Non-ownership livestock programs: A great way to engage urban youth!

Engaging youth who live in urban areas in non-ownership livestock programs is a great way to expand knowledge of the agriculture industry, develop life skills and spur interest in agriculture.

Non-ownership livestock program can increase the number of youth who live in urban areas that don’t have direct access to farms or ranches. This program allows youth to learn about and experience the joys and trials of animal science projects. 

Michigan State University Extension says non-ownership livestock programs can help youth build a foundation of education about animal science by learning about breeds of livestock, anatomy, uses of livestock, different types of feed and many other relevant topics.  They can gain hands-on experience with animal science by participating in farm visits and building relationships with producers and industry representatives that can expand their knowledge.  All of these activities will help youth gain an understanding of livestock production practices, market factors and the food chain supply. This helps them become educated consumers and possibly one day producers.

Non-ownership livestock projects are also great ways to introduce younger members into livestock projects before they advance to ownership.  Teaching younger youth the basics of animal science is a great way to prepare them for livestock ownership.  They will have the primary content knowledge about breeds, safe handling techniques and care of the animal before they commit to owning an animal.

The most important aspect for 4-H programs to consider before implementing a non-ownership livestock project area is to offer a user friendly curriculum so that volunteers, youth and parents know what to expect from the program.  The curriculum should be progressive and build from simple content area topics to more complex ones.  Also, a list of local producers and industry representatives should be developed so that youth and volunteers know specific individuals who can assist in various content areas.

Non-ownership livestock projects are a great way to increase urban youth participation, spark an interest in animal science and advocate for the livestock agriculture industry!

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