Jerry Chizek, CEED, Calhoun County
The Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) Youth Program is a requirement for youth raising food animals for exhibit at county, regional, and state fairs. The certification program requires an annual two-hour face-to-face meeting for those 4-H members in grades 4th – 6th. Older 4-H’ers and/or FFA members can elect to participate in the two-hour program or “test out”. Because of this mandatory requirement for the younger animal producers, there is a need for county certification meetings that are not only educational, but understandable. Many young people do not totally understand their responsibilities as they relate to the seven good production practices because oftentimes they are not yet the primary decision makers in their livestock enterprises.
A PowerPoint presentation and hands-on activities were prepared for the two 2008 Calhoun County FSQA training sessions. The training program consisted of the responsibilities of each food animal producer in food safety, and the importance of following the seven good production practices. A detailed discussion and hands-on activities were conducted with good production practices #1 – “Keep Accurate Records”, #2 – “Establish a Vet-Client-Patient Relationship”, and #7 – “Exhibit Strong Character Traits (Ethics)”.
Two new activities used to illustrate good production practice #1 included “Orange You Mine”, an activity using common looking oranges to highlight the need for identification of medication-treated animals, and “Eye to Eye”, a match activity used to show the youth the technology of retinal imaging and how animals can be positively identified using these images.
Annually, good production practice #7 – Exhibit Strong Character Traits (Ethics) is stressed and many of the young people know the difference between right or wrong. Participants were challenged to question activities conducted by the people who are working with and guiding them in their livestock project.
A total of 58 youth participated in the two sessions held in January and March, 2008 making them eligible to exhibit their livestock at the various fairs and helping them provide a wholesome food product to the consumer. In the evaluation conducted at the end of both meetings, 80% of the youth found that the information on good production practice #1 was “very useful”. Eight-four percent said the information on establishing a vet-client-patient relationship was “very useful” as did 95% of the youth when evaluating the instruction on good production practice #7. When asked if they understood their role in raising healthy animals to produce safe food, 100 percent of the participants indicated they did.
When asked what one new thing did they learn by attending the program, written comments included: “what “ethical” means”, “you can’t give a pig a shot and the next day you sell it”, “that you need to take really good care of your animals”, and “that you need to treat your animal with respect and have a good relationship with your vet”.
156 – Youth and Consumer Programs
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September 26, 2008
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