A 17-year-old Balzac resident is one of two finalists from the 4-H Canada Science Fair.

Mark Norregaard will now be heading to the 2024 Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF), the country’s largest annual youth science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) event.

Norregard was one of seven other participants who participated in the initial virtual round in January 2024; while the second round of the 4-H Canada Science Fair was hosted by Olds College of Agriculture and Technology in late February. However, Norregaard, is no stranger to the 4-H Canada Science Fair, with 2024 marking his fifth time as a finalist.

This year, he focused on comparing the response between vaccinated and nonvaccinated calves before grass and weaning time. His project was inspired by the desire to help decrease outbreaks of Bovine Respiratory Disease in calf populations. He said that in the past, his science projects focused on corrosion, but because of his recent acceptance to the University of Saskatchewan, he wanted to base his project on potential future endeavours.

"I found some great mentors to help me with this project and got to learn from that. I also got to see what a project like this would be and potentially what I could do in the future with my Animal Science degree."

Norregard will be heading to the CWSF alongside 14-year-old Nia Smith from Brandon, Manitoba, who made her debut at the 4-H Canada Science Fair. For her part, Smith was driven to help improve the success of home hydroponic systems.

Her project compared four different mediums for starting seeds and provided findings on which medium works best for a hydroponic system to achieve the highest germination rate. 

Mark Norregaard and Nia Smith celebrate their success at the 2024 4-H Canada Science Fair. Photo Credit:© 4-H CanadaMark Norregaard and Nia Smith celebrate their success at the 2024 4-H Canada Science Fair. (Photo Credit to © 4-H Canada)

“It was a true honour to be a judge at this year’s 4-H Canada National Science Fair Competition at Olds College,” said Ashley Smith, Market Manager for the Crop Protection at Bayer Crop Science Canada. “Both Mark and Nia demonstrated tremendous leadership and innovation for the future of food production. Through STEM opportunities like this, we get a first-hand glimpse into the next generation of scientists, policy contributors, engineers, and visionary catalysts in agriculture!”

Norregard said that each time he has gone to the CWSF, he is always amazed at all the incredible projects that are presented.

"It ranges from water supplies to the environment. I've seen the [potential] cure to cancer from some of these projects. These people are the people of tomorrow - the people that are going to be at the forefront of our country, the people who can create and innovate."

However, as with any science project, there were hurdles he faced.

"Time was a big factor; although my study only ran for 149 days, getting the results back from the lab took a little over 200 days," Norregard explained. "... as well as trying to keep a controlled environment. Working with animals, in every project you do, you want everything to be sterile and controlled. In a perfect world, that's how it is; but in the real world, it's just not possible. You try and replicate it the best you can." 

Norregard also has advice for those who might be hesitant in entering into the world of science fairs.

"A lot of people think they're scary, and they think their project isn't good enough and that's not right," he said. "Everyone is there to support you. and your idea. It's amazing to see how far some people go. I knew a girl from B.C. who [in] her first year came from a poultry farm, and she wanted to make a box to transport chicks to reduce the mortality rate. Seven years later, now, she has a patent on that box design." 

The CWSF is being hosted at Carleton University in Ottawa, starting May 25, and running till June 1. 

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