Agricultural Weed Identification for 4-H Communities

Worksite Location
CCE Erie office
Project Dates
June 1st - August 15th
Faculty Sponsor
Antonio DiTommaso, SIPS - Soil and Crop Sciences
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
Caroline Marschner, Invasive Species Specialist
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Sharon Bachman, CCE Erie County
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

The purpose of the internship is to work with Cornell's Agricultural Weed ID Network to develop training and outreach materials on weed identification and management for 4-H youth and families. Weeds are a growing problem for New York farmers, particularly with the arrival of two aggressive herbicide-resistant weeds, Palmer amaranth and waterhemp. Weed identification is a great way to teach detailed observation skills and critical thinking, and can significantly benefit 4-H families. This project would extend the weed identification information being developed by the Weed ID Network into the 4-H realm through survey of existing materials, survey of current weed knowledge of 4-H youth and families, and development of training courses/games and outreach materials for use throughout the New York 4-H network. The materials will be tested at 2020 county fairs in coordination with the Erie and surrounding county 4-H programs, and presented to the 4-H PWT. 

The student will be fully supported from both campus and county collaborators. The campus mentor will meet weekly or bi-weekly with the student and county collaborator, and will attend one of the county fair events. The county collaborator and 4-H educator will guide the student through the data collection process, and both county and campus mentors will provide advice and feedback on material development. The intended outcome is a 4-H short course curriculum for weed identification with supporting outreach materials, tailored to New York's problem agricultural weeds and difficult-to-identify weed complexes.

Roles and Responsibilities

The student will develop curriculum and 4-H outreach materials for agricultural weed issues. In the first five weeks, the student will develop a tablet-based survey for 4-H youths and family members, which will ask about agricultural weed identification and farm weed concerns. They will survey regional 4-H educators about incorporation of weed ID education in their youth programs and what additional materials they would like to have available. They will develop a 4-H youth ‘contest’ on weed science, and a training material tool kit for 4-H livestock educators. 

In the second five weeks, the student will test their materials at various 4-H fairs and events, and develop an engaging way to work with youth on the materials, potentially a training course/game that could either be used as an activity at a pre-fair training or be used at a fair. The student will also work regionally, possibly in most of CCE Erie's shared business network. At the end of the internship, the student will have a package of outreach materials and curriculum that can be shared with other 4-H programs around the state. The student will be also complete work needed for the CCE internship, i.e. blog, poster, etc. Either the student or the campus/county coordinators will connect with the 4-H PWT to share those materials.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Coursework in plant identification (botany, weed science, etc)

Coursework or experience in communications/public outreach

Benefits and Skills

Curriculum development
Engagement of youth and adult extension audience
Development of training and outreach materials
Deeper knowledge of weed identification and weed ecology
Participation in county fairs
Familiarity with County Cooperative Extension mission and function; access to committee and board meetings, etc.