When it comes to manure management education, great efforts are made every day reaching out to current producers, haulers and other farm professionals. However, there is another important audience that often gets overlooked, and that is youth. Laying a foundation for understanding manure management is a key to success for the future of farming and the environment. Youth have much to gain from learning about how manure impacts their communities, whether through school curriculum and the ag education classroom, 4-H clubs, or individual experiences.
When young children become aware that simple actions can make a difference it can lead to lifelong best management practice behaviors. Simple tasks, such as keeping manure piles away from the family well, can keep their family safe. As youth get older, they begin to realize the impacts that their daily behaviors have on the farm, on local water resources, and on their community. Learning about environmentally sensitive areas on the farm as well as soil health and nutrient management can make a huge difference. Today’s youth are the future of Pennsylvania’s farming industry and they are also Pennsylvania’s future decision makers.
In 2018, Penn State Extension, the Lancaster County Conservation District, and the Manheim Central Ag Ed program will be unveiling a new manure management curriculum guide for youth. It will be developed specifically to help youth in Pennsylvania’s 4-H and FFA programs to learn about developing their own manure management plans. The curriculum development is supported by an environmental education grant awarded by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. The guide will provide thought-provoking and hands-on activities that help youth better understand the basics of manure.
Trainings and toolkits will be offered to teachers and volunteer leaders at statewide conferences throughout the summer 2018 and into 2019.
Pennsylvania youth and their families will find hands-on workshops being offered by Penn State Extension across the state at the end of 2018 and through spring 2019.