New Multi-Species Program for Youth Focuses on Animal Care
March 31, 2017

Youth who raise and show animals have a new tool to help them focus on quality care and food safety. The Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) program went live this week.

YQCA is a national youth food safety and quality assurance curriculum developed by a group of educators and livestock industry professionals targeting youth 8 to 21 years of age. The multi-species program (beef, dairy, goat, poultry, rabbit, sheep and swine) uses an online, interactive platform of both online-led and instructor-led trainings.

The program focuses on animal care, including food safety and animal well-being, while enhancing life skills, according to Peter Orwick, American Sheep Industry Association executive director, who was a part of the development process.

"Youth today are the future of livestock production and need to be educated on these very important issues so they can become more informed producers, consumers and/or employees in the agriculture and food industry," said Orwick. "Youth exhibitors raise thousands of animals and contribute to millions of pounds of meat marketed each year making it essential for them to know their role in providing safe products to consumers."

The YQCA curriculum is set up for any youth in the United States to have access to the online program and to gain certification. For each year's certification, topics covering food safety, animal well-being and life skills are covered. The YQCA certification is good for one year and youth only complete it once annually regardless of the number of species they raise.