As the nation’s farmers and ranchers age, the need is greater than ever to transfer skills and knowledge to a younger generation of prospective and aspiring farmers. Youth agriculture education grants can remove barriers and help young learners contribute to the continued success and sustainability of farming in the U.S. Student eligibility for these programs will vary according to age.
What Are Youth Agriculture Education Grants?
Youth agriculture education grants help to make this possible by funding opportunities for young learners and community members to observe, learn about, and participate in farming practices and agricultural experiences.According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, new farmers entering into agriculture today face new and different challenges than did previous generations of farmers (7). This means that youth agriculture education must be dynamic, adaptive, and accessible.
Public School Programs
Youth agriculture education grants can help bring farming and agriculture-themed programs to public schools, even those which are not located in rural settings. Through a combination of in-class instruction, hands-on experience, and field trips, students learn about nutrition, food science, sustainable land use, and organizational leadership. For instance, 2019 NAEF grantee Learn Through Gardening provides New Jersey elementary schools with financial, educational and agricultural resources to create school gardens that can be used as learning laboratories.
Community Outreach Programs
Youth Agriculture Education Grants are awarded to 501(c)3 non-profit organizations, especially those with ties to local communities and state-wide outreach programs. Community outreach programs provide young learners with the opportunity to participate in training workshops, apprenticeships, national conferences, and more. For instance, 2019 NAEF grantee Junior Dairy Leaders provides New York high-schoolers with the opportunity to gain practical agriculture career training through its partnership with Cornell University and its receipt of a youth agriculture education grant.
Youth Agriculture Education Grants also provide funding for a number of important national agriculture education and youth outreach programs. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are several key organizations supporting positive youth development and promoting healthy eating and nutrition, especially in rural communities. The USDA identifies several key agencies in its youth agriculture education efforts, including the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), and Rural Development (8). Other important national organizations include 4-H, Future Farmers of America, and Young Leaders in Agriculture.
Read on to find out how you can apply for a Northeast Agriculture Education Foundation grant.
7. Juli Obudzinksi; Jan Perez; and Ann Williams, Ph.D. (2017). Cultivating the Next Generation: An Evaluation of the Beginning of Farmer & Rancher Development Program (2009-2015). National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. https://sustainableagriculture.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Cultivating-the-Next-Generation-Oct-2017.pdf
8. youth.gov. (2020). Federal Funding Sources— U.S. Department of Agriculture. youth.gov. https://youth.gov/funding-search/federal-funding-sources/us-department-agriculture