Youth voices in agriculture
The Youth Voices in Agriculture Project aims to strengthen the regional food system by increasing the voices of young people, rarely heard in the policy discussions, to inform, educate, network with, and collaborate with food and agricultural professionals. The project has three phases. In the first phase, rural and urban students from New Jersey, the Greater Philadelphia area, and Maryland who have ongoing or are planning new activities that strengthen the food system and promote good nutrition were identified. Assisted by Extension, 4-H and other advisors, the students prepared case studies that documented their experience with the activities and lessons learned, which were then compiled into a manual. Phase 2 brought together youth and adult participants (students, Extension 4-H specialists, other Extension personnel, and other agriculture professionals) in a “Youth Voices Professional Development Workshop” at the December 2003 Future of Our Food and Farms Summit in Wilmington, Delaware. At this training workshop, students presented the materials from their case studies, the case studies manual was distributed, and participants engaged in a structured discussion about the students’ experiences. Participants then identified and planned potential follow-on activities and collaborative projects. Three of these projects were selected to receive $1,500 mini-grants. In Phase 3, these follow-on projects were then developed and implemented, the evaluation conducted, and the second “Youth Voices Professional Development Workshop” was held at the 6th Annual Future of Our Food and Farms Summit in Philadelphia, PA. At this training workshop, attended by 120 participants, students and adults presented materials from their mini-grants projects, and followed with structured discussions and/or hands-on demonstrations of their experiences. Of the 120 who attended the workshop, 70 participants received scholarships. Participants again identified and planned follow-on activities and collaborative projects.
The performance targets of this project are:
- 75 adult workshop participants will have learned new ways to increase rural and urban youth awareness of the regional food system and participation in it, generate active youth support for farming in the region, boost youth awareness and purchases of local food, and increase consumption of healthy food.
20 youth participants (including middle and high school students) from the Greater Philadelphia area, Maryland, and New Jersey will have learned new ways to increase their awareness of and active participation in the region’s food system.
15 participants will have initiated up to five new youth activities as a result of the training, at least three of which will be collaborative (two or more organizations).
At the end of the project, participating Cooperative Extension and other agriculture professionals will have significantly increased their knowledge and skills in working with youth on activities to strengthen the food system.
It is important to note that the first snowstorm of the season took place on the day of the 2003 workshop at the 5th Annual Future of Our Food and Farms Summit in Wilmington, DE, which had 23 participants. The second workshop in 2004 was held in Philadelphia, PA at the 6th Annual Future of Our Food and Farms Summit and had 120 participants, 70 of which were scholarship recipients.
Phase I: More than 35 students participated in projects in the three participating states. They worked with project staff and cooperators including Cooperative Extension, 4-H Extension, 4-H Extension specialists, and The Food Trust. From their experiences, students selected which activity to develop into a case-study/lessons-learned manual. (May 2003)
Through conference calls among project staff and a staff meeting with students from each state, the Professional Development Workshop agenda was set. Extensive promotional materials were disseminated widely by project staff through the mail, Internet and email throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. (August 2003)
Workshop speakers (students) were selected by the students themselves with guidance from project staff collaborators.
The youth-project case studies and lessons-learned manual was completed, and the manual published in November.
Phase II 2003: “Youth Voices Professional Development Workshop” at the December 2003 Future of Our Food and Farms Summit. The workshop was conducted on December 5th in Wilmington, Delaware; 23 participants attended, including16 adults and 7 students. At this training workshop, students presented the materials from their case studies, the case studies manual was distributed, and participants engaged in a structured discussion about the students’ experiences. Participants then identified and planned potential follow-on activities and collaborative projects. As noted earlier, the snowstorm reduced the number of participants and presenters in 2003, requiring some adjustments to the program. However, in general the program content of the original project design remained the same, and although some of the students could not attend, most went on to participate in the collaborative projects. This was possible because most adult collaborators were able to attend the program and participate in the development of the project proposals.
Phase II 2004: “Youth Voices Professional Development Workshop” was conducted at the December 2004 Future of Our Food and Farms Summit, on December 3rd in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 120 participants attended, 70 of whom were scholarship recipients, including 29 adults and 41 students. It should be noted that if there were funds available, the program could have provided far more youth scholarships because the interest was there. We estimate sufficient interest to have allowed approximately 32 additional student scholarships.
There Youth Voices workshop held at the 2004 Summit was split into two sessions. The three collaborative projects initiated as a result of the 2003 Summit were very successful and were the basis of the first session. In addition, youth projects from throughout the region were highlighted and future collaborative activities were planned at the second session, again at lunch at the Summit, and in subsequent discussions, which are still taking place through emails and phone calls.
The three mini-grant projects that were begun as a result of the 2003 Summit were:
- Jan Scholl, Penn State, Voices in Action
Ellen Williams, 4-H Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Monmouth County, NJ State Liaison, Youth Voices In Agriculture Project
Jennifer Rulf, Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI)
These projects were very successful and exceeded our expectations in terms of both accomplishments and collaboration. Follow-on mini-grant projects being planned will be decided in early 2005.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The “Youth Voices Professional Development Workshop” was conducted at the December 2004 Future of Our Food and Farms Summit, on December 3rd in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In total, 120 participants attended, 70 of which were scholarship recipients, including 29 adults and 41 students. The majority of the 2004 participants were female, and among all workshop attendees, approximately 81% were adults (over the age of 18).
Feedback from the sessions was overwhelmingly positive. Nearly 80% of participants believed that the sessions were useful, and no participants reported that the sessions were not useful.
Youth Voices participants found that the program increased their awareness of ways that youth can become involved in buying and selling local food (80%), generated active support for local farming particularly among youth (74%) served as an opportunity for dialogue and networking (73%), helped to promote the consumption of local healthy food (85%), and generally met expectations (76%). Participants made the following comments about the workshop:
“The youth I supervise had the opportunity to learn something so valuable as well as partner in the future, doing powerful, fun, valuable work. Thank you!”
“Wonderful- maybe in the near future the summit can be held during summer months or spring break.”
“I was excited to see so many young people in attendance. Most conferences are lacking in youth perspectives.”
End of workshop evaluations revealed that participants learned new ways to create new programs with children and youth regarding food. Attendees reported that they learned:
“How important the 5 a Day program becomes once you have traditional agricultural production paradigms.”
“There’s interest in farming all over the country, no matter if it’s a rural or urban area.”
Recommendations from attendees centered upon ways youth can have an expanded voice. For example:
“Find a youth keynote speaker.”
The Youth Voices project includes three performance targets to be met. The performance targets are listed below followed by a summary of 2003 and 2004 progress toward the goal(s)
Total Participation to Date:
- A total of 143 attendees at the Youth Voices in Agriculture workshops at the 2003 and 2004 Summits.
A total of approximately 65 students have been actively involved with the Youth Voices in Agriculture program activities.
A total of 140 participants participated in the mini-grants workshops, field days, and food and nutrition activities.
PERFORMANCE TARGET 1: 75 adult workshop participants will have learned new ways to increase rural and urban youth awareness of the regional food system and participation in it, generate active youth support for farming in the region, boost youth awareness and purchases of local food, and increase consumption of healthy food.
PROGRESS TOWARD GOAL(S): A total of 23 participants attended the 2003 event (16 adults and 7 students) and a total of 120 participants attended the 2004 event. End of program evaluations revealed that on average, four out of every five participants believed the program taught new ways to increase rural and urban youth awareness of the regional food system and participation in it, generate active youth support for farming in the region, boost youth awareness and purchases of local food, and increase consumption of healthy food.
PERFORMANCE TARGET 2: 20 youth participants (including middle and high school students) from the Greater Philadelphia area, Maryland, and New Jersey will have learned new ways to increase their awareness of and active participation in the region’s food system.
PROGRESS TOWARD GOAL(S): In 2003, 7 students and in 2004, 41 middle and high school students from the greater Philadelphia area, Maryland and New Jersey participated in the Youth Voices Workshops. More than 35 students participated in projects in the three participating states in 2003 and in 2004 approximately 30 students were involved with the program to varying degrees, working to facilitate programming around the mini-grant projects. Students demonstrated the creative ways that they discovered to increase awareness of food systems and nutrition at these workshops.
PERFORMANCE TARGET 3: 15 participants will have initiated up to five new youth activities as a result of the training, at least three of which will be collaborative (two or more organizations).
PROGRESS TOWARD GOAL(S): Three collaborative youth activities occurred in 2004, UNI project, Penn State Voices in Action Project, and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Project. Over the course of the grant, 10 youth activities are planned, or have occurred. (Six individual activities occurred in 2003, three collaborative activities occurred in 2004, and one cumulative collaborative activity is planned for 2005.)
Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI): The mission of the UNI SARE grant was to begin developing a regional network of youth and adults who work with youth involved in food, nutrition and agriculture education. Our goals for this initiative were: 1) To meet others working in this field in order to give young people an understanding of the scope of the food system reform movement, in other words, that this is an exciting, hopeful and inspiring field with many personal and professional growth opportunities 2) To establish a learning community amongst participants 3) To provide leadership opportunities for youth participants (i.e. through field day planning and implementation, presentations, etc.) UNI’s efforts resulted in a successful first year with two field days implemented. The first, held in July of 2004 was hosted by UNI in West Philadelphia. There were a total of over 30 participants at that field day: 25 guests and approximately five UNI students and staff members. The second field day, though considerably different from the first, was effective in furthering our established goals. Since there was not as much of a diversity of organizations present (organizations), the sharing and conversation that took place amongst us allowed us to become better acquainted with one another, both personally and programmatically, and, once again, youth participants stepped up to their leadership responsibilities with poise. Through both the oral and written reflection, participants expressed enthusiasm for the further development of the network initiated; there was interest in attending, if not hosting, future field days. Furthermore, as hoped, the events spurred collaborative efforts that went beyond the scope of the field day structure.
Penn State Voices in Action: The purpose of the Penn State, Voices in Action Project was to design a bibliography of food and nutrition resources to be made available to other states for use in youth/adolescent-oriented food and farming projects. Because food models are important tools for helping young people recognize foods and where and how they are grown and to help them plan adequate meals on their own, the project developed a test kit of rubber food models. In total, 85 youth participated in this yearlong project and one-day workshop, including sixty-three girls and twenty-two boys. Participating youth lived both in urban and rural areas, and represented multiple ethnic backgrounds.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension: The Rutgers Cooperative extension project developed a program to support strengthening training for peer educators in nutrition education. The specific interest expressed by the NJ and PA youth was to learn new classroom management skills which they would then apply in their nutrition education outreach. The project brought together youth from NJ and PA for two major project components a Youth Voices in Agriculture Field Day and ”Useful hands at Work” Farmers’ Market activities. A total of 7 adults and 18 youth from PA and NJ participated in the one-day event, while 10 youth participated in the farmers’ market activities. The project provided youth with the opportunity to learn new information from skilled presenters and to share learnings with the group their respective programs: NJ: Atlantic City Youth Corps landscaping and farmers market, Monmouth County’s 4-H Asbury Park “Useful Hands At Work” Farmers Market, PA: Youth cooking teams) Over 50% of the youth rated the overall program 8-10 on a scale of 10. Additional comments were: “I would rate this as very great”, “It was a lot of useful information we learned”, “I learned a lot from this session”, “Excellent.”
Adult comments included: “Very good. A lot of information given out”, “Speakers were very informative and committed to their subject matter and the community”.
4-H Extension Educator
Maryland Cooperative Extension
Office Phone: 4103132708
4-H Agent Monmouth County Cooperative Extension
Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Office Phone: 7324317263
Executive Assistant to the Secretary for Interagen
University of Maryland
50 Harry S. Truman Parkway
Anapolis, MD 21401
Office Phone: 4108415782
Hershey Brothers Farm
2019 Locust Grove Road
Manheim, PA 17545
Office Phone: 7174682681
Director Small Farm Institute
University of Maryland
7320 Ritchie Hwy, Suite 210
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
Office Phone: 4102226759