Zamorano students making 4-S kits
Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural University partnered with six local schools, the University of Georgia and The Ohio State University in a pilot project to deliver 4-S (4-H) youth development programs to 180 students in the Yeguare Valley.
The home-based agriculture project concluded on December 4 with a Virtual 4-S Fair. The participating schools included CEB Jose Cecilio del Valle, Instituto Porfirio Lobo Sosa, Instituto Alejandro Flores, Instituto Pedro Nufio, Instituto Reynaldo Salinas and the Alison Bixby Stone School.
The fair featured video presentations from each school, awards, and recognition of each student participant. The excitement was infectious as students proudly showcased their produce and saw themselves in on-screen presentations. The students were also recognized by Georgia 4-H members who congratulated them via video and encouraged their continued participation.
Gardening is a skill that students can use for the rest of their lives to eat healthy and have fun,” said Ashley Shunk, one of the Zamorano team program organizers and a teacher at the participating Alison Bixby Stone School. ¨I love that so many students turned this project into an exciting family activity. I am still receiving amazing photos from the students of the dishes that they are making at home,”
The project launched in the summer of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic was forcing students around the world into remote learning situations, including those in Honduras. Zamorano had already been working with the six schools to offer 4-S to their students. As the planning team pivoted to meet pandemic-related restrictions, each school identified 30 students to take part
in the pilot project. The objectives were to give students hands-on experiences in plant production, soil preparation, use of fertilizers and compost, and to promote development of critical thinking, analytical and communication skills.
In August, students received a kit containing all materials required to complete the 13-week program. Each kit included vegetable seeds, pencils, pencil sharpeners, rulers, compost and self-guided educational booklets. First year students at Zamorano helped organize and label individual seed packets and other materials for the kits. Zamorano personnel and volunteers helped distribute the kits and compost to each school.
During the program students posted photos of their progress and communicated with their teachers for support. They learned how to cultivate coriander, radishes, beans, and squash from seed, collected and recorded scientific data, and learned about plant and human nutrition. They were exposed to different careers and scientific connections in agriculture and practiced presentation and communication skills. They also produced beautiful vegetables and learned how to prepare the vegetables in a tasty recipe for their families.
Zamorano organizers Julio López and Marjorie Mayr shared their enthusiasm for the program. Mayr said, “We are also grateful for the role that Jean and Rob Fowler played in establishing and supporting this collaboration. They are long-time friends of Zamorano’s equestrian program, and we are excited to work with them in in this new way to promote education and opportunities for young people in Honduras.
“We believe that this is only the beginning. Moving forward we hope to expand the number of schools served through this program, and believe that it has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of students, their families, and their communities.”
Jason Estep, 4-H Extension Specialist at the University of Georgia, shared their enthusiasm. “The students have much to be proud of!” Estep said. “Hopefully, the success of this endeavor will lead us to explore other ways to work together with Honduran educators to deliver 4-S programming to their youth, even as the pandemic continues.