World Link is partnering with agricultural education groups to develop a vocational agriculture program and Future Farmers of Georgia Organization in secondary schools in rural Georgia. The initiative started in 2002 with a School Partnership Exchange between Esparto High School in Esparto, California, and Gavazi Village School in the Kakheti Region of Eastern Georgia. Several years of exchange took place with students and teachers visiting each other’s schools. One of the results of this exchange was the development of a club at the Gavazi School that they called the Future Farmers of Gavazi (FFG). The FFG was founded on the principles of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and included local competitions and fairs to develop hands-on skills in rural youth, highlight their activities and projects, and to try and level the differences between rural and urban youth opportunities. The overriding goal was to provide positive images for rural youth to consider agriculture as a career and a topic for their further education.
Learn more about the FFG Program from the video below:
The Gavazi FFG captured a lot of attention from other schools in the region and beyond and in 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requested that World Link and the FFG Program join a Caucuses Agricultural Development Initiative (CADI) that was to focus for five years on reforming agriculture education in Georgia. World Link, in cooperation with the USDA and the Georgian Rural Development Program (GRDP) located at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) expanded the FFG to include eight pilot sites in different regions of the country. Two years of leadership camps, national competitions, curriculum development, and other activities ensued until the Ossetia conflict in 2008. The support for the FFG at this point was cancelled and the project, still in its infancy, became stagnant.
World Link is continuing the project and has a FFG Foundation in Georgia under development and will be seeking support to regenerate the project through public and private funding. World Link is implementing a plan to develop an exploratory agriculture education curriculum in rural Georgian high schools that will seek to use agriculture education as a STEM model for rural areas that will encourage youth to consider further agriculture education and careers. World Link’s program will support a new vocational initiative in the country to train farm operators in community colleges and become a model for rural development and to aid Georgia in moving beyond subsistence agriculture to professional agriculture farm managers.