The 2012 Minnesota State Fair was a chance, once again, for Extension to demonstrate how 4-H youth development helps prepare young people to lead and succeed. Approximately 320,000 people visited the 4-H building, where they viewed 2992 exhibits. Including livestock, there were 5,866 youth exhibitors, and 324 youth participated in the Arts-In performance. If you missed the Arts-In performance, or would like to know more about how it helps kids improve their leadership skills, watch a 3-minute video on YouTube.
President Eric Kaler and wife Karen visited the 4-H building again this year, and Karen even participated in a 4-H science experiment in which youth scientists attempted to "walk on water" (a pool of cornstarch and water) as they learned how the mixture acts like a liquid when being poured, but like a solid when force is applied.
Extension volunteer Master Gardeners were also a popular presence at the fair this year. In addition to answering questions from fairgoers, they presented an exhibit on biochar, a nutrient-rich co-product of a biofuel production process. Master Gardener volunteers have been part of a University research team studying the effectiveness of biochar as a soil amendment.