Project Leader: 
Alexandria Bryant and Donna Shartzer
Breckinridge County 4-H Council
Funding Received: 

Biotechnology is part of our daily lives, from the food we eat and plants we grow, to the medicines we use to treat diseases. In Agriculture, Biotechnology improves existing agricultural practices or invents new practices to improve our food system. In 2019, the Breckinridge County 4-H Council was approached by local Middle School teachers who recognized the need for Agricultural Science and Biotechnology programming with Middle School youth. Biotechnology and the underlying biological processes including genetics are often difficult and abstract concepts for youth. The 4-H Council and local Middle School aims to make biotechnology in agricultural science more concrete by providing hands-on and visual science labs for youth. The local program will include monthly hands-on science labs adapted from the Illinois 4-H Biotechnology curriculum and National 4-H Biotechnology curriculum. Lesson topics will include cell structure and function, DNA, inherited traits, gene splicing, DNA extraction, and career exploration. Each lesson will connect with real-world applications in Agriculture. This new school enrichment program will be implemented in the local 8th grade science classrooms, introducing 260+ youth to Biotechnology. If the program is successful, the Middle School would like to expand the program to incorporate 6th and 7th grade science classrooms in the future. The Biotechnology program aims to provide hands-on learning opportunities to increase youth's knowledge and skills related to Biotechnology and enhance their understanding of the role of biological processes in Agricultural Science. The project leaders hope to spark an interest in agricultural science among participants, encourage them to pursue advanced Agricultural Science degrees and career paths, and develop life skills such as communication, teamwork, and self-confidence.