Plants, Bugs, and Soils
Kid in Tree
4-H Presentation Program

4-H Presentation Program

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Presentations give youth the chance to explore stories about plants, soils and bugs that interest them! Stalk the elusive, parasitic piratebush, grow your own hobbit house, create a collection of soil crayons from across the state, the possibilities are limitless!

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The North Carolina 4-H Presentation Program gives youth the chance to explore and share topics that really interests them.

* Do you have soil erosion on your favorite hiking trail?
* How would you grow peanuts to make peanut butter?
* Why don’t tomatoes survive North Carolina winters? Or can they?
* Why do stinkbugs stink?

There are many opportunities to present these ideas in your local county, district-wide, at state congress and even in some cases on a national level!  For more specifics on regulations and guidelines visit the state 4-H website.  Click on the presentation header for presentation guidelines as well as some topic starters for a presentation.

Bugs and Bees
• Build an insect collection
• Show how an assassin bug sucks its prey
• Demonstrate the metamorphosis of swallowtail butterfly
• Extract honey from a hive
Crop Production and Utilization
• Create a corn maze to get lost in
• Research biofuels using corn, sweet potatoes or other important NC crops
• Create a permaculture garden
• Scout a local farm and inventory the pests present

Horticulture Production & Marketing*
• Determine strategies for selling organic flowers at a farmer’s market
• Grow the flowers for the farmer’s market and sell them
• Collect and propagate seed of native wildflowers in your area
• Tour a tissue culture lab and learn about micropropagation

• Make a secret garden hideaway
• Build a self-sufficient treehouse with hydroponic containers
• Create an edible landscape for your school
• Evaluate the best beans for a teepee

Artistic Arrangement*
• Design edible place favors
• Create a corsage for your favorite person using herbs
• Make a wreath using all natural materials
• Build a fairy crown using leaves from your favorite plant

Soil, Water and the Environment
• Build a hiking trail through a carnivorous bog
• Map soil erosion in your neighborhood
• Float a boat after it rains to find the stormwater runoff pathway
• Build a groundwater pollution model

*Winners participating in the marked categories are eligible to attend the annual National Junior Horticultural Association’s convention. Winners in the categories Peanut Foods and Fruit & Vegetable Use are also eligible. See the 4-H Awards Handbook for more information.

General Information

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Beekeeping Essay Contest

Beekeeping Essay Contest

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Honey bees are hardworking, tirelessly gathering nectar and pollen to share with their hive.  They provide a vital ecological service by pollinating agricultural, garden and native plants.  Explore more about these fascinating insects by participating in the North Carolina 4-H Beekeeping Essay contest. The essay provides a platform for youth to creatively express their working knowledge and research of the craft of beekeeping.

2018 Beekeeping Topic: “What’s So Super About the Super Organism in the Honey Bee?”

The honey bee continues to be on everyone’s mind. From beekeepers to scientists to the public, the honey bee is a great super organism. What does this mean to you, to your community and to the world? Put on your thinking caps and GO! (please do not reference Albert Einstein in your work)

The scope of the research is an essential judging criterion, accounting for 40% of your score. The number of sources consulted, the authority of the sources, and the variety of the sources are all evaluated.

Personal interviews with beekeepers and others familiar with the subject are valued sources of information and should be documented. Sources, which are not cited in the endnotes, should be listed in a “Resources” or “Bibliography” list.

Note that “honey bee” is properly spelled as two words, even though many otherwise authoritative references spell it as one word.


The state beekeeping essay follows the rules laid out by the national contest sponsored by the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees. The state winner is awarded $50 and is submitted to the national contest.  The national essay awards cash prizes to the top three winners; 1st Place—$750.00, 2nd Place—$500.00, 3rd Place—$250.00. Each State Winner, including the national winners, receives an appropriate book about honey bees, beekeeping, or honey.

All state essays should be saved with the following file name format: “Lastname_firstname-beekeeping essay” and submitted electronically to Liz Driscoll by March 1st, 2018. The 2018 essay is due ELECTRONICALLY to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by March 1st, 2018 at 5PM.

image of honey bee frame with capped brood cells


1. Contest is open to active 4-H Club members only. 4-H’ers who have previously placed first, second, or third at the national level are not eligible; but other state winners are eligible to re-enter.

2. Requirements (failure to meet any one requirement disqualifies the essay) -
  - Write on the designated subject only.
  - All factual statements must be referenced with bibliographical-style endnotes.
  - A brief biographical sketch of the essayist, including date of birth, gender, complete mailing address, email and telephone number, must accompany the essay.
  - Length: 750 to 1000 words. Note: Youth that are in the 9-10 age category, only need to write an essay that is between 400-500 words.
  - The word count does not include the endnotes, the bibliography or references, nor the essayist’s biographical sketch – which should be on a separate page.
  - Prepare your essays double-spaced, 12-pt. Times or similar type style, following standard manuscript format. Submit as a Microsoft Word compatible document.

3. Essays will be judged on (a) scope of research - 40%; (b) accuracy - 30%; (c) creativity - 10%; (d) conciseness - 10%; and (e) logical development of the topic - 10%.

4. NC 4-H youth will compete in the following age divisions; 1). 9-10 2). 11-13 and 3). 14-18. Youth awarded first in the 9-10 and 11-13 category will recieve $25 each. Youth in the 14-18 age category will recieve $50
and their winning essay will be sent on to the national competition. Youth can only place first one time within an age category.

I5. ndividual essayists should not forward essays directly to the Foundation office. Each state 4-H Office is responsible for selecting the state’s winner
and should set its deadline so state judging can be completed at the state level in time for the winning state essay to be mailed to the Foundation
office before March 9th, 2018. No essay received after March 9th, 2018 will be considered.

6. Each state may submit only one entry to the national competition.

7. Final judging and selection of the National Winner will be made by the Foundation’s Essay Committee, whose decision is final.

8. The National Winner will be announced the week of May 7th, 2018.

9. All National entries become the property of the Foundation and may be published or used as it sees fit. No essay will be returned. National winning
essays will be posted at the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey bees 4-H Essay website.

honey bee

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Cultivate: Crop Science Fall Weekend

Cultivate: Crop Science Fall Weekend

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High school-aged youth (sophomores, juniors and seniors) are invited to apply to a weekend, residential Crop Science experience on the campus of NC State University. Youth will have hands-on opportunities to explore a broad range of agronomic possibilities from breeding and enhancing crops, learning sustainable production practices and delving into practical tools that enhance our understanding of plant processes. We will visit a couple of farms, turf facilities and meet with industry professionals. Youth will also be introduced to careers, college-making decisions and leadership development and enjoy evening entertainment and team-building activities.

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NC State University, workshops at Williams Hall on main campus and at research field labs. Housing will be at WolfRidge Apartments on Centennial Campus.

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FoodCorps North Carolina

FoodCorps North Carolina

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One in four U.S. children struggles with hunger, while one in three is obese or overweight. Much of North Carolina faces statistics even more alarming than these national numbers. NC is ranked as the 10th most obese state in the US and the 2nd most food insecure.

Schools are poised to be the front lines in our nation’s response to childhood obesity: 32 million children eat school food–the source of half their calories–180 days of the year. What we feed our children, and what we teach them about food in school shapes how they learn, how they grow and how long they will live.

Enter FoodCorps.

FoodCorps is a national non-profit addressing the epidemic of nutrition-related diseases facing our children through:
〮Hands-on nutrition education
〮Hands-on school gardening
〮Increased local food pathways to school cafeterias.

Through the partnership between 4-H and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, North Carolina is one of 10 states to help launch this Americorps-modeled program. Along with North Carolina, the host states in 2013-2014 include; Arkansas, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Oregan.

We envision a NC where children know what healthy food is, how it grows, and where it comes from, and who have access to it every single day. We envision children who are knowledgeable about the agricultural roots of our state. These children, immersed in a healthy food environment at a young age, will learn better, live longer, and liberate their generation from diet-related diseases.

We also envision a bright future for our service members: emerging leaders who will move on from FoodCorps to become farmers, chefs, educators and public health professionals. Armed with the skills to improve school food, these leaders will go on to improve the whole food system. We envision a world in which affordable, fair, healthy food is expected and enjoyed by all.

FoodCorps Service Members are highly motivated individuals who spend a year-long term of modestly paid public service in high need communities. FoodCorps also invests heavily in service members’ professional development. Rather than creating a new national infrastructure and imposing a one-size-fits-all solution from the top down, FoodCorps identifies local organizations that are already doing effective work on the ground, then arms these part- ners with the human resources necessary to increase their impact.

NC FoodCorps places motivated leaders in limited-resource communities for a year of public service. Working under the direction of local partners including Agricultural Extension offices as well as local non-profit organizations, all who work directly with schools in their district, we implement a three-ingredient recipe for healthy kids:

1. Educating through hands-on food and nutrition education using a variety of curricula and offering healthy food through snack programs, garden activities, and cooking classes/clubs;

2. Engaging with curriculum-based school garden programs where children learn, understand, and directly experience the health and wellness benefits of sustainable growing practices, and where garden teams bring parents and volunteers into a partnership with schools for sustainable programs;

3. Increasing Access by facilitating farm to cafeteria pathways through direct sourcing of local, sustainably grown produce into cafeterias; and supporting NCDA’s Farm-to-School distribution.

Additionally in NC we wish to leverage FoodCorps as a tool to build Farm to School capacity—not only in our FoodCorps NC service sites—but across the whole of our state.

We also hope to encourage NC emerging leaders to choose a year in FoodCorps service as a stepping stone into careers where they can immerse themselves in the food system providing direct action here at home in NC as well as in across the country in other FoodCorps states.

FoodCorps in NC is supported at large by the NC Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, as well as through additional grants and donations from WK Kellogg, the North Carolina Master Gardener Volunteer Association, and many funders at the local site level.

For more information, contact the FoodCorps NC Program Co-Coordinators:
Liz Driscoll, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, 4-H, NCSU: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Tes Thraves, The Center for Environmental Farming Systems, NCSU: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

General Information

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Horticultural Science Summer Institute

Horticultural Science Summer Institute

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Group photo HSSI 2015
The 2018 Horticultural Science Summer Institute is July 8-13th on the campus of NC State University. The application for the 2018 Institute is now open, please apply at

High school students are invited to spend a week at NC State University climbing trees, grafting tomatoes, snacking on raspberries, discovering new genes and so much more. The Horticultural Science Summer Institute is a residential, hands-on, pre-college program designed to engage youth into the many career opportunities within horticulture. Students will dig into workshops led by faculty, staff and students on topics ranging from breeding bet-ter vegetables, propagating ornamental shrubs, lengthening the life of cut flowers, learning sustainable production and design practices and delving into practical tools that enhance our understanding of plant processes. Students will visit unique and innovative North Carolina farms, markets, greenhouses and gardens.  Youth will also explore college-making decisions and leadership development, enjoy evening entertainment and team-building activities, live in a campus residence hall with campus dining. The camp provides a close-knit forum for high school students across the state (and country) to gather together and broaden their interest and knowledge about horticulture.

Any high school student with a career or hobby interest within the field of agriculture and horticulture are encouraged to apply to the summer institute. The cost for the week is $550 and includes on-campus lodging in the dorms, most meals, field trips, workshop materials, and entertainment. There may be some scholarships for underserved youth and participants with financial need, or payment plans can be arranged. Please contact Liz Driscoll, program coordinator at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | cell: (919) 886-3424 | office (919) 513-7346 for more information. Applications are due April 15th, 2018 and notification of acceptance will follow shortly thereafter. 

Read all about the inaugural (2012) Horticultural Science Summer Institute!

students cross pollinating petunias

taking cuttings

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NC State University, Raleigh, North Carolina

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NC State Fair Insect Collection

NC State Fair Insect Collection

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Bugs are just cool. Show off your insect collecting skills by building a collection to enter in the state fair insect collection. Just a few rules to get you started:


Age Divisions
• Cloverbuds 5-8 years (All youth will receive a ribbon only for entering.)
• Junior 9-13 years
• Senior 14-18 years

Rules and Regulations
The entrant should be currently enrolled in the North Carolina 4-H Program. Those planning to exhibit should submit form to State Fair Entry Office by date assigned in premium book. The display boxes can range between 8.5 - 25 inches wide and 6.5 X 19 inches high and have a glass or plexiglass cover. Collections are best displayed when mounted along the horizontal axis. The collection must be the work of the exhibitor(s). Winning first place eliminates the insect collection from further competition in this class.

Criteria for Judging
• General appearance and neatness of arrangement.
• Care in preparation of the insects key
• Correct placement and completeness of labels
• Number of orders and specimens of insects correctly identified
• Insects collected by someone other than the 4-H’er are acceptable, if pinned, labeled, and mounted by the 4-H’er. The true collector’s name should be on the label.The majority of the insects must be collected by the 4-H’er.

• All cloverbuds receive a ribbon only.
• Junior & Senior: 1st - $50, 2nd - $20, 3rd - $10, 4th & 5th - $5

Class 6: 4-H Entomology - SPECIAL STUDY or EXHIBIT

Age Divisions
• Cloverbuds (5-8 years)
• Junior (9-13 years)
• Senior (14-18 years)

Rules and Regulations
The entrant should be currently enrolled in the North Carolina 4-H Program. Those planning to exhibit should submit form to State Fair Entry Office by date assigned in premium book. The display boxes can range between 8.5 - 25 inches wide and 6.5 X 19 inches high and have a glass or plexiglass cover. Collections are best displayed when mounted along the horizontal axis. The collection must be the work of the exhibitor(s). Winning first place eliminates the insect collection from further competition in this class. Material in this class may consist of insect specimens, damage, nests, control procedures, pertinent written statements or description, etc. It should tell a story about some central theme or objective.

Criteria for Judging
• General appearance and neatness of arrangement
• Care in preparation of the insects
• Scientific, educational, and artistic merit
• Adherence to a central theme or objective

Prizes :
• All cloverbuds will receive an entrant ribbon, only.
• Junior & Senior: 1st - $50, 2nd - $20, 3rd - $10, 4th & 5th - $5


NC State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, NC

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Project PLANTS

Project PLANTS

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Join us for a middle school science summer camp that rolls into a yearlong (and more!) afterschool 4-H club!

July 25-29th, 2016
8:30 am - 4:30 pm
JC Raulston Arbroretum

Project PLANTS (Planting Leaders in Agriculture and Nature Through Science) is a two part program that immerses students in an intensive one week summer program broadening their knowledge of horticultural sciences and an after-school program that extends their exploration through the school year.  Activities during the summer will build upon the rising seventh grade students’ knowledge from their sixth grade studies and strengthen their critical thinking, scientific inquiry, and scientific research abilities.  In addition to increasing their attitude toward the sciences, the program aims to foster connections between students and higher-level education institutions and the industry.  Students will participate in hands-on learning that weaves life skills development into the sciences and research.  The summer experience will generate a research project for each student to develop and conduct during the school year with guidance from mentors and participation in an after school 4-H club (transportation can be provided).  The culminating event will be a Garden Symposium where students present their research alongside researchers from universities, public gardens, and the industry.

Rising seventh grade students will be chosen through a process involving self-nomination and teacher recommendation.  Students participating in Project PLANTS will have shown an aptitude and interest in the biological sciences.  University professors, staff, grad students, and community volunteers will make up the mentors and instructors helping to provide the summer experience as well as the school year programming. Overall, Project PLANTS is a program designed to increase students’ excitement for the sciences, elevate students’ image of horticulture from gardening to the dynamic scientific field it truly is, and connect middle school students to higher level education opportunities and industry in the state.

The cost of the program is $20 with financial assistance available.

Apply now: Here!
For more information call or email the program coordinator, Sarah Dinger (914) 815-5226 / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This project is a collaboration between the JC Raulston Arboretum, NC Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Grow For It program, the Department of Horticultural Science and generously supported by a student science enrichment program grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.


Get Started

Sign Up Here!


NC State University, JC Raulston Arboretum

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Resource Conservation Workshop

Resource Conservation Workshop

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The Resource Conservation Workshop is a weeklong intensive study and hands on conservation workshop requiring student application and participation in a wide range of conservation topics.  The workshop is intended to engage students to learn about natural resources and their management in today’s environment. Students participate in field study, tours, hands-on sessions as well as evening activities that focus on college-decision making and career decisions.  Awards and scholarships are won and presented to the students under several awards programs.

The Resource Conservation Workshop students stay on campus at NC State in dormitories and attend workshop sessions in Williams Hall, Lake Wheeler Soils Field Lab as well as field studies at Falls Lake State Recreation Area and Clemmons State Educational Forest in Clayton.

The Resource Conservation Workshop is sponsored by the N.C. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in conjunction with the Hugh Hammond Bennett Chapter - Soil and Water Conservation Society of America, N.C. Soil and Water Conservation Commission, Division of Soil and Water Conservation and the Soil Science Department of N.C. State University.

Measuring Turbidity

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Program participants are selected through their local Soil and Water Conservation District. Contact your local SWCD district in January of each year to find out their application process and dates. To find your SWCD visit here.

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Program Files

Share this flyer with your 4-H friends and invite them to submit a insect collection to the state fair!View PDF

Find all the supplies you need to start your collecting adventure!View PDF

Use this guide as a starting point for learning how to correctly pin and label adult insects in your collection.View PDF

This resource details how to collect and identify insects for your collection.View PDF

This is an old reference, but includes some good illustrations of common insectsView PDF


Program Files

A two-page handout that details summarizes the 4-H Beekeeping Essay Contest. Feel free to distribute widely!View PDF

Program Files

Peruse an overview of the schedule of what you might do at the Resource Conservation WorkshopView PDF

Love soils? Think wildlife is super? This is a list of all the RCW professionals. RCW alum - feel free to contact us!View PDF

Watch a snapshot of the RCW program, created by the Durham SWCD.View PDF


Program Files


Program Files

Read the FoodCorps NC winter newsletter to find out all the interesting projects across the state!View PDF

Program description of the FoodCorps North Carolina ProgramView PDF

PBS's Food Forward features Warren County's FoodCorps service member, Caroline Stover as she connects local farms to local schools and kids!View PDF

Watch the students at Aberdeen Elementary with FoodCorps Good Food Sandhills grow!View PDF

Shawna Fink's 3rd grade class in the Aberdeen Elementary School GardenView PDF


Program Files

Download the Cultivate program announcement and share with any youth that may be interested!View PDF

Apply for the Cultivate Crop Science Weekend today! Registration is $40. Download a preview of the application, but please apply online at:View PDF

2014 Cultivate program schedule - includes workshops, field trips and logistics.View PDF

Program Files


Program Files

For a preview of the horticultural adventures that await, download the schedule from last summer (2017) here. View PDF

Please apply online, but download the application and mail it in if you prefer.View PDF

Download this flyer for print or digital distribution.View PDF

Download this brochure for a colorful description of the HSSI program. Feel free to hand out to interested youth!View PDF


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