Note: The Nova program is administered at the Council level. Check with your local council about availability before starting on a Nova award.
Let It Grow is the Scouts BSA Nova Award for investigating food and agriculture science.
To earn this award, Scouts must complete one of the merit badges related to raising livestock or growing crops. Scouts will learn about where their food comes from and explore topics like weather, seeds, and microorganisms.
The Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award award can be earned by young men and women who are members of Scouts BSA.
Answers and Helps for the Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award
Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award for Food and Agriculture Science Requirement 1: Watch, Read, or Both
A. Watch about three hours total of shows or documentaries related to agriculture or farming. Then do the following:
A-1. Make a list of at least five questions or ideas from the show(s) you watched.
A-2. Discuss two of the questions or ideas with your counselor.
Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award Requirement 1 Helps and Answers
These videos and websites will help with this Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award requirement. Add your own to the comments at the bottom of this post.
Video Suggestions for Let It Grow Requirement 1
Website Suggestions for Let It Grow Requirement 1
Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award for Food and Agriculture Science Requirement 2: Merit Badge
Complete ONE merit badge from the following list. (Choose one you have not already used for another Nova award.) After completion, discuss with your counselor how the merit badge you earned uses agriculture.
Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award Requirement 2 Helps and Answers
Here is more information about the merit badges for this Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award requirement:
Scouts learn about food safety, nutrition, and cooking techniques while working on the Cooking merit badge. They also have to plan , prepare, and cook meals at camp, at home, and on the trail.
Working on the requirements for the Animal Science merit badge helps Scouts understand how to identify and care for various breeds of livestock. The requirements for this badge can be completed by studying beef cattle, dairy animals, horses, sheep, hogs, or avian breeds. Scouts also investigate career opportunities related to animal science.
Scouts who are working on the Farm Mechanics merit badge learn to safely maintain and repair farm equipment. They tighten hydraulic fittings, check air filters, and clean equipment used for farm work. Scouts also explore career opportunities related to farm mechanics.
Scouts working on the Fishing merit badge learn to safely catch, clean, and cook fish. They familiarize themselves with a variety of fishing equipment and the knots needed to use it. They also learn about different species of fish and types of baits.
Scouts working on the requirements for the Fish and Wildlife Management merit badge learn about the populations of fish, birds, mammals, and other wildlife. They study the habitats of wildlife and learn about careers in this area.
Scouts learn to identify trees while working on the Forestry merit badge. They find out why forests are important to our economy, climate, wildlife habitats, and endangered species. Scouts investigate how forests are managed and how trees are harvested. They also identify trees which are unhealthy or hazardous.
Scouts plant flowers and vegetables while working on the Gardening merit badge. They also learn how to garden safely. Seed germination experiments and the study of pollination help Scouts understand the science of gardening. They also learn about different methods such as composting, vermiposting, and hydroponics.
Scouts learn about the identifying characteristics of insects while working on the Insect Study merit badge. They find out which insects are hazardous and how to avoid and respond to them, with first aid if necessary. Scouts observe a number of insects. They also explore career opportunities in fields related to insects.
While working on the Mammal Study merit badge, Scouts learn about the physical characteristics of mammals and about their habitats. They learn how a mammal’s environment influences its population and carry out a project related to this.
The requirements for the Nature merit badge help scouts learn about plants and wildlife and the connection of all living things. They identify different types of wildlife and consider their importance in ecosystems.
Scouts learn to propagate and grow plants while working on the Plant Science merit badge. They investigate the importance and uses of crops, trees, and flowers. Scouts have many options to choose from for the types of plants they will study in depth while doing this badge.
Working on the Soil and Water Conservation merit badge helps Scouts learn about things like erosion, watersheds, aquifers, water pollution, and water treatment. They also learn about the importance of plants in soil and water conservation.
Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award for Food and Agriculture Science Requirement 3: Act Like a Farmer!
Act like a farmer! Think about crops or animals that are found on a farm and think about the different kinds of farms. Then choose TWO from A or B or C.
A. With your counselor, choose two of the following topics related to food production or processing, and investigate them. Discuss your findings with your counselor.
A-1. Where did the food you ate for dinner last night come from? Pick one food item and learn more about each of its ingredients. Where were those ingredients grown, and how did the food item get to your table?
A-2.What kind of equipment is used on a farm?
A-3.How were food plants invented? Where do most food plants come from?
A-4.How and why are scientists working to develop plants that don’t need as much water?
A-5.If a big disaster wiped out a lot of food plants, how would we get more of them? How do seed banks work?
B. Define and learn about two of the following and discuss with your counselor.
B-1. Farming practice categories (conventional, sustainable, till, low-till, and no-till)
B-2. Conventional, organic, and biotech farming (compare and contrast)
B-3. Effects of weather on farming
B-4. Converting biomass into energy
B-5. STEM careers in agriculture (food science, plant science, farming, agricultural engineering)
Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award Requirement 3 Helps and Answers
Farming Practice Categories
Farming practices can be categorized into several categories based on their approach and methods. Here are the commonly recognized categories which you can consider for Let It Grow requirement B-1:
- Conventional Farming: Conventional farming refers to traditional farming practices that rely heavily on the use of synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides, and herbicides. It often involves intensive tillage, which is the mechanical preparation of soil for planting. Conventional farming aims to maximize crop yields and control pests and weeds but may have negative environmental impacts and can be resource-intensive.
- Sustainable Farming: Sustainable farming focuses on preserving the long-term health of the environment, ecosystems, and communities while producing food. It emphasizes practices that minimize negative impacts on soil, water, and air quality. Sustainable farming may involve reduced pesticide use, crop rotation, conservation tillage, integrated pest management (IPM), and the use of organic fertilizers. The goal is to maintain the productivity of agricultural systems while promoting environmental stewardship.
- Tillage Farming: Tillage farming involves the mechanical manipulation of soil through plowing, harrowing, or cultivation. The purpose of tillage is to prepare the seedbed, control weeds, and incorporate organic matter into the soil. While tillage can provide short-term benefits, such as weed control and seedbed preparation, it can also lead to soil erosion, loss of organic matter, and disruption of soil structure.
- Low-Till Farming: Low-till farming, also known as reduced tillage or conservation tillage, minimizes the intensity and frequency of soil disturbance compared to conventional tillage. It aims to maintain soil structure, reduce erosion, and improve water infiltration while preserving weed control. Low-till practices may involve using specialized equipment that disturbs only a portion of the soil surface, leaving crop residues on the field as a protective layer.
- No-Till Farming: No-till farming is an agricultural practice that eliminates or minimizes soil disturbance altogether. Farmers using no-till methods avoid plowing or tilling the soil and plant seeds directly into untilled soil or crop residues. No-till farming helps retain soil moisture, reduce erosion, promote soil health, and sequester carbon. It can also reduce fuel and labor requirements compared to conventional tillage.
It’s worth noting that these categories are not mutually exclusive, and many farmers adopt a combination of practices based on their specific needs, resources, and local conditions. The ultimate goal is to strike a balance between productivity, environmental sustainability, and long-term viability.
Farming Approaches, Methods, and Impacts
- Relies on synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides, and herbicides to maximize crop yields and control pests and weeds.
- Utilizes genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to develop crops with specific traits such as resistance to pests or herbicides.
- Involves intensive tillage for soil preparation.
- Focuses on high-input agriculture with an emphasis on productivity and efficiency.
- May have potential negative impacts on soil health, water quality, and biodiversity.
- Often associated with large-scale industrial agriculture.
- Prohibits the use of synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
- Emphasizes the use of natural fertilizers, compost, and biological pest control methods.
- Prioritizes soil health, biodiversity, and ecological balance.
- Promotes crop rotation, cover cropping, and other practices to enhance soil fertility and control pests.
- Requires organic certification to ensure compliance with specific standards.
- Typically involves smaller-scale farms and local markets, although larger organic operations exist as well.
Biotech Farming (Genetically Modified Organisms):
- Involves the use of genetic engineering techniques to introduce specific traits or characteristics into crops.
- Can enhance crop resistance to pests, diseases, and environmental stresses, as well as improve nutritional content or crop quality.
- Allows for targeted modifications and precise control over genetic traits.
- Can potentially increase crop yields and reduce the need for chemical inputs.
- Subject to rigorous regulatory oversight and assessment of safety and environmental impacts.
- Can be controversial due to concerns about potential ecological and health risks, as well as socioeconomic impacts on farmers.
While conventional farming prioritizes productivity and efficiency, organic farming focuses on ecological sustainability and avoidance of synthetic inputs. Biotech farming utilizes genetic engineering to introduce desired traits into crops, aiming to address specific challenges. The three approaches differ in their methods, inputs, regulations, and overall philosophies, reflecting diverse perspectives on agricultural practices. Understanding these will help you with Let It Grow requirement 3-B.
STEM Careers in Agriculture
- Food Scientist/Food Technologist: Food scientists apply scientific principles to develop and improve food products, ensuring their safety, quality, and nutritional value. They may work on developing new food formulations, conducting research on food preservation techniques, or analyzing food samples for quality control.
- Plant Scientist/Botanist: Plant scientists study various aspects of plants, including their growth, development, genetics, and interactions with the environment. They may conduct research on crop improvement, plant breeding, plant physiology, or investigate ways to enhance agricultural productivity and sustainability.
- Agricultural Engineer: Agricultural engineers apply engineering principles to solve challenges in agriculture. They design and develop equipment, machinery, and structures used in farming operations, such as irrigation systems, agricultural machinery, or agricultural waste management systems. They also work on improving efficiency, automation, and sustainability in agricultural practices.
- Agronomist: Agronomists study and analyze different factors that influence crop production, including soil health, plant nutrition, pest management, and crop rotation. They work on developing and implementing strategies to optimize agricultural productivity, conserve resources, and mitigate environmental impacts.
- Precision Agriculture Specialist: Precision agriculture specialists utilize technology, data analysis, and remote sensing tools to optimize agricultural practices. They may work on implementing precision farming techniques such as GPS guidance systems, remote sensing, and variable rate technology to improve crop management, reduce input use, and enhance yield.
- Agricultural Biotechnologist: Agricultural biotechnologists employ biotechnology tools and techniques to improve crop traits, develop genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or study genetic diversity in plants. They may focus on developing disease-resistant crops, increasing nutritional content, or enhancing crop productivity using genetic engineering methods.
- Agricultural Economist: Agricultural economists analyze economic factors and trends related to agriculture, such as supply and demand, pricing, market analysis, and agricultural policies. They assess the economic impact of agricultural practices, evaluate profitability, and provide insights for decision-making in the agricultural sector.
These are just a few examples of STEM careers in agriculture to consider for Let It Grow requirement B-5. The field of agriculture offers a wide range of opportunities to apply scientific and technical knowledge to address the challenges and advancements in the agricultural industry.
Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award for Food and Agriculture Science Requirement 4: Visit
Visit a farm, botanical garden, grocery store, or any other location where farm produce can be found. If a visit is not possible, you can do a virtual tour online with your parent’s or guardian’s permission and counselor’s approval.
A. During your visit, talk with someone in charge about how the plants are grown, or animals are raised, and how the food is processed.
B. Discuss with your counselor the food science involved at the place you visited
Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award Requirement 4 Helps and Answers
Some Questions to Consider for Let It Grow Requirement 4
- Plant Growth and Farming:
- What kind of soil do these plants need to grow?
- How do farmers determine when to plant and harvest their crops?
- What methods are used to water and irrigate the plants?
- What types of fertilizers or nutrients are used to help plants grow?
- How do farmers protect their crops from pests and diseases?
- Do farmers use any special techniques or technologies to improve crop yields?
- Animal Raising and Farming:
- How do farmers provide proper care and nutrition for the animals?
- What do the animals eat, and where does their food come from?
- How do farmers ensure the animals have a comfortable living environment?
- How are animals protected from predators or extreme weather conditions?
- What measures are taken to maintain the health and well-being of the animals?
- Are there any specific practices or guidelines followed to ensure animal welfare?
- Food Processing and Handling:
- What happens to the crops after they are harvested?
- How are the crops sorted, cleaned, and prepared for consumption?
- Are any chemicals or preservatives used in the processing of food?
- What steps are taken to ensure food safety and prevent contamination?
- How are different food products packaged for distribution?
- Are there any specific regulations or standards that govern food processing?
- Sustainable and Organic Practices:
- Are there any environmentally friendly or sustainable practices used in farming or gardening?
- Do farmers use any organic farming methods or avoid certain chemicals?
- How do farmers manage waste or minimize the use of resources?
- Are there any efforts to conserve water or energy on the farm?
- What steps are taken to protect the surrounding ecosystem and wildlife?
These questions can help you gain a better understanding of the processes involved in plant growth, animal raising, and food processing for Let It Grow requirement 4, as well as promote awareness of sustainable and responsible practices in the agricultural and food industries.
Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award for Food and Agriculture Science Requirement 5: Discuss
Discuss with your counselor how farming affects your everyday life.
Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award Requirement 5 Helps and Answers
Farming in Our Everyday Lives
Farming plays a significant role in our everyday lives, impacting various aspects that we may not always realize. Here are some examples of how farming affects our daily lives to think about for the Let It Grow Nova award.
- Food on Your Plate: Farming is responsible for growing the fruits, vegetables, grains, and animal products that make up our meals. Whether it’s the fresh produce we enjoy or the ingredients in our favorite dishes, farming ensures a steady supply of nutritious food for our everyday sustenance.
- Availability and Variety of Food: Farming determines the availability and variety of food choices we have. It helps ensure that grocery stores, markets, and restaurants have a diverse range of foods throughout the year, allowing us to enjoy different flavors, textures, and cuisines.
- Economic Impact: Agriculture is a significant contributor to the economy. Farmers provide employment opportunities, both on the farms and in related industries such as food processing, transportation, and distribution. Farming activities generate income and contribute to local and national economies.
- Clothing and Textiles: Farming also produces the raw materials needed for making clothing and textiles. Fabrics like cotton, wool, and linen come from plants and animals that are raised and cultivated on farms. So, the clothes we wear every day are a result of farming efforts.
- Environmental Stewardship: Farming practices can have an impact on the environment. Sustainable and responsible farming techniques help preserve soil health, conserve water resources, and protect wildlife habitats. By adopting environmentally friendly practices, farmers contribute to the overall well-being of our ecosystems.
- Rural Communities: Agriculture is often a pillar of rural communities. Farms provide livelihoods for families, support local businesses, and help maintain the cultural heritage of rural areas. Farming activities contribute to the social fabric and vitality of these communities.
- Energy and Fuel: Farms play a role in producing biofuels, such as ethanol, which can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels. Additionally, agricultural residues and waste products can be converted into energy through processes like anaerobic digestion, contributing to renewable energy sources.
- Recreational Opportunities: Farms can also provide recreational opportunities for people. Activities like agritourism, farm visits, and farmers’ markets allow individuals to experience farm life, connect with nature, and gain a deeper understanding of where their food comes from.
Understanding the significance of farming helps us appreciate the impact it has on our daily lives, from the food we eat to the economy, environment, and cultural aspects of our society. This will help you get started with Let It Grow requirement 5.
Related Resources for Let It Grow Scouts BSA Nova Award for Food and Agriculture Science
Grow your knowledge of agricultural science with these ideas and related achievements for the Let It Grow Nova award:
The Science troop program feature encourages Scouts to ask and investigate questions about the world. They learn how to form a hypothesis and test it. This fits in well with the Let It Grow Nova award.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The NOVA Awards program combines knowledge of STEM concepts with hands on activities. The Let It Grow Nova award is part of this program.