Maine 4-H Agricultural Leadership Ambassador Program

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The goal of the Maine 4-H Agriculture Leadership Ambassador Program is to provide educational experiences for youth ages 14-18 to explore their interest in agriculture. The program focuses on connecting youth with their local food systems and industries, exploring the richness and diversity of the Maine food system, developing ag-vocacy skills, and increasing their access to career and post-secondary opportunities in the agri-science and food system. These goals will be obtained by online and in-person learning modules created by Extension staff, community partners, and industry leaders, along with internships and on-campus activities.

Join the Fall Agricultural Leadership Club!

Our team of professionals from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H program is creating a program to provide agricultural education and leadership experiences to Maine youth ages 14-18. Youth involved in this program will have opportunities to pursue their interest in agriculture and explore career pathways. This includes mentoring in post-secondary opportunities, as well as sparking a passion to investigate and explore current issues around food systems, livestock, crop sciences, aquaculture, climate issues impacting food systems, social justice around food equity, and more. There is not a requirement to have previous 4-H membership, this program is open to all Maine youth with an interest.

These opportunities will begin with a creation of an online learning community cohort and will also include in-person experiences across the state and on the UMaine Campus. This program will provide youth with an opportunity to connect to local agriculture and identify their role in the Maine Food System.

The program will be virtual with options for limited in-person activities. Participants will be meeting weekly from 3:30-4:45 p.m. Nov. 2–Dec.14.

Topics covered in this club include:

  • Maine Food System
  • Global Agriculture
  • Agriculture in Maine
  • Threats to the Maine Food System
  • Community Agriculture in Maine

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The Need:

With the shrinking formal agricultural programs being offered to high school youth, there is a need that is not being met.  Students who have even just a small desire to explore agriculture and what it means to them are missing out on potential ways to grow their spark.

  • With the world population growing, how do we feed 10 billion people by 2050?

But there is a positive trend!

  • Agriculture workforce with a degree growing by 3.71% average yearly;
  • In Maine, the median age of farmers is up from age 49 in 2002, to 56.5 in 2017. What does that mean?
  • Maine and the Northeast account for only about 5% of the national total gross agriculture value;
  • Maine youth NEED exposure because they have less opportunity.

Our vision as the program progresses includes:

  • Providing high-quality educational programming in agriculture to foster a spark for a future in agriculture;
  • Creating and expanding partnerships with local experts, ag-industry leaders, and organizations with similar values and opportunities for youth;
  • Providing on-campus opportunities, service learning, training, and connections to further deepen teens’ understanding of agriculture, and create connections to future educational or career pathways;
  • Creating an Agricultural Leadership Ambassador Program for teens and college students to help deliver agricultural curriculum to expand our reach.

Seasonal Ag-Leadership Themes: Fall - What Ag means to ME: Maine Ag 101, Connection and sense of place in the Ag community; Winter - Ag Career Explorers: Varied career options in the Ag industry, Educational opportunities and experiences in Ag, Campus connections; Spring: Diversity, innovation, and well-being in agriculture: Explore and celebrate diversity and innovation in ME Ag, Understanding and positive coping with mental health issues and ag; Summer: Informal field days internships exploration: Connections to local farms and industry partners, Provide day-long, weekly, or monthly exploration experiences or internships.

We need your input!

We want to hear your thoughts on how we can address this need. We ask that you please take time to complete a brief survey so that we can gather as much information as possible about how to best serve Maine youth.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, please reach out to our team.

Maine 4-H Agricultural Ambassadors Team

4-H staff members Sara Conant, Tara Marble, Sadee Mehuren, and Alisha Targonski are responsible for leading the Maine 4-H Agricultural Ambassadors Program. To contact the team please email extension.4hagleadership@maine.edu.