The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

Oregon State University awarded a $10 Million grant to foster youth innovators in agriculture

Graphic by Natalie Lutz, Orange Media Network
OMN Creative Team

Oregon State University secured a 5-year, $10 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to lead an initiative to improve research and education in food and agricultural sciences.

The OSU Extension services has been designated as a National Center of Excellence for Youth and Development, which will focus on support and collaboration to guarantee the success of projects and initiatives that promote youth in agriculture, according to an OSU press release.

“What’s interesting is when we originally applied for this grant, we applied to be the coordinator. And one of the things that stood out to (the National Institute of Food and Agriculture) was our commitment to inclusivity,” said Kristopher Elliott, associate director of OSU extension and the grant’s principal investigator. “Our history of doing very positive diversity, equity, inclusion work, proven track record of the success of training and pointing to the existing program we have.”

According to the press release, OSU extension services will bring in dedicated staff that will be responsible for ensuring smooth implementation and effective evaluation of the projects. This includes a program coordinator and an evaluation coordinator.

The extension services will also facilitate communication and develop a website in English and Spanish that will serve as the primary means of communicating information for projects and to highlight their impact on the communities.

“If we translate our services into multiple languages, everyone should feel welcome. Everyone should be able to participate without language being a barrier,” Elliott said. “We provide opportunities for childcare at some of our events, and that’s a barrier. We try to provide food when we can.”

According to Elliott, OSU Extension was awarded this grant based on the track record of its faculty and staff being experts in multiple fields.

“I think one of the reasons we were selected for this grant is we have a track record of doing that well. And so one of our roles as a coordinator is to provide all of the resources and trainings … (and then) share all of these things that we’ve learned and make those available to anyone that’s going to be involved in equity work, particularly with youth,” Elliott said.

Elliott also emphasized that often, after the end of a 5-year cycle of a grant like this, NIFA will keep funding the program.

According to the USDA, all funded initiatives under the Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture Across America program will include engagement of youths in agricultural careers, culturally relevant experiential learning, and focused collaboration with tribal communities and designated U.S. insular areas – which include American Samoa, Guam, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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