Beth Ferry, Michigan State University Extension : Introducing the Youth for the Quality Care of Animals Program

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Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) is a national multi-species quality assurance program for youth ages 8 to 21 with a focus on three core pillars: food safety, animal well-being, and character development. This program mimics the retired Youth Pork Quality Assurance (YPQA) Plus program, which was the core quality assurance certification program for youth that sold and exhibited their swine for many years. Spanning various different food production animal species, the YQCA program highlights 10 good production practices for youth producers to review and includes specific information on: pigs, beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, goats, market rabbits and poultry.

The YQCA program was designed by an advisory committee, whose goal was to completely reformat the YPQA Plus program into an overarching all-species quality assurance program, providing an educational resource for youth that are involved with food animal production across a multitude of different species. Throughout 2016 and 2017 YQCA program components were identified by a task force committee and a curriculum development company was hired to create materials for the program. Starting in mid-2017, an online version of the YQCA program went live for youth involved in livestock projects. For the 2018 exhibition year, exhibitors can elect to receive training online or via a face-to-face session with a certified YQCA advisor.

When accessing the online version of the program, youth will need to complete three modules and correlated quizzes through the YQCA system. This way, youth will receive approximately 60 minutes of instruction and can access the program directly through the YQCA modules. The YQCA program will also offer instructor-led face-to-face workshops for youth to receive their YQCA certification. Agriculture educators and FFA teachers that were certified YPQA Plus instructors can choose to become certified YQCA trainers. To gain certification they will need to attend a scheduled webinar; more training information can be found by contacting the YQCA organization. To determine if a trainer is available near you please contact the National Pork Board or contact the YQCA program.

Regardless of the method used to access the program, a standardized fee will be charged with payment made directly to the YQCA program.  To utilize the online certification system, youth in Michigan will have to pay a $12 fee. When attending a face-to-face instructor- led session a $3 fee will be charged per participant. These fees will be used to maintain the YQCA program, keeping the content up to date with industry standards, government regulations and delivered in an engaging and on-demand platform

The YQCA program may be required by some county fairs or livestock exhibitions in order for youth to participate, this is a fair-by-fair and show-by-show requirement and youth should clarify the rules with the specific exhibition they are attending.  At this time the YPQA program will be retired on June 1, 2018.  The expiration dates of those already certified in the YPQA program will not be altered because of the conclusion of this program. This certification, as well as YQCA certifications, will be accepted by and could be required by processors and certain livestock exhibitions.

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