In its third year, the Alaska Farm Bureau’s Agriculture Education Mini-Grant continues to provide assistance to organizations and individuals educating youth on agriculture in Alaska. We are excited at the variety of projects and the outreach through “train the trainer” programs as well as hands on experience for youth.
Thank you to all applicants for seeing the importance of bringing agriculture to our youth, and congratulations to this year’s recipients:
Alaska Ag in the Classroom will be developing a series of lesson plans on practical and affordable year round indoor gardening techniques for classrooms. They will also offer educator workshops to reach Alaska’s teachers, students and communities with information and education about Alaska’s agricultural industry.
Covenant House serves homeless, trafficked and at-risk youth that have little connection to their food sources and lack a good understanding of proper nutrition and health. The Plant Your Future agriculture education project will allow homeless youth residing at CHA’s Youth Engagement Center to create a youth-run 200 sq. ft. urban garden on-site at the YEC shelter courtyard. The overall goal is to introduce homeless youth to how their food is sourced and to increase general agricultural knowledge, particularly on how agriculture works in Alaska. Other goals would be to increase their appreciation of farming, to learn more about horticultural science, to learn gardening skills, to expose them to agriculture as a potential career and to allow them to experience the therapeutic benefits of farming. Finally, youth will learn about garden-based nutrition and how a “seed-to-plate” program works. Youth will ultimately benefit from the nutritional value of the garden as harvested vegetables will be used in the meals at the Covenant House shelter.
Alaska FFA is hoping to grow high school agriculture education programs in Alaska, the four Alaska FFA officers will travel to all the current agriculture and natural resource programs in the state and provide leadership training to approximately 300 members. This program will provide leadership training as well as agriculture related skills and knowledge to chapter members. A major goal aims to continue to grow FFA and educate students about opportunities for a successful career in agriculture and natural resources.
Dena’ina & Goose Bay Elementary will provide an opportunity for kindergarten students to experience poultry production first-hand. Specifically; increase student’s knowledge of how a chick develops from fertilized embryo to hatched chick, learn about the conditions required for eggs to hatch (incubator, turning of the eggs, appropriate temperature and humidity), learn to candle an egg to determine if it is fertilized or not, and how to care for a baby chick once it has hatched.
Thorne Bay School in the Southeast Island School District will be working with students to create a fully functional fiber harvesting business involving live animals. The chosen breed would be Angora Rabbits which can have their fur humanely harvested and processed for sale and are small enough to require less space than a sheep. Students would need to create a business plan involving the purchase of pellets and fresh hay and take into account the added expense of living on an island where items must be shipped to. Students would also be responsible for caring for all the animals, properly harvesting the fiber, spinning the fiber, and selling it as yarn or as a finished product.
Tanana District Livestock Committee is committed to providing exceptional leadership and educational opportunities to the 4-H and FFA members in the Interior. A major goal for 2017-2018 is expanding the meat quality assurance program into our market program. Through such national certifications as Beef Quality Assurance and Pork Quality Assurance, we strive to provide our youth the best opportunity to learn and grow as responsible members of the Agricultural Community. We would be able to help cover the cost to bring an expert on quality assurance and meat science to the interior. Sarah Baker is an extension agent with the University of Idaho and specializes in cattle management and meat science. She has a bachelor’s degree in range management from the University of Idaho and a master’s degree in Meat Science from there as well. She is willing to come to Alaska and teach a multitude of classes including a train the trainer course in Beef quality assurance and teach meat quality and meat science classes to the 4-H and FFA members as well as the general public.
At Kodiak Heritage Farms, part of Kodiak Baptist Mission, we are diligently working to raise a generation of educated youth in the area of Alaskan farming. We are daily transforming our 32 acre campus to serve as a training ground toward these efforts. Thanks in part to the Alaska Farm Bureau Grant of 2016 we have doubled our farm program and will be offering twice as many camps this coming summer. We are also piloting a farm after school program, daily visits from four preschool classes and a “parent and me” farm introduction class. We are excited to take the next step in educating our youth on where their food comes from by beginning a teaching kitchen. This will be a place for our next generation farmers to be active participants in watching their food, which they have had a hand in caring for, planting and harvesting be transformed into healthy meals. We hope to inspire these young people and their families by creating a community climate that values our local farmers and instills the importance of working hard for our food and seeing the direct affect it can have on their lives and their health.