The 2022 GSL Youth Science Field Day
Forty-seven high school students from Cherry, Grant, Hooker, and Thomas counties attended the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory (GSL) Youth Science Day on October 5. Beef Systems Extension Educator, T. L. Meyer, kicked off the event with an introduction to GSL before dividing the students into two groups for lab rotation topics. The six topics included Smart Feeder technology (Travis Mulliniks and Jacki Musgrave), beef reproduction (Rosemary Anderson), fire and range management (Ryan Benjamin), precision livestock management (Yijie Xiong and T. L. Meyer), ruminant nutrition (Randy Saner and Brent Plugge), and heifer development (Travis Mulliniks). Depending on the topics, students attended lectures and demonstrations in a hybrid format, in the auditorium, laboratory, and outside.
At the end of the field day, students were asked to complete a brief survey to provide an overall experience for the topics they attended. In the survey, students rated their level of knowledge gained from none, moderate, and significant. The students ranked moderate to significant knowledge gained for all six topics. Students were also asked, “What’s one thing you wished you had seen today?” The student responses are categorized and illustrated by the word cloud in Figure 1. Bigger font indicates more students brought up the same response. In general, students expressed significant interest in seeing the topics/technologies/practices in action. Encouragingly, during the Precision Livestock Management lab rotation, students were asked about their interest level in using technology for livestock research -- 17% answered “extremely interested”, 33% answered “interested,” while the remaining 50% answered “neutral”. This demonstrates potential for introducing more technology-driven topics for youth audiences.
Before adjourning, students from three of the four schools (Cody-Kilgore, Hyannis, and Mullen) used a drone1 to take aerial cattle images. Each school submitted an aerial image (Figure 2) that the entire audience voted for “most-liked.” The image taken by Mullen students received the most likes from all students, teachers, and Extension educators and specialists.
In addition to the students, teachers, and presenters, the Youth Science Day would not have been possible without the hard work and support of the GSL staff. Due to the positive feedback, plans are already being made for next year’s GSL Youth Science Day September 27, 2023.
1Disclaimer: the drone used in this activity weighs less than 0.55 lb (250 g), thus exempted from the FAA’s requirement of a pilot license to fly recreational drones.
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