Environmental Farm Plan 4-H project launched in Alberta
January 12, 2006:
The Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company (AEFP), which delivers environmental farm plans (EFPs) in the province, and Alberta 4-H, the province’s leading rural youth group, have teamed up to provide a new environmental project for senior 4-H members.
"The 4-H project follows the EFP process that all participating farmers use," says Therese Tompkins, AEFP Program Director. "EFPs involve completion of a voluntary, confidential plan that identifies and addresses environmental risks and opportunities on the farm or ranch, so this is a great opportunity to involve young people directly in on-farm environmental stewardship."
Participants in the 4-H EFPs will be able to complete a series of small projects to assess an actual farm operation from an environmental perspective. There are enough projects in the EFP guide to keep members actively involved for three years. As in an actual EFP, the goal is to define environmental strategies and the process for delivering the required changes.
"The project takes some serious effort, and young people will benefit most if they are motivated," says Terri Potter, a 4-H specialist with Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (AAFRD). "Besides learning first-hand about farm environmental efforts, they can qualify for high school credits.
"4-H can be used as a vehicle to complete Career and Technology Studies modules that can result in high school credits if members identify qualifying segments of the project up front with their career counsellor."
To help ensure the project runs smoothly and to make it a positive experience, participation from parents or the farm’s primary owner or stakeholder is encouraged, says Potter. "It’s a challenge for young people to take responsibility for making recommendations on their own. So it is helpful, if not necessary, for parents and adults, such as the farm owner or operator, to be involved in the whole process.
"Adult support also helps young people manage the workload, which is on top of their commitments to school and home," says Potter. "If a family member isn’t able to act as an advisor, a member of the EFP delivery team can help."
"Perhaps the greatest potential for the project is that we’re building environmental respect into the farmers of tomorrow," says Tompkins. "The 4-H motto is ’Learn to do by doing,’ and this project directly connects participants with actual farm management decisions.
"More than 4,000 farm families have participated in the EFP process since it began in 2002, and in another year 3,000 more are expected to participate. If we can involve young people in that process, that’s good news."
More information on the 4-H EFP project is available by contacting AEFP toll-free at 1-866-844-AEFP (2337) or Alberta 4-H at (780) 682-2153. General information on the EFP program is available at the AEFP Web site, www.albertaEFP.com.
Through the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), the Government of Canada provides major funding to EFP program in Alberta, with the Government of Alberta providing additional in-kind support services to help the agricultural sector develop and implement environmental farm plans.
Additional support has been provided by the Agriculture and Food Council, through the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Initiative; the Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Council and various ministries of the Government of Alberta. Contributions have also come from more than 100 local municipalities, businesses and agricultural organizations.