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Science of Agriculture

The 4-H Science of Agriculture will engage youth in exploring and developing science-based solutions to agricultural problems they have identified in their communities. 4-Hers, 6th grade-12th grade, will work on teams of 3-4 youth. Participants will attend a statewide event to present their 4-H Science of Agriculture projects, which will be evaluated by a panel of industry and university judges. The team with the highest scores at the end of the event will be recognized and each member of the team will receive $1,000 scholarship for any college, university, or accredited trade school. Youth will also have a chance to connect with representatives from the University and agribusiness community, who are eager to meet the next generation of leaders in agriculture and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).


Through “hands on” 4-H agriculture, science, technology, engineering, and math learning experiences, youth will:

  • Get excited about and interested in agriculture and STEM.
  • Have a greater understanding and knowledge of food production and its importance in our economy and world.
  • Gain 21st Century skills, including technology, health, business and economic literacy, critical thinking, problem solving, initiative and self-direction.
  • Consider and connect with agricultural-related studies at the university level while being exposed to and exploring future careers in agriculture.

Events & Deadlines

  • August-October: Informing the Community 
    Information about the Challenge will be shared with 4-H clubs, youth, families, and volunteers
  • August-October 15: Team Registration
  • February/March: Regional Events 
    Regional events: Teams will be required to participate at one regional event. The events will serve as an opportunity for teams to practice their presentation and receive feedback from a panel of judges so that they can better prepare for the state contest. Teams must participate at the regional event in order to progress to the state contest. The dates and locations of the regional events are to be determined.
  • March/April: Community Presentations 
    Teams give their presentations locally (at least 2 times) to agricultural groups, at club meetings, community forums, etc.
  • April 1: State Event Team Registration Deadline
    Final registration for teams wanting to participate in the state event. Teams must complete the team registration form. A link to the form will appear here when active. Registration for the State Event is $100 per team, which covers meals and other expenses for members and one coach.
  • May 1: State Event Judge and Career Fair Registration Deadline 
    Final registration for volunteer judges and career fair participants. A link to the registration form will appear here when active.
  • May 20: State Science of Agriculture Challenge Event
    The State Science of Agriculture Challenge event at South Dakota State University campus. Youth will give their presentation to panels of industry representatives while competing for scholarships. Youth will also attend workshops, go on campus tours, and participate in a College and Career Fair. At the conclusion of the event, there will be an awards luncheon where all youth will be recognized and scholarships will be awarded.


All Science of Agriculture Content

Teen boy and adult male reviewing specimens under magnifying glass.

Science of Agriculture - Quick Start Guide

This Quick Start Guide is adapted from the University of Minnesota 4-H Science of Agriculture Response Challenge Guide which was modeled after one from FIRST® LEGO® League. This guide is meant to help navigate the complete Science of Agriculture program; from recruiting team members all the way through celebrating at the end of the season, this guide contains suggestions to help along the way.

4-H STEM, Youth Agriculture, Youth Science, Science of Agriculture

Teen boy and adult male reviewing specimens under magnifying glass.

Science of Agriculture Potential Topics and Mentors

To aid in the development of future Science of Agriculture teams, SDSU Extension Field Specialists assisted with the compilation of the following topics. Please utilize the lists below when promoting the Science of Agriculture with 4-H youth.

4-H STEM, Youth Agriculture, Youth Science, Science of Agriculture

screened image of South Dakota State University campus with News text

4-H Science of Agriculture Response Challenge

January 10, 2019

Enrollment is now open for the South Dakota 4-H Science of Agriculture program. The Science of Agriculture program and contest is designed to expose youth in grades 6-12 to the research process. Winning team members each receive a $1,000 scholarship.

4-H STEM, Science of Agriculture

Winner High School 4-H Science of Agriculture Team

Teens Answer Questions Through Research & Compete in Science of Agriculture Event

January 10, 2019

South Dakota teens applied research methods to answer real-world questions impacting our state's number one industry of agriculture through SDSU Extension 4-H Science of Agriculture project.

4-H STEM, Science of Agriculture