Date: August 2019
Title: YQCA Develops Informed, Proactive 4-H Livestock Exhibitors
Team: Tami Mosier, Amy Rumschlag, Roger Sherer, Rae Ann O'Neill, Samuel Johnson, Barbara Thuma, Todd Geiger, Lynne Wahlstrom, Douglas Keenan, Matthew Dice
Purdue Extension Goals: Enhancing Positive Life Skills, Expanding Agriculture-Related Opportunities, Promoting Healthy Living, Supporting Career Preparation
At the sunset of the National Pork Board's Youth Pork Quality Assurance Program, Indiana 4-H was tasked with a decision: educate all youth on animal welfare with a new program or educate none of them for lack of one. Indiana 4-H is in the business of education, so the decision was easy. Indiana 4-H adopted Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) as their annual required certification for all youth livestock exhibitors who plan to exhibit swine, beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits, and poultry.
YQCA focuses on three core pillars--food safety, animal well-being, and character development. Although youth have the option of completing the certification course online, many choose to complete their certifications via in-person, instructor-led courses. Despite differing platforms, "YQCA promotes the development of a common framework for youth livestock quality assurance programs that will enhance the educational experience of youth, improve the care of animals, and provide a higher level of food safety to consumers."
What Has Been Done
4-H Youth Development Extension Educators in Extension Area XI which encompasses nine northeast Indiana counties taught 1,223 4-H youth livestock exhibits via in-person, instructor-led certification courses. Each session was no less than 60 minutes, and all nine counties used the same curriculum, slide set, and script provided by YQCA staff. In all cases, the Extension Educators set up the online registration for their courses, collected participant information, and recorded the completed certifications online. The Area XI team developed a written post-course evaluation to assess the impact of the certification courses, entered the written responses into an online portal for data analysis, and subsequently analyzed the data.
Written responses were collected from 1,223 4-H youth livestock exhibitors from the nine county area representing 11,438 animals. The 2019 YQCA curriculum addressed the importance of a veterinary-client-patient-relationship, and 82% of the youth livestock exhibitors who responded to the post-course evaluation affirmed they have a veterinary-client-patient-relationship or intend to start one. 76% of the respondents stated they know the name of the veterinarian and/or veterinary practice their family uses. This shows that a portion of the participants who do not already have one will be proactive in obtaining a veterinary and developing a relationship in pursuit of positive animal well-being.
The course also concentrates on proper medication storage, use, and disposal. As a result of the course, 94% of the youth respondents stated they feel comfortable reading a medication label and understand the components on the label. Similarly, of the youth who attended the course, 95% declared they can define and calculate withdrawal times, the time it takes a medication and its residue to leave the body for a safe harvest.
93% of the youth attendees are able to troubleshoot biosecurity challenges, issues with feed and water supply, and issues with facilities and equipment following the certification course. When it comes to an emergency, 94% can identify the components of an emergency action plan and how they can be implemented in youth livestock projects.
As a result of the YQCA course, 93% of the livestock exhibitors professed they can demonstrate ways to positively share the story of youth livestock projects and their effect on the community and youth.
At the close of the course, when asked what youth learned, they shared they learned "how to start and emergency action plan" and "the importance of an emergency plan." Others said, "I learned how diseases spread," "withdrawal times are very important to the animal and the market," and "I learned that animals should be quarantined for 30 days after the show."
When asked what youth will do differently as a result of the course, they explained they plan to create an emergency plan, strengthen their veterinary-client-patient-relationship, read medication labels before using medications on their animals, and practicing biosecurity measures. One member stated they plan on "setting goals for myself and my animals."
Youth shared that YQCA better equips them to care for their animals as it helps them answer difficult questions, develops responsibility, makes them more aware of what to do in specific situations, and helps them send a safe animal to market.