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Oct. 22, 2014

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

Julie Thelen, MSU Extension educator for Michigan 4-H Livestock and Veterinary Science Programs, and partners in the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan Department of Community Health, have received the Michigan Youth Zoonotic Disease Education Grant.

The $20,000 grant will provide an educational program that will implement two strategies to increase awareness of zoonotic diseases and risks to the youth of Michigan. All 4-H and Future Farmers of America members will receive informational pamphlets and other materials. More than 44,000 Michigan 4-H members will receive these materials. Also, educational efforts will be maintained through reinforcement strategies that include distribution of educational toolkits, zoonosis signage at fairs and events and a zoonosis education video contest.

Zoonotic diseases, such as E. coli, salmonella and certain strains of influenza, are diseases that can be passed between humans and animals. In Michigan, limited resources exist to teach youth about the dangers of zoonotic diseases. This project will help fill the void.

The 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.

“Zoonotic diseases are a growing concern for those working with animals,” said Thelen. “The goal of this grant is to improve youth awareness of zoonotic disease, motivating those involved in raising and caring for animals to continue to adopt practices that can help keep humans and animals healthy as well as prevent zoonotic disease transmission.”

The project begins Nov. 2014 and extends through Dec. 2015.

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.