GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Five Volusia County 4-H youth spent the kind of day most children only dream about ─ touring the Kennedy Space Center and hoping to watch the launch of the Orion Spacecraft test flight.
The launch was delayed, but 4-H members Kaitlyn Jackson, 13; Jonathan Murdock, 13; AJ Seifert, 12; Joshua Lacey, 12, and Olivia Hall, 12, met with U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, a 4-H alumna from Georgia. Harden saw the Dec. 4 tour as a chance to connect with children in 4-H, which works very closely with USDA on youth engagement in agriculture.
“Youth programs like 4-H are key to getting children excited about the possibility of agriculture as a career,” Harden said. “NASA and USDA have complementary goals. It was great to see these 4-Hers learn more about NASA and how the space agency’s work connects agriculture and technology.”
Florida 4-H is a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences program and works with USDA.
NASA wants to reach rural America and youth with a message that space is exciting and that youth can participate in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs and future space exploration. USDA wants to tell the next generation that agriculture is relevant to all aspects of their lives and that STEM and agriculture are exciting careers.
The students who went to KSC last week participate in a STEM club and just competed in the state marine ecology competition, said Laura Cash, Florida 4-H Extension agent for UF/IFAS in Volusia County. They enjoy learning about anything related to science.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Volusia County 4-H,” said Volusia County Extension Director David Griffis. “Not only will they get the opportunity to see the first Orion launch from the VIP section at NASA, but they will also get the chance to talk with Deputy Secretary Harden, a former 4-Her.”
AJ Seifert, who one day may write for a living, summed up what he expected in advance of the space center visit.
“As the reporter for (the club), I’m excited for this rare opportunity to report live from the Orion space launch and behind the scenes of the Life Science Labs at NASA,” AJ said. “The experiments that will take place on Mars and in space are mind blowing. I’m thrilled to get to watch some of them and to be a part of something most kids do not get to see!”
Writer: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Laura Cash, 386-822-5778, email@example.com
Rachael Dubinsky, 202-720-8998, Rachael.Dubinsky@oc.usda.gov
Florida 4-H members from Volusia County toured the Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 4 to learn about the ties between science, space research and agriculture, among other issues. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden, a 4-H alumna, toured KSC with the 4-Hers. In his photo, Jonathan Murdock the club president, far left, joins Joshua Lacey; Kaitlyn Jackson, club historian and Olivia Hall, club secretary at one spot on the tour. Harden is at the far right.
Photo courtesy Laura Cash, UF/IFAS Volusia County 4-H Extension agent