Education grant provides funding for improving youth awareness and understanding of zoonotic diseases

Julie Thelen, Michigan State University Extension educator for Michigan 4-H Livestock and Veterinary Science Programs, along with her partners in the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), recently received funding for the Michigan Youth Zoonotic Disease Education Grant.

A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be passed between animals and humans. This project will focus on improving youth awareness and understanding related to the possibilities of zoonotic disease transmission when working with animals, and motivating young people to take appropriate precautions to minimize risk. This is an important life skill in personal safety and disease prevention for our youth and a very relevant educational component for our animal and veterinary science programs.

By working with our young people, we are preparing current animal handlers and educating the next generation of animal production agriculture leaders. Not only are well-trained, cautious personnel susceptible to diseases transferred from animals, but youth who have not been educated about such possibilities run an even greater risk of potential health concerns with zoonotic diseases. With this educational outreach opportunity, youth will better understand the precautions they should practice when working with or near animals.

This educational effort offered to 4-H youth will allow them to live healthier lives and help to make a difference in their clubs, communities, country and world. Michigan 4-H engages almost 30,000 youth annually in 4-H animal programs. This funding will provide Michigan 4-H with a much-needed educational resource. We look forward to the impact that the created zoonosis educational materials and resources will have on our youth.

Congratulations, Julie!

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