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BECHS students "grow" to Washington, D.C. for National 4-H Agri-Summit


Group photo at the Ag Summit


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Last month, two students from Bertie Early College High School recently represented our county at the annual National Agri-Science 4-H Summit in Washington, D.C.


Joshua Puac-Puac and Qudre Joyner are 4-H members who specialize in hydroponics and horticulture. At the summit this year, the two ag stars helped teach workshops, attended breakout sessions and interacted with approximately 88 youth from the United States and Puerto Rico to talk about the future of agriculture and what they do in their hometowns and communities with agriculture and agri-science.


The students attended a leadership workshop in which they collaborated to identify leadership qualities within themselves as well as who they “are” as people.


The attendance at the summit was made possible by Bertie County 4-H Agent Guy Holley and NC A&T 4-H Extension Specialist, Kurt Taylor. Joshua and Qudre were able to experience a private tour of the National Monuments, and a leisurely tour of the U.S. Botanical Gardens and the National Museum of History—which was made possible by the National 4-H.


Joshua said he was inspired by a Bayer employee who said to him, “If you think that your idea is great, then go for it!”


“My favorite part of the experience was getting to meet new people and being exposed to diverse cultures and people from other states,” he said.


Qudre said that it was “awesome” to see what a “true” city is like. “[In Washington, D.C.], everything is glass and concrete!”


He echoed his fellow classmate’s sentiment about the best part of the experience being meeting so many people with different backgrounds.


“We forget that the world is big because we are so confined,” he added.


Made possible in part by being enrolled in the Bertie Early College, Joshua is able to labor on his 4-H project, which is to grow animal feed / fodder using hydroponics to offset the cost for youth to participate in the 4-H Youth Livestock Program.


Qudre focuses on growing vegetables and herbs and aims to teach others how to use the inexpensive methods of hydroponics to grow these foods at home—it’s agriculture without soil!


He wants to start his own agri-business, which will grow plants such as aloe vera—just one example of a plant that is rare in our climate and that will need to be grown in hydroponics in order to thrive year round.


Qudre said that the best thing about hydroponics is:  “No seasons! No soil! And no weeds!”


Ag Teacher Brian Reynolds helps the students with day-to-day processes in the greenhouse at the early college.


At the national summit, Joshua and Qudre introduced presenters and conducted step-by-step workshops on how to make a hydroponic system and to keep it going.


“The rig we used, you can make for as low as $5,” said Qudre.


The students engaged with keynote speakers sent by Bayer, Ag Secretaries from across the United States and other “higher ups” in ag who do research and make policies.


Initial funds in the amount of $11,000 for the projects came from the NC A&T Innovative Grant Program, which pays for overhead for the hydroponics project/materials, supplies and travel for the students, among other things.


4-H Agent Holley said, “It is important that we continue the engagement with the greenhouse and keep this going, long after Qudre and Josh graduate.”


***If you are interested in learning more about this project, please contact Guy Holley at the Bertie County Cooperative Extension at 252-794-5317.