CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University Extension Service will use a five-year, $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to serve as coordinator of USDA-funded projects that aim to cultivate the next generation of research, education and Extension professionals in food and agricultural sciences.
Together for Innovating Youth in Agriculture, housed at OSU and designating OSU Extension as a National Center of Excellence for Youth Development, will emphasize support, collaboration and technology to ensure the success of projects that promote positive youth development in agriculture, both regionally and nationally. OSU is the sole institution that will maintain the Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture Across America Coordination Network (YEA-CN).
With the grant, OSU Extension will integrate racial justice, equity and opportunity frameworks in programs, training and evaluation. In addition, OSU Extension will lead the development of youth climate change curriculum with an emphasis in “climate smart” agriculture and forestry.
“OSU Extension was awarded this grant because our faculty and staff have a proven track record of expertise in all of the areas required for this network to be successful,” said Kristopher Elliott, associate director of OSU Extension, who will serve as the grant’s principal investigator. “For example, we are a national leader in positive youth development. The 4-H Thriving Model for Positive Youth Development, developed by our faculty, is used widely across the country and is a likely component of projects in the Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture Across America program.”
Another example, Elliott said, is Extension’s leadership role in the launch of Oregon’s statewide outdoor school program in 2017. In outdoor school’s inaugural year Extension coordinated the efforts of 197 school districts to engage more than 30,000 students. The launch involved the creation of reporting and evaluation structures and professional development opportunities, the establishment of a curriculum clearinghouse and the support of culturally responsive programming.
OSU Extension will take a similar approach in building Together for Innovating Youth in Agriculture. Extension’s first-year responsibilities include:
According to USDA, all funded projects in the Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture Across America program will align with agency priorities and include the following components:
Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture Across America is a program of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Education and Workforce Development Program.
About the OSU Extension Service: The Oregon State University Extension Service shares research-based knowledge with people and communities in Oregon’s 36 counties. OSU Extension addresses issues that matter to urban and rural Oregonians. OSU Extension’s partnerships and programs contribute to a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future for Oregon.