The U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) hosted a roundtable discussion with a group of 4-H youth delegates from across the country on April 12, 2016. The roundtable, which was part of the larger National 4-H Conference, addressed the role of bioenergy in a sustainable global energy system. The student group discussed three applications of bioenergy: (1) the potential of algal biofuels, (2) hydrogen production from biomass for use in fuel cells, and (3) utilizing biogas (primarily a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide produced by the bacterial decomposition of organic materials in the absence of oxygen) systems to produce electricity, heat, and vehicle fuels. The roundtable participants also shared perspectives on the importance of bioenergy in their local communities and offered suggestions on how BETO could engage more with youth in the community.
The group emphasized the importance of energy literacy in helping people make informed decisions on energy use through an understanding of impacts and consequences. The students recommended the use of social media as a platform to engage the public on these topics—a goal the students are already working towards by developing a video short entitled “Bioenergy Grows Here,” which is intended to provide an overview about the use of bioenergy in a changing energy landscape. Overall, the roundtable provided a great opportunity for the students to share their ideas and perspectives with a group of federal decision makers.
Since its inception, the National 4-H Conference—administered by the 4-H National Headquarters of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture within the U.S. Department of Agriculture—has provided the opportunity for young people to connect, learn, engage, lead, and impact their communities. BETO’s involvement in the National 4-H Conference roundtable is part of BETO’s OPERATION BioenergizeME initiative, which engages the nation’s future clean energy workforce and motivates them to discover how bioenergy technologies can reduce carbon pollution and strengthen the economy.