2020 Youth Pathways grants awarded

Leveraging the resources of the Fisher Fund, Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation launched a Youth Pathways initiative in 2018, focused on introducing students to and training them for careers in food, agricultural and environmental sciences. Each year, organizations throughout the state are invited to submit proposals for innovative projects that would help to address the need to attract more young people to careers in these fields.

Hocking County Farm Bureau and the PAST Foundation are recipients of funding for 2020. A total of $116,900 will assist these two nonprofits as they develop programming that will prepare students for post-secondary training or direct placement in food, agricultural and environmental sciences industries.

Hocking County Farm Bureau will use its grant funds for a Careers in Agricultural Cooperatives: Co-op Leadership Experience project. Hocking County Farm Bureau will partner with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Center for Cooperatives to create a program that will showcase career exploration in agriculture through the lens of cooperatives. The project will engage Appalachian students in the classroom and in an immersive, two-day experience. Students will visit Ohio State to experience college-style learning, discover educational and career paths in agriculture, tour agricultural cooperative businesses, connect with leaders and engage in hands-on leadership and team-building activities.

“Giving students ideas about ways they can be a part of agriculture in their careers is truly eye opening,” said Ivory Harlow, organization director for Hocking County Farm Bureau. “This grant will enhance this program and make it even more beneficial to the youth and to the future of Ohio agriculture.”

I Know I Can and Ohio State’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering will partner with PAST Foundation on an AgriBot Design Challenge. The majority of future career opportunities in agriculture are in STEM fields requiring a foundational understanding of science, technology and engineering, as well as literacies in math, finance, critical thinking, commitment, collaboration and problem-solving. With their grant, Ohio State and PAST plan to develop a series of relational, hands-on activities that teach critical scientific concepts associated with agriculture and engineering, engage students and expose them to broad career opportunities. It is the intent that the activities will ultimately be the foundational components in an annual AgriBot Design Challenge.

“PAST is thrilled to be a recipient of the 2020 Youth Pathways grant along with Hocking County Farm Bureau. We are especially excited to join forces yet again with I Know I Can and the Ohio State Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering to develop an AgriBot Design Challenge,” said Dr. Andy Bruening, PAST’s director of bridge programs and operational director for the Center of Robotics Innovation (CORI) at PAST. “We recognize that building partnerships is critical to identifying future career options and integral to our long-term success.”

Experts from The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, and Extension came together to help make this program possible.

“With the AgriBot Design Challenge, we see an exciting opportunity to engage middle school youth in engineering design at the intersection of agriculture and technology,” said Dr. Howard Greene, director of K12 education outreach, College of Engineering. “By exposing students to authentic problem solving in agriculture, we hope to create career trajectories that don’t presently exist.”

Founded in 1985, Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation is a 501(c) (3) charitable, nonprofit organization. The foundation funds programming in four priority areas: cultivating an interest in agriculture, investing in tomorrow’s leaders, driving economic growth and promoting environmental stewardship and conservation.

To learn more or to apply for a scholarship or grant, visit ofbf.org/foundation.

For 20 years, PAST, a nonprofit organization, has been a leader in designing STEM education across the nation, bringing problem-based learning to educators and experiential programs to students. For more information on PAST Foundation and how you can link learning to life, visit pastfoundation.org or contact Lori Trent at ltrent@pastfoundation.org.

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