The Oklahoma 4-H program offered a biotechnology training for youth between the ages of 13 and 19 to learn more about biotechnology and then teach it to other youth.

The training, funded by Cargill and National 4-H Council, was held Feb. 21 through Feb.23 at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, OK, said Jeff Sallee, State 4-H assistant Extension program specialist.

"Oklahoma 4-H partnered with the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation to teach youth how biotechnology has played a major role in modern life," Sallee said. "The youth were trained extensively in the field of biotechnology and specifically the utilization of the 'Fields of Genes: Making Sense of Biotechnology in Agriculture' curriculum produced by the National 4-H Council."

The training helped the participants understand biotechnology, so that they can return to their respective counties and present the biotechnology curriculum to 4-H clubs and school science classes.

Heidi Robinson, a 4-H member from Muskogee County and training participant, said she is trying to figure out what she wants to major in after high school.

"I think biotechnology would be a wonderful opportunity to go into," Robinson said. "When I took chemistry, I enjoyed it. I thought this training would be interesting, and it might give me an idea of what I want to do."

Robinson plans to teach biotechnology concepts to participants of an after-school program that she is involved in, as well as a biology class.

Payne County 4-H member Alea Sharp said she attended the training because it was good opportunity to see what biotechnology is.

"I don't know exactly what I want to do when I grow up," Sharp said. "This conference gave me an opportunity to see other things."

During the training, Noble Foundation researchers talked about their role in biotechnology while presenting programs and hands-on activities.

Richard Nelson, a Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation scientist and a presenter during the training, said the possibilities of biotechnology are great.

"The potential is there for new findings in the future," Nelson said. "We can use biotechnology to our benefit in agriculture to increase the quality and yield of crops and decrease the use of pesticides over time. It's probably a greener method than simply using herbicides and pesticides."

The training also included sessions on the "Field of Genes" curriculum. These sessions consisted of activities that youth performed to learn about biotechnology and gave them ideas to teach the concepts after they return home from the training.

For more information on 4-H programs and activities, contact the Oklahoma 4-H office at 405-744-8885, visit the Oklahoma 4-H website at http://agweb.okstate.edu/fourh/ or contact your local Cooperative Extension office.

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