Are you a current 7th-11th grader or connected with one?

Interested in how new technologies can help feed the world and solve agriculture’s challenges? 

Want to build your skills and gain valuable experience that can make your college application stronger?

Please be invited to join us as we launch the UVM AgroTek Innovation Program!

We invite current 7-11th graders to join us for immersive research experiences in agrotechnology.   Through topic-focused Science Cafes, Summer Academies, and Innovation Slams, participants will have an opportunity to learn from UVM faculty, staff and students, conduct their own experiments and share their findings!

As the program launches in 2022, participants will have an opportunity to conduct experiments using an inquiry-based approach to explore four innovative agrotechnology curricula: culturing cells for healthier soils, shifting the waste to value paradigm, creating smarter plastics with plants and using virtual reality for more precise agriculture.  

Top 10 Reasons to Take Part in AgroTek

  1. It's a week-long residential experience built around a deep dive into interesting and timely science and technology content.

  2. Students will meet researchers, build relationships with undergraduate mentors and get to experience UVM laboratories and campus.

  3. Academies include presentations and field trips to off-campus business and community partners with the likes of Generator, GameTheory and more.

  4. Academies can support personalized learning plans and other school or graduation requirements.  

  5. The week will include opportunities to explore a vibrant Burlington (while supervised) in the summer, socialize and recreate.

  6. UVM Extension 4-H is providing supervision and planning and will be onsite supporting students throughout their time here.

  7. Only 12 slots are available per academy, helping provide a high-quality and focused learning experience.

  8. Students will work in small teams to create a final outreach project that will then be presented back on campus for our one day AgroTek Innovation Slam event on August 5. 

  9. It will be fun!

  10. It's free!

AgroTek FAQs

What is the program?

A week-long residential experience on UVM campus June 26 - July 1, 2022, followed by group work and research and then required participation in the AgroTek Slam on August 5 on UVM Campus.

How much will it cost?

Thanks to funding from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, the program is completely free for participants.

What will students be learning?

In the "Culturing Cells for Healthier Soils" Summer Academy, students will spend the week with Dr. Eric Bishop von Wettberg and his team. They’ll head into the lab and into the field to learn about the root systems and associated microbes of the “three sisters,” beans, squash, and corn, which are the foundation of much Indigenous agriculture.  And they’ll learn valuable laboratory skills, including a variety of histochemical approaches and how to extract microbial DNA and evaluate a greenhouse experiment with diverse accessions of beans, to assess variation in root traits and rhizobial association.

In" Shifting the Waste to Value Paradigm," the group will spend the week with Steve Kostell and his team to learn about ways to turn agricultural waste into sustainable products and sources of income for local farmers.  Participants will engage in hands-on Design Thinking, a process where they can use humility, reflection and critical thinking.  Together they’ll practice the skills needed to respond to community needs, and to assess an innovation’s impact (positive and negative) and revise as needed. Our emphasis will be on the human processes needed for successful design innovation across approaches of waste-to-value bioproducts.

What about equity and inclusion? 

Our goal is an event in which young people can experience fun, learning and a sense of belonging.  We will focus on safety and comfort, community-building, and plenty of downtime for students to get to know each other and to take care of themselves. Depending on the group, we will offer affinity space for any who might wish it.

How will they spend their time?

Each day will include meals together, group activities in the lab or in the field, some down time, project work and an evening program.  (See the draft

What are the sleeping arrangements?

Our plans are for each student to have a single room in a UVM dormitory.

Who will be supervising the students?

Professional, trained 4-H staff who have all undergone background checks, in addition to UVM teaching faculty and their graduate students.

My student would benefit from disability accommodations or has other needs to be able to fully participate and succeed.  Who can I talk to about accommodations?

We will do everything we can to help all participants have a successful and fun experience.  Contact Liz Kenton to set up a time to discuss your family's needs.

What's the application deadline?

April 1, 2022

What is the total time commitment for the students and their families?

In addition to the full week June 26 - July 1, students will engage in virtual group work and then  return to campus for the AgroTek Slam on August 5 to present their projects. These are all part of the program and required for participants.

What about Covid safety?

Residential participants will need to be fully vaccinated. If a medical or religious exemption is desired, please email sarah.kleinman@uvm.edu  We will follow state and campus guidelines and make any necessary pivots to keep our participants, instructors and staff safe. 

We're interested but would like to learn more before committing. What's a good way to learn more about these topics?

Check out the recordings of the VTeen Science Cafes (Cells to Society from 1/27/22 here, and Waste to Value from 2/9/22 here) to learn more about the topics and what will be offered.

Learn More about the Culturing Cells for Healthier Soils Summer Academy, June 25 - June 30, 2023

Come to UVM campus June 25 – June 30 to learn with Dr. Eric Bishop von Wettberg and his team. During a (FREE!) residential week, we’ll spend time in the field and the laboratory to learn about the root systems and associated microbes of perennial agricultural systems. You will learn a variety of approaches for measuring microbial diversity and abundance, about new sustainable cropping systems, and cutting-edge tools for measuring the half of plants that occurs belowground.

Participants will examine the root systems and associated microbes of kernza, a new grain crop bred from Intermediate wheatgrass, a perennial relative of wheat. As a perennial, kernza only needs to be planted once, giving a crop in subsequent years without plowing or soil disturbance. With root systems over six feet deep, kernza is incredibly drought tolerant, able to grow with little fertilizer, and able to sequester atmospheric carbon deep into soils. At UVM we are performing trials to look at the performance of kernza in intercropping setting with alfalfa, a perennial legume that gives a protein-rich hay due to an association with nitrogen-fixing bacteria in root nodules. We will provide participants tools to look at root system structure and microbial diversity in soils. Students will examine alfalfa nodules, small root organs in legumes that host nitrogen-fixing rhizobacteria. Nodules turn pink when they are physiologically active with leghemoglobin, as they exclude oxygen to facilitate the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia. Participants will measure root systems using high-resolution imaging software, examine nodules microscopically and determine the influence of microbial symbionts on above-ground plant phenotypes.

Learn More about the Shifting the Waste to Value Paradigm Summer Academy, June 25 - June 30, 2023

Come to UVM campus to learn with Steve Kostell and his team about ways to turn agricultural waste into sustainable products and sources of income for local farmers. During a (FREE!) residential week, participants will engage in hands-on Design Thinking, a process where they can use humility, reflection and critical thinking. Together they’ll practice the skills needed to respond to community needs, and to assess an innovation’s impact (positive and negative) and revise as needed. Our emphasis will be on the human processes needed for successful design innovation across approaches of waste-to-value bioproducts.

Curious to learn more? Check out the recording of the February 9 Science Cafe to get a taste of the topic.

 

For more information or to apply to the 2022 Summer Academies email Sarah Kleinman or Scott Lewins.