MSU professor selected to receive grant focused on the future of farming

Professor Matt Raven has been awarded over $150,000 by the the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program

October 10, 2017 - Author: Anna Nichols

EAST LANSING, Mich. - – Matt Raven, a professor at Michigan State University, is one of 12 recipients of a grant from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) this year. Raven has been awarded over $150,000 for the project, "Land-Based Learning Centers: A Multi-Generational Educational Approach to Promoting On-Farm Sustainable Agriculture," an initiative focused on the future of farming.

Raven said the plan is for MSU’s North Farm to develop seven land-based learning centers that collaborate with local farmers to work with young people interested in agriculture and food systems in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“Since 2012, we have been working to establish the North Farm at the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center as a teaching and learning center for community food systems with a focus on those who want to become farmers or grow their own food. This is an extension of a previous grant that is focused on getting more secondary students interested in agriculture and food systems,” Raven said. “This project will connect those students with farmers and ranchers practicing sustainable agriculture practices.”

The grant for this project was awarded as part of NCR-SARE's Research and Education Program. The competitive grant is awarded to educational and research projects that pioneer and advocate for sustainable agricultural practices.

The goal of the learning centers, according to Raven, is that the student-farmers and farm cooperators could benefit each other. Student-farmers will expand their awareness, abilities and knowledge on sustainable agriculture, and farm cooperators will improve their sustainability practices with the assistance of student-farmers.

Raven stresses the importance of focusing on young people interested in agriculture and food systems –, how they fit into Michigan’s farming community, and where this educational project can help.

“Educators will incorporate lessons on sustainable agriculture practices and careers into their curriculum. School districts will inquire about adding state-recognized, school-based agriculture, food and natural resource education programs,” said Raven on how he hopes the project will have an impact. “The median age of farmers continues to increase in Michigan. We need to increase the awareness of secondary students of career opportunities in agriculture and food systems.”

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