Food and Finance High School in Manhattan has revolutionized the way 4-H’ers are raising animals. The school is where the Cornell Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics Learning Labs live. National 4-H Council president and CEO Jennifer Sirangelo was recently given a tour of the facility to learn more about the exciting work 4-H’ers are doing in the field of STEM.
The labs, which were created as a part of the school’s culinary program, are teaching students how to raise various fish species, encouraging the cultivation and production of fresh and clean fish. The fish produced are served in the school cafeteria, donated towards hunger relief efforts, and distributed to green markets and local businesses. The Cornell Learning Labs also help the school meet New York state-mandated science lab requirements.
Council Youth Trustee Lazarus Lynch accompanied Sirangelo on the tour of the labs and spoke about how it felt to come back to visit his alma mater. “It feels a little bit smaller, since I’ve grown a little bit. But it’s all about the impact that this high school’s had on me,” he says on his return. “So when I come back, it’s a memory. It’s a constant reminder to me of what this high school means to me, what it means to young people every day, and how it’s changing lives.”
The Food and Finance alumnus says it best, describing the school as a place where students can find themselves and their passions, as well as providing mentor-mentee relationships between the teachers and students.
Lazarus goes on to say, “Through [4-H], I learned how to be a citizen; I learned what that meant,” he says. “4-H really means a lot of things, but to me it’s the citizenship, it’s the ‘how do you go into your community and use what you’ve learned in school, use the experience that you’ve had to go and help other people, to impact the world.'”
Another 4-H and Food and Finance High School alumna, Daphne Melendez, shares her feelings of returning to the school, along with her thoughts on 4-H. “4-H, to me, means a community, where I can thrive and grow. And not only that, but impact the lives of other teenagers around me,” she says.
Note: Renowned Cornell scientist and CUCE-NYC Associate Philson A.A Warner has spent more than four decades inventing and developing cutting-edge technologies for the production of cleaner and safer foods. He is the founding director of the Cornell Hydroponics, Aquaculture and Aquaponics Learning Labs in New York City. These learning labs are real-time, applied science and research laboratories allowing students to learn about sustainable food production, nutrition and science.