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Monthly 4-H Ag & Food Systems Program Ideas

Agriculture &
Food Systems

The New York State 4-H Agriculture and Food Systems program engages youth and families in a variety of hands-on activities and experiences that cultivate an increased understanding and appreciation for agriculture and food systems within a positive youth development framework. Rooted in the ecological model of Urie Bronfenbrenner, our Agriculture and Food Systems program is a holistic one that emphasizes complexity of a food system beyond the scope of food production. We promote thinking skills about food from a systems perspective by connecting food systems topics with human health, the environment, economy, and community.

If you have questions about resources in this area, please reach out to

NYS 4-H Health, Wellness, and Food Systems Specialist Dr. Mingla Charoenmuang.



4-H Food Systems PWT

The 4-H Food Systems Program Work Team (PWT) is a collaborative workspace that addresses food systems holistically in terms of health, environmental, social, and economic aspects to help 4-H Educators engage youth in activities and conversations surrounding our food system. The purpose is for youth to recognize connections within the bigger picture, analyze the consequences of the food system, and engage in social issues, which will lead to an understanding of sustainability while becoming more responsible consumers and citizens. For more information on activities of the PWT and opportunities for engagement, please email the co-chairs: Mingla Charoenmuang or Mike Fiorentino.

Learn about other Program Work Teams

Working Outdoors
NYS Resouces



Food Systems Exploration

Food Systems Exploration Activity Series invites youth and their families to think more intentionally about food systems, have meaningful conversations across generations, and use the concepts learned to reconnect with family and the community. Youth will explore the modern food system in the lens of social, environmental, and economic aspects. Youth will recognize how they fit into the modern food system and how they can engage in addressing social issues related to food.


Download a digital copy at Cornell Box or find the series with e-learning modules on the National 4-H Website (you will have to log-in to CLOVER by 4-H > Find an activity > Search for "Food Systems for Thought and Change" course)

Curbing Our Carbon Appetite

Ag Innovators Experience is an opportunity to develop the workforce skills to feed the planet and will drive youth awareness of, and interest in, agriculture innovation and agriculture careers. The “Curbing Our Carbon Appetite Challenge” focuses on the understanding of the carbon cycle, carbon sequestration, and the important role both the consumer and the producer play in contributing to a healthy, sustainable food supply to feed a growing world. The activity has an agricultural basis that incorporates STEM skills, teamwork, communication, and workforce development. Utilizing teens-as-teachers model, teen leaders participate in 6-hour training and deliver 1-hour activity to youth participants. Program supplies are available for implementation. Visit Cornell Box to download digital copies.


Gardening in a Warming World


Gardening in Our Warming World: Youth Grow! is a model of youth community action in the garden. It offers examples of how youth and their community members can get in monitoring, adapting, and mitigating climate change in the garden.

Vegetable Varieties Investigation

Vegetable varieties investigation (Vvi) is a companion program to Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners (VVfG). It is a unique citizen science program designed to engage youth in horticulture. Participants interview gardeners about their opinions on vegetable varieties, and submit their findings to an online database that serves as a nation-wide online library of vegetable variety data.

Seed to Salad

Seed to Salad is a program of the Ithaca Children’s Garden (ICG) in Ithaca, NY. Seed to Salad is an adaptable project that genuinely engages young people in growing salad gardens of their own.

Project S.O.W:
Food Gardening with Justice in Mind


This curriculum created for educators who work with young people ages 13- 19 centers personal growth, community connection, and equity. In Project S.O.W., youth work together to investigate how to grow food, explore their relationship with the land and food system, and practice leadership in their communities.

4-H Wild Edibles

For access to full curriculum 4-H Educators and Volunteers must take training. The training is provided under the supervision of NYS 4-H office, Cornell University Youth in Nature & Outdoor Education Program Work Team, and the Cornell Department of Natural Resources. The ratio of leader to youth ages 12 and over is 1:10. Mandatory training will be offered once or twice a year. Contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office for details. 

View the first 12 pages of the Curriculum.


4-H Outdoor Cooking

This guide is meant to provide 4-H members and their instructors with the necessary information and guidance with which they can then lead youth in developing their skill in outdoor cooking. The guide also contains field-tested recipes that are not only delicious, but are healthy, too. Since some of our 4-H’ers are vegetarians or vegans, or consume gluten-free diets, recipes that meet those characteristics are included. Visit Cornell Box to download a digital copy.

Ag In the Classroom

The National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix is an online, searchable, and standards-based curriculum map for K-12 teachers. The Matrix contextualizes national education standards in science, social studies, and nutrition education with relevant instructional resources linked to Common Core Standards. Ag in the Classroom also provides resources for students, such as Career Seeker, Ag Games, and Virtual Tours.

Visit New York Agriculture in the Classroom website.

professional development


Monthly 4-H Ag & Food Systems Program Ideas

Program Ideas

Join Mingla in the virtual series, Monthly 4-H Ag & Food Systems Program Ideas. Every third Friday of the month at noon, come discuss resources and best practices under the agriculture and food systems topics with your 4-H colleagues. The registration link will be sent out through listserv for each session.

Mingla Charoenmuang (NYS 4-H) shared some key elements of Thai cooking and highlighted some dishes that incorporate products locally grown and raised in New York. Chrys Nestle (CCE Washington) walked through Choose Health: Food, Fun, and Fitness (CHFFF) curriculum for youth 8-15 years old and Teen Cuisine for grades 6-12.  We had a discussion on what to use to substitute ingredients and other resources for nutrition and culinary programming.

February 16th, 12pm: Thai Cooking with Youth

Agriculture In the Classroom (AITC) programs increase agricultural literacy through Pre-K through 12 education. In this session, Katie Carpenter, the director of NYAITC to shared about the program and importance of building agricultural literacy, show the accessible and open-source tools, and discuss other opportunities that are available to 4-H educators.

March 15th, 12pm: Using Ag in the Classroom Resources in 4-H Programs


A 4-H'er, Robbie, shared his direct experience with 4-H Wild Edibles Program, followed by a presentation from Pat Banker of CCE Franklin and John Bowe of CCE Warren discussing the importance of engaging youth in environmental education, identifying wild plants, and knowing how to utilize them as food. With updates of resources such as 4-H Wild Edibles Curriculum (aimed for youth ages 12 and older), 4-H Project Guide, and the curriculum training for educators. You’ll also learn about wild plants available at this time of the year. 

April 19th, 12pm: Teaching Youth About Wild Edibles

We will celebrate summertime with activities in the gardens. Gardening skills are proven by studies to keep youth engaged in their learning experiences. Research shows gardening increases emotional health and wellbeing, develops stronger connections to nature and food systems, and increases environmental behaviors. Ashley Helmholdt of Cornell Garden-Based Learning will join our discussion to highlight resources that Cornell Garden-Based Learning has developed for the youth audience.


June 14th, 12pm: Youth Garden-Based Activities

Mingla Charoenmuang (NYS 4-H) will share hands-on activities from the Food Systems Exploration curriculum, developed for youth (grades 7-10) and families to explore and reflect on the complexity of modern food systems. The activities encourage youth to make connections within their communities and think critically about their roles and changes they can make to enhance a more sustainable system. Examples of how 4-H educators have used this curriculum will be shared.


July 19th, 12pm: Engaging with Modern Food Systems

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