Tri-County 4-H Potato Project
TCAA 4-H Potato Project
Written By: Crystal McCazzio, 4-H Youth Development
The Tri- County Potato Project has been made a success through the collaboration of UF/IFAS Extension 4-H and Agricultural Agents from the Tri-County Area (Flagler, Putnam, and St Johns) along with the UF/IFAS Hastings Agricultural Research Center.
The program includes…
- Field days hosted at the UF/IFAS Hastings Agricultural Research Center: In January, the youth attend a field day where they learn about the commercial potato industry, plant 3 varieties of potatoes in the almost one-acre plot dedicated to 4-H, and are given the knowledge and supplies for their individual projects. Then in April the youth return to harvest, sort, bag and taste test the potatoes they grew. During these field-days youth are presented with STEM concepts like measuring spacing during planting, the science of growing the plants, technology utilized in the commercial industry, and much more.
- Potato Project Activity Book & Individual Container Project: The activity book includes a series of 12 potato learning activities. Activities include goal setting, record keeping on individual project, plant part identification, maintenance and care of an individual plant, story writing, food safety and nutrition, agricultural history, potato defect identification, and marketing. Many youths are also given the opportunity to exhibit their individual potato plants at the local fairs.
- Community Service: Each youth/club is asked to donate at least part of their harvest to help others in their community. Potatoes were donated to local food pantries, Bread of Life, local churches that feed the needy, women’s shelters, and many more community organizations.
- Fundraiser: Many clubs used the harvested potatoes that were not donated as a fundraiser for their club. Once again youth got a chance to use marketing skills they developed to sell their product. They were faced with real-world challenges like selling the product before it spoiled, how to sell their product (50lb or 5lb bags), how much to sell the potatoes for, and how to reach potential customers.
From Farm To Fork
Youth and their families have actively participated in various stages of potato production through this project. Youth have been given the opportunity to gain knowledge in commercial harvesting practices, marketing, and careers in agriculture which they will put into practice as they completed the project. As a result, youth surveyed reporting a gain in
- their ability to meet and understand the needs of their communities
- knowledge of the agriculture industry and challenges facing the industry
- understanding the importance of marketing
- knowledge of a large variety of careers in the agriculture industry
- understanding scientific components to the agriculture industry
Feeding a global population that will increase to 9 billion people over the next 35 years will require STEM-trained professionals to face the challenge of making agriculture more efficient and productive. It is our intention to sow a seed of interest which inspires youth to pursue a future in education and careers in STEM fields.