ALBANY — The NYS Agricultural Society Foundation (NYSASF) is partnering with local community organizations to promote agricultural literacy in youth. By doing a better job of informing kids about how their food is produced, and the diverse and exciting career opportunities that are available to explore in agriculture and food production, the Foundation envisions that a stronger tie can be forged with future consumers, opinion leaders and decision-makers. In 2018 grants will be distributed to four organizations stretching from Central NY to East Harlem. Grants range in size from $2,000 to $2,500.
PRO DAIRY Junior Dairy Leader (JDL) – JDL is a yearlong program that prepares 16 to 19-year old youths for successful careers in the dairy industry and agriculture. Up to 30 young people are selected annually to participate. The program begins with a weeklong trip to Wisconsin to attend the National 4-H Dairy Conference and tour the region. This is followed by eight additional workshops that are two to four days long throughout the program year.
Cayuga County Cornell Cooperative Extension – Through a five-month Agricultural Career Explorations Program, youth in grades 8-10 will learn about different types of agriculture, career options, and visit agricultural college programs. In addition to workshops conducted by professionals engaged in dairy, beef and vegetable farming, livestock nutrition, agricultural consulting, animal health, genetics, and more, youth will have the opportunity to visit three farms who operate their facilities using state-of-the-art technology. This relates well to STEM programming already conducted in area schools.
Kingston YMCA – Grant dollars will be used to support an “Afterschool Cooking Crew” and “Youth Farm Crew” that will provide 5 ½ months of continuous agricultural related experience for urban high schoolers. The YMCA anticipates a minimum of 30 youth over the course of the 2018 growing season to participate. The YMCA aims to:
• Train teens to use fresh, seasonal produce in recipes for optimum flavor and nutrition
• Increase awareness among local teens of urban agricultural practices
• Cultivate the next generation of agricultural stewards
• Provide a career pathway in sustainable food and agriculture for young adults
• Lay the groundwork for youth to experience hands-on agricultural work
• Give teens avenues to share their agricultural knowledge with the community
Concrete Safaris – Located in East Harlem, Concrete Safaris’ Outdoor Leadership Academy will conduct a garden internship program to prepare youth in the community and beyond to lead healthy lives and shape their environment through outdoor education, play, exploration, and community engagement.
The NYSASF was formed in 2011 by the 186-year old NYS Agricultural Society to enable individuals and organizations to make charitable contributions in support of education, leadership development and recognition efforts that promote and improve the NYS food and agricultural industry. “Our donors want to make a significant difference in the communities where they live, work and market healthy foods,” said Foundation president, Mark Modzeleski of Cazenovia, NY. “Now in its fifth year, our grant program is doing just that. It’s exciting to see the energy and creativity that local groups are expending on behalf of agriculture. Although our grants are not large, working in conjunction with other partners and resources enables new ideas to be realized and duplicated elsewhere in the state.”
In addition to providing educational grants, NYSASF sponsors 15 young adults or Ambassadors ages 18-25 to attend the NYS Ag Society Forum each January, which is the largest statewide meeting of its kind. The program has been successful in informing young adults about agricultural careers and emerging issues that are shaping the industry’s future. Over $100,000 was raised by 25 individuals and organizations in 2017 to create a separate Foundation fund to support the Ambassador program moving forward.
For information on the Ambassadors and the 2019 NYS Ag Society Foundation grant program, go to www.nysagsociety.org. Grant applications are due December 3.
–NYS Agricultural Society Foundation
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