NIFA Invests Over $3.5M to Develop Food, Agriculture and Farm Safety Education for Youth in Underserved Communities

NIFA program

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced an investment of over $3.5 million to support educational awareness of food, agriculture, and farm safety for youth in underserved communities.

This investment includes $2 million in grants awarded through NIFA’s Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program (FASLP) under the new Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Initiative, and more than $1.6 million in grants awarded over four years through its Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification program.

“As we work across USDA to improve nutrition security and resilience in the local food supply chain, we recognize that young people will play a vital role in the long-term success of those efforts,” said NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille. “Programs to prepare them for the task, like the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program, will not only help improve the nutritional health of children, but will increase their agricultural knowledge through service-learning activities.”

Investments like these are critical in ensuring historically underserved groups can more fully access and participate in USDA programs and services and for equipping our youth and their communities to meet food and agricultural challenges.

Examples of the nine funded FASLP projects include:

  • Earth Charter Indiana, Inc., will assist 20 schools in establishing and maintaining gardens to cultivate youth leadership and address high levels of food deserts in Indiana’s underserved communities. Each garden project will be paired with a local food producer to assist with agricultural skill sharing. ($225,000)
  • Ourspace World, Inc., will address community-identified needs, including: opportunities for socially disadvantaged African American youth to participate in on-farm experiential learning and related off-farm agricultural activities; gardening; nutrition. Small-scale, socially disadvantaged African American farmers will host and provide on-farm educational experiences for youth. ($215,327)
  • Minnesota State University Mankato will collaborate with Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, Model Citizen, and Mankato Youth Place to increase the capacity of youth-serving organizations to provide food, gardening, and nutrition education serving predominantly rural, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and socially disadvantaged elementary and secondary students in Minnesota’s urban and rural communities. ($224,744)

Learn more about eligibility and how to apply for NIFA’s Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program grants.

“The Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification Program supports a National Clearing House of youth farm safety educational curriculum, enhancement and development of new curriculum and enhanced instructor expertise in delivering safety training to youth among African American, Native American, and Hispanic/Latinx farming communities,” said Castille.

The three funded Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification projects include:

  • University of Nebraska Medical Center will support the National Clearing House and build on activities and accomplishments of the Safety in Agriculture for Youth (SAY) project through marketing, outreach and expansion of 30 curriculums and 12 resources related to agricultural safety and health, and will continue to provide support to students taking the OSHA 10-Hour General Industry (Agriculture) course. ($112,000)
  • Ohio State University’s Ohio Safety in Youth for Agricultural project will support safety training for young farm workers and safety curriculum for educators who teach youth workers through non-formal and formal approaches, and will incorporate technology-based learning and performance tools into youth workforce training materials, such as on-line learning platforms with digital badges and Virtual Reality technologies. ($189,633)
  • Utah State University will promote and encourage a sustainable and highly qualified population of Tractor and Machinery Certification instructors who may serve an underrepresented population of youth representing African American, Native American, and Hispanic/Latinx farming communities as well as promote digital learning tools with Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification curriculum. ($113,719)

Learn more about eligibility and how to apply for NIFA’s Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification grants.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and Extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. In FY2020, NIFA’s total investment was $1.95 billion.

Visit our website: www.nifa.usda.gov; Twitter: @USDA_NIFA; LinkedIn: USDA-NIFA. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science (searchable by state or keyword), visit Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and www.nifa.usda.gov/impacts.

Source: NIFA Press Release KANSAS CITY, Mo., Nov. 4, 2021

(Photo illustration: Programs like the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program help improve the nutritional health of children and increase their agricultural knowledge through service-learning activities. Photo by Getty Images.)