The National 4-H Council recently announced that Janya Green, 16, of Sylvester, Georgia., is the winner of the 2020 4-H Youth in Action Pillar Award for Agriculture. Green will be recognized nationally for her commitment to the future of rural agriculture and her leadership of the Village Community Garden, a program designed to combat food insecurity and nutrition-related diseases.
The 4-H Youth in Action Awards, sponsored in part by Bayer, began in 2010 to recognize 4-H’ers who have used the knowledge they gained in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their communities.
Green grew up on her family’s farm and experienced first-hand the challenges America’s farmers and rural citizens face. She channeled that experience into a passion for service when she met Sam X, her Fort Valley State University Extension 4-H Program mentor, who not only exposed her to a budding community garden initiative but also introduced her to vast opportunities to grow as a leader through 4-H. She was 11 at the time, but Green took on the challenge to help launch the community garden and now serves as the garden manager.
The Fort Valley State University 4-H Village Community Garden fills 2.5 acres and provides more than a ton of high-quality produce, serving 3,000 households in the community annually. The project aims to impact, empower and influence underserved, at-risk, and minority youth and their families by not only addressing food insecurity but also providing health education to combat the obesity epidemic and other nutrition-related diseases.
Green focuses on teaching her peers and younger children how to eat healthy and grow their own healthy foods. The garden is also a platform to educate local farmers about new technologies in irrigation and aeroponic towers.
She also seeks to motivate her peers to get involved in agriculture and take responsibility for their future. “I want the youth in my generation and the younger generation to learn how to be self-sufficient by growing their own fruits and vegetables through traditional agriculture and aeroponic towers.”
As a young black female with a passion for agriculture, Green feels a responsibility to set a positive example for her peers and those who will one day follow in her footsteps. “Most girls in my generation don’t want to farm. For younger girls to see what I’m doing and say my work is inspirational motivates me to keep going.”
Green channeled her passion for service into her life purpose when she sensed the confusion that arose after Hurricane Michael ravaged farms across her community and southwest Georgia. After graduation, she aims to pursue a career in agricultural law, allowing her to invest in the future of agriculture while representing farmers – like her grandfather – particularly when tragedies strike.
The young farm manager will receive a $5,000 scholarship for higher education and will serve as an advocate and spokesperson for 4-H Agriculture programming. She will be officially recognized as the 2020 4-H Youth in Action Pillar Winner for Agriculture, sponsored by Bayer, at the 11th Annual 4-H Legacy Awards in Washington, D.C. on March 25, 2020.
She is joined by three other 2020 Youth in Action Pillar Winners, Breanna Burkhead of Kentucky (Civic Engagement), Micah Palacios of Texas (Healthy Living) and Joseph Huff of Utah (STEM).
“Janya is a shining example of how exciting it is to bring diverse experiences and perspectives into agriculture to make a positive impact on the lives of young people and their communities,” said Lisa Safarian, President, Crop Science North America. “Bayer congratulates Janya and is proud to partner with 4-H to encourage young people everywhere to experience the importance of STEM education and agriculture.”
To learn more about 4-H Youth in Action and to view the other pillar winners from around the country, please visit: www.4-h.org/youthinaction.
Special report submitted by the National 4-H Council, Chevy Chase, Maryland.
For more information, contact the FVSU Agricultural Communications Department at (478) 825-6345