How you can reduce biosecurity risks in 4-H projects: Part 4

Biosecurity related to 4-H projects is a matter of high priority! Taking simple precautions will protect animals, members and consumers.

Michigan State University Extension continues a series about national and state agencies identifying biosecurity related to animal agriculture as a high priority. The United States Department of Agriculture has a long term goal of safeguarding the animal production industry from accidental outbreaks of animal disease. Disease control and surveillance and food system security are high priorities in ensuring that people and animals are protected.

As mentioned in part 1, 2 and 3, 4-H animal exhibitors can do their part to help safeguard the animal production industry by paying particular attention to their management, both on their own farms and during exhibition. This article will continue to provide an overview of current 4-H animal project trends, animal housing, animal pens, wash racks, judging areas and visitor interactions by exploring potential risks and how those risks can be reduced. This is the final article and will focus on youth biosecurity risk and disease prevention programs that can be implemented into club and county 4-H programs.

Previous articles have highlighted the numerous opportunities at shows, fairs and exhibitions for disease transmission risk associated with 4-H projects. Those risks identified were cleanliness of stalls and equipment, availability and use of hand and foot sanitation stations, and sanitation in wash rack and judging areas. The question is how do we teach youth how to assess and reduce risk, while building observation, problem-solving and decision making skills? The answer; begin being intentional about teaching biosecurity and disease prevention curriculum to clubs.

In response to the research that was conducted by the University of California Extension, a complete curriculum was developed that is free, and downloadable, and uses the Experiential Learning Model. The curriculum titled, BioSecurity in 4-H Animal Science, methodically and thoroughly educates youth in four modules.

The first module, Understanding disease transmission, designed for 9-11-year-old members, highlights through hands-on activities how diseases can be spread. The second module, Livestock Disease: Understanding the Risks, designed for members age 9-11, focuses on recognizing and addressing disease risks that are present at home or at any given fair or livestock event. Modules 3A and 3B, designed for 9-11-year-old members, have activities that address the issue of tracking animal movement, including the use of Global Positioning Systems and technology.

Utilizing curriculum about biosecurity and disease prevention will help deepen youths appreciation of their roles and responsibilities as animal caregivers and broaden their understanding of the connection between the animal agriculture industry and society.

Also look for Parts 5, 6 and 7 in this series.

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