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TriState Neighbor reports:

Population trends project the world population will grow by two billion in the next 40 years, requiring a 70 percent increase in food production to feed the world. National 4-H Council and Monsanto Company announced today, during the National Ag Day observance, a new initiative to respond to this challenge by stimulating youth interest and involvement in agriculture.

The 4‑H Ag Innovators Experience aims to make agriscience relevant and fun for youth, and help young agriculturalists develop the professional skills needed to meet rising global demand for food. The Experience will engage teen leaders across Wisconsin to lead thousands of their peers in an interactive agriscience activity.

Agriculture students and faculty at Ohio State University designed this year's activity, the "Fish Farm Challenge," which challenges participants to engineer a food-distribution system that evenly dispenses soy-based fish food over a 3' x 3' vinyl mat.

The system design can then be transferred to an aquaculture tank on a tilapia farm. The goal is to help participants recognize the value of aquaculture, while stimulating innovative approaches to ensuring farm-raised fish have equal access to food.

"There are more than one billion people between the ages of 12 and 24, and we believe the young people of today are the farmers and ag leaders of 2050," said Christina Alford, executive vice president, External Affairs, National 4-H Council. "Monsanto has been a valued supporter of 4-H for many years and, together, we're making great strides in empowering more young people with the skills and confidence they need to excel as 21st century leaders."

Earlier this month, teen leaders received extensive activity training at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md. In April and May, they will share the activity with other teen leaders and local 4-H clubs.

Over 8,000 youth will implement the activity in June. After completing the activity, participants can create a video to demonstrate potential applications in their local communities. Four winners will be chosen and each will receive a $2,500 award.

"Monsanto recognizes that 4-H members are already providing ag solutions on a global scale, and we hope that the Ag Innovators Experience will sharpen existing skills to ensure the long term health and growth of agriculture," said Elizabeth Vancil, customer advocacy outreach manager, Monsanto Company. "We believe that today's participants will provide tomorrow's foundation for a prosperous, knowledgeable and innovative agricultural workforce."

The 4-H Ag Innovators Experience is piloting in Wisconsin and seven other states this year: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Ohio, and Michigan. For more information, contact these State 4-H offices or county extension agents.

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