Warsaw Team Wins First Youth Agbioscience Challenge

Pictured are Caroline Hastings, Breanna Thompson, Adrian Rosas, Ethan Betances and Layne Blocher. They were one of the teams that represented Warsaw Community High School at the Ag+ Innovate Youth Agbioscience Innovation Challenge. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union.

One of teams representing Warsaw Community High School won the first Ag+ Innovate Youth Agbioscience Innovation Challenge Friday.

The event was put on by Kosciusko Economic Development Corp. (KEDCo) at Ivy Tech, Warsaw, from 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with an awards ceremony at Grace College at 4 p.m.

It had teams from Whitko, Tippecanoe Valley, Warsaw and Wawasee compete by being presented a challenge in the local agriculture industry and come up with potential solutions to the problem.

“We wanted to engage young people in more entrepreneurships and education programming,” said Rhonda Ladig, entrepreneurship partner at KEDCo. “We want them to engage in agribusiness and as something that they may be interested in pursuing or getting an education in post-secondary education.”

The students also will get an email from KEDCo inviting them to some entrepreneurship programming, where they can take “their solution that they created and learn how to commercialize it and how to turn it into a business.”

The schools were invited to be part of the event, Ladig said. “We asked them to pick students with a variety of interests and skillsets, and then some of them took it upon themselves to make sure the students were from different classes.”

Warsaw Team 2 chose to find a solution to the fifth challenge, which was: “Agriculture ranks as one of the most hazardous industries. Farm safety education is vitally important, but training tools that are both comprehensive and easy-to-access are limited on the farm. What can the agbioscience industry develop to increase the safety and wellness of workers?”

The team’s solution was to deal with augmented lens agriculture.

Twenty-four hours before the event, the students got an e-mail that had the five challenges, “some of which we got from local agbusinesses,” and then the students went to the event Friday and picked one of the challenges, said Ladig. Jason Williams, connector-in-chief at Jawbrain, was an innovation consultant at the event and he walked the students through the design think process so they can find a solution to the problem they chose.

While at Ivy Tech, the teams gave a six-minute pitch to a panel of judges, made up of representatives of OrthoWorks and Purdue Extension and an innovation entrepreneurship person.

The teams were judged on five categories: ambition of problem – the scale and complexity of the ag business problem being explored; innovation of solution – the ingenuity and novelty of the technology/product/service solution being developed; use of team skillset – the team relied on skills/talents/interests of all team members in understanding of the project and researching and design of the solution; quality of presentation of problem and solution – the team clearly understood and communicated the problem and the proposed solution; and quality of overall presentation – the team’s presentation was compelling, energetic and completed within the allotted time. Each of the seven teams were scored on a system of 1 to 5 and the team with the highest score won.

Each of the students will receive a $150 prize. WCHS will receive $1,000 to support its agbusiness programming and will get a banner announcing its school was the winner of the event, Ladig said.

Ladig said after the event, KEDCo will get feedback about it and see if the event is something they can continue to do.