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SC State launches Youth Farmer & Entrepreneurship Academy

by Carolina Panorama

The Ag Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub in the South Carolina State University College of Business has launched the Youth Farmer and Entrepreneurship (YFE) Academy.

The YFE Academy is a nine-month training program to engage high school and college students in a micro-farming project and completion of an Ag Entrepreneurship certificate program.

This program is funded through a NIFA/USDA grant. The YFE Academy kicked off on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, with 15 students enrolled. The program can, however, accommodate up to 20 students. The academy meets face-to-face on Mondays and virtually on Thursdays every two weeks with field trips on Saturdays.

The objectives of the Youth Farmer and Entrepreneurship Academy are to:

• Introduce students to the broad scope of the food and fiber industry that provides highly rewarding careers.

• Introduce the concept of micro farming.

• Introduce students to entrepreneurial opportunities in the food and fiber industry by engaging them in an entrepreneurial activity.

• Encourage and provide a learning environment to equip them with leadership and entrepreneurial skills that can be applied in the food and fiber industry.

• Recruit students to the agribusiness program as well as other programs at SC State.

Micro farming involves a variety of techniques and practices for small- scale farming in urban or suburban areas. Students will be introduced to the micro-farming concept using hydroponics in containers and a greenhouse. They will learn best practices in agribusiness and urban farming while gaining knowledge and leadership skills that may lead to business ownership, marketing skills and a new awareness of the real-life consequences of urban farming.

In the Spring, students will participate in a youth farmers market to sell products they have produced. Participants will be provided a stipend of $200 each semester and the opportunity to be awarded up to $500 for their market projects.

In addition to the micro-farming project, students will complete training in an Ag Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate Program to learn how to develop an idea, identify an opportunity and start a business.

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