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The goals of the Minnesota Meat Processing Badge Program align strongly with UMN's new System-wide Strategic Plan and the new Badge program at the UMN Crookston campus, both newly approved in January 2021. Drawing broadly on the strengths of all the UMN system campuses, the System-wide Strategic Plan has identified three interrelated MNtersections where the University is well-positioned to have great impact on the most critical challenges of our state and world. The three MNtersections include: Drive Innovation for Next Generation Health; Build a Fully Sustainable Future; and Advance Natural Resources and Agro-Food Systems to Elevate Human Security and Potential.Closely tied to livestock production and total agricultural productivity, meat processing assures an endpoint outlet for the highly demanded products grown under increasingly challenging conditions. As such, this project closely aligns to both the Agro-Food System and the Sustainability MNtersections. Specifically, this Badge fulfills all three goals laid out under the Agro-Food System MNtersection: 1. Develop and deploy new techniques and partnerships for smart farming and sustainable food supplies and natural resources; 2. Expand, develop and retain agricultural and food system talent in rural communities and agribusiness; and 3. Enhance Extension's impact and reach. Under the Sustainability MNtersection, expanding the region's meat processing capacity will support the institution's goals to advance action under two Sustainable Development Goals: Zero Hunger and Climate Action.To help support these system-wide institutional goals, the UMN Crookston campus recently became the first UMN campus to approve a Badge Certification Program. "Badges" represent a new avenue for academic institutions to build public competencies while offering certified credentials in a flexible, accessible format. A Badge program is also considered a 'microcredential' and offers training in a skill that is generally shorter (~6-12 credit hours) and more targeted than a conventional credentialed certificate program (>24 credit hours). The proposed Meat Processing Badge will be one of the first Badge offerings under this new program aimed at providing the most useful possible avenues for career development in new and underrepresented audiences. To this end, it is important to note that this Badge will be available to participants who are current UMN students, as well as to members of the general public who are not matriculated into UMN. Our proposed Meat Processing Badge includes an on-line Meat Science course an Intensive Lab Practicum and an internship or mentorship placement for a total of 6 credit hours. This will then be paired to an Animal Science course for undergrads to establish a meat processing undergraduate track. To further increase accessibility to underrepresented groups, we also envision offering the Badge in a not-for-credit format through UMN Extension.As envisioned, the Badge program will not only fulfill our instructional goals for UMN directly, but will also support the institution to build productive partnerships and collaborations to expand opportunities for advancing agricultural, sustainability and educational priorities across the state and region in all the prioritized categories of work. An important output of this work will be the formation of a productive coalition of actors and organizations across the state that can be leveraged for future work that includes government agencies (USDA, Minnesota Department of Agriculture), private sector partners (commodity industry partners, industry associations), community partners (tribal communities, farmers, NGOs, labor unions) and academic institutions (community colleges, tribal colleges, universities).

Cox, R.; Goldsmith, Timothy; Kern, An, .
University of Minnesota
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