Agriscience Component

Youth Exploring Science

Kerry Stevison supervises the Agriscience component and is the Manager of STEaM Content for the Community Science Department.

The Agriscience component investigates the nexus of health, the environment, and agriculture. Teens work with a variety of subject matter experts to do projects related to the expert’s research. Topics include hydroponics, biochemistry, and gene editing. In addition, teens learn about careers and technology in agriculture.  For example, Agriscience teens program our Farmbot to conduct experiments on plants. Teens learn to use healthy food and access to nature as preventive medicine.  They work with chefs to harvest and cook the produce they grow in gardens, and they teach nutrition to younger children.  Knowing how to cook healthy food has a greater impact than access to healthy food in underserved populations. 

Interesting Facts

  • Agriculture employs more than 24 million American workers; this is 17% of the workforce.
  • Agriculture is the largest employer in the world. It’s not just farmers—it’s geneticists, marketers, animal and plant breeders, nutritionists, ecologists, and more.
  • In the US alone, over 50,000 jobs in agriculture are available per year, but there aren’t enough qualified graduates to fill the vacancies. 
  • Many agriculture careers, such as biochemist and environmental engineer, have an average annual salary of over $80,000 per year.

How to Extract Strawberry DNA

In this easy science experiment, Lauren shows us how to extract DNA from a strawberry using common household materials.

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  • Litzsinger Road Ecology Center (LREC), part of the Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Growing Great
  • Saint Louis University – Parks College of Aviation
  • Greenleaf Market
  • Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)

More about the Component

The Agriscience teens help children combat nature deficit disorder at the Litzsinger Road Ecology Center as they explore the woodland, prairie and creek in the summer.  A great deal of research shows that spending time in nature has major effects on health.  It can lower blood pressure and the risk of type II diabetes, support the immune system, reduce premature death and preterm birth, and help people recover from surgery faster.  In addition to physical benefits, there are also mental/emotional effects.  Spending time in nature improves ADHD symptoms, alleviates depression and anxiety, and even increases people’s willingness to help a stranger.  In children, time in nature builds confidence, improves focus, calms them, and may even help reduce bullying.  The Agriscience teens are engaged in positive solutions to serious issues about food and nature and will bring change to their communities regarding these issues.

Easy to grow plants

Our challenges in Agriscience

  • In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30 to 40% of the food supply.
  • Agriculture, forestry and land-use change contributed around 20 to 25% of global annual emissions in 2010, which adds to climate change.
  • There are 9 St. Louis City and 22 St. Louis County census tracts that qualify as food deserts, with residents living at least 1 mile from a grocery store.
  • In addition to food access and environmental issues, there are many health and animal rights issues involved in agriculture.

Quick and Easy Gardening


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