National 4-H grants support STEM and ag science

National 4-H grants funded by CME Group and Monsanto, have allowed for the creation of Commodity Carnival and the Ag Innovators Experience respectively, which collectively influence more than 1,000 Michigan youth each year.

Youth participating in Commodity Carnival.
Commodity Carnival, funded by CME Group, is an interactive learning opportunity that teaches youth and adults about the expenses related to producing crops and animals for market.

National 4-H Council continues to be a strong partner in leveraging corporate grant projects for Michigan 4-H. National 4-H grants funded by CME Group and Monsanto, have allowed for the creation of Commodity Carnival and the Ag Innovators Experience respectively, which collectively influence more than 1,000 Michigan youth each year.

4-H Commodity Carnival

Commodity Carnival, funded by CME Group, is an interactive learning opportunity that teaches youth and adults about the expenses related to producing crops and animals for market.

Michigan 4-H is among nine states participating in the Commodity Carnival, an interactive fair experience through a partnership between 4-H and CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace. Launched in 2013, Commodity Carnival is a fun learning activity for students to experience managing the business risks associated with producing and bringing livestock to market.

Displayed at the Michigan State Fair and county fairs across the state, the Commodity Carnival aims to increase agricultural literacy among not only 4-H’ers but also the public by teaching business management practices and providing an understanding of basic economic principles. The activity tasked participants with raising a steer – balancing the costs of feed, health and nutrition, production and energy and resources. The game also incorporated risks that are outside of a farmer’s control, such as bugs, bad weather, health news, government regulations and seasonal demands.

“I have learned a lot of communication skills from participating in Commodity Carnival because it’s for all 4-H ages, so it teaches you how to talk to different age groups and have the same information while presenting it in different ways,” said Camran Stack, Gratiot County 4-H’er and Commodity Carnival teen leader.

Partially because of his involvement in this project, Stack’s future career plans include hydroponics and agribusiness.

“Commodity Carnival really taught me the economics of agribusiness, which I was definitely lacking in knowledge before, and now I have a much more holistic understanding of the field,” he said.

4-H Ag Innovators Experience

4-H Ag Innovators Experience

Since 2014, the 4-H Ag Innovators Experience (AIE), presented by Monsanto, has cultivated life skills, increased interest in agriculture among youth and helped them develop an understanding of the role of STEM in agriculture.

Michigan was among five states that participated in the Healthy Soils Carbon Soil Investigation Challenge as part of the 2017 4-H AIE activity. As part of the 90-minute science activity, Michigan 4-H’ers worked in teams to determine overall soil health and implement good production practices while farming and tilling the land. The teams then developed tiny robots to create a no-till planter with minimal negative impact on the environment, such as soil disruption, equipment drag and soil compaction.

“The Ag Innovators Experience allows participants to become better leaders and presenters and allows them to help the youth of their county and state become more knowledgeable about agriculture,” said Nathan Laurenz, Midland County 4-H’er and Ag Innovators teen leader.

“Since participating in Ag Innovators Experience I have learned the benefits of using hands-on activities in my presentation to help the kids learn and keep them engaged.”

Commodity Carnival and the Ag Innovators Experience would not be possible without the continuous support of the National 4-H Council, CME Group and Monsanto. Educating Michigan youth about preparing for their future is essential for the success of 4-H clubs, our community, our country and our world, and corporate National 4-H Council partnerships make it a possibility.

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