Hands-on learning prepared youths to develop action plans to address local challenges.


COLUMBIA, Mo. – Fourteen young innovators of tomorrow from Missouri – Luke Baugh, Brooke Cureton, Darrel Douglas, Sa’Maya Griffin, Ashlynn Hampton, Aaliyah Higgs, Keelan Jackson, Amara Johnson, Miles Neely, Harlan Pedigo, Hope Pedigo, Lily Rucker, Dallas Tumbas and Mekhi Willis Howard – recently honed their agri-science, health and STEM skills at Ignite by 4-H in Washington, D.C.

Over three days, the teens participated in sessions focused on precision agriculture, food security, hydroponics, biotechnology, STEM, health and fitness. With support from industry leaders, youths were able to build skills and knowledge and explore careers in STEM, agri-science and health. The teens also got to meet youths from all over the U.S. and explore the Smithsonian Institution and monuments throughout Washington.

Aaliyah, from Wayne County, said, “Ignite by 4-H was one of my best experiences I’ve ever had. I got to learn new things like creating an app and trying new things to help me branch out of my comfort zone. This year was my second year and I can’t wait until next year!”

As part of the program, the teens also developed Lead to Change projects, which they will implement throughout the year to help their communities. Plans include starting community gardens to fight food insecurity; providing classes and events to connect youths and the community to local farmers and growers; and creating a book of poems, art and stories about the effects of gun violence on teens to help those who may feel like they are dealing with it on their own.

The 2023 Ignite by 4-H was supported by a number of sponsors, including Bayer, Google, Nutrien and the Walmart Foundation.

About Missouri 4-H

Missouri 4-H is an active, dynamic organization of young people who are learning, growing and preparing to be the leaders of today and tomorrow – making a real difference in their community, country and world. 4-H is the youth development program of the University of Missouri and the nation’s Cooperative Extension System. For more information on Missouri 4-H, visit 4h.missouri.edu.