Four top 4-H members were proud winners of the inaugural Young Advocates for Agriculture Award, sponsored by Merck Animal Health. The Merck award recognizes grassroots efforts by 4-H members to support agriculture.
Sarah Schuster of Dane County, WI, was the inaugural award winner. She was honored for educating youth leaders and other 4-H members about the significance and value of science and technology in agriculture. Other finalists were Jacob Newkirk of Cumberland County, NJ, and Margaret Brownell and Kaylah Gulley, of Washington County, NY.
"Merck Animal Health is committed to developing and empowering the next generation of leaders within our industry," says Jim Miles, Merck Animal Health. "There is a real and growing need for people within agriculture to help bridge the information gap – to help tell our respective stories about why agriculture is a crucial part of our world. We are pleased to be able to help support those students who already are advocating on behalf of the industry and hope this award, as well as other programs and recognitions, inspire others to get involved."
The advocacy award is an extension of the 4-H National Youth Agri Science Summit, which was held earlier this year. Sponsored by Merck Animal Health, the summit provided numerous opportunities for 4-H high school students to learn about the latest innovations in agricultural science and technology, as well as increase their awareness of careers in these rapidly expanding fields. After attending the summit, Schuster felt she was armed with a wealth of knowledge, and was inspired to share it with youth leaders in her community.
"Engaging and educating our youth around the future of the agriculture industry is vitally important," says Christina Alford, executive vice president of external relations, National 4-H Council. "Through our partnership with Merck Animal Health, 4-H'ers develop the skills that will help them in future agricultural careers and allow them the opportunity to showcase their abilities to experts in the field."
The finalists and grand prize winner each received a scholarship to attend the 2015 National Youth Agri-Science Summit, plus $500 to put toward their respective advocacy projects. In addition, the grand prize winner received a $2,000 award that can be directed toward a project or a related youth agriculture education program in the winner's community.