WASHINGTON, June 22, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced an investment in youth development projects to advance youth understanding of climate change and nutrition security challenges, while invigorating their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and careers.
This $39 million investment across five projects is made through NIFA’s Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture Across America (YEA) program, part of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences.
“Young people will lead the future of food and agriculture. Youth development programs, like those supported through YEA, provide tremendous opportunities for young people that foster healthy relationships and build on their leadership strengths,” said USDA NIFA Director Dr. Manjit Misra. “These projects exemplify NIFA’s goals to strengthen and promote healthy youth development and give young people the tools they need to be catalysts for deep and lasting change in their communities.”
YEA programs will lead to a reimagined youth development outreach system that will prepare young people for careers in agriculture and food sciences, and support youth programs like 4-H.
YEA projects also support AFRI priorities as outlined in the Farm Bill and USDA’s priorities of addressing climate change via climate smart agriculture and forestry; advancing racial justice, equity, and opportunity; creating more and better market opportunities; tackling food and nutrition insecurity; and promoting workforce development.
The award recipients include:
- The University of Maine will increase the number of youth studying food and agriculture, increase the capacity of communities to promote food and agriculture, and increase the capacity of the Cooperative Extension System, through the 4-H youth development program, to better connect with youth and parents from immigrant, refugee and asylum-seeking communities.
- North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will leverage the strengths of the 1890 Land-grant University (LGU) System to prepare middle and high school-aged African American, Hispanic, and Native American youth with leadership skills necessary for agricultural-related careers.
- North Carolina State University will improve STEM participation, persistence, and career readiness among Latino youth in North Carolina and Washington through the National Juntos Consortium and STEM agriculture pathways (AP) - a transformational, interdisciplinary, collaborative program that will increase opportunities for Latino youth to engage in STEM education and workforce activities; and enhance the skills, capacities and motivation of Latino youth to engage with STEM AP learning and career opportunities.
- Ohio State University will launch an integrated project to engage youth and adults, particularly from diverse and historically underserved communities, to increase understanding of career and employment pathways in agriculture and food systems. The project will also inform culturally responsive practices to improve the reach and inclusion of more diverse audiences in LGU-led youth development programs.
- Oregon State University will integrate racial justice, equity and opportunity frameworks in programs, training and evaluation. The project will leverage technology for data collection, evaluation, communication, marketing, professional development and data visualization of project outcomes and impacts.
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 FY2022, NIFA’s total investment was $2.2 billion.
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