The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) and a statewide group of partners announce the fourth-annual Student Ag Innovation Challenge to encourage problem-solving and innovation among West Virginia students interested in agriculture.

Students in grades seven through 12 are eligible to compete for cash prizes including a $500 grand prize. The competition emphasizes solving an agriculture issue in one of six focus areas: agribusiness systems; animal systems; environmental and natural resources management; food products and processing systems; plant systems; and power, structural and technical systems.

The student ag challenge is the centerpiece of the West Virginia Agricultural Innovation Showcase, presented annually by RCBI, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the West Virginia Department of Education and Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College.

“Because of the new format this year, we’re able to offer additional agricultural training to students through distance learning, with skill-building workshops leading up to the Feb. 24 showcase,” said Bill Woodrum, RCBI director of entrepreneurship and agricultural innovation.

The 2021 Showcase will feature a series of free Agcellerator Master Classes to inspire students and help them prepare their entries for the challenge:

• Jan. 7: The Importance of Innovation in West Virginia Agriculture will provide an introduction to this year’s competition and teaches how to scale national outcomes from your own backyard.

• Jan. 14: Innovating for Success will focus on how to prepare your innovation for competition and presents an introduction to this year’s judging criteria.

• Jan. 21: Bringing It All Together will offer guidance for preparing a successful video submission to this year’s competition.

Students can register for the free Agcellerator Master Classes and sign up for the challenge at www.wvmakes.com/agshowcase. Students must submit videos explaining their innovations by Feb. 15. Winners will be announced Feb. 24 during a virtual live event.

For more information, contact Woodrum at bwoodrum@rcbi.org or 304-781-1670.

These events are made possible through the financial support of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

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