags through 4‑H PULP (Please Use Less Plastic). They garnered PLEDGES from community members to use less plastic in exchange for reusable grocery bags. Teens also helped kids make crafts out of plastic bottle caps to demonstrate that they can reuse plastic.
“Our voices and our actions go much farther than what we think they do. For example, I was explaining to a customer at my work (I work at a grocery store) what I was doing in this 4‑H project. I informed them of the change we are trying to make in our community, and since then I have never seen them in the store without their own bags to put their groceries in. Even the smallest things can make the biggest impact, because now they will go on and tell their friends about this and so on. We are initiating this chain reaction of events for a better future.”
Bayer Crop Science employees shared reputable information for a team of New Jersey Science Matters teens who had the desire to better understand genetically modified food labeling. With guidance from Bayer experts, the team created a fact-checking sheet to help others learn about GMOs. Through this experience the youth learned how to select scientific information rather than public propaganda.
“In the beginning there were several against GMOs and we had to figure out how we all could work together. It was very helpful to hear what scientists are saying about it. In the end, we learned how to have conversations with each other that were respectful and meaningful.”
Team Jolly Ranchers worked on a project titled, Eat Your Way to a Better Grade: Breakfast Habits, Academic Performance and Self-Reported Energy Levels of Students. They conducted a school survey and analyzed the data and information with support from a Bayer volunteer. They then presented the results to their peers in school workshops, teacher meetings and to key adults who can make changes on the school breakfast menu. They shared the findings that 61 percent of the students think that eating breakfast regularly is a healthy habit, but only 42 percent of student reported eating breakfast fewer than four times a week. 80 percent thought that school breakfast options were not healthy, and 68 percent of student reported that they would eat a better breakfast if there were better options in the cafeteria.
The W.O.R.M. (Working on Recycling More) team educated residents on how to properly recycle and compost in order to decrease contaminated recycling and unnecessary waste. After hearing about challenges with single-stream recycling in St. Louis, the group chose to focus on the issue because waste will continue to be a problem for future generations. They created an interactive waste sorting game to educate people about recycling and composting. At Metro High School, the youth implemented plastic bag receptacles to keep plastic bags out of the recycling stream and out of landfills. They are working to expand this program to other schools.
The Women’s Health Team focused on educating themselves and others on topics related to women’s health. The team explored nutritional needs of women at various stages of life by researching how vitamins work, the ingredients in different types and different delivery methods. Team members learned how to read labels and understand how the body’s nutritional needs change over our lifetime. This information was taught to other teens and youth through a variety of hands-on science activities, studying the nutrients in popular foods and vitamin sources. The team also collected items to donate to a local organization that supports women’s physical and mental health.
My 4‑H stories
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Learning communication skills
Darren Wallis grew up in a small town in Missouri where showed cattle and participated in public speaking and leadership opportunities through 4‑H. Today, Darren is the Head of Communications at Bayer and is proud to partner with 4‑H.
Learning leadership & organization
Amy Halleran learned about leadership, organization, and responsibility through 4‑H. One of her favorite 4‑H memories was working in the 4‑H ice cream stand at the county fair. “I did not realize at the time, but working that ice cream stand was an important developmental experience. I learned how to communicate with people and how to provide great customer service, which are skills I used in my first job and still use to this day!” Today, Amy is the Crop Protection Customer Operations Manager, Supply Chain Customer Care for Bayer.
Learning responsibility & leadership
Eric Ifft learned about responsibility, leadership, and loss through his 4‑H experience. Some of his 4‑H highlights are being elected as a 4‑H officer and how a tragic situation of losing a close friend was turned into a kind gesture to help others in need after showing and auctioning off his friend’s pig to raise funds for scholarships. Today, Eric is the Consumer Business Advisor for Crop Science at Bayer. “When I think of 4‑H, I’m reminded of the experiences that have had a continuous impact on my life.”